Die Promovierenden des SFB 986 können im Rahmen des MGK einen bis zu vier Monate langen Forschungsaufenthalt in einer ausländischen Arbeitsgruppe absolvieren. Hierfür werden Reise- und Unterkunftskosten gestellt sowie das Gehalt über den SFB 986 für den Zeitraum des Forschungsaufenthaltes weiter gezahlt.
Through a colleague in the SFB I was lucky to get the contact of a professor who works on projects very similar to mine but with a completely different approach, based in what is probably my favourite place in the world: California. I worked at the University of California in Davis, which is a small but charming college town near the capital Sacramento. What I loved most about Davis was the friendly and open atmosphere and the amazing people I got to meet there.
Already the preparation for the stay involved some important learning experiences: fitting my project in the research focus of the respective working group, drafting a scientific proposal and preparing a research stay with all the challenges involved such as obtaining a visa and finding accommodation. I worked in a more engineering-oriented lab environment with interesting and talented people from all over the world and got to know a new synthetic technique and various analytical methods. Furthermore, I made amazing friends and got to see the beautiful nature and fascinating city life that California offers.
I think that studying or researching abroad is always an amazing opportunity to learn to work in completely different environments, get to know new interesting people and develop better language skills. I have only good memories from my previous Erasmus stay in the UK during my undergraduate studies, so I was hopeful that this experience would be just as enriching to me – and it was!
During my research stay, I worked at the Centre for Research in Computational and Applied Mechanics (CERECAM) located at the upper campus of the University of Cape Town (UCT), right at the foot of Table Mountain. Thanks to my supervisor, I was able to get to know the Professor on-site already at the very beginning of my PhD. Due to recent research developments associated with the second funding period, there is a strong interest in modelling multiphysical phenomena involved in metal-polymer-nanocomposites.
The research group on-site is well positioned within the field of computational solid mechanics and the numerical treatment of coupled partial differential equations. For that reason, we decided to organize a cooperation on the development of a theoretical framework for diverse coupling mechanisms observed in gold-polymer nanocomposites and its implementation in a finite-element code. As this area of expertise is different from the background of my PhD, I was able to gain new knowledge within a very short time. From the starting point of the cooperation until reaching the point of an established working relationship, the research stay became an extremely valuable learning experience for me. This involves: preparation of a scientific proposal, organization of the research stay, coordination of tasks in group meetings, discussion of fundamental issues, and deciding about solution approaches in the team. I also gained from the opportunity to present my own research work in front of an international working group and to interact with other researches on a scientific basis.
From my point of view, a research stay is an excellent working experience which allows to improve your teamwork and communication skills on an international level. By interacting with other people on a professional but also on a personal basis, you get a great chance to develop your personal intercultural competence and improve your linguistic abilities.