Supervisory Award for Professor Brandt

TopMath Supervisory Award 2022

31 January 2023
 Chris Dong hands the award winner, Prof. Brandt, the trophy. A full whiteboard can be seen in the background.

TopMath Supervisory Award 2022: For the outstanding supervision of its doctoral students, the TopMath thematic graduate center honors Prof. Felix Brandt.

The TopMath Supervisory Award

The TopMath Supervisory Award was launched in 2018 together with the ISAM Supervisory Award and the TUM Supervisory Award of the Graduate Council and the Graduate School. The common goal of the awards is to honor members of the TUM who excel in excellent doctoral supervision and, at the same time, to raise awareness of criteria for good supervision. The latter include, for example, the availability of supervisors for their doctoral students and support in developing a publication strategy as well as the research question. For the supervision of TopMath PhD students who start working on their dissertation already in the Master's program, further criteria are essential: for example, the early support of these still very young junior scientists in the development of their mathematical personality.

The selection process for the TopMath Supervisory Award goes hand in hand with that for the TUM Supervisory Award. Doctoral students nominate their supervisor. They then discuss the qualities with the TopMath doctoral representatives, supported by the TopMath coordination. The doctoral representatives finally vote on who will receive the award. The TopMath Supervisory Award is presented every two years. It comes with prize money of 500 Euros, which the award winner can spend for the benefit of his or her doctoral students.

The winner of the TopMath Supervisory Award 2022 is Professor Felix Brandt who works in the field of Computational Social Choice. In 2021 he already won the TUM Supervisory Award (see the interview with the doctoral candidates of ISAM, the Graduate Center of the former Department of Mathematics).

"Professor Brandt is very accessible"

Text: Chris Dong, Mia Runge

The committee emphasizes the following points:

  • Professor Brandt is very accessible. Most importantly, he has an open door policy. This enables his students to meet him whenever wanted and contributes to a healthy and productive atmosphere in his working group.  Often, regular lunches together with students are the starting point of fruitful discussions and new ideas.
  • In addition, he provides an outstanding infrastructure including hardware and the so-called “group.bib”, a rich digital library of social choice related literature. There exist various selfmade guides not only for software usage, but also addressing topics such as how to organise a course. In addition, a git repository contains all teaching-related files of previous years.
  • Professor Brandt works closely together with his students. He encourages his students to build a scientific network by participating in conferences and seminars. Furthermore, he never hesitates to forward his ideas and discussions with other leading experts.

"One needs to be self-motivated"

Text: Chris Dong, Mia Runge

When asked what is important when guiding especially young researchers, Professor Brandt responded as follows:

„The thought of being asked to contribute to the huge body of existing research can be quite overwhelming in the beginning. I try my best to help students get over this and encourage them to take the risk of making mistakes. Research is trial and error.

Most young students are eager to obtain new results, but not so excited about reading dozens of papers. However, many problems become much easier to solve after studying the existing literature. Aspiring researchers therefore need to develop the skill of quickly finding and interpreting relevant information.

More so than in any other profession, one needs to be self-motivated. Hence, I believe that one of the most important tasks of a supervisor is to spark the students’ enthusiasm and passion for research. I don’t think it’s possible to have a successful career in academia if one doesn’t enjoy and is fully committed to research.“

His students say:

„Professor Brandt is leading by example: his enthusiasm for collaborations with us and science in general is clearly visible and contagious. This contributes to a healthy and productive atmosphere in his working group. “

The TopMath students congratulate the winner!

Winners of the TopMath Supervisory Award

2022: Prof. Dr. Felix Brandt, Professor for Algorithmic Game Theory

2020: Prof. Dr. Oliver Junge, Professor for Numerics of Complex Systems

2018: Prof. Dr. Boris Vexler, Professor for Optimal Control