Sub Auspiciis Doctorates for Six Academics in Graz

From left: Uni Graz Rector Peter Riedler, Tomas Kamencek, Michael Missethan, Luk
From left: Uni Graz Rector Peter Riedler, Tomas Kamencek, Michael Missethan, Lukas Spielhofer, Daniel Kales, Gabriel Lipnik, Tobias Scheipel, TU Graz Rector Horst Bischof. Image source: Wolf - TU Graz/Uni Graz

Two computer scientists, two mathematicians and a physicist from TU Graz and a philologist from the University of Graz received their doctorates on 15 March 2024 in a joint ceremony in the auditorium of the Old University of Graz under the auspices of the Federal President.

Only very few graduates from Austrian universities succeed in obtaining a doctorate "sub auspiciis Preasidentis rei publicae". Now six scholars were able to celebrate this brilliant achievement in Graz: The classical philologist Lukas Spielhofer (University of Graz), the computer scientists Daniel Kales and Tobias Scheipel, the mathematicians Gabriel Lipnik and Michael Missethan as well as the physicist Tomas Kamencek (all TU Graz) have earned this award due to their exceptional scholastic and academic achievements.

On behalf of the Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen, University of Graz Rector Peter Riedler and TU Graz Rector Horst Bischof performed the graduation ceremony in the auditorium of the Old University of Graz in the presence of Governor Christopher Drexler on 15 March 2024. The Federal President will personally present the Ring of Honour with the Federal Eagle of the Republic of Austria to the graduates at a reception in the Vienna Hofburg on 18 March.

A shining example for all students

"The sub auspiciis doctorate is a celebration of scholarship and academic excellence," said University of Graz Rector Peter Riedler. "I am convinced that with their knowledge and expertise today’s doctoral graduates will continue to make important contributions to scientific development and to the benefit of society. Their extraordinary achievements are a shining example for all students and a reminder that the universities of the 21st century are a training ground for outstanding talent. I offer them my sincere congratulations!"

In his speech, TU Graz Rector Horst Bischof emphasised the high motivation and commitment of the award-winning graduates: "All sub auspiciis graduates achieved extraordinary academic success in their youth already and have been able to maintain their motivation to learn and achieve throughout their studies. This is a great personal success for which I sincerely congratulate them! With their outstanding research work as part of the doctorate, the doctoral students also contribute to the good reputation of our universities in the global scientific community, for which I am very grateful."

"As centres of scholarship and research, the Styrian universities are among the most important resources of our federal state," said State Governor Christopher Drexler. "That is why we are all the more delighted that particularly outstanding achievements at TU Graz and the University of Graz are being recognised today. The promotion sub auspiciis is a truly extraordinary achievement that deserves the greatest respect. The fact that I am able to participate in such an award ceremony for the second time within a month emphasises the excellent quality of Styria as a university and research location. I warmly congratulate the doctoral candidates on this impressive success and milestone in their academic careers!"

Biographical sketches of the graduates

Daniel Kales
Daniel Kales was born in Villach in 1992. As a schoolboy, he realised early on that he wanted to "do something with computers" as a career. He attended the HTL for network technology in Villach and then studied Information and Computer Engineering at Graz University of Technology (TU Graz). A decisive influence on Daniel Kales’ career was Maria Eichlseder, a cryptography expert from the Institute of Applied Information Processing and Communications at TU Graz, who inspired him in her lecture on encryption technologies and later supervised his Master’s thesis. From 2018, Kales worked on improving modern cryptographic protocols as part of his doctoral thesis supervised by Christian Rechberger. In EU projects in which Daniel Kales was involved as a doctoral candidate, it was often said that the research results were still a long way from practical application in industry. Kales has been proving the opposite since 2022. After completing his doctorate, he founded a company called TACEO with Christian Rechberger and two doctoral colleagues, which offers state-of-the-art encryption technologies and related services for companies.

