Environmental Chemistry from the eyes of our alumni

Since the program's official start in 2016, Environmental Chemistry alumni have found their way into exciting and different opportunities after their studies! We wanted to share some of their stories with you: 

Alina Schindele, Germany (Class of 2016):

"Since my school days, I have been fascinated by chemistry. During my bachelor's degree in Biotechnology, my chemical world was focused on sterile solutions and processes inside microbial cells. With the study program Environmental Chemistry, I dipped into a completely new world of chemistry, which was frightening and complex at the beginning. But, with the progressive build of the study program and the close relationship between students and professors, this world got untangled until it was naturally easy.

Now, I am the representative head of our family laboratory for environmental analysis. We perform chemical analysis of soil's dangerous waste, groundwater, wastewater, and waste wood on basis of legal requirements. During my daily work, I perform different analyses, like GC-MS of PAH or heavy metals by ICP-MS, do a plausibility check of the measured values of the samples, and write the final analysis report for our customers.

The study program Environmental Chemistry helped me understand the multitude of different processes outside sterile solutions. I can really recommend this study program for all students who are fascinated by chemistry, want to understand the world outside, and aim to contribute to environmental protection."

 

Kai Tiew, Malaysia (Class of 2017):

"The environmental chemistry Master's program gave me some really great experiences and memories. I especially enjoyed the practical hands-on lessons that complemented the theoretical lessons. This program taught me first-hand what it is like to be a researcher.

Currently, I am doing my Ph.D. in microbial bioremediation at Monash University, Malaysia."

Alumni statements

 

Sara Schlagenhauff, United States (Class of 2017):

“I was looking for an environmental chemistry program, and I was really excited when I found the program at Uni Bayreuth. It was exactly what I was looking for. The training I received during the Master's program gave me the knowledge and experience to pursue my academic career further. Now, I’m working on my doctorate at the Alfred-Wegener Institute in marine organic geochemistry, and I am doing the work I hoped to do when I first began my studies.

During my project, I am developing a new method for analyzing marine dissolved organic carbon, and I am part of the team building the first UV-oxidation machine in Europe.”

Alumni statements

 

José León Ninin, Venezuela (Class of 2017):

Environmental Chemistry in Bayreuth gave me the opportunity to apply my previous knowledge into a topic that was more relevant for me than the hardcore chemistry that I learned in my Bachelor. It also showed me how important it is to understand how nutrients and pollutants move through the environment, how they interact with living things, and which are the analytical tools we can use to determine them.

After finishing my Master's studies, I decided to stay in Bayreuth in the Environmental Geochemistry group. There I designed an exciting project on which I am doing my Ph.D. now, after obtaining a stipend.


Alumni statements

 

Eva Voggenreiter, Germany (Class of 2018)

"I decided to study „Environmental Chemistry“ in Bayreuth because I wanted to get to know a new city, new university, and new working groups than in my Bachelors. What drew me in as well as the specific focus on the chemistry in different environmental compartments: air, water, and, most interesting to me: soil. I also appreciated the opportunity to help in the lab from the second semester on and experience how research is done first-hand. But what made my studying there worthwhile and unforgettable were the friends I made. Most of my international classmates became my best friends, and I still keep in contact with them now, even though they are working all over Europe and the world. We had countless study sessions, breaks in “Glashaus”, and Wg-parties after the exam season and supported each other when times were a bit more stressful.

Alumni statements

I am now working as a Ph.D. student in the Geomicrobiology group at the University of Tübingen (Germany), studying iron-carbon associations in thawing permafrost soils. It is a challenging and rewarding topic to me, and one that I couldn’t have tackled without the experience and knowledge I gained during my Masters in Bayreuth."

 

Erica Oldani, Italy (Class of 2018):

When I moved to Bayreuth, I was barely able to spell its name right. I was looking for a big challenge, I wanted to study in a multicultural, dynamic environment and to test myself out of my ‘box’. Yet, when I applied to this study program, I couldn’t imagine how broad this study abroad experience would have been. Today, nearly a year after concluding my studies, I truly value the two years with the Environmental Chemistry group as the most enriching and formative experience of my life, both academically and personally. Quality teaching, problem-solving-oriented lectures, a green campus, the big mensa, a student-sized bavarian town... Bayreuth is not really ‘on the map’, but it surprisingly constitutes the crossroad for environmental-chemists-to-be from all corners of the world, bringing together students from every kind of background, allowing a precious exchange. Overall, I think I got much more than a master's degree: I got the tools to enter an unsteady job market, it helped me develop a curious and critical mindset, and it powered my passion towards environmental research. Trained to think ‘broader’, I again got a job position abroad after my studies. At the moment, I work in an agricultural research facility in Zurich (CH), and I collaborate on a research project aiming to chemically characterize naturally occurring biomolecules with the potential for the formulation of more sustainable pesticides. Meanwhile, I keep an eye on other potential opportunities: private environmental consulting companies, government research stations, and environmental analytic laboratories… the choice is quite wide. In the future, I hope I’ll be able to move back to Italy and finally apply my knowledge on environmentally and socially relevant projects."

Alumni statements

 

Christina Bergmann, Germany (Class of 2018):

"I remember my time in Bayreuth with great joy. The master's program in environmental chemistry is one of the smaller master's programs. That means you are welcomed into a great and colorful community in which an open scientific and social exchange is always encouraged. Small classes and various choices in courses enable everyone to follow their interests.

After my graduation, I was looking for different job opportunities in the field of environmental chemistry. There is rarely a job offer that specifically looks for an environmental chemist, allowing the opportunity to work in various fields.

I found a job as a project engineer in an engineering and consulting company. My knowledge in the field of environmental chemistry is much welcomed as it helps to comprehend the larger picture of environmental pollution. A good understanding of the environmental physical and chemical interactions is needed in order to remediate contaminated sites successfully. Thus we investigate the extent of contamination and find solutions for remediation that best fit the kind of contaminant and the specific site characteristics. So far, I have worked on different remediation projects with mostly organic contaminants such as PAHs, VOCs, and the more recently recognized PFAS. Besides environmental remediation, I also work in the field of contaminants in buildings, such as asbestos, heavy metals, PAHs, and PCBs.

I enjoy my work as it never stops being interesting and challenging. Every site and building is different. Consequently, new approaches and solutions have to be developed constantly. Even though I didn’t pursue an academic career, research is still part of my job. For example, are we currently working on finding more efficient solutions for PFAS remediation."