Berlin – Istanbul


Physics professor Sophie Kröger maintains an intensive research relationship with her colleagues at the University of Istanbul. It is one of three universities in Turkey with which HTW Berlin has a partnership. Istanbul is the research capital of Turkey and is home to seven state-funded universities and numerous privately managed universities.

Professor Kröger, you have been cooperating with physicists at the University of Istanbul for many years. How did this partnership arise?

About 25 years ago, I did my doctorate at TU Berlin in the same research group as a married couple from Istanbul, both of whom are physicists. This was the beginning of a friendship that still very much exists today and also includes cooperating together professionally. We see each other at least once a year.

What are you and your Turkish colleagues currently researching?

In collaboration with other colleagues from Paris, Graz, Riga and Danzig, we are using atomic spectroscopy to investigate fine and hyperfine structures as well as isotopic shift effects in atomic spectra. To put it more simply, we are producing laboratory data for astrophysicists and plasma physicists. Our colleagues are using this data to help them explain what stars are created from. If we can understand this, we can then develop and test theories about how the universe itself was created.

What is the importance of the work in Istanbul for researchers in Germany?

The University of Istanbul is conducting ambitious fundamental research in atomic physics. Many graduates are contributing by researching specific aspects for their doctorates. In addition, there are very few universities worldwide that are conducting laser spectroscopy research on atoms. Over the last few years, the University of Istanbul has invested in excellent laser laboratory facilities and now we are also benefitting from this investment.

Hundreds of researchers at universities were fired or even arrested in Turkey, supposedly for political reasons. Do you personally know of any such cases?

No, none of the colleagues I know were directly affected. This could be because natural sciences such as physics do not really have any connection with politics and also my colleagues there are not politically active.

How do you think the political developments in Turkey will affect your work together with Turkish researchers and your colleagues in Berlin, Seattle or Moscow?

The attitude of mutual respect and appreciation in the field of science is certainly not going to change, international cooperation will continue in one way or another. However, if the freedom to travel is restricted, this would hamper cooperation and sooner or later limit the freedom of research.