Interview with the coordinators of the EURAXESS and EURAXESS Worldwide actions

Categories: News

Tags: EURAXESS | Meet the researchers

At the occasion of the launch of our EURAXESS Korea office, we’ve interviewed the managers of the EURAXESS project at the Eurpean Commission and the manager of the EURAXESS Worldwide initiative at the German Areospace Centre Project Management Agency (DLR-PT ). Let’s see what they have to reveal about EURAXESS!

Kitty FEHRINGER, European Commission, DG Research, Coordinator "EURAXESS initiative"
Ms Kitty FEHRINGER joined the European Commission in 2002. From 2007 to date she in charge as policy officer for activities under “EURAXESS-Researcher in Motion” dealing with the mobility aspects of a researcher career. Ms Fehringer is the coordinator of around 550 EURAXESS Services Centres located in 40 European countries and at the same time in charge of EURAXESS Worldwide.. Ms Fehringer coordinates the work of the service centres as well as the development and update of the EURAXESS portal.
Ms Fehringer has a professional background in Marketing Management following her studies of special education for disabled children at the University of Vienna.

Dr. Xiaomeng Shen is the head of the unit “Cooperation with East Asia and Pacific Region” and a Senior Scientific Officer at the Project Management Agency at the German Aerospace Center (DLR). Among others, she coordinates the European Union Initiative EURAXESS Worldwide which networks with international researchers abroad and stimulates scientific cooperation between Europe and the third-countries.
Before she joined the Project Management Agency at DLR, she worked as a researcher and project coordinator at United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS) for 7 years.
She earned her PhD in Geography at the University of Bonn, Germany.

- Dear Kitty, Xiaomeng, can you let us know about your background, and what led you to lead projects related to researcher mobility and international cooperation?

Kitty: I have been working for the past 12 years at the Directorate General for Resarch and Innovation at the European Commission. I coordinate the EURAXESS initiative at a European level, this encompasses the collaboration with the 40 European countries plus the international dimension, EURAXESS worldwide.


Xiaomeng: I am a geographer by training and was a researcher myself for 7 years at the United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human Security. I received my BA in China and did my MA and doctoral degrees in Germany.  I’m now working for German Aerospace Centre Project Management Agency (DLR-PT) which is one of the largest research management and funding agencies worldwide. I have always worked in an international context, so it is a natural career path for me to work in the field of researcher mobility and international cooperation.


- How does the EURAXESS initiative work? How is the European Commission backing it?

K: One of the policy objectives of the European Commission is to create a European Research Area (ERA), a unified area open to the world, in which scientific knowledge, technology and researchers circulate freely. EURAXESS is one of the clear implementation tools for the ERA as it allows researches to advance their career through mobility experiences. Thousands of mobile researchers seek support and information via the 550 EURAXESS centres all over Europe, millions of pageviews are counted on the EURAXESS portal.

X: EURAXESS is a unique pan-European initiative delivering information and support services to researchers of all nationalities, disciplines and career levels. It helps researchers at all stages of their mobility endeavour: EURAXESS Worldwide provides information about funding opportunities and on how to apply for funding. Once a researcher has received the funding and arrived in Europe, EURAXESS Centres will help researchers settle down in her hosting country by providing assistance with all types of daily challenges.


- What would be in your opinion (one among) the best actions/projects implemented within EURAXESS in Europe and worldwide?

K: All projects that support the transnational collaboration for the benefit of the researcher’s community are highly appreciated as they coincide with the objective of the initiative, the support to the international community of researchers.


- How important is researcher mobility and international research cooperation, for your organisations, and also for you, personally?

X: One of the most important DLR-PT working areas is to facilitate international cooperation between Germany, Europe and the rest of the world. For me personally, born a Chinese national I have always followed the traditional educational ideology in ancient China: read well and travel far. So supporting researcher mobility is what I have always felt called for, so I happily took the opportunity EURAXESS Worldwide project offers me: working with an inspiring international team and supporting researchers with their mobility worldwide.


- Can you give a bit of context about the launch of the EURAXESS Korea office? Is there a strategy for EURAXESS Worldwide towards Korea?

K: As stated above, it is a policy objective that relates to jobs and growth of the Commission`s agenda. With EURAXESS we contribute to the open labour market for researcher and as we all know, researchers are a highly valuable work force.

X: Korea has many excellent researchers as shown in a study commissioned by the European Commission. We would like to inform them about research and funding opportunities in Europe so that they can collaborate with researchers based in Europe, either by coming to Europe to continue their research career here or by working in projects funded by the framework programmes of the Commission or the member states of the EU. We also would like to build up a EURAXESS Korea network of researchers to facilitate networking and cooperation of the network members.


- And finally: what do you hope Korean researchers will be able to gain from EURAXESS services in Korea?

X: we hope that Korean researchers will gain access to the framework programme of the European Commission which is the largest research funding scheme worldwide!


Dear Kitty, Xiaomeng, thank you very much for your time!