International Guest Researcher Day

Active Internationalization: Welcome and Appreciation

With the “Day of International Visiting Scholars”, the University of Siegen promotes exchange and research. Four scientists receive an award for their special commitment.

For the first time, the “Day of International Visiting Scholars” took place at the University of Siegen, which the Research Alumni Program had organised in cooperation with the International Welcome Center and the Alumni Association of the University of Siegen. The focus was on the exchange and research of international guest researchers and their Siegen hosts from all schools.

“International Scientific Communication – Trends and Challenges”: Conference with International and Interdisciplinary Exchange

Before the evening’s annual reception, the conference considered the topic of “International Scientific Communication – Trends and Challenges.” This topic inspired international researchers to exchange interdisciplinary discussions on the current challenges and developments in the publication of scientific results.

While one guest scientist funded by the Alexander von Humboldt Scholarship has spent 1.5 years researching political philosophy in Siegen, the others are located in different fields, such as Experimental Physics, Biochemistry and Archaeology, German, and Media Studies. As well as being from different research specialities, the guest researchers were also from different countries. The importance of the international aspect was emphasised by Ben Wrigley in his introductory presentation on trends in scientific communication: having such a wide range of perspectives and research specialities represented greatly strengthens the quality of scientific exchange, as demonstrated by this conference.

Before the participants shared their experiences about scientific communication, Sibel Kocatepe, who works for the DFG Collaborative Research Center 1187 “Media of Cooperation” at the University, gave some insights into legal parameters of internal scientific communication, particularly with regards to citations and copyright of scientific work. In order for the participants to be able to better discuss and to get to know one another, they were able to introduce their own concerns and issues from their own work in a group discussion. Through this they were better able to assist one another, as well as to draw upon different experiences in the world of scientific publishing.

To conclude the afternoon session, Gerrit Pursch and Ben Wrigley introduced their new „Research Alumni App“, which does not just offer a mobile information platform for guest researchers, but also provides opportunities for networking. This should make coming to the University of Siegen as a guest researcher significantly easier. And naturally, the creators of this app were open for some feedback, drawing upon the perspectives of the guest researchers and their own experiences to improve the experiences of guest researchers in Siegen.

One suggestion was for seminars, covering how to approach workshops from a German perspective, as well as how to engage more people through methods, such as the ones utilised at the International Guest Researcher Day, including open round discussions. Another guest researcher talked about the possibility of more financial support, which he hopes will enable scientists to be able to attend more seminars. As an example, he mentions the 2015 “Alumni Academy”, which he fondly remembers: “It was really fantastic.”

The evening reception began with a joint welcome address by Gerrit Pursch, and Dr. Nina Fenn, The knowledge and experiences on the topic of scientific communication gained from the conference will benefit their research, explained Gerrit Pursch, during the joint welcome made with Dr. Nina Fenn, coordinator of the Welcome Center. The variety of different backgrounds, both academic and cultural, including Cameroon, Turkey, and Iran, provided an optimal foundation for lively exchanges throughout the conference.

Throughout the evening the international researchers were able to discuss the challenges and developments in the publication of scientific results on an interdisciplinary level. “We need international input: Intercultural diversity helps us to understand the different methods, procedures and views in order to learn from each other, to improve our working methods and to gain in-depth insights thereby, as well”, said Prof. Dr. med. Hanna Schramm-Klein, Vice-Rector for Cooperation, International Affairs and Marketing.

Moreover, the third annual reception of the Welcome Center of the University of Siegen took place. In addition to visiting scholars, the host researchers at the University of Siegen, who were honoured for their achievements in international cooperation, were also in focus. “This commitment is more than enriching for our university and therefore requires special attention,” emphasized Prof. Schramm-Klein at the annual reception.

One scientist per school received such a special award: Raphaela Averkorn (Professor of Medieval and Modern History), Johannes Schädler (Professor of Social Education and Social Work), Erwin Pesch (Professor of Management Information Science) and Professor Hubert Roth (Chair of Measurement, Control and Regulation Technology).

Those presenting the awards made it clear why the distinguished scientists deserved to be honoured: Averkorn from the School of Arts was not only the driving force behind the school’s Erasmus program and various international summer schools at the University of Siegen, but also the founder of the course ” Roads to Democracy (ies) “. As an “ambassador of networking” she is the representative for international networks. Pesch from Faculty III (Economics, Business Informatics and Business Law) has made a name for himself as an outstanding scientist of the school and one of the world ‘s leading researchers in his field of Business Informatics, especially through long and intensive cooperation with Poland and Belarus, not limiting his exchange to the scientific language of English, but also learning the national language of his cooperation partners in Poland. Pesch is particularly concerned about the promotion of education for sustainable development. He is personally involved with a project in South Africa.

Roth from the School of Science and Technology and responsible for the international master’s program in Mechatronics is involved in numerous international projects, which are funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), among others, and hosted by several dozen international cooperation partners. Laos, Pakistan and Zambia are just a few of the countries and territories in which Roth has built collaborations. In addition, Roth co-founded the university’s Center for International Capacity Development (ZEW). Professor Schädler from Faculty II (Education – Architecture – Arts) could not make it to the conference. He will instead receive his appreciation later in the summer.

After the ceremony, all the researchers exchanged views during a standing reception. The Ukrainian Alex Boyko had come with his wife to meet the other scientists. Boyko conducts research in the field of hydrology and floods. “In this very special field of research, Siegen University has an outstanding reputation,” he said. Boyko and his wife have been in Germany for one and a half years. They come from the big city of Kiev, so, to them, Siegen is pleasantly small, green and calm. The two also appreciate the city’s location within Europe. “We love to travel. Siegen is so central that we can reach other European cities super-fast by train. That’s awesome, “Boyko said.

The first point of contact for all international visiting scholars, professors and post-doctoral students wishing to conduct a research stay at the University of Siegen is the Welcome Center: “We offer a balanced program that supports our guests in settling in Siegen”, Dr. Nina Fenn from the Welcome Center explained. These contacts with visiting scholars and their hosts will be intensified and sustainably promoted with the support of the Research Alumni Program, said program coordinator Gerrit Pursch. “Our researcher alumni strategy aims to actively involve guest researchers in the Siegen research network.”