Spotlight on the women in CIVICA Research: Greta Gross


This International Women’s Day, we are putting a spotlight on Greta Gross, a PhD researcher at the Hertie School and one of the most engaged CIVICA members. Greta has been with the Hertie School since 2021, undergoing research on political psychology. We spoke with Greta about her experience as a member of CIVICA and what opportunities have been presented to her through the alliance.

Greta is just one of the many women that took part and contributed to the success of the alliance over these years. At the end of this article, you will find the links to all interviews with women in CIVICA Research in 2022.

What is your research focus at the Hertie School?

With my background in psychology and my PhD position in a project with mostly political scientists, I am very fortunate to be able to combine these two disciplines and to do research on political psychology. My work focuses on political leadership and crisis communication and investigates the psychological background behind how politicians handle crises and communicate during such times. Specifically, my first paper is centred around the analysis of moral language used by politicians during the COVID-19 pandemic. Through the content analysis of parliament speeches made by political leaders, I shed light on how different politicians shape their moral narratives during the crisis. This research aims to provide insights into how political leaders can effectively communicate with their citizens during challenging times, and how their language can influence decision-making and behavioural responses.

What CIVICA opportunities have you engaged in?

CIVICA has truly been a game-changer for me, offering an abundance of opportunities that have significantly impacted my academic journey thus far. The chance to participate in research trips around Europe has been a standout benefit, providing me with a valuable support system during the challenging early stages of my PhD. Among those events were the CIVICA summer school, the CIVICA Data Science Days, and the CIVICA Doctoral Conference on “How to prepare yourself for the academic job market”. Through this, CIVICA has allowed me to continuously develop and progress academically, including the opportunity to give my first academic presentation at the CIVICA Data Science Days and to gain insights in how to how to position yourself professionally to succeed in academia at the CIVICA Doctoral Conference. At this conference, we also discussed the hurdles that women in particular face in academia and we got valuable tips on how women can equip themselves and support each other in this competitive environment. Beyond the academic benefits, CIVICA has provided me with unforgettable experiences in stunning locations such as Lake Como, Florence, and Stockholm, which has even turned some colleagues into friends.  

How was your experience at the CIVICA summer school 2022?

Attending the CIVICA summer school was a significant moment for me, as it was my first research trip during the journey of my PhD. I didn't know what to expect and was quite nervous, especially with so many exceptional scholars from leading European universities in attendance. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the respectful, friendly atmosphere and the discussions that took place on an equal footing. The summer school's theme was "Reconstructing Europe after Crises," and I listened and engaged in talks from physicists, economists, lawyers, and political scientists. I was fascinated by the different perspectives from which a crisis can be viewed and investigated, inspiring me to seek feedback and ideas from interdisciplinary researchers for my own work. While the location was undoubtedly a highlight, with a stunning villa on the slopes of the mountains surrounding the lake, my most significant takeaway was realizing that I don't have to be shy about seeking academic advice from even well-known, senior researchers.  

How has participating in CIVICA activities supported your academic career?

The opportunity to participate in CIVICA activities has supported my academic career and research in various ways. Through the interdisciplinary exchange with first-class European universities, I could broaden my perspective beyond my own academic field and win inspirations that have enriched my research. Additionally, I have had the chance through CIVICA to receive valuable feedback and connect with scholars also from within my field, which has facilitated further research opportunities, including an upcoming research stay at the European University Institute. Through all the above-mentioned, I could build a strong academic network within Europe, discuss my work with relevant colleagues, and potentially collaborate with them on future projects.  

Read more interviews with women in CIVICA Research: