Student Activities

GCE Alumni (14): PhD in Soil Physics at the ETH Zürich

The Elite Network of Bavaria master’s programme “Global Change Ecology” (GCE) started in 2006 at the University of Bayreuth. Since then, several GCE students have already completed their degree. In 2020, we started the GCE Alumni series to check in with our past students and foster connection within the programme. Here we get updates (and even some tips!) from these special people who will always be a part of our GCE family. Our fourteenth interviewee is Tina Köhler, who was born in Germany and began studying GCE in 2017.

Why did you decide to study GCE?

GCE seemed intriguing to me because of the wide range of topics one can get involved in and the way that the issues of global change were approached in a seemingly holistic way, which I considered very promising for really being able to make a change.

What did you like most about GCE?

I enjoyed being introduced to many different research fields in the context of global change. The study program is rather inspirational in nature and leaves a lot of freedom to shape one’s particular expertise. I also liked the way how the connection between the topics was emphasized to enable us to grasp a wider picture of the overall problem of global change. On a more general note, I really appreciated the active administrative and organizational support by the coordination team.

What is your current position? What are your tasks?

I currently am a PhD student at the ETH Zurich and Research Assistant at the University of Bayreuth in the RhizoTraits project. We are aiming to explore whether key rhizosphere traits (e.g. root hairs, exudates, soil structure, mycorrhization) are capable of increasing the resistance and resilience of crops under drought in order to secure yields in the context of climate change. Therefore, we are conducting multiple greenhouse-, field-, and laboratory experiments.

How has GCE supported your career?

GCE has connected me to the right people (e.g. my current supervisor), and it has enabled me to gain practical experience in the field I am currently working in by co-financing a stay abroad for collecting the data for my master thesis at the time.

What do you recommend to the current GCE students?

I would recommend GCE students to carefully consider whether they have a strong enough intrinsic motivation for such an interdisciplinary and wide-ranging program, as it is inspirational rather than deeply informative in nature. This can be a great personal enrichment but requires some perspective and dedication to not get lost in the diversity of it.

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