December 21st 2020

City of Innsbruck Award for Research & Innovation 2020

Coveted research prize awarded to Leena Saurwein and Martin Spruck | Research for sustainable improvements in society

From left to right: Award winners Dr. Leena Saurwein and Dr.rer.nat. Martin Spruck.
From left to right: Award winners Dr. Leena Saurwein and Dr.rer.nat. Martin Spruck. (c) MCI-Kiechl

The award reflects the diversity and quality of research at the MCI, as the research areas for the prestigious prize could not be more different. Leena Saurwein received the award for her research on the topic: "Elucidating the Dimensions of Communication and the Role of Culture in an Austrian Medical Setting" while Martin Spruck dealt with "Development of a process combination for the elimination of trace substances in wastewater based on membrane filtration and adsorption on activated carbon".

Dr. Leena Saurwein - Communication and cultural influences in a medical setting 

In her dissertation, Leena Saurwein investigated the communication process between women with a migration background (patients) and general practitioners in the greater Innsbruck area, trying to explain the extent of cultural influence in medical consultations. Currently, the problem is that there are difficulties in the communication between female and male practitioners and patients, which causes dissatisfaction on both sides, which in turn has a strong impact on the consultation and its outcomes. This has a strong impact on the healthcare system, which is subsequently associated with higher costs and effort.

In her PhD thesis, Leena Saurwein is one of the few researchers to address this issue through qualitative interviews.

Dr. Leena Saurwein has been working at the MCI since 2005 in the Department of International Relations and teaches Business English, Technical English and Intercultural Communication at the Bachelor and Master level. Her international academic career began in Mumbai at Elphinstone College. She went on to study translation at Jawaharlal Nehru University and to Edinburgh Napier University in Scotland, where she is now completing her PhD in Intercultural Communication at the Business School.

Dr. rer. nat Martin Spruck - New ideas for sustainable wastewater treatment

Martin Spruck receives the award of the city of Innsbruck for the "Development of a process combination for the elimination of trace substances in wastewater based on membrane filtration and adsorption on activated carbon". In detail, this is about the problem that residues of pharmaceuticals end up in flowing waters through the wastewater and eventually into the water cycle. As an example, this affects and endangers fish, which end up as food on our plates. Wastewater treatment plants are currently not able to remove these so-called trace substances, which is why a fourth treatment stage is to be integrated. The research work of Martin Spruck focuses on a possible method how to separate these residues in a fourth stage by combining membrane technology and activated carbon.

Working as a lecturer at MCI in the Department of Environmental, Process and Energy Engineering since 2016, Martin Spruck is head of the research focus ‘Energy & Process Technologies’. After completing his HTL as well as a bachelor's and master's degree in Environmental, Process & Biotechnology at MCI, he earned his doctorate at the Faculty of Chemistry and Pharmacy at the University of Innsbruck. Martin Spruck is regularly present at international congresses.

Michael Kraxner, Head of Research & Development at the MCI, sees the positive development of research activities at the MCI confirmed: "More than 120 research projects are currently being conducted at the MCI. The researchers are focusing on current problems in our society. Leena Saurwein and Martin Spruck have proven with their research results that research at the MCI can lead to sustainable improvements."

Award of the City of Innsbruck for Research and Innovation

The City of Innsbruck Award for Research and Innovation at the Entrepreneurial University® was presented for the first time in 2017. The MCI organizes the annual competition and chooses the nominees. The city of Innsbruck provides the prize money of €5,000 euros while the City Senate chooses the winners for the awards from the nominees provided by the MCI.

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