Prize for Doctoral Supervision Awarded

For the second time, the University of Bremen has honored outstanding PhD supervision. Two first prizes were awarded to the political scholar Heiko Pleines and the computer scientist Rolf Drechsler. The Alumni Network of the University of Bremen donated the prize money of 2,000 euros per person.

“It is generally the case in research that scientific performance in the sense of important findings are honored. A prize for outstanding PhD supervision is rather rare,” states the Vice President Research, Professor Jutta Günther at the digital awarding ceremony on Wednesday, July 14, 2021.  “With this prize we want to show that the excellent supervision of doctoral candidates is an important matter at the University of Bremen. I would like to congratulate Rolf Drechsler and Heiko Pleines and thank them for their great work.” Jutta Günther also extended her thanks to the University of Bremen Alumni Network who sponsored the prize.

“Good PhD Supervision Is Peer Support”

In her speech, the Senator for Science Dr. Claudia Schilling stated: “Outstanding PhD supervision is actually always rather ‘doctoral accompaniment’. I prefer the latter term as it does not imply there being any dependency and does not point to such a hierarchically structured relationship – a hierarchically structured relationship that actually does not fit with the image of a doctoral candidate as an autonomously working researcher. Great PhD accompaniment should be understood as being support among colleagues and not as a relationship like between a boss and an employee.”

Autonomy and “Team Sport”

In his laudatory speech for the prizewinner from the humanities and social sciences, Professor Heiko Pleines, his former doctoral student Dr. Jan Matti Dollbaum emphasized: “The doctoral supervision from Heiko Pleines gives something to PhD students than can be described as ‘supported autonomy.’ It has its reasons that the colloquium is an important part of Heiko Pleines’ supervision concept, as it is a team sport and thus a symbol for his supervision style in general: Working on finding answers and solutions together in a friendly yet also highly concentrated atmosphere. An atmosphere that can generally be found within his team at the Research Centre for East European Studies.”
Heiko Pleines is a professor of comparative political science and vice director of the Research Centre for East European Studies at the University of Bremen.

Free Space and Opportunities to Talk

The first prize in natural sciences and engineering went to Rolf Drechsler. He is a professor of computer architecture at the University of Bremen and the director of the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI).

His former PhD student Dr. Kenneth Schmitz thanked him for the peer support in his laudatory speech. “The focus was always placed on further development through free space to work independently and evolve, as well as providing motivation for teaching classes and networking scientifically.” This required a great deal of our own initiative. “In turn, Rolf Drechsler was also there to talk - especially when you had doubts - in order to find new perspectives concerning the issues at hand or to find new core focuses.”

The Alumni Network of the University of Bremen donated the prize money of 2,000 euros per person. The money is for a specific purpose and is only available for facilitating the success of PhD students. Committee member Dr.-Ing. Reinhard Ahlers stressed the importance of the prize: “Accompanying people on this path, inspiring them to write excellent scientific papers, and paving their way for the future - whether this be in industry or at the university, and thus also caring for the future - those are aspects of outstanding PhD supervision.”
The response of the PhD students to the call to nominate supervisors was high at the University of Bremen. 59 nominations of supervisors from all faculties were entered.
Five Second-Place Winners Honored

Alongside the two first-place winners, five further supervisors shared the second spot as special recognition: Professor Andreas Breiter, Professor Andreas Grünewald, Dr. Margrit E. Kaufmann, Professor Fabio La Mantia, and Professor Ben Marzeion.

About the Prize

The prize for outstanding doctoral supervision from the University of Bremen is awarded to scientists, one from the humanities and social sciences and one from natural sciences and engineering, every two years. The jury is comprised of the advisory board of the Bremen Early career Researcher Development Center (BYRD) and one member of the prize sponsor, the Alumni Network of the University of Bremen. The nominees must receive at least two nominations in order to be featured as a winner. Young scientists who completed their PhD at the University of Bremen no longer than four years ago can enter nominations.

Further Information:

On the BYRD website, you can watch videos of both winners explaining what outstanding PhD supervision is for them: German only)


Dr. Marie Sander
Bremen Early Career Researcher Development
University of Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-60327
Email: marie.sanderprotect me ?!vw.uni-bremenprotect me ?!.de

[Translate to English:] Die beiden Preisträger mit Konrektorin Jutta Günther
The University of Bremen has honored outstanding PhD supervision. The computer Scientist Rolf Drechsler and the political scholar Heiko Pleines with the Vice President Research, Jutta Günther.