Press Release No. 17 | 12 May 2009
DFG Establishes 14 New Research Training Groups
Doctoral Researchers To Earn Doctorates in Topics such as Globalisation, Nanostructures and Civil Security Applications in Structured Programmes
To further promote young researchers in Germany, the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) is establishing 14 new Research Training Groups. This has just been approved by the responsible Grants Committee of the DFG in Bonn. The new Research Training Groups offer doctoral researchers the opportunity to earn their doctorates in a structured research and qualification programme at a high level of subject specialisation and under outstanding conditions.
The new Research Training Groups are focused on, among other topics, innovative applications for fluorine in chemistry, the institutional transition in East Asia and tensions between religious conformity and nonconformity. Other topics include frequency effects in linguistics as well as improved civil security applications and data protection. In one of the new Research Training Groups, which focuses on the development of new instruction processes in schools, teachers with practical experience and graduates of the education sciences and psychology will, for the first time, work towards their doctorates together. Four of the new institutions are International Research Training Groups in which the funding recipients work closely together with foreign universities - including, for the first time, universities in Estonia, Mexico and New Zealand. Other cooperative partners are Swedish and Czech universities.
In the first funding period, which spans four and a half years, the new doctoral programmes will be funded by the DFG with a total of approximately 39.3 million euros. In addition to the 14 new institutions, the Grants Committee also agreed to extend 23 Research Training Groups for an additional period. The DFG currently funds 229 Research Training Groups, of which 58 are international groups.
Furthermore, it was decided that Research Training Groups may, from now on, apply for start-up funding. This is intended to provide researchers who have just successfully completed their doctorate with support in defining and developing a research topic of their own that could serve as the basis for an independent project proposal. The objective of this measure is to encourage promising researchers to pursue a career in research upon completion of their doctorates.
The new Research Training Groups (listed alphabetically by host university):
The International Research Training Group "Entre Espacios - Movimientos, Actores y Representaciones de la Globalizacion" of the Free University Berlin is working in close cooperation with three Mexican research institutions in the area of social and cultural globalisation research. One area of special focus is the movement between different regions of the world and the new spaces that resulted during the three phases of globalisation - the colonial period, the late 19th and early 20th century and in contemporary history. (Host university: Free University in Berlin; spokesperson: Professor Dr. Stefan Rinke; cooperation partners: Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropologia Social, Colegio de Mexico, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico)
The Research Training Group "Fluorine as a Key Element. Discovering Innovative Synthetic Concepts to Generate Novel Molecules with Unique Properties" of the Free University Berlin, in cooperation with the Humboldt University Berlin, plans to research the synthesis and characterisation of fluorinated compounds and their use in catalysts, in materials research and in pharmaceuticals and biochemistry. With this Research Training Group, the university bundles the fluorochemistry know-how present in Berlin to generally strengthen instruction and research in this area in Germany. (Host university: Free University Berlin; spokesperson: Professor Dr. Konrad Seppelt)
At the Technical University of Berlin, the Research Training Group "Nonequilibrium Collective Dynamics in Condensed Matter and Biological Systems" aspires to facilitate new, interdisciplinary perspectives in the research fields of physics and biology. The selected research topics range from the transport of interacting electrons in nonequilibrium through semiconductor quantum dots, to nanorods that swim in aqueous solutions and that are driven by shear flow, to neurons in the brain. With the description of the collective dynamics of interacting units in nonequilibrium, the Research Training Group is concentrating on basic research, but will also be motivated by possible applications in medicine or modern photonic or microfluid apparatus, for example. (Host university: Technical University of Berlin; spokesperson: Professor Dr. Holger Stark)
In an inter- and intraregional comparison, the Research Training Group "Risk and East Asia" plans to use an innovative approach to consider the risks to which institutions expose themselves when changing from government control processes to market-related control processes. For this purpose, the Research Training Group of the University of Duisburg-Essen is studying the institutional transition in East Asia, with special focus on China, Japan and South Korea. There, the risks exhibit considerable differences in distribution and responsibilities as compared to Europe. In addition, the theoretical and purely empirical social sciences are also to be combined with language- and country-related regional science. For this purpose, the group is working in close cooperation with the White Rose East Asia Centre of the universities of Leeds and Sheffield. (Host university: University of Duisburg-Essen; Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Karen A. Shire)
The International Research Training Group "INTERCOAST-Integrated Coastal Zone and Shelf-Sea Research" combines the expertise of the universities of Waikato and Bremen, which build upon a long-standing cooperation. The researchers from Germany and New Zealand want to study how one can analyse, understand, predict and, when necessary, lessen changes to the natural environment and, thus, reduce the associated effects on society. The interdisciplinary collaboration is focused on the natural sciences. In addition, related questions from the social sciences and law are to be explored as well. (Host university: University of Bremen; spokesperson: Professor Dr. Katrin Huhn; cooperative partner: University of Waikato)
