Summer Schools in East Africa and Germany

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The summer schools in the field of geo-biosciences in East Africa include the disciplines of paleoclimatology, paleontology, paleoanthropology, evolutionary biology, structural geology and geophysics. I teach these summer schools together with colleagues from Addis Ababa University and the University of Nairobi, as well with many colleagues from other universities. The summer schools are funded by the VolkswagenFoundation.

Summer School 2009

Climate Change and Human Evolution in East Africa
Kenya 14–25 Sep 2009

Prof. Dr. Ralph Tiedemann, University of Potsdam
apl. Prof. Dr. Martin H. Trauth, University of Potsdam
Prof. Dr. Eric O. Odada, University of Nairobi

The first summer school included an excursion to key sites of human evolution in Kenya and a short course on the analysis of data from the bio-geo-sciences.

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Summer School 2010/11

Tectonics, Climate and Evolution in East Africa
Kenya and Tanzania 19 September–10 October 2010
Kenya 17 Sep–10 Oct 2011

apl. Prof. Dr. Martin H. Trauth, University of Potsdam
Prof. Dr. Eric O. Odada, University of Nairobi

We organized two consecutive summerschools in the field of geo-biosciences in East Africa, including the disciplines of paleoclimatology, paleontology, paleoanthropology, evolutionary biology, structural geology and geophysics. The summerschool focused on the relationships between the development of extreme relief in the East African Rift system, superposed past climate changes and their influence on mammalian and hominin evolution. The transdisciplinary summerschools for students from the fields of geosciences and biosciences aimed at intense training of the participants at the MSc, PhD and postdoctoral level to foster a better understanding of climate-biosphere interactions in a complex tectonic-topographic setting such as the Kenya and Tanzanian rift valley. This effort rested on team teaching and joint learning and will generate important synergies between researchers and graduate students. The acquired knowledge and understanding helped students define premier research topics to study past geo-biosphere interactions, and it ultimately provided the next generation of researchers and practitioners with the necessary background and scientific tools to evaluate and mitigate the effects of present-day and future environmental changes in the course of global change.

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Summer School 2015/16

Collecting, Processing and Processing Information in the Geo-Bio-Sciences
Ethiopia 20 Sep–11 Oct 2015
Kenya 21 Feb–13 Mar 2016

apl. Prof. Dr. Martin H. Trauth, University of Potsdam
Prof. Dr. Asfawossen Asrat, University of Addis Ababa
Prof. Dr. Eric O. Odada, University of Nairobi

One of the most valuable skills that experienced and successful scientists can pass on to young researchers is the efficient identification of attractive and relevant research topics in the vast and complex world of science. Our current series of summer schools funded by the VolkswagenFoundation in the bio-geo-sciences aims to help twenty young scientists from African and European universities to design new research projects on such topics using the latest methods of data analysis, and to present the results from these projects in an attractive and professional manner. The first module of the summer school focusses on searching relevant published literature and related data on a scientific topic, using both free and commercially available online citation databases. The aim of this module is to identify scientific hypotheses and controversies that could form the basis for new research projects and scientific experiments. This was followed by a set of modules dealing with the analysis of both the researcher’s own data and previously published data using sophisticated statistical and numerical methods such as, for example, using time series analysis to detect climatic changes, using remote sensing methods to map spatial variations in environmental conditions, and using geographic information systems to define areas of heightened georisk. In the third set of modules the results generated in the previous modules are prepared for publication. In this part of the summer school participants are instructed in academic writing, in the design of posters for conferences, and in giving lectures to both specialist and non-specialist audiences.

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