Spotlight on...

"Spotlight on..." Visiting Doctoral Fellowship

GIGA Doctoral Researcher Juliana Tappe Ortiz spent two months as a Visiting Doctoral Researcher at Columbia University working on her dissertation on “Peace Spoilers and Peace Supporters – Leaders in Civil Conflicts”. Learn more about Juliana’s stay in this interview.


  • What made you decide to do a Visiting Doctoral Fellowship?

    I really wanted to meet specific scientists working on my exact topic and get their feedback on my project. My supervisors also encouraged me to explore the workings of U.S. institutions and meet many new people working on my topic. It was also important for me to improve my career opportunities after the PhD.

    How did you get in touch with your host institution and how did you arrange your stay?

    It was easier than expected. I reached out directly to the people at Columbia University that I wanted to work with (even before Covid), and they agreed to support me. Then, because of Covid, I had to wait a long time to be able to go to Columbia University. Finally, in the summer, they told me that university life would be back to normal for the fall semester, and I decided that I wanted to go after all and started the visa application process.

    What do you take away from your stay and how did it impact your dissertation?

    For many weeks I thought about whether it would still be worth going to Columbia University, especially since I wanted to go there at the beginning of my PhD, not at the end. I was afraid of getting feedback that would set me back in finishing my PhD, but I was wrong. My visiting doctoral fellowship was a time that I used to think about new research projects and meet many interesting people. I can only recommend focusing on a specific idea and exploring it by getting new ideas rather than changing previous ideas that are already well developed. All in all, I had a great time and can only recommend doing a visiting fellowship at any point in your PhD.

    Have you encountered any challenges as a Visiting Doctoral Researcher?

    The costs of living in New York City were definitely a challenge. Fortunately, I got support from the GIGA, my scholarship (@sdw) and the University of Hamburg. I can recommend living in New Jersey because rent is much cheaper there.

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