Young people share what they have learned with the world
This coming Saturday, 29 June 2019, 33 young scientists from around the globe will be celebrating their graduation at the Alfred Wegener Institute. Ten scholarship holders have come to the end of a 10-month programme, and 23 young people have completed an exciting month-long expedition.
They hail from Cameroon, Indonesia, Argentina – and many other countries, but they are united by a common interest in marine research, and support provided by Japan’s Nippon Foundation and by the Partnership for Observation of the Global Oceans (POGO). Both organisations have made it their task to foster international collaborations and young researchers. Since 2013, through a Centre of Excellence in Observational Oceanography at the Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), they have supported the training and networking of ten scholarship holders per year. For ten months, the young scientists from all of the marine sciences receive essential theoretical and practical training. They also gain research experience at the AWI facilities on Helgoland, Sylt, and in Bremerhaven. International experts from other research institutes also take part in the teaching, and serve as supervisors for the students’ final papers.
An important focus, alongside the scientific training, is networking, an area the Nippon Foundation supports with further programmes. In concrete terms, when the scholarship holders return to their home countries, they have the opportunity to take part in exchange programmes and scientific meetings through the alumni network programme NANO. This year’s graduation ceremony will also provide the first opportunity to network with other young scientists: together with the graduates from the Centre of Excellence, 23 participants in the so-called floating university will receive their graduation certificates. On Saturday, their month-long expedition on board the research vessel Polarstern will come to an end in Bremerhaven. Once again, the Polarstern has proven its value as the ideal ship not only for research, but also for training the next generation. “Where else can so many young researchers learn about the wide variety of oceanographic methods and how to adapt them to their needs?” asks expedition leader Prof Karen Wiltshire. The participants used the icebreaker’s return journey from the Antarctic, starting in Port Stanley (Falkland Islands), to learn more about the interactions between the ocean, atmosphere and the climate, and about how they can personally contribute to active, global climate protection. The scholarship holders learned in a ‘hands-on’ way that science and sharing knowledge are inseparable, through video links with participating schools in Portugal, Japan, Ireland, Great Britain and Germany, which allowed them to talk directly to students in the classroom about their impressions of the trip and what they had learned about the importance of the ocean. In Leipzig, they supported a climate conference for 500 school pupils in the federal state of Saxony with a video call that involved lively discussions. From the ship, expedition leader Wiltshire presented the latest findings from the trip directly to a climate symposium at the 'Klimahaus' in Bremerhaven.
The two groups of young scientists will present their projects at the joint event on Saturday afternoon. Among the guests will be Bremen’s Science Senator Eva Quante-Brandt, Bremerhaven’s mayor Torsten Neuhoff, and Member of Parliament Ernst-Dieter Rossmann (from the Pinneberg constituency, which the island Helgoland is part of), as well as instructors from the programme and colleagues from the Alfred Wegener Institute.
POGO - Partnership for Observation of the Global Oceans
AtlantOS - Optimising and Enhancing the Integrated Atlantic Ocean Observing Systems
National University Galway
REKLIM - Helmholtz Climate Initiative
PORTWIMS - Portugal Twinning for Innovation and Excellence in Marine Science and Earth Observation
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The Alfred Wegener Institute pursues research in the polar regions and the oceans of mid and high latitudes. As one of the 19 centres of the Helmholtz Association it coordinates polar research in Germany and provides ships like the research icebreaker Polarstern and stations for the international scientific community.