Randa Natras, Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Current position: Doctoral Candidate at the Technical University of Munich
- Home institution: University of Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Scholarship: Ernst Mach Grant Worldwide
- Duration: 11.2017 - 07.2018
- Motto: Every journey starts with a single small step. The secret of getting ahead is getting started. Begin is the first step towards success.
Early in her career Randa Natras from Bosnia and Herzegovina started to gain experiences at different research institutions throughout Europe. Supported by a research grant from the German Academic Exchange Service (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst, DAAD) she currently takes part in the Ph.D. programme at the Faculty of Aerospace and Geodesy of the Technical University of Munich, Germany.
Randa Natras started her studies in Geodesy at the University of Sarajevo in her home country. In 2015 she went abroad for a 2-month research internship at the University of Oslo, Norway, at the Department of Geosciences, under the programme “International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience”. Back in Bosnia and Herzegovina she gathered further work experiences as an engineer of geodesy: For three month she worked for the company BNpro, d.o.o, in Sarajevo followed by a one-year-internship in the Municipality of Travnik in 2016/2017. During a 9-month research stay at the Vienna University of Technology, which was funded by an Ernst Mach Grant Worldwide by OeAD, she developed the first regional ionosphere model for Bosnia and Herzegovina to provide precise positioning corrections. Back at her home institution Randa Natras graduated with a M.Eng. in Geodesy from the Faculty of Civil Engineering and received the recognition “The Charter of the University of Sarajevo” for the best student of the first and the second cycle of studies at her faculty. Moreover, in 2017 the young scientist received a Honorable Mention in xyHt (USA) geospatial magazine's global recognition "40 Under 40, 2017: Remarkable Geospatial Professionals", winter supplement, Outlook, 2017, and she participated at the European Forum Alpbach with a scholarship in 2018.
Afterwards, she had the possibility to extend the ionosphere model to the Western Balkans region during a research stay at the German Geodetic Research Institute of the Technical University of Munich under her first DAAD grant. Until today her research is related to accurate and reliable satellite positioning and the improvement of navigation by modelling the impact of Earth´s upper atmosphere. She also investigates the influence of space weather on signals from Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) as well as forecasting disruptive space weather impact on GNSS signals by utilizing methods of artificial intelligence.
Besides her research work Randa is a participant in various non-formal education activities as volunteering in NGOs and Associations of Citizens in Bosnia and Herzegovina in fields of women’s human rights, environmental protection and support of children from SOS Children's Villages. Furthermore the scientist is a member of the International Association of Geodesy (IAG), European Geosciences Union (EGU), the VarSITI program (Variability of the Sun and Its Terrestrial Impact) and a board member of the Initiative Group Alpbach for her home country. In this position she aims to promote scholarship programmes for students from Bosnia and Herzegovina to attend the European Forum Alpbach. She is actively involved in new scientific study group "Machine Learning in Geodesy" of International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics established in 2019 and co-organizer of scientific sessions on "Data science and Machine Learning in Geodesy" at international scientific conferences.
My scholarship in Austria had an enormous impact on my personal and professional development and it gave me the great opportunity to learn and progress. During the 9-month research stay at the Vienna University of Technology I learned a new scientific software, I had access to the latest literature and all facilities, which were needed to develop the first precise GPS-based ionosphere model for the region of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Throughout my scholarship my supervisor Prof. Robert Weber and all other team members of Higher Geodesy at TU Wien supported me. I got the chance to present results of my research at international conferences and workshops, to collaborate with scientists in Vienna and to establish connections with international scientists.
Integral part of the scholarship programme were activities organized by the OeAD, from welcome events to various workshops and excursions in Austria, which made my stay in Austria full of wonderful memories. I participated in almost every event and thus I met scholars from around the world. I enjoyed living in Vienna a lot, in the most liveable city in the world, rich of cultural and historical heritage with easy access to beautiful natural surroundings. During my time in Austria I communicated with people from around the world in English or in German: at my university, in my German language course at the University of Vienna, in events organized by the OeAD and in the student dorm. Due to these intercultural experiences, I learned more about other cultures and even about my own, including cultural-determined personalities, values and beliefs and I was able to look at things from more than one perspective. Thus, I became an open-minded and global citizen with broadened horizons and intercultural competencies.
My scholarship in Austria positively influenced my life and I also progressed a lot in a scientific sense. This experience showed me the way to new opportunities for my further scientific development such as the doctoral programme at the moment. Many scientific ideas have been born during my stay in Austria. I have already started realizing some of them together with colleagues from Vienna University of Technology. The most important thing for me was that I came up with a concrete idea for my Ph.D. research proposal, that I submitted to DAAD and received funding for my doctorate. In addition, I learned ideas of interculturality, mutual understanding, accepting different and unknown things, as well as an awareness that all progress and growth happen outside of the comfort zone. I can apply these things in my everyday life and I spread them among people in my environment.
I am sincerely grateful to the OeAD for the grant and the opportunity to spend 9 months in Austria, which contributed to my professional and personal development. l also thank my former supervisor and my colleagues at the research group of Higher Geodesy for their support and for a pleasant and enjoyable time at Vienna University of Technology .