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Research Alumni Tandem

To illustrate the diversity of international research collaboration, various research alumni tandems are presented here. Research Alumni and their Siegen-based hosts discuss how their research partnership came to be, what their research is about, and the benefits gained from international cooperation.

Click here to read more about the research alumni, their personal background, their research, and their time in Siegen.

Quantum physics: An intricate matter and straightforward methods

The young international researchers Dr Ahana Ghoshal from India and Dr Martin Plávala from Slovakia are part of Prof Gühne´s research team. The team explores the impact of thermal environments on quantum systems, isolating them to reveal crucial differences between closed and open system dynamics, essential for applications like quantum computing, using simple tools to communicate complex physics concepts built upon century-old foundations.

Using digitality to improve our healthcare system

Prof. Dr. Christoph Strünck, dean of the School of Life Sciences at the University of Siegen, is a social scientist. Dr. Kazim Topuz serves as an Assistant Professor specializing in Business Analytics and Operations Management at the Collins College of Business, University of Tulsa, located in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Together, they conduct interdisciplinary research into our healthcare system.

A strong cooperation on fragile matters

Prof. Dr. Anna Pandolfi and Prof. Dr.-Ing. Kerstin Weinberg are currently investigating a special type of concrete. Concrete is a construction material particularly apt to sustain compressive loads, but this material performs less well when exposed to impact or long-term vibrations that induce a tensile state. Tensions are dangerous because they may cause cracks, which shorten the life of the material.Likewise, repetitive vibrations may reduce the mechanical properties of the material. The scientists and their team have been trying to develop a material that consists of concrete with inclusions that can absorb some of the mechanical energy. In this way, part of the vibration energy can be subtracted from the concrete which is then no longer so strongly exposed to this energy. This material could then be used, for example, under the rails of trains or under rotating machines in oil drilling.

Building Bridges: Empowering Rural Ghana with ICT Solutions

Prof. Dr. Johannes Schädler once became aware of Ghana as supervisor of a dissertation project on the education of persons with disabilities that focused on this West African country. Through this contact, more and more researchers approached Schädler, and a lasting cooperation developed. Dr. Kwaku Larbi Anderson was introduced to Prof. Dr. Johannes Schädler by Univ. Prof. Dr. Christoph Strünck, after expressing interest in pursuing Doctoral studies upon completion of a Master of Arts - M.A. ‘Roads to Democracies’ - an interdisciplinary and research-oriented master’s program integrating history, political science, and sociology from the University of Siegen. In their preliminary meeting, common linkages of research interests were identified within the ZPE framework of practical research relating to the local governance, civic participation, and inclusive communities. Remarkably, Anderson is a Ghanaian and is happy about the opportunity to enhance projects in his home country after he earned his Ph.D. in Siegen. Subsequently, this common ground opened the door for Dr. Paul Andersons and Prof. Schädler’s cooperation on the FACIL-ICT Ghana project.

Literature, non-literature and everything in between

Prof Dr José Ramón Ruisánchez came to the University of Siegen through a DAAD ‘Visiting Professorship’ for the summer semester 2022. Originally from Mexico, he is usually based at the University of Houston in the United States of America at the Department of Hispanic Studies. During his time in Siegen, he taught three courses in total at the Romance Seminar, and visited many of the manifold events that the University of Siegen and the city offer. Prof Dr Yasmin Temelli holds the chair of Romance Literature and Cultural Studies with the languages Spanish and French and has been at the University of Siegen since March 2021. She is very enthusiastic about Latin American Studies, so when the opportunity presented itself to submit a proposal and invite Prof Ruisánchez to Siegen, she took it. Prof Temelli has always been greatly interested in the languages Spanish, French and Italian, and has a great passion for romance literature.

Closing the educational gap for indigenous girls in Yucatan.

In Mexico, only 47 % of indigenous children enrolled in primary school continue their studies at secondary level. Leaving school early exacerbates further socioeconomic inequalities that can continue throughout that person’s entire life. Girls from indigenous backgrounds are at a particularly high risk of leaving education early. This is one of many questions that Prof. Dr. María Cristina Osorio Vázquez and Dr. Christian Koch are working together to address at the University of Siegen. María Cristina is a professor and a researcher based in the south of Mexico, much of her research is focused on the education of adolescent girls in small indigenous communities, particularly Mayan speaking communities on the Mexican peninsula of Yucatan.

