When Maria Kristalova talks about her research work, she easily gets carried away. A doctoral student of Professor Jutta Günther in the Faculty of Economics, at the moment Maria is full of anticipation. Not only is she excited about finishing her dissertation, but also because a great event is approaching. She has been selected by a jury as one of 350 young scholars and scientists from 66 countries for this year's Nobel Laureate Meeting. In Lindau on Lake Constance, 18 Nobel Laureates of economics will meet with selected young talents in their respective fields.
"It is a wonderful opportunity for me," says Maria Kristalova, and admits "For me, these Nobel Prize winners are real stars." This explains why, when girlfriends of hers posted photos of celebrity stars and starlets on Facebook, Maria Kristalova followed up with images of some award-winning economists and was promptly asked "what are these old men for?"
She trod an unusual pathway to academic excellence. She grew up in Belgorod, a Russian city on the Ukrainian border, 700 kilometers south of Moscow, and went to school there. She graduated from the Moscow University of Statistics, Computer Science and Economics, and completed her degree in economics in her hometown. "I was intent on following up with a master’s degree in Europe," says the young researcher. When surfing the net, she noticed that Bremen is German federal state with a strong export economy. So the Hanseatic City seemed to her to be a most appropriate choice of location to realize her goal. "Instead of following the usual procedure, I decided to apply for an internship." This came about with BEGO, Bremer Goldschlägerei, a leading company in medical technology. Maria Kristalova speaks very highly of the company. “They made the beginning easier for me and are socially minded.” Since the company offices on the campus are located right next to the building which houses the University of Bremen’s Faculty of Economics, she was literally only a step away from her goal. She applied for a place – and was accepted. BEGO even offered her the opportunity to continue working during to help finance her studies.
When the young Russian graduate student, who speaks fluent German and English, was asked by her professor whether she wanted to study for a doctorate, she was enthusiastic. "This was an attractive offer". A short time before, she had received an award for her work. And since then, she has been doing research as a member of the research group “Innovation Economics and Structural Change” and teaching students mathematics, statistics, and model calculations – for her, these are stimulating things she simply enjoys doing. Maria is writing her doctoral thesis on the impact of the Russian sanctions on the 27 countries of the EU from 2014 to 2016, with a special focus on Germany. The topic is complex, because it also illuminates the changing trade relations between the countries. If she sees that her conversation partner is showing interest, the young scholar immediately has her notebook at hand and starts clicking on illustrative graphics to prove her point.
Our young economist feels quite at home at the University of Bremen. "I appreciate the openness, the team spirit, and the diversity," she says. "It’s great to be part of a research team at an excellent university." In her department, she likes the working environment in her Faculty, is engaged in a team as women's representative, and is particularly struck by the library. "There are very attentive people working there."
“I can still hardly believe that I’ve been selected to take part”, she says about the meeting in Lindau, “it’s a great honor for me to be actively representing the University of Bremen.” For the 27-year-old, it is rather like the day before a birthday. For in the midst of this exciting time at Lake Constance – she will become 28 years old.