60 Years OeAD: Exploring networks, building networks

10. June 2021 ScholarshipOeAD60Higher Education
Noema Nicolussi vor einer Schultafel
The Marietta Blau Scholarship up close.

The Marietta Blau Scholarship offers doctoral students the opportunity to spend six to twelve months doing research abroad to optimise their dissertation. The mathematician Noema Nicolussi received this scholarship and did research on spectral theory on graphs in Germany and France. Does that sound dry and complicated? – Noema convinced us otherwise in her selection interview:

“Graphs are an essential and fundamental concept in mathematics. In very simplified terms, a graph is the mathematical term for a ‘network’ and consists of ‘points connected by lines’ (e.g. an underground map or family tree). What fascinates me about this field is that graphs play a part in very different contexts and thus build a bridge between different topics. For example, they appear in applied questions such as the modelling of road networks, social networks or blood circulation systems but on the other hand they also appear in abstract mathematical fields such as group theory (in this context the ‘points’ correspond to abstract objects). Specifically, I am interested in differential equations on these structures.”

The network that Noema was able to build abroad with the help of the Marietta Blau Scholarship was also very concrete: In Potsdam and Palaiseau (Paris) she was able to work with experts from other mathematical fields to gain new insights into her own research questions, which she incorporated into her dissertation. Experiencing differences in knowledge cultures was not only personally enriching for her but also crucial professionally and opened up new perspectives for her.

Noema has already proven the sustainability of her Marietta Blau network: she has returned to her former research groups in Potsdam and Paris as an Erwin Schrödinger Scholarship holder of the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) and is devoting herself to a promising postdoctoral career there. We wish Noema a fulfilling career and hope that her example will inspire many young researchers! – But let us hear what Noema herself has to say about it:

“I am a mathematician and I successfully completed my doctorate in spectral theory on graphs after having completed a bachelor’s and master's degree in Innsbruck and Vienna. The Marietta Blau Scholarship gave me the opportunity to visit two research groups in Potsdam and Paris for three months each and to further develop my doctoral thesis in new directions. While many other scholarship holders used their scholarships to collect data this aspect is largely absent in mathematics and the aim of my project was rather to collaborate with experts from other mathematical fields. I spent my stays mainly working with mathematicians there to gain new insights into my own research questions. After completing my doctorate at the University of Vienna I received an Erwin Schrödinger Scholarship from the Austrian Science Fund (FWF), which enables young scientists to gain professional experience abroad for two years. I am now spending these two years with my former working groups in Potsdam and Paris in order to consolidate the cooperation we started. The Marietta Blau Scholarship has contributed significantly to my scientific career so far. The intensive exchange with international scientists from other fields has been decisive for me professionally and has greatly enriched my perspectives and my professional knowledge. On a personal level I found it immensely interesting to be able to experience the differences in the respective scientific cultures so directly.”

Current information on the Marietta Blau Scholarship

Authors: Katharina Cepak, Noema Nicolussi, Tibor Szabó