Reports

Please, find below selected reports and pictures of student exchanges.

Hannes Böckmann

Master student at RWTH Aachen University
Research stay at UC Berkeley
I worked for 6 months in the group of Prof. Mike Crommie at UC Berkeley in order to conclude the research work for my Master's degree in Material Sciences. The group works among other research areas on Scanning Tunneling Microscopy (STM) studies of molecular films on surfaces and developed recently a spectroscopy method that combines STM with a tunable IR laser. I further developed this technique during my stay to enhance its sensitivity by increasing the electromagnetic coupling of the probe tip with the laser.
During my visit, I developed valuable skills in computational electrodynamics and STM operation. Furthermore, due to many discussions and research talks, I was able to extend my knowledge about cutting edge developments from some of the best people in the field, learn how to present confidently and participate in scientific discourse in a foreign language.
In the diverse environment of the UC Berkeley Department of Physics, I could work with highly skilled colleagues from all over the world and therefore make valuable connections to the scientific community.
Lastly, newly developed friendships, a beautiful campus and everlasting sun made this visit not only scientifically succesful but also overall very enjoyable.

Arne Kätelhön

PhD student at RWTH Aachen University
Research stay at UC Santa Barbara
From April to August 2014, I took part in a PhD exchange at Bren School of Environmental Science & Management at the University of California in Santa Barbara (UCSB). Bren School is an interdisciplinary research institute integrating science, management, law, economics, and policy as part of a holistic approach to environmental problem-solving. My time at Bren School was a great opportunity to exchange ideas with researchers from various fields, exploit synergies, and closely collaborate with Prof. Suh, who is one of the leading researchers in my field. The collaboration with Prof. Suh helped me to significantly expand my PhD research and opened up great opportunities for future joint research. Apart from the benefits for my research project, I enjoyed working at one of the most beautiful university campuses overlooking the Pacific Ocean, and appreciated the chance to get to know the USA as a fascinating country and one of the leading research locations.

Karin Brendel

Master student at RWTH Aachen University
Research internship at UC Berkeley

My time in Berkeley for my research internship during my Master studies in chemistry was a great experience. In the Reimer lab, my colleagues supported me in every possible way, and even when my research was difficult, it was still interesting and I learned very much. The subjects of my research were two different metal-organic frameworks with liquid guest molecules, and I conducted experiments on T1-dispersion and on self-diffusion.

In my free time, I got to know many nice people in the shared house that I lived in and I was able to see a lot of the Bay area. There is so much to do and to see that I think you can never stay too long. Berkeley itself offers hundreds of possibilities if you like to try different styles of food, and when you include San Francisco, there are more possibilities than you will ever have time for. Other things to do are of course visiting the Golden Gate Bridge, and other locations that are worth a trip. I liked the pier 39, and of course every scientist will enjoy the Exploratorium, where you can play and learn at the same time. I can only encourage everybody to apply to spend time in that wonderful place.

Ximeng Chen

Master student at RWTH Aachen University
Research internship at UC Santa Barbara

I undertook a research internship in Prof. Susannah Scott’s group at UCSB for 3 months. The Scott group at the Department of Chemical Engineering conducts research in surface chemistry and catalysis in order to understand the interactions and transformations of molecules at the gas-solid interface by creating highly uniform active sites. I synthesized and analyzed 6 different ion-exchanged faujasite zeolites for glucose conversion. Prof. Scott’s group was a great one to work with and I enjoyed my stay at UCSB extremely. The campus is beautiful, the Engineering Science Building is right next to the beach and sometimes you can see dolphins from the cliff. Santa Barbara is a great city with Mexican architecture and culture, including amazing food, museums and shops. Surfing, kayaking, hiking, paddle-boarding, yoga at the beach and many other activities are offered at lots of places.

I meet gorgeous people and had the opportunity to go on trips during the weekends. For instance, I went to Yellowstone, Antelope Canyons, I drove from San Francisco down to Santa Barbara on the Highway No.1 and went on a trip to Los Angeles and San Diego as well. It was a great and memorable time for me and I would recommend everyone to do it as well if the opportunity is provided. Thanks ACalNet!

Claudio Luisi

Master student at RWTH Aachen University
Research internship at UC Santa Barbara

From August to November 2015 I was member of the Han group in Chemistry at UC Santa Barbara. The research project was not part of my curriculum, but an extraordinary possibility to get to know the work and to experience the responsibilities as graduate student preparing for a PhD.

The project itself was about combining for the first time two different techniques in NMR – ODNP and steady gradient diffusion NMR. It was fascinating from the very beginning also because the aim and the steps to take were clear. Prof. Han was very positive about the project and with the help of almost all lab members we finally get to a very nice point.

The first time I was living on Del Playa (DP) on the Oceanside in Isla Vista, moved after the summer term to Santa Barbara where I was staying with two friends from lab. It was a nice mixture of getting to know freshmen living at UCSB and life as a PhD student (all three housemates in SB where PhD students in Chemistry). I made many friends in lab and while working long and even spending nights in lab to run experiments we had always a great time together. Apart from the time in lab we went out, did lots of activities together and celebrated on different occasions.

UCSB has a strong soccer team and so every evening/night there are pick-up games on three soccer fields at the Recreation Center - another possibility to make friends on campus. In my free time I did lots of sports, adventure trips and explored CA’s nature and cities as much as I could. On every single trip I met good folks and I really like to say people are awesome.

