Germany is well known as a country which allocates a high budget for the research and development sector. According to the data from Destatis (2019), in 2017, 100 billion Euros were invested in the field of research and development. It is just one of the reasons why the research atmosphere in Germany is engaging for researchers from Germany and other countries.

High budgets for research and development in Germany are also supported by 1.000 public and publicly funded institutions for science as well as research & development in which you can join. You also get the chance to meet more than 420.000 researchers from different fields and research institutions in Germany. This has made the research climate in Germany grow further.

A little more information about research in Germany; since May 2019, DAAD Regional Office Jakarta has had 3 Research Ambassadors. But what is a Research Ambassador? Research Ambassadors are senior academics and scientists who have a long-standing relationship with Germany. As DAAD alumni, they have studied or carried out research in Germany and know the German higher education system through their own experience.

We have selected 3 academics and scientists to be our research ambassadors. They are:

  • Prof. Dr. Faizal Arya Samman from Universitas Hassanudin, Makassar
  • Dr. Edwin Setiawan from Institut Teknologi Sepuluh November, Surabaya
  •  Dr. Muksin Umar from Universitas Syiah Kuala, Banda Aceh.

We interviewed our Research Ambassadors to know more about their expertise, research, as well as activities. Let’s take a look at our interview with the research Ambassadors.


 

Interview with Prof. Dr. Faizal Arya Samman 

Can you introduce yourself and give a little bit of information about your background? For example: what are your current activities, current research topics, what research have you done?

My name is Faizal Arya Samman, I am a faculty member at the Department of Electrical Engineering at the University of Hasanuddin, Makassar, Indonesia. I got my Doctorate Degree at Technische Universitӓt Darmstadt in 2010, supported by a DAAD Scholarship. My research focus is in the area of integrated electronics, digital systems, and power electronics. Since February 2019, I have been assigned as a Full Professor in the field of electronics and digital systems at the University of Hasanuddin.

After finishing my Doctoral Degree, I kept in contact with my supervisor and my colleagues. Currently, I am working on a research project, which is also a continuation of my dissertation. Together with Thomas Hollstein, my former colleague and full-time Professor at Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences, we are researching and developing a novel low power high-performance computer architecture for many-core processor systems that will be interconnected in a network-on-chip called “XHiNoC.”

Meanwhile, I am also researching the field of power electronics for renewable energy-based electric power supply systems. This research topic plays a vital role in sustainable development in Indonesia. For this topic, I am partnering with Professor Volker Staudt from the Institute of Power Systems Technology and Power Mechatronics at Ruhr-Universitӓt Bochum. I plan to visit him in Germany, sometime around March and May 2020.

Last but not least, I also plan to visit Professor Klaus Hofmann at the Institute of Integrated Electronic Systems, TU Darmstadt, to discuss the implementation possibility of an integrated electronic control unit that can be used in renewable energy-based electric power supply systems in a system-on-chip.

What are your activities as a DAAD Research Ambassador? 

In October 2019, I organized a workshop to promote Research in Germany in Makassar. More than 100 participants attended the workshop. Next year, we are planning to host a workshop related to research proposal writing and applying for DAAD Scholarships through The DAAD Portal. I also use LinkedIn Social Media to post some topics related to research in Germany including introducing DAAD Scholarships which always gets responses from my connections.

As a research ambassador, I am also active in bridging research and education cooperation between Germany and Indonesia. In the near future, I am planning to meet Professor Manfred Glesner, my Doctoral Supervisor and Advisory Board Member (Hochschulrat) at Fachhochschule Dortmund, University of Applied Sciences and Arts. Together, we plan to meet the Vice President of Fachhochschule Dortmund to discuss the opportunity for a double-degree program in the field of Electrical Engineering for Master’s students who enrol in the University of Hasanuddin.

From March until May 2020, I have been invited to visit Professor Volker Staudt in Ruhr-Universitӓt Bochum. Together we will be working on a research proposal in the field of power electronics applications for renewable energy utilization. I also hope that the visit will result in research networking and educational cooperation, such as the sandwich-like Doctoral Program or other programs in the future.

Why do you recommend research in Germany?

Germany is a land of ideas and has a very long history of scientific tradition and innovation. Iconic German products  from the pharmaceutical, chemical, electronic, and automotive industries are reasons for doing research in Germany.

Another interesting point from the German research landscape is excellent funding support for science and innovation, not only from the Government but also from industries. Although it is not directly related, the free tuition fee is also an excellent reason to do research in Germany.

What was your most unforgettable experience when doing research in Germany?

 Almost all my research experiences in Germany were unforgettable.

Do you have any tips on how to find supervisors or research partners in Germany?

Before finding a supervisor or a research partner, one must be sure that they have outstanding qualifications, good experience in the field and have provided a plan for the research project. It would also be helpful if you have already prepared an excellent research proposal.

Finding or approaching  German research partners is not easy. But it is a reflection on the qualifications that one should have. However, please be optimistic and always try. As long as we have a research interest that complies with a German professor’s interest, then there will be room for discussion to establish a research connection.

Finally, do you have any tips for those who want to do their research in Germany?

One must prepare an excellent research proposal. A good proposal means that the research objective is clear and challenging. Research goals that will find a novel idea or breakthrough in science, technology, and applications are recommendable.

Strong commitment to accomplish goals according to the schedule is needed when you start your research. One must be active, observe a good schedule and be disciplined. Do not forget to improve your qualifications and learn something new during the research period. If you have a new idea, do not hesitate to discuss it, because you might get a better overview after the discussion.