Tomas Kamencek
Tomas Kamencek was born in Leoben in 1993. Even as a schoolboy, he was fascinated by how natural processes can be described with mathematical precision. Thanks to his physics teacher, he discovered the possibilities of higher mathematics in the field of physics in secondary school. While still at school, Kamencek took part in several national and international physics competitions and spent two summer holidays working in the research group of physicist Christian Teichert at the University of Leoben. In 2013, he began studying physics at TU Graz, and one and a half years later he started studying mechanical engineering at the same time. His Bachelor’s degrees were followed by Master’s degrees in Technical Physics and Advanced Materials Science. A lecture on quantum mechanics given by Egbert Zojer, who later became his doctoral supervisor, was a landmark for Kamencek: "I was fascinated by being able to predict the properties of molecules and solids using quantum mechanical simulations." Tomas Kamencek has been using his expertise in physics, materials science and mechanical engineering at Andritz AG since 2022 to develop electrolysis plants for the production of green hydrogen.

Gabriel Lipnik

Born in 1996 and raised in the district of Völkermarkt in Carinthia, Gabriel Lipnik completed a Bachelor’s degree in Technical Mathematics at the University of Klagenfurt. With a scholarship from Privatstiftung Kärntner Sparkasse, he studied mathematics at ETH Zurich in 2018 before completing his Master’s degree in Klagenfurt in 2019. In 2020, his thesis was honoured with the award for the best diploma and Master’s degrees from the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research. Gabriel Lipnik moved to TU Graz for his doctoral studies in Technical Mathematics. At the same time, he completed a training programme in mediation, communication and conflict management at the University of Graz. Since completing his doctorate in 2023, Gabriel Lipnik has been working as a software developer and operations research analyst at the Klagenfurt-based IT company Anexia, where he analyses business processes and systems for Austrian companies and optimises them using mathematical methods. "In addition to my work, I am particularly keen to make maths tangible and understandable for as many people as possible," says Gabriel Lipnik. For this reason he is passing on his enthusiasm for his subject to young students as a lecturer at the Institute of Mathematics at the University of Klagenfurt.

Michael Missethan
Michael Missethan was born in 1994 and grew up in Gleisdorf. Even as a child, he enjoyed working with numbers and maths puzzles. "What fascinates me about maths is the ability to precisely describe and solve everyday problems," he says. His great talent became apparent early on when he won the Kangaroo competition and the Maths Olympiad twice at national level. After graduating from secondary school and completing his civilian service, Michael Missethan studied mathematics at TU Graz, specialising in discrete mathematics and algorithm theory. His subsequent doctorate focused on combinatorics and probability theory. "Tinkering with an unknown maths problem is always a joy for me. This is particularly the case when there is no established model and I have to work out a solution myself." Michael Missethan has been working since 2023 as a software developer at evon GmbH, which provides software and services in the field of automation.

Tobias Scheipel
Tobias Scheipel was born in Braunau am Inn in 1991. After graduating from HTL Braunau in Electronics and Computer Engineering, he studied telematics at TU Graz. He was particularly interested in the topic of "embedded systems" and wrote his Bachelor’s and Master’s theses in this area. For the latter, he received the "Prize for an outstanding Master’s thesis" from the German Informatics Society in 2017. After completing his Master’s degree, Tobias Scheipel took up a university assistant position at the Institute of Technical Informatics at TU Graz, which was accompanied by a three-year part-time position at AVL List as a project manager in research and development. During this time, he began his doctoral studies, which he completed at the end of 2022 with his doctoral thesis "Advances in dynamic and reconfigurable embedded systems design". Since then, Tobias Scheipel has been working as a postdoc in the Embedded Architectures & Systems research group at the Institute of Technical Informatics on flexible, modular and runtime reconfigurable processor architectures for embedded systems.

Lukas Spielhofer
Lukas Spielhofer, born in Graz in 1994, is a researcher specialising in Greek and Latin literature. After completing his school education with honours at the Bundesgymnasium in Gleisdorf, Styria, he completed a number of study programmes at the University of Graz, including Classical Philology, Educational Science, Romance Studies and Digital Humanities. In his doctoral thesis, Spielhofer focused on the fable poetry of the Roman imperial period, specifically the collection of poems by Babrios (2nd/3rd century). His work has appeared in recognised international publications. Spielhofer has received several awards for his research, including a scholarship from the Austrian Academy of Sciences and an Erwin Schrödinger Fellowship from the Austrian Science Fund. At the University of Graz, he gained experience as an academic project collaborator, lecturer and most recently as a university assistant. He currently teaches and researches at the University of Oxford.