Understanding the context of contextuality

Dr. Zhen-Peng Xu has come to the University of Siegen to continue his postdoctoral research into quantum physics. He is no stranger to research abroad, having undertaken a research visit to the University of Seville in Spain during his PhD which he began at the Chern Institute of Mathematics in Tianjin, China. He is now based at the Theoretical Quantum Optics Group in Siegen, which has been headed by Prof. Dr. Otfried Gühne since his arrival at the University of Siegen in 2018.

Hadrons, Leptons, and Mesons – Understanding the Building Blocks of the Universe

The University of Siegen is by no means a particularly large university, but despite this it is able to punch above its weight in many exciting fields of research. One field which is particularly reliant upon international cooperation is particle physics phenomenology, which combines theoretical modelling and experimental practice to better understand interactions on a subatomic level. One of the world’s largest particle physics phenomenology research groups is based at the University of Siegen. This group is currently led by Prof. Dr. Thomas Mannel, and features many talented researchers from across the world, such as Dr. Rusa Mandal.

AfricaSign: Overcoming barriers to participation in education using technology

One of the strongest benefits to research collaborations is that they allow researchers from different fields to come together to use their complementary areas of expertise to develop a new project. This was the case for Prof. Dr. Kristof Van Laerhoven, who is a professor of ubiquitous computing at the department for electrical engineering and computer science in the University of Siegen, and Prof. Dr. Abdelhadi Soudi, a professor of natural language processing at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Mines de Rabat in Morocco.

How can a gummy bear-like substance help to detect bacteria in wounds or drinking water?

Since becoming an Alexander von Humboldt Postdoctoral scholar, Dr. Dipankar Das has been busy working on his latest research project at the University of Siegen in cooperation with Prof. Dr. Holger Schönherr and his colleagues in the Department of Physical Chemistry I.

How does mathematics impact upon our society, and how can the teaching of mathematics be improved?

For many people, words such as philosophy, history, and society aren’t necessarily those which first come to mind when thinking about mathematics. Despite this mathematics has had and continues to have a big impact on society. To better understand societal, didactic and philosophical questions of mathematics, two mathematics professors are using an international research cooperation to regularly visit one another’s institutions to gain insights into these topics. This cooperation is occurring between Prof. Dr. Gregor Nickel and Prof. Dr. András Bátkai, a former Humboldt fellow.

Nucleic acids and photochemistry: a bridge from Moscow to Siegen.

Dr. Daria Berdnikova came to Siegen for the first time in 2011 as a visiting PhD student (DAAD fellow) to perform her research project on photocontrollable interactions with DNA in the group of Prof. Dr. Heiko Ihmels (Organic Chemistry II). After three fruitful months in Siegen, she went back to Moscow where she successfully defended her PhD thesis and received a position as a research associate at the Russian Academy of Sciences. Later, Dr. Berdnikova returned to the group of Prof. Dr. Ihmels several times for short stints as a postdoctoral researcher to work on joint projects of the University of Siegen and the Russian Academy of Sciences. Since October 2017, Dr. Berdnikova is an EU Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellow in the group of Prof. Dr. Ihmels. Her research is focused on the development of photocontrollable binders for therapeutically relevant RNA sequences.

A Long-Standing Research Collaboration between Norfolk State University (USA) and the University of Siegen.

When Prof. Dr. Page R. Laws, Professor of English and Dean of the R. C. Nusbaum Honors College at Norfolk State University, returned to the Adolf-Reichwein campus last summer, she did not travel alone. Invited by Prof. Dr. Daniel Stein, chair of North American Literary and Cultural Studies in the English Department at Siegen, for a conference on Migration and Immigration in Europe and the Americas, Prof. Laws brought five colleagues from Norfolk State, one of the three remaining historically black colleges and universities located in Virginia, to present papers and discuss current and past movements of people across borders. The group had already visited Graz, where they had participated in the “Ethnicity and Kinship: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Family, Community, and Difference” conference of the Society for Multi-Ethnic Studies: Europe and the Americas (MESEA), and they were eager to share their work with colleagues from Siegen.