Arvid Niemöller

Master student at RWTH Aachen University
Research internship at UC Santa Barbara

Guido Schroer

Bachelor student at RWTH Aachen University
Bachelor thesis at UC Berkeley

Arne Kentner

Bachelor student at RWTH Aachen University
Bachelor thesis at UC Berkeley

Dominik Winterhalder

Master student at RWTH Aachen University
Master thesis at UC Berkeley

My Name is Dominik and I study Business Administration and Engineering at RWTH Aachen University. I conducted the research for my master’s thesis at Prof. Long’s group at University of California, Berkeley between October 2015 and March 2016. The Long group focuses its research on the synthesis of novel metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) for gas separation & storage, conductivity, magnetism and catalysis. During my time in Berkeley I was part of the gas separation subgroup developing an adsorption process model for new kind of adsorbents for carbon dioxide capture.

I developed valuable skills in simulation and modeling and extended my knowledge in the field of adsorption. The monthly subgroup meetings and the multiple discussion with colleagues gave me the opportunity to strengthen my presentation skills and enhanced my spoken and written English. Working with mainly chemists encouraged me to think outside the box and strengthened my interdisciplinary team work.

I lived in the Northern Berkeley hills with an US American couple and another roommate which was a wonderful experience. The Berkeley campus is beautiful and the Bay Area itself offers a lot of activities: You can spend the day in San Francisco or just do a bike trip around the Bay Area.

All in all I can say that I had a great time in Berkeley. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact me at dominik.winterhalder@rwth-aachen.de. I am looking forward to hearing from you.

Conrad Szczuka

Master student at RWTH Aachen University
Research stay at UC Berkeley

In fall semester 2016, I visited Prof. Jeffrey Reimer’s group at UC Berkeley. I contributed to the physical understanding of hyperpolarization of nitrogen-vacancy centers in diamonds. A particular spin state is populated through spin-dependent intersystem crossing of photo-excited electrons during relaxation. Consequently, the magnetic resonance signal is enhanced tremendously, which is usually the crucial barrier in spectra acquisition. The next aim is to transfer non-equilibrium polarization to an exterior medium.

Apart from my research project, I had the chance to live a completely new environment. The western states of America and especially the Bay Area offer enough activities to fill every bit of leisure time. Things I want to mention here are for example: Exploring the diversity and openness of San Francisco and its inhabitants. Visiting the numerous sport events like horse races, American football and Ultimate Frisbee. Hanging out with a great mix of people at the Cal Sailing Club and spending time on the water windsurfing and sailing. Biking around the Bay and over the Golden Gate Bridge.

All in all, definitely a recommendable formative experience in sunny state California! 

Lorenz Fleitmann

Master student at RWTH Aachen University
Master thesis at UC Santa Barbara

From October 2016 to April 2017, I stayed in the research group of Prof. Michael Doherty at the Chemical Engineering Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara, to write my Master's thesis in Chemical Engineering. The topic of my thesis was a method to calculate maximum attainable reaction selectivities regardless of reactor design and only based on kinetic information. Solving for these reaction selectivities requires the solution of a non-trivial optimization problem. My work included the implementation of a new solution strategy and a subsequent application on case studies to show the usefulness of the method.

During my work, I received great advice and support from the Doherty research group, in particular from my advisor Prof. Doherty, who met with me once a week to discuss my progress and the next steps of my work. It was a unique experience to work closely together with a highly renowned expert in the field of my studies. I was treated as a full member of the research group and felt highly welcomed. I enjoyed working on my thesis very much!

Santa Barbara and its university are beautiful places and it is a pleasure to study where other people would otherwise go for holidays. I met great people and became friends with many of them. We enjoyed our free time together, for example by going surfing at the beach, hiking in the mountains near Santa Barbara, watching football or just simply by eating delicious burgers and drinking beer from the local breweries. My time in Santa Barbara was a great final semester of my studies and I am grateful to my professors and ACalNet for providing me with this opportunity!


David Kuß

Master student at RWTH Aachen University
Research stay at UC Berkeley

During my four months stay for my master research at UC Berkeley in the group of Prof Iglesia, I worked on a DFT study on the decomposition of formic acid on a platinum surface. Due to the very good supervision and advice from my colleagues there, I could improve my skills in the field of computational chemistry with application in heterogeneous catalysis.

The Bay area offers a lot of activities and sights to explore. You can visit the urban region of San Francisco and Oakland or go on a hike trip to one of the many nearby National Parks (e.g. Yosemite, Joshua Tree, Death Valley,…).

Thanks to the vast offer of social events I got to know many other students from the US and from all over the globe. The sport events like football or Basketball games are a big deal and worth a visit. While taking sailing lessons in the Cal Sailing Club I also had beautiful views on the Golden Gate Bridge.

I can clearly encourage everybody to participate in the ACalNet exchange and experience the beautiful atmosphere in California.

Timo Niepel

Master student at RWTH Aachen University
Master thesis at UC Los Angeles

The Aachen California Network has supported me for six months back in 2014 when I carried out a Master's project at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).  My broad research interests notwithstanding, ACalNet has contributed to the wonderful decision to conduct my research with Ken Houk in California - a step that has significantly impacted my scientific career in the most positive of all ways. Thanks to their support, I was able to dedicate my energy to chemistry and not bureaucracy.

During my time in L.A., I explored the origins of selectivity in ring-opening metathesis polymerization (ROMP) reactions, as they occur with Grubbs' Ruthenium-based catalysts, and explained experimental results from the Grubbs group computationally. Physical Organic Chemistry has always been fascinating to me, and having the opportunity to perform such studies in a stimulating academic environment, on a welcoming campus and in the midst of a vibrant megacity, that was truly a privilege. All this, which wouldn't have happened without ACalNet, has left me with fabulous insights in Theoretical Chemistry, enduring friendships and impressions that last a lifetime.

With regret, I had to learn that ACalNet will be discontinued at the end of this year. Nonetheless, I can warmly recommend the participation in an exchange program to any fellow scientist ready to broaden their scope.