The PhDs are at the center of the doctoral college. On this page, they shortly introduce themselves and their careers.


Portrait photo Zebenholzer

Moritz Zebenholzer grew up in Waidhofen an der Ybbs, where he attended the HTL, specializing in mechanical engineering with a focus on automation technology. He then pursued further education in Vienna, studying process engineering at the TU Wien. In his Bachelor's thesis he dealt with the temperature and pressure control of a sublimation system used to prepare samples for mass spectrometry. In his diploma thesis he explored the optimization of pumped storage power plants using reinforcement learning, a form of machine learning.

His dissertation research revolves around sector coupling and digital twins in industrial energy systems. The objective is to examine how a distributed energy system, based on a hydrogen laboratory infrastructure, can operate more efficiently and sustainably through various control and optimization methods. A comparative analysis will be conducted among reinforcement learning (RL), mixed-integer linear programming (MILP), and model predictive control (MPC).

In his free time, Moritz is passionate about playing the violin in an orchestra and going on mountain bike tours. He also enjoys brewing beer on a self-built system.

Portrait photo Klaassen

Christoph grew up in Munich. He then studied "Renewable Energies" at the Technical University of Amberg-Weiden with a focus on chemical process engineering.

After completing his Bachelor's degree, with two excursions to India and initial experience in industry, he then focused on his Master's degree in Environmental Systems and Resource Management at the University of Osnabrück. There he learned the basics of computer science and focused on environmental modeling.

In addition, an Erasmus stay in Holland was part of his master's programme, in which lectures in the areas of digitization, modeling and data science were attended.

The studies ended with the master’s thesis in cooperation with the Fraunhofer Institute for Energy Economics and Energy System Technology in Kassel. His work there focused on the topic of optimizing gas networks and he gained his first impressions in the field of open-source software development.

In his dissertation he is working on the development of a hydrogen laboratory infrastructure for modeling, simulation and optimization of distributed energy systems.

In his free time, Christoph is part of the Engineers Without Borders association and is active in the Vienna regional group. Besides that, he practices yoga and plays guitar. He likes to meet friends for a cup of tea or coffee.

Portrait photo Zechner

Nicole grew up in a small town in Upper Styria, and came to the city of Vienna and to TU Wien for her studies in physics.

During her bachelor's and master's studies, she was always focused on two topics - biophysics and energy engineering. However, despite a burning interest in both fields, Nicole decided to focus on energy engineering towards the end of her master's degree - in order to be able to make her small contribution to solving the global climate crisis.

While Nicole worked on the activation of human T-cells on artificial structures in her bachelor's thesis, she investigated electrical properties of thin-film photovoltaic modules and worked on new methods for their pre-standardization in her diploma thesis, which she conducted at AIT.

In her dissertation, Nicole is now developing a digital model for the physics of a sub-process in the wood panel industry, which will subsequently be extended to a digital twin to ensure optimal plant operation.

Away from the office, Nicole spends a lot of time with books, yoga, gaming and her cats and acquires new "useless" knowledge with which she can amaze everyone at the next pub quiz or lunch with colleagues.

Portrait photo Fellner

David Fellner is originally from the area around Steyr in Upper Austria, where he was drawn from to study in Vienna. In the course of his electrical engineering studies, he completed two stays abroad, and specialized more and more in electrical network engineering.

At the moment he is working on data-driven applications for better monitoring and thus integration of new generators and consumers in the grid. In the future, these will be indispensable for the increased need for automation due to the major changes in the energy system. With the help of operational data of electrical grids and machine learning algorithms, these will be implemented.

David enjoys reading in his free time, exploring as much of the world as possible while traveling, and trying to gather new ideas while cooking. He also enjoys foreign languages, as well as music and art. He tries to balance his life in front of the screen with cycling, yoga and volleyball.

In general, David thinks he can be enthusiastic about pretty much anything, as long as it's not always the same thing.

Portrait photo Niederhofer

Stefan is an enthusiastic technician. He is interested in understanding things in a holistic context and applying what he understands directly. For example, in addition to his studies in the field of energy management and energy technology, he built his own small wind turbine for private use and experimented with photovoltaic systems and the use of hydropower in the private environment.

After successfully completing his studies, Stefan worked for several years in the field of private and industrial photovoltaic systems. There he planned rooftop systems in Germany and Austria on a scale of 1 kWp to 1.2 MWp. He quickly acquired the practical electrotechnical knowledge to be able to independently and safely implement large-scale PV systems from the initial inspection to commissioning. Working in large-scale projects and their responsible management is a passion of Stefan.

Writing a dissertation is a next step for Stefan to make his high-quality contribution to the energy transition. The SIC! Doctoral School provides him with an attractive framework for this, as in addition to research work on the latest state of the art, the work in a collegial environment makes synergies usable and thus knowledge gain is possible for all participants.

In his private life, Stefan is interested in family - he is a stepfather of 6 children - travel, animals and music. Stefan is also an enthusiastic sportsman and enjoys being outdoors.

Portrait photo Zawodnik

Vanessa originally comes from the southern part of Lower Austria and currently lives in Styria.

After finishing school she started her academic career at the university of Vienna. After graduating with a bachelor's degree in the natural science subject "Geography", she made the groundbreaking decision to choose an educational path that would enable her to contribute to solving the current societal problems related to the climate crisis. Thus, she ended up in the Styrian mining town of Leoben and studied "Industrial Energy Technology". Process engineering in the context of energy technology was the subject she dealt with intensively, especially in her Master's degree.

In her dissertation she is engaged in the field of operation optimization using the example of the iron and steel industry. This energy-intensive sector is one of the adjusting screws for the decarbonization of industrial energy systems. Solving the posed problem requires different skills in process and data analysis, modeling / digital twinning and optimization.

In her spare time, she can be found in the mountains, on the yoga mat or Thai boxing.

Portrait photo Wallner

After graduating from secondary school, Stefan was drawn from the Pinzgau region of Salzburg to green Styria.

There he chose the University of Leoben and the field of study of "Industrial Energy Technology" for his further education. Stefan's enthusiasm for scientific topics and technology, as well as his desire to actively contribute to the energy transition, could thus be combined in one study program.

For this reason, after completing his master's degree, Stefan also decided to write his dissertation at the "Chair of Energy Network Technology", where he is now working on the modeling of multi-energy systems. Such models can be used to simulate and optimize networks for different energy carriers, such as electricity, natural gas, district heating and hydrogen, as well as the interfaces between these energy systems. In this way, important statements can be made about the network infrastructure of the future and about the challenges that science and technology will still face in this subject area.

When Stefan is not working on his dissertation, he can usually be found running or in the mountains, where he can be found with a hiking backpack or skiing equipment, depending on the season.