Germany is just the ticket for optics and great music


Zhenzhi “Jane” Xia in Salzburg with a replica of a Goujon 1753 spinet. Below left, the Strauss statue in Vienna.

Sept. 12, 2015: If you’re passionate about optics and classical music, there’s no better place to spend the summer than Germany.

Just ask Zhenzhi “Jane” Xia ’16, a double major in optical engineering and piano performance who spent this past summer as a DAAD-Rise scholar at the Institute of Photonic Technology at the Friedrich Alexander Universität Erlangen Nürnberg.

RISE Germany is a summer internship program for undergraduate students from the United States, Canada and the UK in the fields of biology, chemistry, physics, earth sciences and engineering. Students work with research groups at universities and top research institutions across Germany for 3 months, matched with doctoral students whom they assist and who serve as their mentors. The working language is English. Stipends and housing are provided.

strauss statue “I've never done so much programming or image processing before,” Jane said. Her research project involved precisely calibrating a hyper spectral camera and reconstructing 3D images from 2D Bayer array images using Matlab. “There were some frustrating moments when the code didn't run properly but I was glad to see how different fields of optics (lens design, radiometry and photometry, color science, image processing) integrate into one in this project and how pragmatic optics is in biomedical applications. “

When she wasn’t calibrating the camera, she was on the road.

“During my ten weeks of stay in Germany, there was only one weekend I wasn't traveling,” she said. “I was very excited to visit a lot of the great musicians' houses: Haydn in Vienna, Mozart in Salzburg, Brahms in Baden-Baden, Schumann, Schubert and Bach in Leipzig.”

  “It's also a lot of fun to hang out with friends after work in the biergarden, join a beer tour in Bamberg, catch a sunset in Würzburg's vineyard or ride a train to Straubing for one of the biggest summer fests.”

 The German language is difficult, she added, “but I found that the elementary German I took in freshman year is sufficient for ordering bratwurst and a Radler or asking for directions when you get lost.”

 After finishing her optics degree this spring, she will remain another year to finish her major in music.   “It would be nice if I could find some opportunities to study music abroad, maybe in Vienna for one semester, taking a short break from all the study of light. Right now my plan is to get into a masters program in engineering, but I'm still unsure what I would like to do in the future, because I'm equally passionate about optics and music. Hopefully I will find out soon.” 


At brunch with other DAAD-Rise scholars in Rothenburg.