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50 years of Weihenstephan-Triesdorf University of Applied Sciences: The faces and stories

HSWT inside | Prof. Dr Sebastian Peisl

"I’m grateful to the university and to my colleagues that I was able to do all that"


Sebastian Peisl’s career at HSWT has been shaped by a few changes of perspective. Again and again, he has moved to different roles and his tasks and priorities have changed; not only on his own initiative and with support, but also unfortunately due to a cruel twist of fate.

In September 2021, the Professor of Technology in Horticulture celebrated his 25th anniversary at HSWT. He was originally encouraged to apply to the university because of his expertise; what attracted him to the position was the combination of teaching and research, but most of all the interaction with students. "I didn’t start out with any intention of holding offices at the university," says the 61-year-old. Things worked out differently, though. Sebastian Peisl gratefully recalls that his colleagues placed their trust in him for a number of different roles: Programme Director, Vice Department Chair, and, from March 2003, Department Chair of Horticulture and Food Technology. In 2006, Sebastian Peisl became HSWT Vice President for Research and at the same time Head of the State Federal Research Station of Horticulture Weihenstephan and Head of the Institute of Horticulture. He held those positions for six years until he was appointed President of the Institute of Viticulture and Horticulture in November 2012.


Full commitment


"Those years were a busy but very enjoyable and fulfilling time," recalls the Inntal native. He is a man of influence: establishing networks, getting involved and making a difference are all important to him, and in his various roles he has had a great deal of scope and opportunity. "I’m grateful to the university and to my colleagues that I was able to do all that," he says. "It’s always been important to me to shape the departments that I have an influence over so that my colleagues can work well while feeling valued and enjoying peace of mind. Unfortunately, you can’t always achieve this entirely, and you have to learn to deal with the fact that you can’t please everyone."

Good relations with the university’s specialist partner institutions have always been important to Sebastian Peisl, along with cohesion among colleagues and across the departments within the university. On the occasion of his anniversary, he continues to want the same for the future of HSWT: that everybody pulls together.


Teaching and learning


In addition to the offices he has held and his research projects, the Rosenheim native has always enjoyed interacting with the students. "The interaction with young people enriches my everyday life a great deal," he emphasises. "In teaching you develop a certain routine, but then the students constantly confront you with technical questions you’ve never thought about before. That provides great new stimuli. Working with young people is challenging and refreshing – that’s the beauty of this job."

From his 25 years at the University, he has particularly fond memories of the countless excursions he has made with students. In particular, he likes to reminisce about an experience in the south of France. "After a long day, the students, my colleagues and I fired up a few barbecues at the campsite, and we sizzled steaks and made salads. It was off-season, so we practically had the whole place to ourselves. We celebrated in the evening sun with a view over a beautiful landscape. The atmosphere was wonderful," he says, adding with a smile: "Yes, those really were the highlights of my life as a professor"


The turning point


In 2012, Sebastian Peisl moved to the Institute of Viticulture and Horticulture as President. He had to step down from this exciting role after a serious car accident; in 2013 a driver crashed into the driver’s side of his car, and he suffered severe injuries. But the experienced agricultural scientist is not the type to throw in the towel. "I’m making the best of the situation," he says. "The accident pressed the 'reset' button, so to speak, which was also a good opportunity to reflect."

He returned to his appointment as professor at the university and to his home in Upper Bavaria. Since then, he has been working on a new project with his wife: they got their sailing licence and now enjoy spending their free time on their boat on Lake Chiemsee. "It's amazing how the view of the landscape changes when you leave the harbour," Sebastian Peisl enthuses. "Here you see the Kampenwand, there you see the reeds and iris meadows, then the islands, or perhaps Lake Weitsee." Changes in perspective. Precisely.