Interview with Dr. Edwin Setiawan 

Can you introduce yourself and give a little bit of information about your background? For example: what are your current activities, current research topics, what research have you done?

I am an assistant professor at the Biology Department at the Institute Teknologi Sepuluh November Surabaya. My research interest is in the taxonomy and systematics of Indonesian sponges.

Why am I interested in the field and why sponge is relevant? The sponge is an animal that claims to be the most primitive since it evolves from unicellularity. Besides, the sponge is also frequently researched as a source of drug discovery from marine sponges, and sponges hold essential factors in marine ecology.

Indonesia is also considered a hotspot of sponge diversity. However, identifying sponges needs comprehensive skills. That is why I benefited from being trained in Germany since my former Doctoral Supervisor and fellow laboratory researchers have much experience in the field. The research group that I joined is also recognized worldwide as a reputable research group in the area of sponges. Furthermore, the lab also has a good connection with Naturalis Biodiversity Centre Leiden in the Netherlands, this Museum stores many sponge collections from Indonesia dating back to the colonial era. Therefore, plenty of research collaborations have been done so far.

Currently, I am researching the diversity of sponges in East Java, particularly in the conservation areas like mangroves and seagrass.

I also did research collaboration with the oceanographic research unit at LIPI, supervised Bachelor’s students from the University of Brunei Darussalam (UBD), and am currently trying to make future research collaborations with other national or international institutes whose interests are in sponge biodiversity. In addition, I also assisted at the China-ASEAN Smart Ocean Center based in Tianjin University as Deputy member, representing ITS Surabaya from 2018-2021.

What are your activities as a DAAD Research Ambassador?

I promote research opportunities in Germany to all of my colleagues and partner institutions in Surabaya. Likewise, I also help those who are interested in continuing their studies (at Bachelor's, Master's, and Doctoral level) in Germany by giving free consultations. Moreover, I actively join German alumni networking events and activities to promote German Higher Education Institutions.

Why do you recommend doing research in Germany?

Germany has been known as the "Land der Ideen" for a long time. Therefore, the German research system has been developed very well and possesses an outstanding reputation in the world. The research system involves innovation, novelties, impact, quality, and funding opportunities.

What is the most unforgettable experience you had while doing research in Germany?

My former supervisor was very disciplined. At the same time, he was also very open-minded and direct and straight to the point with suggestions if we made mistakes.

Do you have any tips on how to find supervisors or research partners in Germany?

Be persuasive; express your complete idea and research commitment. However, please do not overestimate yourself and be short and direct to the point with the aim of your research.

Finally, do you have any tips for those who want to do their research in Germany?

Be persistent, make sure that you commit to your research partner and finish your projects, whether you get good or bad results.

 


 

Interview with Dr. Muksin Umar 

Can you introduce yourself and give a little bit of information about your background?

I am currently working at Universitas Syiah Kuala. I got my Master's degree in the field of Earth Sciences from Australian National University and my Doctoral Degree from GeoforschungsZentrum GFZ-Potsdam and Universität Potsdam. I have been working at different departments, including the Department of Physics, Geophysics, as well as at the Tsunami and Disaster Mitigation Research Center of Universitas Syiah Kuala.

My research focus is related to disaster risk reduction, especially in understanding the tectonic setting of Sumatra, mapping earthquake hazards, and analyzing losses caused by earthquakes. In conducting my research, I also involve students and work closely with the government.

What are your activities as a DAAD Research Ambassador? 

The main activities I partake in as a DAAD Research Ambassador are:

  • Conducting info sessions on study and research in Germany in Banda Aceh
  • Group consultation on how to prepare yourself to apply for scholarships and to study in Germany
  • I also work closely with the German Alumni Association in Aceh.

Why do you recommend doing research in Germany?

There are several reasons why one should do research in Germany:

  • The quality of the research is at a top-level.
  • The research atmosphere in Germany is one of the best in the world.
  • Research isconducted by a research team that can help and contribute to ideas within the team.

The most unforgettable experience when doing research in Germany?

I joined a very professional research group at GFZ-Potsdam. As a group, we helped each other professionally and had a good relationship with the members of the research group. As a team, we also published several research papers. At the end of my stay in Germany, my supervisors made a special event called "Indonesien Abend" (Indonesian Night).

Until now, I still maintain a good relationship with my former
supervisors.

Do you have any tips on how to find a supervisor or research partners in Germany?

Here are some tips on how to find a supervisor or research partners. Firstly, one should prepare his/her research topic in detail. They can look for professors who have similar research interests with the help of a search engine.

He/she should contact the supervisor candidates by email to express their interest and explain to the supervisor why his/her research interest fits well with the supervisor's interest. Since the researchers are very busy, use an appealing email subject to catch the attention of the professors. It can be related to the Professors' current research, for example: "Applying for a Research Ph.D. on Flood Risk Analysis". Do not forget to attach the research proposal for better responses from the professor.

Those are my tricks in getting a supervisor. I got all of my emails replied to immediately in a very encouraging way. I suggested the methods of contacting supervisors to one of the German graduates; all of the emails got positive feedback.

Finally, do you have any tips for those who want to do their research in Germany?

To do research in Germany, we need to show an excellent track record of research that we have done for a postdoc or above position.

For a Doctoral candidate, one should show their interest in the research and contribute to the science and community. The applicants should describe their previous research very well in the research proposal. They also need to show good knowledge and skills related to the proposed research methods and ensure that they can undertake the research properly and as planned.