Press Release No. 55 | 8. December 2016
DFG to Fund Seven New Research Units
Topics range from predicting human behavioural patterns to studying the matter inside planets / Total of approximately €17 million for first funding period
The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) is establishing seven new Research Units, following a decision by the DFG Senate during its winter session in Bonn. The research collaborations will enable researchers to pursue pressing current issues in their research areas and take innovative directions in their work.
Research Units can be funded for a maximum of two periods of three years each. In the initial funding period, the seven new groups will receive approximately €17 million in total. Together with the new collaborations, the DFG will be funding a total of 242 Research Units, including Clinical Research Units.
The New Research Units
(In alphabetical order by spokesperson’s university)
How does extreme flooding occur in rivers and how does it develop in spatio-temporal terms? This is the question that will be examined by the “Space-Time Dynamics of Extreme Floods (SPATE)” Research Unit, by carrying out the first systematic analysis of hydrological and meteorological data on six major river basins in Germany and Austria. The researchers will study four topic areas: sequence of events, spatial and temporal fluctuations and the resulting predictability of extreme floods.
(Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Andreas H. Schumann, University of Bochum)
Robots that interact with humans are able to register situations in real time. However, they cannot predict the actions of a human, and the situations that may result, in order to adapt their own behaviour accordingly. The “Anticipating Human Behaviour” Research Unit therefore aims to develop technologies which enable the creation of applications based on predicting human movement patterns. It will take a holistic approach that comprises the recording, modelling and prediction of human motion sequences and behavioural patterns in everyday environments.
(Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Jürgen Gall, University of Bonn)
Research that relies on animal experimentation must strictly comply with the 3Rs principle (Replace, Reduce, Refine) – not only on ethical grounds but also to ensure that the data obtained is comparable. Central to this is the assessment of pain, stress or lasting damage caused during animal experiments. Such assessments are now required by European and national guidelines, but there is a lack of suitable, generally accepted methods for objective evaluation. The “Severity Assessment in Animal Based Research” Research Unit intends to remedy this deficit and further develop model standardised methods for severity assessment. The focus will also be on non-invasive methods. It is hoped that a more objective assessment will enhance the quality of animal-based research and also identify approaches with which to minimise animal stress in animal experimentation.
(Spokesperson: Professor Dr. André Bleich, Hannover Medical School)
The Research Unit entitled “Functional Dynamics of Ion Channels and Transporters – DynIon” will combine experimental methods used in electrophysiology, biochemistry and structural biology with computer-based theoretical approaches to study ion channels and transporters. Its focus will be on dynamic processes on various time scales, particularly the activation of ion channels by chemical signals. In this way, the Research Unit intends not only to provide new insights into selected ion channels and transporters, but also to advance theoretical and experimental approaches in ion channel research.
(Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Klaus Benndorf, University of Jena)
The philosophy-centred “Inductive Metaphysics” Research Unit intends to illuminate the non-analytical aspect of metaphysics. It is firstly concerned with the history of so-called inductive approaches in metaphysics, and secondly with a metaphilosophical discussion of these ideas. This means, above all, accurately identifying and categorising inductive approaches, and then their methodological foundation. Finally, the researchers aim to apply and test inductive methods in established metaphysical questions.
(Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Andreas Hüttemann, University of Cologne)
Expectations of knowledge-based action are increasing, the importance of directly applicable research is growing, and the pressure for legitimation in science and the humanities, in view of expanding discourses on risk, uncertainty and ignorance, is becoming more urgent. But how do known facts such as data, findings or conclusions achieve the quality characteristic of evidence? And how does the proffered evidence influence decisions in different contexts? The Research Unit entitled “Practicing Evidence - Evidencing Practice in Science, Medicine, Technology and Society PEEP” will address these questions by investigating both the growing importance of evidence in the knowledge society and its functionalisation.
(Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Karin Zachmann, Technical University of Munich)
The Research Unit “Matter Under Planetary Interior Conditions – High-Pressure, Planetary and Plasma Physics” will focus on matter under extreme conditions. The researchers will study the behaviour of rocks and complex molecular mixtures, which is essential to our understanding of the most frequently discovered planets: so-called super-Earths and Neptune-like planets. It is intended that their findings will contribute to the development of new models explaining how these types of planets are formed and evolve. They will also be used to evaluate observation data from ongoing and future satellite missions.
(Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Ronald Redmer, University of Rostock)