Bringing people together through music: Renowned composer returns to Siegen.

Prof. Samuel Adler is an acclaimed composer and conductor, and holds the position of Professor emeritus at the University of Rochester’s Eastman School of Music and the Juilliard School in New York, United States. He came to Siegen in June 2018 for a workshop in which he used his many years of experience to help music students with their compositions. His latest visit to Siegen is one of many to have emerged as a result of the close cooperation between him and Prof. Martin Herchenröder. Prof. Herchenröder has been a professor of music theory at the University of Siegen since 1994. He also teaches at the Organ and Composition Departments of the Eastman School of Music as a guest professor. It was during Prof. Herchenröder’s first stay at Rochester in 2008 that he got to know Prof. Adler and suggested him to visit Siegen the next time he would be in Germany. The next year Prof. Adler attended the University of Siegen’s Alumni Homecoming Day as a keynote speaker. After that, he came back to Siegen every couple of years, primarily to feature his music and to share his expertise with composition students.

How can the world adapt to floods, storm surges and rising sea levels? Siegener researchers work with the University of Central Florida to find out.

Asst. Prof. Dr.-Ing. Thomas Wahl completed his PhD in Siegen at the Research Institute for Water and Environment (FWU), which is led by Prof. Dr.-Ing. Jürgen Jensen. Prof. Dr.-Ing. Wahl now based at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, United States. He cooperates closely with his former colleagues in Siegen to understand coastal flooding, and to work to develop methods of mitigating and adapting to sea level rise and changing extreme weather conditions.

Meet Assoc. Prof. Dr. Attaviriyanupap, expert in the field of German linguistics in Thailand.

Prof. Dr. Korakoch Attaviriyanupap has now completed her eighth research stay with Prof. Dr. Petra M. Vogel, chair of German Linguistics at the University of Siegen. Prof. Dr. Attaviriyanupap, who is an associate Professor at the German Department at Silpakorn University in Thailand, is focused on contrastive differences between the Thai and the German languages. Prof. Dr. Attaviriyanupap has been working closely together with Prof. Dr. Vogel on various projects since 2009.

Dr. Agyire-Tettey returns to Siegen to promote social inclusivity for all.

Dr. Efua Esaaba Agyire-Tettey is a lecturer at the Department of Social Work, University of Ghana. Dr. Agyire-Tettey came to Siegen, thanks to the International Education Doctorate (INEDD) which advertised for doctoral students to come to Siegen from abroad, and provided them with help adjusting to their new country. Since completing her PhD at the University of Siegen, she continues to work with her PhD supervisor, Prof. Dr. Johannes Schädler, who manages the Center of Planning and Evaluation of Social Services (ZPE) at the University of Siegen. Dr. Agyire-Tettey and Prof. Dr. Schädler work together on a joint project which looks at the role of social work to promote inclusivity for people with disabilities in the Suhum district in Ghana.

How do entrepreneurs make sense of success? Professors Ettl and Black work together to find out.

Prof. Dr. Laura Black has arrived in Siegen from the American state of Montana, to work with Jun.-Prof. Dr. Kerstin Ettl on a paper which looks at sensemaking and success of entrepreneurs. The questions of how entrepreneurs recognise success and how they come to value some aspects of success rather than others are difficult, requiring consideration from multiple points of view. Professors Black and Ettl first met one another in 2013, at a conference organised by the FOKOS (Research Centre) in Siegen. They recognised their common interest in the topic of women entrepreneurship and started to work together. In June 2015 they presented the first results of their work at the Babson College Entrepreneurship Research Conference and the DIANA conference in the United States in 2016. Both academics have benefited from their cooperation and are looking forward to presenting new results of their research to the scientific community.

From Siegen to Shanghai and back again: Improving drug testing and cancer diagnosis through scientific exchanges.

