Greg Schreiner is taking full advantage of his time as a SASAC student; in May this year, he spent a week in Austria visiting Professor Reinhard Mechler, his co-supervisor based at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA).

Naturally, Schreiner – a doctoral student at Wits University, and part of SASAC’s second cohort – was in Austria largely for academic reasons. Specifically, he was visiting the IIASA headquarters just outside Vienna to work on the design and coding of a social survey that will form the hub of his research. The survey will provide the critical data necessary to evaluate the effectiveness of large scientific assessment processes, and will inform Schreiner’s doctoral research. For guidance, he turned to Mechler, who is deputy director of the Risk and Resilience (RISK) research programme at IIASA, as well as a team of RISK experts well versed in social surveys.

“From a work perspective, I found my colleagues at IIASA to be incredibly helpful and very interested in my research, often willing to share ideas and suggestions,” reports Schreiner, supervised at Wits by Professor Bob Scholes. “It was an extremely productive week.”

This was Schreiner’s first visit to Vienna, and he was more than impressed. “Austria is a fascinating place, and Vienna, in particular, is incredibly beautiful,” he recounts. “I have never visited such a well-functioning large city anywhere in the world.”

Equally impressive, Schreiner says, were the palatial IIASA offices in Schloss Laxenburg (or ‘Laxenburg Castles’). IIASA is headquartered on the castle site in the town of Laxenburg, not far from Vienna.

Understandably, the setting meant that it wasn’t going to be all work for Schreiner. One of the highlights of his trip was, he says, spending a Sunday afternoon eating cherries in Vienna and swimming in the city’s iconic Danube Rive

Austria/IIASA visit is cherry on top for SASAC student