Research that enraptures - across borders

Switzerland and Poland encourage new blood in materials research

Feb 14, 2006 | MARTINA PETER

On the 9th and 10th of February the «1st Scientific Meeting of International PhD School Switzerland – Poland» took place in Duebendorf and Thun. This was a kind of «kick-off meeting» for the six young scientists – four ladies and two men – from Poland and Switzerland. They will be working towards their doctorates in the field of «High Performance Materials for Environmentally Oriented, Sustainable Applications». On the Polish side they will be supervised by professors drawn from the Technical Universities, while in Switzerland they will be under the wing of Empa scientists.


Legend: Vinzenz Bissig, Ewa Ura, Paulina Unifantowicz, Katarzyna Michalow, Stefan F. Awietjan (l-to-r)

The five young postgraduates who won the competition for entry to the initial year of the «International PhD School Poland-Switzerland» are Katarzyna Michalow, Paulina Unifantowicz, Karolina Rzepiejewska-Malyska, Ewa Ura and Stefan F. Awietjan. They are the first generation of young Polish scientists to begin their doctoral studies in the field of «High Performance Materials for Environmentally Oriented, Sustainable Applications». The young Swiss postgraduate Vinzenz Bissig, who is working on a doctoral thesis in Empa’s Joining and Interface Technology Laboratory also belongs to this select international group. His work is being supported by a renowned industrial concern.

Nearly all the students will spend one and a half years each at the Empa and either the Warsaw University of Technology or the AGH University of Science and Technology, Cracow. There they will complete their research embedded in a network of all the working groups involved.

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Paulina Unifantowicz with her supervisers (Olivier Beffort, Sébastien Vaucher and Lukas Rohr) in Thun
  The first of the Polish doctoral students, Paulina Unifantowicz, has been at work since January in Thun with Sébastien Vaucher of Empa’s Materials Technology Lab. Her research project is on the subject of «Growth mechanisms and morphology of adamantine (SiC) thermal bridges in diamond powder compacts».

Katarzyna Michalow, on the other hand, can be found in Duebendorf. She has been there since the beginning of February, working with Andri Vital (Empa’s High Performance Ceramics Lab) on «Flame spray synthesis and characterization of doped TiO2 nanoparticles for photoelectric, photocatalytic and photochromic applications»


Kick-off-Meeting in Duebendorf und Thun

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  Front row: S. Awietjan, P. Unifantowicz, E. Ura, K. Michalow, V. Bissig; 2nd row: A. Vital, J. Janczak, S. Pietrzko; 3rd row: S. Vaucher, A. Boczkowska, M. Lewandowska; hinterste Reihe: K. Sikorski, M. Rekas, P. Schmutz (l-to-r)

The doctoral candidates gave concise, informative presentations on the first results of their work at the kick-off meeting on the 9th and 10th of February. For their part, the supervisory staff involved gave overviews of the activities under way in their research groups and institutes. Prof. Krysztof Sikorski, Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Materials and Engineering Sciences, Warsaw University of Technology, and Prof. Elzbieta Godlewska, Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Materials Sciences and Ceramics at the AGH University of Science and Technology, Cracow, reported on their research activities with an eye on future cooperative R&D projects.

Ten areas have already been identified as suitable for possible cooperative research projects within the context of the PhD school, so there will definitely not be a lack of  challenges for the young scientists to tackle!


The role of the PhD School

The PhD School, which is headed by Dr. Jolanta Janczak-Rusch, requires dissertations to be on interdisciplinary research topics. The subject matter falls on the borders between materials and engineering sciences, physics, chemistry and mechatronics.

In addition to project oriented learning activities – in fact lectures – the research students will be offered the opportunity to participate in a range of workshops and international seminars in Switzerland and Poland. The will enjoy opportunities to gain experience in fields outside their own specialization. Alongside broadly defined specialist knowledge they will also be able to brush up on their «soft skills» during their time at the International PhD School. In July 2006 the students will attend a two week summer school organized by the Empa Academy on the «Basics of Management» and «Intercultural/Interdisciplinary Communication»

The Steering Committee (Prof. Krzysztof Sikorski, Prof. Jerzy Lis, Prof. Louis Schlapbach and Paul W. Gilgen) as well as the Head of the International PhD School, Dr. Jolanta Janczak-Rusch, sincerely wish the doctoral students a great scientific adventure and every success, under the motto «Research that enraptures!»


For more informationen contact:
Dr Jolanta Janczak-Rusch, Phone +41 44 823 45 29,