Dr. Xiaoqiu Dou came to Siegen in 2016 as a Humboldt postdoctoral fellow. After 2 successful years she has returned from China to collaborate with other researchers in Prof. Dr. Schönherr’s Physical Chemistry I research group. Her projects include a new method to improve the effectiveness of drug testing, and utilising natural structures found in rose petals to improve the diagnosis of cancer. Dr. Dou has enjoyed her time in Siegen very much and there will hopefully be a permanent joint research program between Siegen and Dr. Dou’s home Institution, the Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China. Both universities, the University of Siegen and the Shanghai Jiao Tong University are currently working on a project application to set up a permanent joint research program with a cluster of research groups in Shanghai.

Solving a particularly difficult math problem: how to help reduce the high drop-out rate for mathematics students.

Prof. Dr. Kathleen Clark, who is an Associate Professor of Mathematics Education at Florida State University, United Sates, has just completed her sixth research visit to the University of Siegen. She has been working closely with Prof. Dr. Ingo Witzke, of the Mathematical Education Department, in order to design seminars which help students to make the transition from learning mathematics at school to the more formal abstract style of mathematics taught at universities. Because they are interested in investigating the transition using historical perspectives, there are not so many other researchers in their respective countries with whom they can collaborate. For this reason international cooperation is invaluable for both sides. We hope to see Prof. Dr. Clark soon for another research visit.

Aloe vera and seaweed: Mauritius based researcher brings local expertise to Siegen.

Dr. Nowsheen Goonoo came to Siegen in 2018 to conduct her second research visit. She is based at the Centre for Biomedical and Biomaterials Research at the University of Mauritius. Her research focus was on using polymers derived from seaweed and Aloe vera to capture tumour cells from the bloodstream. Her host was Prof. Dr. Holger Schönherr, head of the Physical Chemistry I Department. Since they met at the PolyChar21 conference in South Korea in 2013, there has been close engagement between both research groups, and they have mutually benefitted from one another’s scientific expertise. This cooperation will continue in future, with plans to examine different parameters of these polymers to gauge their effectiveness for biomedical purposes.

„Green-Drone-Deforestation and Forest Degradation Estimation using an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle“ - Prof. Dr.-Ing. Ahmad Kamal Nasir works with former thesis supervisor on Drone Project.

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Ahmad Kamal Nasir came from Pakistan to the University of Siegen in 2009 to complete his Master of Science. A scholar-ship granted by the DAAD (German Academic Exchange service) gave him the possibility to then complete his doctorate in the field of mobile robotics at the Department of Control Technology under the supervision of Prof. Dr.-Ing. Hubert Roth. After his graduation Prof. Dr. Nasir obtained the position of Associate Professor at the Electrical Engineering Department at the “Lahore University of Management Sciences” in Pakistan. This position gives him the possibility to conduct further scientific cooperation with the University of Siegen. Since 2016 they have together developed a system, which uses drones to measure tree cover in areas of Pakistan.

Humboldt connects: Another guest stay for research prise winner Prof. Dr. Jin Zhao.

As part of the „invitation of research award winners for further research stays in Germany“ programme of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the German language and linguistic scientist Prof. Dr. Jin Zhao from the Tongji University of Shanghai, China, was once again a guest at the University of Siegen from the 30th June until the 30th of September 2017. Her scientific host at the University of Siegen is, as in previous years, Prof. Dr. Stephan Habscheid who is responsible for the Department of German, with an area of expertise in Applied Linguistics.

The cooperation with the German Linguistic und Philosophy Department had its provisional conclusion in the form of a public Humboldt-Workshop, held on the 19th and the 20th of October 2017, and to which Prof. Dr. Zhao gave a lecture on the topic of “Wilhelm von Humboldt in China: reception, research and problems.

Collaborative research – Cosmic Ray Review in Siegen. Visit of Dr. Alexey Yushkov.

Using the latest research results from the Pierre-Auger-Observatory in Argentina, two of the physicists participating in the project, Dr. Alexey Yushkov from the Czech Academy of Sciences in Prague and Prof. Dr. Markus Risse, from the University of Siegen’s working group on experimental particle physics, met at the University of Siegen to conduct scientific analysis together. This personal exchange will form the basis for future research.

An insight into the cosmic nebula. The Pierre-Auger-Observatory in Argentina is the largest observatory ever built for monitoring cosmic radiation. There it was shown that this radiation come from galaxies other than our own. Click here to read more (in German).

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