Interview with Prof. Dr. Morten Madsen and Prof. Dr. Vida Engmann about the Summerschool 2020

by Dirk Buchhauser

After an exciting event of the PV Summer School 2020, were was official media partner, we are very happy to conclude this task with an interview of Prof. Dr. Morten Madsen and Prof. Dr. Vida Engmann from the Southern Danish University (SDU)

Professor WSR Morten Madsen, M.Sc. Eng. Physics and technology, PhD Functional Materials and Nanotechnology. Postdoc in Javey research lab, UC Berkeley, California from 2010 to 2011. Started in 2011 the OPV group at SDU NanoSYD, where the focus is on performance and up-scaling of organic and hybrid solar cells, including device interfaces, device architectures, device stability and industrial compatible Roll-to-Roll (R2R) processing methods.
Visit the Organic Solar Cell Activities in Southern Denmark University
Follow Morten on LinkedIn

Vida Engmann obtained her Dr. rer. nat from the Ilmenau University of Technology. In 2014 she joined the Mads Clausen Institute of University of Southern Denmark (SDU); since 2020 as associate professor. She conducted research at Uppsala University, University of Colorado Boulder, and IPCP of the Russian Academy of Sciences. For her research on additive-assisted stabilization of organic solar cells, she was awarded 2019 L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science national award and 2020 L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science International Rising Talent award.
Visit the NanoSYD activities in Southern Denmark University
Follow Vida on LinkedIn Can you please give us some numbers about the Summer School? How many talks, how many attendees, how many hours of preparation…
Morten: We had for the summer school an impressive 32 talks plus student presentations. This is a very high number of talks in photovoltaics within one week – we are grateful to all invited speakers for their enthusiasm in joining, and we are happy that we could offer such an extensive program within PV. This is needed to develop the next generation R&D minds in this important renewable energy topic!
Vida adds: … and who counts the hours of preparation when you’re having fun 🙂 As this was your first digital Summer School: What was the biggest difference compared to a Summer School with physical attendance? What did you like and what not with regard to the (digital) format?
Morten: The digital format offered fast and smooth switching between talks, and in many ways a more packed program than when you have a physical school. As the interaction online also went very well in this format, I believe there is even a larger output in terms of the learning objectives by running the school online. This is especially the case when we had so many high-profile speakers that agreed to contribute to the school, for some even in their vacation period. Of course, the downside of that is less networking and meeting speakers and students face to face, and especially connecting it to experimental sessions, which you can do in a physical session. In some ways, a delicately balanced hybrid version seems like the perfect match.
Vida: It is a great way to participate in scientific discussions without jeopardizing anybody’s safety. It also saves time and money on traveling, and it’s totally CO2 friendly! On the down side, one of course misses the social element, you can’t chill out in person with the rest of participants or discuss the singlet oxygen reactions with your favorite chemistry professor over a glass of Italian ice cream! Would you do it again digitally even if (hopefully) in time to come a physical presence would be ok again?
Morten: Yes, certainly, I hope that the next version of this, now annually, occurring summer school will in fact be the perfect hybrid version. I think there are many good things to learn from such virtual summer schools, that in fact also goes for virtual conferences. You can get more easy access to knowledge, and you can get a higher concentration of knowledge into the program. In short, less talk and more substance! That is also more fair for students without budgets, or even speakers without budgets – knowledge for everyone who is eager for it.
Vida: I think it is a good to also keep the digital dimension of the conference in future, so that the very busy and those who are impractically far away can still take part. What were your personal highlights of the Summer School?
Morten: Many, but I will highlight a talk and tutorial about PV simulation tools from Andrea Crovetto, Marie Curie Research Fellow, which was extremely cool. This is in the spirit of what a Summer School is all about, sharing knowledge and useful methods and approaches that can be helpful for others in the field. Of course, that also fits perfectly to an online version in these times. I also will highlight the industry participation, which really added another level to the school, and complemented perfectly the much more fundamental scientific talks – great combo.
Vida: Since I was one of the people assembling the speakers list, I will not highlight the awesome lectures that were delivered (that was expected 😉 ), but I have to single out here the student’s presentations – I was so positively surprised by the variety and depth of knowledge and ideas that our participants presented – so happy to see that photovoltaics has such a bright future ahead! Did you get feedback from attendees and speakers? How did they like the event and how comprehensive where the information shared digitally?
Morten: I got feedback from some speakers and students. I hear a great enthusiasm about the school, people where very happy about the lectures and online setup, and that they could join such a school in these times. It definitely calls for a follow-up, I believe photovoltaics will grow in many sub-areas in the coming years, and it is important that there are many networks and platforms to support that, such a PV summer school is one way of doing that.
Vida: Judging by the abundant question sessions, it is safe to agree that both the attendees and the speakers enjoyed the event – and I for sure can’t wait already to join forces again with Peter, Morten and Sune in preparing the next year’s PV Summer School – Let the Sunshine in! to Dirk: It was the first time for to support such an event like the Summer School last week. How was it for you and what did you take from it?
Dirk: Yes, indeed it was the first event like this to be the Official Media Partner. It was an exciting experience and we all were happy to have such a partner at the first event, because the crew of SDU and DTU included us immediately into the organizers’ family. This make the communication and trust, which is particularly important in such a project, very easy and therefore very effective. We caught the fever for that kind if events, especially with this crew we are looking forward to a follow up event in future. to Dirk: What is your conclusion if you look at the next generation of young people entering the PV playground? Is such a Summer School reflecting the status of the community?
Dirk: I think it’s just in the pulse of the time to make scientific events like the Summer School globally available in a live online event, as the young student generation wants to share and get information in an convenient way online instead of traveling around the world. I could also imagine that in future a shared onsite & online event could be quite fruitful and hitting just the sense of students how to handle information exchange.
I am pretty sure that the Summer School reflecting the status of the community, as the spectrum of speakers and topics made it an event you don’t want to miss. Speakers range from students, scientists, industrial experts, professors and CEOs leads to a very fruitful mix and makes this Summer School so interesting.

We thanks Morten and Vida for the great event experience & this interview. Looking forward for future projects!

The Team

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