How often do certain linguistic structures occur in a language and what effect does this linguistic phenomenon have on the mental representation of language? The Research Training Group "Frequency as a Determinant in Usage-Based Models of Language Change, Language Processing and Language Acquisition" of the University of Freiburg will examine these questions. In various European languages and their variants, the research team will investigate the frequency effects using empirically observable methods of linguistics and cognitive science. (Host university: Albert Ludwig University of Freiburg; spokesperson: Professor Dr. Stefan Pfänder)
The International Research Training Group "Baltic Borderlands - Shifting Boundaries of Mind and Culture in the Borderlands of the Baltic Region" of the University of Greifswald will, for the first time, specifically examine the perception of this change from the 15th century to the present. How did historic border areas form and change? What cultural correlations did border transgressions have? For what reasons were borders economically permeable? German, Swedish and Estonian researchers from the social, linguistic and historical sciences want to answer these and other questions. (Host university: Ernst-Moritz-Arndt University of Greifswald; spokesperson: Professor Dr. Michael North; cooperative partners: Lund University, University of Tartu)
The measurement of flow velocities in hot and aggressive, molten metals and glasses and the detection of underlying material defects in solid bodies are the challenges to be worked on by the Research Training Group "Lorentz Force Velocimetry and Lorentz Force Eddy Current Testing" of the Technical University of Ilmenau. The researchers want to use two methods developed at their university to examine fundamental aspects of these questions and thereby lay the path for innovative applications. (Host university: Technical University of Ilmenau; spokesperson: Professor Dr. Andre Thess)
The Research Training Group "Teaching and Learning Processes" of the University of Koblenz-Landau seeks to give fresh impetus to interdisciplinary research on teaching and learning. The goal is to establish an interconnection of teaching methodology, empirical pedagogics and psychology in instruction through the innovative combination of result- and process-oriented research perspectives. In the Research Training Group, teachers with practical experience in schools and graduates of the education sciences and psychology will, for the first time, work towards their doctorates together. (Host university: University of Koblenz-Landau; spokesperson: Professor Dr. Wolfgang Schnotz)
The Research Training Group "Religious Nonconformism and Cultural Dynamics" of the University of Leipzig will study forms of religious behaviour and belief that deviate from the dominant forms of religion within a society and that are generally punished. This phenomenon occurs in the form of prophets, heresies, sects or discriminated religious minorities in all complex societies. Researchers will be studying interdisciplinary tensions between religious conformity and nonconformity, innovative and transformative potential in religious milieus and how it is presented by the media in various geographical areas and historical eras. (Host university: University of Leipzig; spokesperson: Professor Dr. Hubert Seiwert)
In the area of theoretical and experimental physics, the Research Training Group "Symmetry Breaking in Fundamental Interactions" of the University of Mainz will research symmetries and their violation. One distinctive feature and, at the same time, challenge is the complementary approach of using experiments and methods from nuclear and particle physics in various energy ranges. In addition to work with particle accelerators, focus is primarily on precision measurements that serve as the key to the understanding of fundamental symmetries. Researching the origin of mass and structure of materials is as much a part of the scientific objective as is the topic of extending the previous standard model. (Host university: Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz; spokesperson: Professor Dr. Matthias Neubert)
The International Research Training Group "Religious Cultures in Europe in the 19th and 20th Century" of the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich seeks to make a fundamental contribution to historical, religious and theological clarification of the relationship between religion and modern society. Together, German and Czech humanities scholars want to examine the relationships and interconnections of religious cultures with secular organisations since the start of the 18th century. (Host university: Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich; spokesperson: Professor Dr. Martin Schulze Wessel; cooperative partner: Charles University in Prague)
The Research Training Group of the University of Regensburg "Electronic Properties of Carbon-Based Nanostructures" will conduct both theoretical and experimental research, examining and manipulating those properties. Experience in the research of spin electronics, quantum information and molecular electronics will be of assistance in this endeavour. Of particular interest are systems based on graphene, nanotubes made of carbon as well as aromatic molecules. (Host university: University of Regensburg; spokesperson: Professor Dr. Milena Grifoni)
How can the interplay between electrical engineering and computer science be refined in order to improve security systems? The Research Training Group "Imaging New Modalities - Multimodal Image Acquisition and Analysis for Civil Security Applications" of the University of Siegen uses the synergies of both areas of research to make new imaging processes possible through improved sensors and processing of image data. For this purpose, researchers want, for example, to develop more-effective electronic person-detection and scene-monitoring systems as well as models for the data security of multimodal data streams in the area of civil security. (Host university: University of Siegen; spokesperson: Professor Dr. Andreas Kolb)
Further information on the Research Training Groups is available at:
Contact at the DFG Head Office:
- Dr. Annette Schmidtmann,
Head of the Research Careers Division,
Tel. +49 228 885-2424,