WASP PhD students have the possibility to apply for a short-term visiting researcher position abroad, in the range of one-six months. This exchange program aims to foster meaningful long-term collaborations between researchers at WASP, Stanford University, UC Berkeley and other university research groups abroad.
Meet three WASP PhD students who have been on research stints abroad.
PhD Student, KTH, First Batch WASP AS-track
At Stanford from August to December 2018
When asked to describe the atmosphere at Stanford, where WASP PhD student Mia spent a semester, she answers “awesome.”
“I don’t know how else to put it,” she laughs.
“It’s like the whole Bay Area is a campus, and everyone is in tech or science. If you come here, you’ll meet a lot of interesting people that you wouldn’t have met in Europe.”
She found the people at Stanford friendly and open to new ideas.
“They weren’t dismissive in any way. You might have expected that since it’s an elite university, but I always felt very comfortable.”
Before you go on a WASP Research Stint, you need to find a “sponsor,” a professor, or head of a research group, at your host university. Mia Kokic came in touch with her sponsor when she went to California on a WASP study trip.
“My sponsor, professor Jeannette Bohg, was a PhD student of my professor at KTH. I knew she was working on things similar to what I do, robotics, grasping, and manipulation.”
Mia Kokic rented a room in Palo Alto. Every day she biked to campus and the lab where she was working.
“I was working on a computer vision project. We wrote an article that was accepted to IEEE-RAS. After I got back to Sweden, the collaboration continued for another six months or so,” she explains.
Mia Kokic highly recommends Stanford to WASP PhD students.
“Yes. And I would urge them not to be afraid. Some students might fear they’re not smart enough for Stanford or that they won’t be able to handle the workload, but that’s not the case. You should go, and don’t be afraid to contact people and share your research.”
Industry PhD, Zenuity and Chalmers, First batch WASP AS-track
Currently at Berkeley. Arrived in September 2019
Since he arrived in Berkeley two and a half months ago, WASP PhD student Ivo Batkovic has been working on two research projects.
“One is more theoretical and concerns model predictive control. The other one is practical; We have a simulator here from which we’re hoping to learn some generic models.”
He describes his colleagues at the lab as welcoming and interested in his research.
“People here talk to each more here than we do at home. It’s easy to discuss problems with colleagues. If you get stuck, there are always several people to ask,” says Ivo Batkovic.
Like Mia Kokic, Ivo Batkovic first met with his sponsor on the WASP study trip to the US.
“My professor at Chalmers knew my Berkeley sponsor from before. During the WASP study trip two years ago, I got in touch with his lab”.
Ivo Batkovic recommends other WASP PhD students to go to Berkeley or Stanford.
“Of course you should come here! It’s a no brainer. The only difficulty I see is the economic aspect since living in the Bay Area is rather expensive and this should be planned for well in advance.”
PhD student, Lund, First batch AS-track.
At Berkeley from June to December 2018
During his time at Berkeley, Christian Nelson worked at The Berkeley Wireless Research Center.
“My PhD research project is about high reliability and low latency wireless communication. Through my supervisor in Lund I found a sponsor at Berkeley. One of their projects was similar to my research, and I worked on that while I was there,” he says.
He describes Berkeley as exciting.
“San Francisco, Stanford, Silicon Valley, start-ups and the big tech companies are all nearby. The pace of life there is faster than at home”.
“People there are good at promoting themselves. One thing we could learn from them is to be a bit less ‘Swedish’ at home and be proud when we do good things.”.
Having recently become a father, Christian Nelson brought his family.
“I went there with my wife and 1-year-old daughter. My wife was on maternity leave. The application process for us was time-consuming and bureaucratic; there were many forms to fill out. But it all turned out fine in the end.”
Christian Nelson recommends other WASP students to go to Stanford or Berkeley.
“I had a pleasant experience at Berkeley. It’s interesting to see how researchers work at another university. We hear a lot about how great it is over there. I think my stay made me better understand what we are doing well at home and what we could do differently,” says Christian Nelson.