Press release

International scholarship programme launched – Opening ceremony for the Centre of Excellence in Observational Oceanography in Berlin

[04. December 2013] 

Bremerhaven, 4 December 2013. The international advancement of young scientists has assumed a new dimension at the Alfred Wegener Institute: ten scholarship holders from just as many different nations will be embarking a ten-month traineeship as ocean experts this week. The Japanese Nippon Foundation and POGO (Partnership for Observation of the Global Oceans) have selected the Alfred Wegener Institute to conduct their joint project to strengthen the globally networked oceanographic research in the coming years. Federal Research Minister Prof. Dr. Johanna Wanka welcomes the scholars to the official programme launch in Berlin.


There will soon be an even greater international feeling in the laboratories and on the vessels at the Helgoland and Sylt sites of the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI): ten young scientists from Togo, Tibet, Brazil, Trinidad and Tobago, Thailand, Tanzania, India, Cuba, Bangladesh und Indonesia will be investigating the North Sea in the coming ten months. Their common goal is to learn standard methods of marine research in order to later apply them in their home countries. All have a master’s degree as minimum in a subject with a marine research reference.

Federal Minister of Education and Research Prof. Dr. Johanna Wanka will officially launch the NF-POGO Centre of Excellence in Observational Oceanography (CofE) at the AWI in the Berlin Museum für Naturkunde on Friday, 6 December 2013. The sponsors of the CofE, Kentaro Oguie from the Japanese Nippon Foundation (NF – Nippon Foundation) and Prof. Dr. Trevor Platt from POGO (Partnership for Observation of the Global Oceans) will be attending to deliver opening speeches on behalf of their organisations. The Director of the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), Prof. Dr. Karin Lochte, and her deputy and head of AWI Helgoland und Sylt, Prof. Dr. Karen Wiltshire, are delighted to welcome international ocean researchers as new AWI colleagues. The scholars will then travel from Berlin to Helgoland for the first five months of training.

Basic courses will be taking place on this North Sea island first of all so that meteorologists, biologists and chemists are brought up to a common level of knowledge. These will cover, for example, the plate tectonic formation of the oceans, physics and chemistry of the oceans and biodiversity. In the statistics exercises or explanations of long-term data analysis they will be meeting those scientists of the Alfred Wegener Institute in whose working groups they will also be conducting their own research projects later on. All senior scientists of the AWI on Helgoland and Sylt are involved in the training. Other AWI colleagues and external experts support them.

All in all the scholars will get to know over 30 experts during their ten months in the Centre of Excellence in Observational Oceanography, providing a sound basis for the subsequent exchange with experienced researchers. This is the declared aim of the programme: a permanent and sustainable knowledge transfer to the home countries. With the backing of the network the young scientists are enabled to pass on their know how in their home counties. Nippon Foundation and POGO support the alumni of the CofE in future too via the NANO programme which, for example, offers network, research and travel activities. This week the new scholarship holders will be meeting alumni of the previous Centre of Excellence conducted between 2008 and 2012 at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS).

The fact that the AWI is Germany’s leading polar research institute also has a very practical advantage for the scholarship holders even if they explore the moderate latitudes: in the wintry Bremerhaven they have been equipped with clothing which is otherwise used in Polar expeditions. This will hopefully enable the participants from predominantly tropical countries to become accustomed to the German research landscape as warmly and quickly as possible.


Key data on the NF-POGO Centre of Excellence in Observational Oceanography at the AWI:

  • Sponsored by the Nippon Foundation and POGO (Partnership for Observation of the Global Oceans).
  • Sponsorship term of the first scholarship year: December 2013 to September 2014 (ten months). A further four years are planned following a positive interim appraisal.
  • Grants per year: around 290,000 euros for the training based on the model of a campus university including travel expenses, room and board as well as money for personal use.


Further information is available at:

Alfred Wegener Institute:

Nippon Foundation:



Notes for Editors:  Your contact person in the Department of Communications and Media Relations is Dr. Folke Mehrtens (phone: +49 471 4831-2007, e-mail: medien(at) Please find more pictures in our image gallery.


The Alfred Wegener Institute conducts research in the Arctic and Antarctic and in the high and mid-latitude oceans.  The Institute coordinates German polar research and provides important infrastructure such as the research icebreaker Polarstern and stations in the Arctic and Antarctic to the international scientific world. The Alfred Wegener Institute is one of the 18 research centres of the Helmholtz Association, the largest scientific organisation in Germany.


AWI Pressemeldungen als RSS abonieren

Das Institut

Das Alfred-Wegener-Institut forscht in den Polarregionen und Ozeanen der mittleren und hohen Breiten. Als eines von 19 Forschungszentren der Helmholtz-Gemeinschaft koordiniert es Deutschlands Polarforschung und stellt Schiffe wie den Forschungseisbrecher Polarstern und Stationen für die internationale Wissenschaft zur Verfügung.