New Horizons: PESS Intern Awardee Dorothea Schönbach tells her story

First Meeting

During my participation in the Winter School in Austria in March 2019, organized by the Technical University of Munich Graduate School, I met Dr. Tadhg MacIntyre who presented the project “GO GREEN EX” and acted as a tutor in some peer review sessions. My colleague and I both had an interesting conversation with him during a night hike on a trail. I checked his profiles on researchgate and the PESS homepage because I thought that he was a very likeable person. To be honest, I was not sure at first whether our research interests would fit together or not but after careful consideration, I e-mailed him when I returned to my department, and asked for a research visit at PESS. I wanted to seize the chance to satisfy my wish and fill the gap in my resume by going abroad for a certain amount of time. My plan was to come to Ireland, take part in the English Intensive Summer Program to improve my spoken English, seek advice and benefit from his experience in getting articles published as I had to submit a paper in summer, and to sit in on professor’s lectures to gain further teaching experiences. Even though he told me that the University of Limerick does not have a formal exchange program for PhD students, he got back to me with some very attractive ideas. He invited me to take part in the Mindscape Summit in May and asked me to apply for an eight-week internship, which would provide a funding opportunity, to help write the stage 2 H2020 proposal for the €10.5m project “GOGREEN ROUTES”. In this context, I want to thank my supervisor in Germany, Prof. Dr. Yolanda Demetriou. I deeply appreciate her encouragement and support by allowing me to accept both invitations.


The Mindscape Summit took place in Limerick and at Clarisford Park, Killaloe in May 2019. I was able to get in touch with diverse experts from different countries and joined presentations, which changed my previously isolated view from my doctoral thesis to a bigger picture and inspired me to new ideas. In addition, I was given the opportunity to present myself and my PhD project to the plenum. I also got a first brief insight into Tadhg’s way of working affected by spontaneity, last minute nature, his own definition of punctuality, chaos, kindness, generosity, optimism and hospitality.


During my stay from 29 July to 20 September, I was very busy as we had to write 70 pages in total for the proposal and it was not really something prepared in advance. I think, I only survived the crazy working hours à la eat, work, sleep, repeat because of the awesome core writing and planning team with Susan Gritzka and Prof. Alan Donnelly, and the food delivery service. After the submission of the proposal, in which my home university will be involved and my name was listed, I was very proud and felt very honored that I got interesting insights into the development of a EU application, was introduced to 40 partners across Europe (and beyond) and acquired new useful knowledge in different topics during the process. Even though the proposal demanded a lot of my attention, I was able to move forward regarding my PhD requirements by submitting and revising the protocol for a systematic review about school-based bicycle interventions, and completing a first draft of the systematic review itself. Besides my professional development, I very much benefited from the stay in terms of my personal development (e.g. intercultural and language competence) while sharing homes with different Irish people. Additionally, Tadhg was always interested in showing me his green country. In the end, I guess it was unavoidable that I fell in love with Ireland.


As Tadhg will come to visit my department for a few weeks at the end October, I will do my best to give him a warm welcome in Munich. During his stay, we will work together on a publication in which we will develop a framework about “habit formation and active travel”, and further cooperation between PESS and the ‘Professorship of Educational Science in Sport and Health’ might be feasible. My return to Limerick could also be possible if Tadhg holds open the offer of a two-year postdoc position in the event of getting the funding approval for “GOGREEN ROUTES” and completing my PhD successfully. So, I will keep my fingers crossed.

Dorothea Schönbach is an associate lecturer and PhD student at the ‘Professorship of Educational Science in Sport and Health’ under supervision of Prof. Dr. Yolanda Demetriou in the Department of Sport and Health Sciences at the Technical University of Munich. She is doing her PhD in an ERASMUS+ funded project called “ACTS”, which promotes active travel to school among children and adolescents in Europe and involves five different partner countries (Germany, Poland, Czech Republic, the Netherlands and Portugal).  View Dorothea’s profile on researchgate or contact her on email at

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