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Claudia Eberlein 20 years at Sussex

Staff receive awards for long service to the University this week. Professor of Theoretical Physics, Claudia Eberlein shares her thoughts on 20 years at Sussex.

What was your first impression of the University?

This was in 1990 and thus pretty long ago so that it is difficult to remember details. I had a lot of new impressions to cope with at the time, having just arrived in the UK and, while understanding physics in English, not knowing enough English for casual conversations.

But Sussex definitely was a friendly and welcoming place. However, a few things were very puzzling. One time I was teaching a class in the Foundation Year and a porter came in and told me that I had to dismiss the class and send everyone home as the University was closed due to adverse weather. That seemed utterly alien to me, as there was barely an inch of snow on the ground.

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What’s been the highlight of your time here?

There isn't a single highlight. There have been so many. Most of the things stuck in my mind relate to students being successful, sometimes despite very difficult circumstances. But also working with colleagues on major projects and seeing those through successfully, for example establishing the EuroMasters programme in SEPnet or the curriculum restructuring in 2012.

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What do you think makes Sussex special?

The people and the atmosphere here! We have always worked collegially and that is most important to me. Success is something that is achieved together, not one person elbowing the other.

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What’s your Sussex secret?

I had a dog, a Hungarian Vizsla, who came to work with me for all his life, from January 1998 until his death in April 2012. Together we explored many good and some secret walks around campus. My dog was also a great help from time to time when I had to have conversations with students in difficulties. He was well trained and did not interfere unless I asked him to. But when I did, he showed an excellent sense for people.

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