Current Student Spotlights

We announce with great pleasure that our 3rd year doctoral student, Stephen Awoyemi has been awarded the prestigous Presidential Scholar Award

CEU’s President and Rector Michael Ignatieff and his wife Zsuzsanna Zsohar have established the Presidential Scholars Fund in January 2020 in order to cultivate leadership potential and recognize outstanding academic achievement at the university. 

Beside two scholarships per year to incoming bachelor’s students demonstrating exceptional academic credentials and leadership promise, four Presidential Graduate Research Awards of €1,000 are also awarded annually by the Fund to exceptional Master’s and Doctoral students whose research shows promise for the next generation.

Congratulations Stephen!

Steffen Bettin, our PhD candidate has just published with co-authors (e.g. his external committee member Michael Ornetzeder) an article in Energy Policy. This endeavor helped him to narrow his focus for his dissertation and also made for this nice publication.

Christensen, T.H., Friis, F., Bettin, S., Throndsen, W., Ornetzeder, M., Skjølsvold, T.M., Ryghaug, M., 2020. "The role of competences, engagement, and devices in configuring the impact of prices in energy demand response: Findings from three smart energy pilots with households." Energy Policy 137, 111142.

Balsa Lubarda, our PhD candidate has just published three works based on his research.

A chapter "Marching with Dabrowski – what the centenary of Polish Independence can tell us about the radical right?" in the Yearbook of the Centre for Radical Right Analysis entitled Tracking the Rise of the Radical Right GloballyIt is also available (in a condensed format) here.

A book review of Pieter Bevelander & Ruth Wodak (eds.). (2019) Europe at the Crossroads: Confronting Populist, Nationalist and Global Challenges. Lund: Nordic Academic Press. 284 pp., Hardback.

An online-first version of the article "Beyond Ecofascism? Far Right Ecologism (FRE) as a framework for future inquiries", published in Environmental Values

Environmental Sciences and Policy PhD Candidate Steffen Bettin co-authored a report for the Austrian Parliament at the Institute of Technology Assessment (ITA) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW) on the future of electricity storage. In the study, various storage technologies, e.g. mechanical storage, chemical storage, and electro-chemical storage are compared according to their environmental, societal, and economic impacts and consequences. This full technology assessment is accompanied by a comparison of, for Austria, most relevant applications, and an overview of the Austrian innovation system.

While electricity storage in solar batteries at private dwellings gets popular, energy storage must be understood as one flexibility option amongst many to achieve a 100% renewable electricity sector.

The study is published on the webpage of the Austrian Parliament (German, with an English summary on page 11-14). 

When talking about her reasons for hope, Jane Goodall stated: “there are so many people who have dreamed seemingly unattainable dreams and, because they never gave up, achieved their goals against all the odds.”

These words are very important to me because following my passion and believing in what I do have brought me where I am today. My love for nature and my wish to work in the field of nature conservation have guided my educational and professional choices. I studied Environmental Sciences both during my Bachelor and my Masters studies in Romania, I have attended several national and international courses and training in the field and I have been a volunteer for two environmental NGO’s during this time, working in biodiversity conservation, nature education and responsible tourism. My work as a volunteer has had great impact on me. It was in this role that I learned to apply the knowledge I gained, I gathered practical experience and I was directly faced with the challenges entailed by working in this field. At this point, embarking on a PhD program represented an essential stepping-stone for my becoming an expert in the field and working at a higher academic and professional level.

I am currently a second year PhD candidate in the Environmental Science and Policy Department at CEU. Becoming a doctoral student at CEU has been a huge opportunity for me, because it has given me the amazing chance to pursue one of my biggest dreams: working with wolves! I have been fascinated with wolves my entire life and I have been eager to bring my contribution to wolf conservation, by showing the importance of protecting this species and by promoting proper wolf management. But I have had a hard time finding my way into in this field in Romania. Now CEU has offered me this opportunity.

As part of my research I am currently studying the conflicts between people and wolves, and all the associated issues, in the specific context of the Western Carpathians, Romania. I am guided in this quest by professors Brandon Anthony, Alex Antypas and Dr. Jennifer Miller, my committee members, who sustain my progress with great care, dedication and wisdom. Thus, I feel confident and enthusiastic about carrying out my research, knowing that I am always sustained in this challenging, but also rewarding process.

The reward of the entire PhD program for me, is not as much about the results that I obtain, as it is about the no matter how small contribution my research can bring to the bettering of the real world. It is a feeling of fulfillment you have when you see your own self-growth and when you know that you can bring at least an ounce of good to the world around you.

This being said, being part of CEU, from my point of view, is a great chance to learn in an institution committed to excellence and to interdisciplinary approaches and research that is socially relevant. I believe that the open and friendly, student-centered environment that CEU fosters, is an environment that nurtures self-learning and self-development. We, as student, learn how to use our own judgement and thinking, in other words, we learn how to learn, and how to do things with our own strength. These traits are very important for us further on in life when we face the realities of the field we pursued.
In conclusion, I would like to revert to Jane Goodall’s words: “Let’s have faith in ourselves, in our intellect, in our staunch spirit and in our young people. And let’s do the work that needs to be done, with love and compassion."

I received my masters degree in CEU’s MESPOM program in 2007, in the first batch of this very successful international masters program on environmental sciences, policy and management. After working for nine years as policy advisor, project leader and program director for Greenpeace and giving birth to two beautiful and active boys, I decided to return to academia.

During my masters studies I very much appreciated CEU’s international and transdisciplinary approach, high academic quality and great location, thus I decided to return to my Alma Mater for my doctorate degree. I enrolled in CEU’s PhD program in 2014 to research transboundary environmental governance in the Carpathian Mountain region: looking at what and how is driving cooperation among the stakeholders.

The first year of the PhD program equipped me with the theoretical and methodological knowledge and capabilities that I needed to be able to carry out top quality research and also with tools and methods to be able to teach. It also helped me to specify my own research project. Furthermore, the opportunity of being able to join courses of all other departments at the university allowed me to broaden my horizon to emerging and cutting-edge research disciplines. After having defended my research prospectus in the second academic year, I started pursuing my field work and preliminary data analysis with CEU’s financial support.

The interactions with other PhD students and professors from many countries and with different disciplinary backgrounds provides a highly stimulating learning and research environment, in which we can support and challenge each other and thus stimulate new thoughts, new approaches, new knowledge – and also new friendships.