Ten scholarship holders in oceanography honored

Today ten scholarship holders from around the globe presented their final papers at the Wissenschaftsforum conference centre in Berlin as part of the Centre of Excellence in Observational Oceanography. For the past ten months, all have been engaged in a training programme addressing all oceanographic disciplines at the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI). To close this important chapter of their lives with due pomp and splendour, there will be a festive graduation ceremony.

Representatives of the programme's supporting organisations – Japan's Nippon Foundation, which provides the funding; the Partnership for Observation of the Global Oceans (POGO), which is responsible for qualification aspects; and the AWI, which actually provides the educational content – were in attendance.

For Marwa Baloza, 1 August will mark the beginning of a new life phase. Only a year ago, she came to Germany from Egypt on a POGO scholarship, where she was joined by fellow scholarship holders from Cameroon, Sudan, Chile, Brazil, the Philippines, Malaysia, India, Bangladesh and Indonesia. Now that she has completed her ten-month qualification programme at the Biological Institute on Helgoland and at the Wadden Sea Station on Sylt, she has mixed feelings: "I'll definitely miss my 'POGO brothers and sisters', but I'm also looking forward to the challenges that lie ahead." From August she'll begin writing her doctoral dissertation on biogeochemical material flows in coastal waters. Other graduates of the Centre of Excellence will return to their home countries, where they'll begin applying what they have learned.

"This wonderful programme, which offers so many unique experiences and opens so many opportunities, is only possible because of the cooperation between Japan's Nippon Foundation (NF), the Partnership for Observation of the Global Oceans (POGO) and the Alfred Wegener Institute," says the Scientific Coordinator of the Centre of Excellence on Helgoland, Dr Eva-Maria Brodte. "The programme, which connects the scientific world at the highest level, opens new avenues for young researchers from newly industrialised and developing countries. High-calibre experts from Germany and abroad donate their time to carefully prepare the coursework. The result is a network that transcends the boundaries of disciplines and cultures, to the benefit of everyone involved."

For the past decade, every year ten young men and women have been invited as guest researchers by the POGO Centre of Excellence, since 2013 the scholars stay at the AWI's facilities on Helgoland, Sylt and in Bremerhaven, while their final projects may take them to e.g. Warnemünde or Hannover. The participants were selected from a long list of candidates; a range of partner institutes contribute resources and staff to the programme: the Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research in Bremen, the Helmholtz Centre in Geesthacht, the Leibniz Institute for Baltic Sea Research in Warnemünde, the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research in Kiel, and the TU Hannover's Ludwig Franzius Institute for Hydraulic, Estuarine and Coastal Engineering. Above all, these institutes serve as hosts for the scholarship holders' final projects, which they work on in groups for the final two and a half months of the programme.

This final phase tends to be emotionally charged, since, while preparing to say farewell to one group, it also means it's time to start preparing for the next. This year, two of the current participants will still be in Germany to welcome their successors and share their experiences with them. On 13 September 2018 the next phase for the NF-POGO Centre of Excellence at the AWI will begin in Berlin, offering ten new scholarship holders the chance to gain an unparalleled glimpse behind the scenes of oceanography, marine biology, statistics and a range of other marine disciplines. The new group includes participants from Brazil, Cameroon, Kenya, Morocco, Namibia, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Russia and Tunisia.

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Dr Folke Mehrtens
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@AWI_de

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