Michael Prokle is a Data Scientist at Philips Research North America working on health care related projects. He holds a PhD in Industrial Engineering & Operations Research which focused on supply chain optimization in manufacturing & aerospace. He recently joined the German Academic International Network (GAIN) Advisory Board to help DAAD promote Germany as a destination for academics and researchers worldwide, for example at the upcoming Annual GAIN Conference in San Francisco, August 25-27th, 2017.

Our DAAD network is a vast and global net of connections between DAAD and its award winners, ambassadors, alumni, grant holders, future applicants – all united by their love for study and research abroad and all things German.

We asked Michael a few questions about his work and experience in Germany:

  1. When did you know that you wanted to become a researcher and scientist?

It actually has never been my plan. I grew up in a small Black Forest town and went abroad for a social year after high school. This opened up an entire new world. I quickly became intrigued by the new experiences and wanted to travel more and learn how the world works. I realized there is a lot to learn and have not stopped learning and challenging myself since then. My PhD experience showed me the limits in research and the importance of innovation. Pushing the boundaries in health care is very rewarding.

  1. What are you currently working on?

One of my projects investigates how we can help hospitals to optimize patient flow, improve health care delivery, and decrease patient waiting times. My other project focuses on population health. We research how we can use existing hospital data and advanced analytic methods to predict and improve patients’ health outcome.

  1. What was the most ‘German’ experience you have had?

I love this question. After living abroad for almost 10 years, I do have them when I go back. Sometimes even at 6am in Frankfurt at the airport. It really is a culture shock coming home every time. However, I do miss many things about Germany. There is an instant connection to home but at the same time a feeling of being a stranger in your own country.

  1. What advice would you give to students who are thinking of working in your field?

Find what you love, challenge yourself every single day, be genuine, set your goals high, and do not be afraid to be different. In Data Science, you need extensive background in statistics, math, and computer science. If you start your career, expose yourself as much as possible to the field through internships and networking. Talk to people!

  1. What advice would you give to North American students who are thinking of studying abroad in Germany?

Do it! Germany and Europe as a whole is so rich in deep-rooted culture. You only understand your own culture when living in another. It took me several years to understand why things work the way they do in Germany. Same is true for the US and the learning never stops. It is fascinating how history and geographical locations shape a culture.

  1. Which pictures, plants or unusual objects are there in your office?

Our meeting rooms are named after US natural sights. I am currently sitting in Bryce Canyon with one wall showing the beautiful view of the canyon. But more important are the amazing smart people with a diverse cultural background that I am surrounded with every day.

  1. Can you cook a German meal without a recipe? If so, which one?

I love cooking way too much. Self-made Spätzle go well with Linsen or in my case also Gulasch. When it comes to baking, it is Hefezopf and bread.

  1. Is there someone who has significantly inspired you in your career? If so, who and why?

This would certainly be my parents. They were the ones who supported me and gave me the freedom to find my own path. There were so many friends on the way that showed me their way of thinking and inspired me that way.

Editor’s note:
Spätzle – type of ‘noodle’ made in southern Germany and Alsace; the dough is poached in boiling water
Linsen – lentils
Gulasch – Goulash, meat stew

Learn more about Michael’s background, the GAIN network, and DAAD Research Grants available to US-American and Canadian Applicants.

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