AN INTERVIEW WITH AGATA MARIA KRAJ l by Madalena dos Reis Gonçalves



Name: Agata Maria Kraj
Field: Political Science/Political Psychology
Country: Germany
Occupation: Doctoral Fellow at the Bamberg Graduate School of Social Sciences
Research Interests: Stereotypes, Prejudice and Discrimination, Implicit Stereotypes, Cognitive Biases, Electoral Politics, Candidate Selection, Voting, Political Parties, Political Psychology





Some of our doctoral fellows are doing more than one research stay. One of them is Agata Maria Kraj, who stayed at UC Davis in California and Universitat Pompeu Fabra - Barcelona in Spain. In an interview she tells us about the experiences she made during the time she spent abroad.


// At which university or institution did you spend your research stay? Did you work on a specific project?


A.M.K. I did two research stays: one at the University of California, Davis, and another one at the University of Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, Spain. In both cases, I was working independently on different parts of my dissertation and using the experience to connect with researchers who have the knowledge and expertise in the subjects I investigate in my thesis. Thus, during my time in Davis, I prepared the experimental part of my dissertation while working under the supervision of Prof. Amber Boydstun, whose previous work has focused on experimental framing research. While at UPF, I finished the analysis of my interview data and had the pleasure of working closely with Prof. Veronica Benet-Martinez, who is a renowned (political) psychologist.


// In which way did the research stay inspire and enrich the work on your dissertation project?


A.M.K. My research stays allowed me to meet similarly-minded scientists from different countries and different academic disciplines. During both stays, I was motivated to present and discuss my research in the respective departments’ colloquia and meetings, during which I got valuable feedback on my ideas. At the same time, I was also able to become familiar with fellow PhD’s projects, learn about their perspectives, and explore new theoretical and methodological traditions. Thanks to those experience, I was able to take a fresh look at my own work and become clearer about the direction in which to develop it.


// To what extent was the research stay beneficial for your academic career?


A.M.K. I think they were immensely important for my career, for two reasons. Firstly, as I already mentioned, I have met wonderful international researchers, who have been a source of inspiration for me, not only to explore new theories and learn new methods and use them in my own work, but also to think about my work differently and look at it from a different perspective. Secondly, and more importantly, the research stays have allowed me to build a supportive network of scholars, who give me feedback on my ideas and my writing, which is immensely important during one’s PhD. My work and ideas have gained much more exposure thanks to my research visits, which, I believe, is incredibly important for my future in academia.


// Which aspect of the research stay appealed to you most?


A.M.K. I cannot stress that enough: traveling to new places and meeting academics from different countries and disciplines is an incredibly enriching and inspiring experience. I wanted to become familiar with different academic cultures and learn new ways in which researchers can present and exchange their ideas. It has definitely kept me motivated to persevere and power through the difficulties that one inevitably encounters during one’s PhD. In general, I am a big believer in changing up one’s routines every once in a while, and so I noticed that my productivity was enhanced during my research stays. While I took the time to explore new places and socialize with people, I found that, paradoxically, working in an environment devoid of my usual distractions really helped me focus on the tasks at hand.


// (How) Did the research stay benefit you personally?


A.M.K. Of course! I met fascinating people, many of whom I am happy to call my friends now. I got to explore beautiful California, with its stunning landscapes and alternative lifestyles, and wander around the streets of Barcelona, soaking up its artistic air. I tasted new cuisine, listened to different music, learned to adopt a Zen attitude towards flight delays and cancellations… All of these experiences have shaped who I am today and have helped me grow as a person.


// How did the Graduate School support you during your research stay?


A.M.K. None of this would have been possible without the Graduate School’s unwavering support. I received generous financial assistance for both of my research stays, which helped me cover the additional expenses associated with finding a place to stay, traveling, etc. I was also guided through the application procedure for each visit and received a lot of help with the administrative part of the experience, which, as we all know, can be a little tricky at times. Additionally, even though I was away, I regularly kept in touch with my supervisor, Prof. Thomas Saalfeld, and with the Graduate School's office. Their flexibility and openness made it easy for me to reach out whenever I had any issues during my research stay, for which I am incredibly grateful.



// Interview:  Madalena dos Reis Gonçalves







© Bamberg Graduate School of Social Sciences

Image Credits: © Bamberg Graduate School of Social Sciences