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Winter School 2016 – Ecological Modelling

by David

2016 Winter School

From 3rd to 13th of March, I (Andi) participated in the 16th Winter School on modelling ecological systems with C++.

The first part lasted from Thursday to Saturday. We learned the basic tools of programming with C++ and we even started our first small models.  Felix served as an adviser and helped us a lot with his watchful eyes. To end the part in Leipzig nicely, we all went to the small restaurant “süß & salzig” in Plagwitz. The group consisted mostly of Masters’ or Ph.D. students from all over Germany, whether Hamburg, Berlin, Osnabrück, Münster, Tübingen, Bayreuth, or Göttingen. A French student, who’ll write his Masters’ thesis in our Ecological Modelling Department, participated as well.

From Sunday, the main course took place in Kohren-Sahlis, a beautiful quiet village in the south-east of Leipzig. Unfortunately, Niklas fell ill so he couldn’t join us as an adviser. At the beginning, we formed pairs to choose one of the model ideas to implement: either the coexistence of bacteria or an agro-policy to change cultivated land into 50% protected nature areas. My partner and I chose the second one because the human factor sounded interesting and promising. In the mornings, we attended elementary lectures on ecological modelling, e.g. of populations or in space; in the evenings, several advisers or seniors of the UFZ presented their current state of work, their projects, or interesting results to demonstrate the complete working process of modelling. Later, we came together to drink local beer, play entertaining board games, or listen to the guitar of Michael Müller, organizer of the Winter School.

I want to thank the POLISES group who made it possible for me to participate in these days at the Winter School with students from diverse backgrounds. I learned a lot about ecological modelling, pros and cons of C++, common mistakes during programming, but also about current research questions in the scientific field.

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