This year's winners of the University Society's Outstanding Thesis Award: We introduce them

Encouraging students and young academics as well as promoting their enthusiasm for science - the University Society pursues these goals by promoting special achievements. Therefore, the University Society annually awards one student each from the fields of engineering and natural sciences as well as from the fields of humanities and social sciences, including economics, for their final theses during UPB's New Year's Reception. The prizes are endowed with 1,300 € each. In addition, one award is given to foreign students.

We present the current award winners to you...

In the category "Engineering and Natural Sciences", Kai Spychala received an award for his Master's thesis in Physics. He also did his Bachelor's degree at UPB and was convinced of the study programme right from the start: "The content was exciting, the supervision here is very good and you can talk to the professors at any time." In his Master's thesis, he investigated how it is possible to analyse and visualise the polarisation of ferroelectric crystals with the help of a nonlinear microscopy method. To do this, Kai Spychala programmed a model primarily on the computer, which was verified with subsequent measurements. The surface of an optically nonlinear crystal was scanned with laser light of a certain wavelength, i.e. colour, and the intensity of the backscattered light was measured at half the wavelength. Nonlinear microscopy can be found as an analytical method in biology, for example, to study organic tissue; however, interpreting the method when focusing strongly on nonlinear crystals turns out to be more complex. "A better understanding of the polarisation limits and the production of periodically poled ferroelectric crystals can help realise novel devices for the quantum technologies of the future," explains the physicist. In his doctorate, he is now working on the development of a high-frequency chip that will emit specific signals to control a quantum system.

The second prize winner, Matthew Caron, decided to study for a Master's degree at UPB because of the good supervision and the possibility of working abroad with his degree. Nine years ago, the Canadian-born student came to Heidelberg for a work-and-travel stay. He then began his Bachelor's degree in Worms, spent a year in Sweden as a student and then moved to Paderborn. There he completed his Master's degree in the field of "Management Information Systems" last year. For this, he developed a model for the automatic recognition of hate comments in social networks in his thesis. Around 40,000 comments had to be read and evaluated. "In doing so, I also referred to the different types of hate, which can range from harmless to racist statements. There has not been such a model for the German language so far, although it is an important topic at the moment," explains Matthew Caron. The economist would like to expand this project in the future and has been working at the Chair of Business Informatics, in particular "Data Analytics", since January of this year. His doctorate also focuses on the interpretation of machine learning models on the basis of text data: "We would like to develop a model that automatically shows how the user should change his text when making comments on the web. That way, the comment could be published without being dominated by hateful statements. But working with data is also becoming increasingly important in other fields, for example in the field of "autonomous driving" or in medicine," says Matthew Caron enthusiastically about his field of research.

Hussam Georges is this year's foreign student award winner and comes from the Syrian megacity of Homs. When he came to Paderborn six years ago to study mechanical engineering, he immediately liked the size of the city: "Paderborn as a small big city is really fitting when you come from abroad. You can easily get lost in bigger cities." His uncle, who has lived in Germany for 40 years, was a great help to him at the beginning, because the rest of his family stayed in Syria except for his brother. Hussam Georges has a precise plan in mind for his future: he wants to expand his skills in the field of "product development". To this end, he is currently writing his student research project and is also working as a student assistant in the "Applied Mechanics" department. He has not yet decided whether the 24-year-old will work in research or in industry. In his free time, the student explores the surroundings of Paderborn by bike and is involved with the Paderborn Syria Aid. He is in charge of the homepage on a voluntary basis and supports Syrian compatriots as a translator at the immigration office or at school.