Joining forces for doctoral education

Promoting modern doctoral studies: This is the main objective of the Vienna School of Mathematics (VSM), which consolidates the doctoral programmes in Mathematics offered by the University of Vienna and TU Wien for the first time.

"Being a member of the Vienna School of Mathematics offers a wide range of opportunities to exchange views with predoctoral researchers from other research groups. This is not only a valuable contribution to my research, but also allows me to gain an insight into the everyday academic life of other researchers," says Axel Böhm, VSM Student Speaker of the University of Vienna.

VSM stands for the new Vienna School of Mathematics, which is based on a successful predecessor: the Vienna Doctoral School (VDS) "Mathematics", which was founded at the University of Vienna as one of seven doctoral schools and academies in 2016.

Based on a solid foundation

The VDS "Mathematics" has considerably enhanced doctoral education in the field of mathematics at the University of Vienna by organising a wide range of activities, establishing a mentoring programme, promoting interaction among doctoral candidates from different disciplines and providing financial support for doctoral candidates. The VDS "Mathematics" currently counts more than 50 doctoral candidates who will also be members of the new Vienna School of Mathematics. What is new is that about 30 doctoral candidates from TU Wien will join the VSM.


Modern doctoral education must go beyond the mere cooperation between doctoral candidates and their supervisors.


"Modern doctoral education must go beyond the mere cooperation between doctoral candidates and their supervisors. It has to support the acquisition of knowledge beyond the usually narrow research area of a doctoral thesis and the training of skills that prepare doctoral candidates for the challenges they will face in their future professional life. The primary objective of the Vienna School of Mathematics, which serves as a bridge between doctoral programmes at the University of Vienna and TU Wien, is the promotion of modern doctoral education in Vienna," says the speaker of the Vienna School of Mathematics, Radu Ioan Boţ from the University of Vienna.

At different levels

The Vienna School of Mathematics is a result of a process aimed at reshaping doctoral education at the University of Vienna. With its new doctoral schools, the University now offers doctoral education at the highest level. Additional funding helps create new positions and organise joint activities for doctoral candidates.

"I am very happy to be a member of the VSM, as it allows me to approach issues from a broad perspective during my PhD studies. Through the activities of the VSM, I am able to get in contact with colleagues from other areas of mathematics and get to know different perspectives. In addition, the VSM provides structures that enable me to receive training beyond a purely academic education. For example, I have been able to gain insights into the intersection between mathematics and its direct applications in industry and medicine through the 'Science meets...' events", says Laura Kanzler, VSM Vice-Student Speaker of the University of Vienna. (© VSM)

These activities include summer and winter schools, student retreats, mini courses, PhD colloquia, team building events, excursions, joint events with other European doctoral schools in the field of mathematics as well as interdisciplinary events with doctoral schools in other natural science disciplines. The first VSM summer school already took place in Weissensee, Austria, in the last week of September. Doctoral candidates from both universities participated in it.

The newly established doctoral school supports doctoral candidates by participating in calls and generating funding for their doctoral studies, such as through the FWF doc.funds programme. The VSM was developed on the basis of existing role models, such as the Berlin Mathematical School as well as the doctoral schools in mathematics in Barcelona and Zurich.

The kick-off event of the Vienna School of Mathematics took place on Wednesday, 16 October 2019 at the Main Ceremonial Hall of the University of Vienna. Heinz Engl, Rector of the University of Vienna, Sabine Seidler, Rector of TU Wien, as well as the designated Speaker of the VSM, Radu Ioan Boţ, addressed the audience on this special occasion. Academic input came from Irene Fonseca from Carnegie Mellon University and Günter M. Ziegler, President of Freie Universität Berlin, who are both members of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Vienna School of Mathematics. (© Beatrice Signorello)

Both universities delegate four of its members to the VSM Executive Board. During the first management period, the Speaker of the VSM is a member of the University of Vienna (current Speaker: Radu Ioan Boţ), while the two Deputy Speakers, Monika Ludwig and Ansgar Jüngel, are from the TU Wien. These responsibilities will be reassigned in the second management period. (red)