Mission accomplished: The SICSS Graduate School honors its 14 newest PhDs


Last Wednesday, 14 young academics at the KlimaCampus had good reason to celebrate: Following the successful completion of their PhD studies, they now received their final certificates from the SICSS Graduate School. The SICSS training program is intended to promote a new generation of climate experts capable of taking interdisciplinary approaches to new problems. The ceremony was also an opportunity for nine new additions to the program to introduce themselves and their PhD projects.

The 14 new PhDs included Dr. Sebastian Zubrzycki and Dr. Wenke Wegner. In his dissertation, Zubrzycki researched the soil distribution of carbon in regions of Siberia that are influenced by permafrost. “The results of my work make it possible to more accurately estimate how much carbon is deposited in permafrost soil regions,” explained Zubrzycki. As a result of the progressing climate change, these permanently frozen soils may begin to thaw and release considerable amounts of greenhouse gases, which would in turn accelerate climate change processes.

Wegner’s thesis dealt with various countries’ behavior with regard to the difficult negotiations concerning global environmental protection. “I was especially interested in the question of what groups of countries are likely to form in the future and in which constellations will allow the individual nations to more successfully pursue their respective environmental protection goals.”

The Coordinator of the Graduate School, Dr. Ingo Harms, emphasized the intensive research support the PhD candidates received during their studies. For example, the SICSS candidate and their academic advisors met regularly with an independent consultant who, as chair of the board, was able to give them optimal support. In these meetings, both content-related hurdles and problems staying motivated were discussed. The result of this intensive SICSS support: PhDs that are completed in a measurably shorter time. “On average, our PhDs only take three-and-a-half years to see their projects through – experience shows that candidates without this support need considerably more time,” stated Harms.