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What to do in case of conflicts with your supervisor?

Conflicts among doctoral candidates and supervisors can often arise during a PhD. There are several different points of contact you can turn to in case you realize a conflict is arising. Often, it is helpful to search for advice on how to resolve a conflict BEFORE it escalates.

These are some of the points of contact you can turn to (details below):

  • us - your PhD reps ;)
  • Ombuds office: they can give you great advice to resolve your conflict situation, even when not starting an ombuds process
  • Staff council of University or Uniclinics (see details below): Legal advice on employment rights and many more topics
  • Legal counseling at SWFR and StuRa (if you're enrolled)
  • For legal advice, you can turn to unions (e.g. DGB / GEW)
  • As a last resort, if the other options did not help, you might want to turn to a lawyer

Details and more points of contact are listed below (see 'Additional Help')

Before you take any steps which feel unnatural to you, there is always the possibility to contact us via mail (phd-bio(at)! We will do our best to help you within our means!

The ombuds process at Uni Freiburg

The central ombuds process of the University of Freiburg aims at solving conflicts between doctoral candidates and their supervisors. Two members of the IGA who are trained in mediation as well as coaching and two ombudspersons (and two deputies), who are retired professors, form the team of the ombuds process. The ombuds office personal can help you assess the situation you are facing and the steps you could be taking. If you are experiencing a conflict with your supervisor, the members of the ombuds office are there to help you!

Contact information


  • Dr. phil. David Willmes
    Friedrichstraße 41-43, 2. OG, Raum 02022
    Tel.: 0761 203-6814
  • Dr. rer. nat. Tina Lampe
    Friedrichstraße 41-43, 2. OG, Raum 02022
    Tel.: 0761 203-6817


  • Prof. Dr. Irmgard Merfort (Fakultät für Chemie und Pharmazie)
    • Deputy: Prof. Dr. Ernst Eberlein (Fakultät für Mathematik und Physik)
  • Prof. Dr. Hans Spada (Wirtschafts- und Verhaltenswissenschaftliche Fakultät)
    • Deputy: Prof. Dr. Hans-Joachim Gehrke (Philosophische Fakultät)

Additional information

Central ombuds office at the University

During the ombuds process, the person seeking help is fully in charge of which steps will be taken, who is going to be contacted, and when the process should be stopped. All advisory conversations with members of the ombuds process are fully confidential! If you should be experiencing problems with your supervisor, you can get in contact with the members of the IGA or you can contact the ombudspersons directly. They can also advise you on how severe your case is and have a broad perspective on problems other doctoral candidates have gone through.

Professors of the Doctoral Board of the Faculty of Biology

Apart from the ombuds office, you may contact one of the following Professors. They are members of the doctoral board of the faculty of biology. Therefore, they are familiar with the regulations and requirements of a PhD thesis and have experience with supervising PhD candidates themselves. They kindly have volunteered to be a contact person for you in the case of conflicts. They can assist you to first assess your situation. Please consider, for severe cases, you should contact the ombuds office as the official mediation service for PhD candidates in case of conflicts with supervisors.

Prof. Römer Prof. Dr. Winfried Römer
Institut für Biologie II
Prof. Di Ventura Prof. Dr. Barbara Di Ventura
Institute of Biology II
Prof. Bollmann Prof. Dr. Johann Bollmann
Institut für Biologie I

Additional Help

Here we have collected additional help. Unfortunately, some of the webpages only are available in German. However, most of the personnel will be able to assist you, if you contact them! Most of the help you can find depends on your place of employment or whether you are enrolled as a student or not.

Offers for employees of the University Freiburg

  • Occupational Medical Service
    Here you can receive medical care. This is also the place to go if you have an accident on your way to work.
  • Staff Council
    If you should have questions concerning your legal rights as an employee of the University you can contact the staff council.
  • Psychosocial Counseling Service
    In case of the need for psychological counseling, you may refer to the psychosocial counseling service of the university.
  • Addiction Clinic

Offers for employees of the University Klinik Freiburg

For enrolled doctoral candidates