Press Release No. 26 | 1 June 2010
DFG Establishes Twelve New Research Training Groups
Topics Range from Algebra and Infectious Disease through “Soft Matter Science” to Visualisations / Attractive Doctoral Research Conditions and Innovative Models
To further enhance the promotion of young researchers in Germany, the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) has established twelve new Research Training Groups. This decision was made by the DFG’s relevant Grants Committee in Bonn. The new Research Training Groups will enable doctoral researchers to complete their training at a highly specialised level within a structured research and qualification programme.
Two of the new Research Training Groups – one in the life sciences in Erlangen-Nuremberg and one in economics in Bonn – have developed innovative “fast track” models in their respective fields that enable outstanding bachelor graduates swift and high-quality access to doctoral studies. The Erlangen Research Training Group also offers a suitable programme for urgently needed young researchers in the field of medicine. A newly approved Research Training Group in the humanities is characterised by its collaboration with a university of applied sciences and a promising concept combining theory and practice. Such opportunities for further structural development of the doctoral research phase are characteristic of the DFG Research Training Group programme.
Apart from the innovative models, a new programme feature already decided upon last year will increase the attractiveness of completing doctoral research within a Research Training Group. From now on, doctoral researchers in all disciplines can have posts as well as fellowships financed, providing the national and international competitive situation within and beyond science calls for this. In addition to the attractive financing conditions stipulated by the European Charter for Researchers, this also provides adequate social insurance protection. At the same time, positions provide a contribution towards gender equality, since Research Training Groups from the humanities, social sciences, and life sciences, in which there is a high number of female doctoral researchers, will particularly benefit from this change.
Three of the new groups are International Research Training Groups that cooperate closely with foreign universities in France and India.
The DFG will provide approximately 45 million euros during the initial 4.5-year funding period, including a programme allowance for indirect project costs. In addition to establishing the twelve new collaborations, the Grants Committee also approved the continuation of 19 existing Research Training Groups. The DFG now funds 219 Research Training Groups, 55 of which are international.
The new Research Training Groups are as follows (listed in alphabetical order by host university):
RTG 1632 “Experimental and Constructive Algebra” follows the fundamental idea of also investigating algebraic questions at an experimental level. The participating researchers will be using computational algebraic methods to approach difficult and abstract objects and problems arising in the fields of both pure and applied mathematics. In this way, significant theoretical results and innovative algorithmic methods for mathematics and possible applications will be gained.
(Host university: RWTH Aachen; Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Gabriele Nebe)
Comprehensive research on multichromophoric systems will be the focus of RTG 1640 “Photophysics of Synthetic and Biological Multichromophoric Systems”. Such systems are, for example, significant in photosynthesis, the development of organic solar cells or in general molecular electronics. Apart from their relevance to application, these systems are also of interest because they shed light upon fundamental questions concerning the physics and chemistry of condensed matter. In order to achieve systematic progress in this field, a combination of concepts, experience and methodological knowledge from physics and chemistry will be involved.
(Host university: University of Bayreuth; Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Jürgen Köhler)
The projects of the International RTG 1673 “Functional Molecular Infection Epidemiology” will cover the factors that determine the manifestation and geographical distribution of infectious diseases. This joint collaboration between the Free University of Berlin and the University of Hyderabad will focus on the areas “host pathogen genomics” and the “analysis of genetic host variations”. The comparative analysis of infectious diseases in Germany and India is intended to provide indications of pathogenic and host factors influencing the course of disease. The research programme will also cover the causes of malaria.
(Host university: Free University of Berlin; Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Lothar H. Wieler; Collaboration partner: University of Hyderabad, India)
Overcoming the simplified paradigm of the “representative agent” (that reduces the complexity of reality to a minimum and in many areas of economics is the foundation of theoretical and empirical modelling) is the central research objective of RTG 1707 “Heterogeneity, Risk and Dynamics in Economic Systems”. Beyond these boundaries, new models are to be developed that take into account the heterogeneity of agents and can accurately map the economic institutions that are based upon them. Using these models, the significance of heterogeneity for the dynamics of economic systems and its ability to handle risk is to be examined.
(Host university: Rhineland's Friedrich Wilhelm University of Bonn; Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Jürgen von Hagen)
What does the future hold for materials research? In research and teaching, “soft matter” represents a growing area that fascinates chemists, physicists and engineers alike. They are intrigued by the surprising properties of soft materials, such as their ability to react to stimuli. These are already used in manufacturing innovative materials, generating complex systems in the process. The International RTG 1642 “Soft Matter Science: Concepts for the Design of Functional Materials” will investigate the challenge of understanding the synergies between the controlling factors so that their influence upon the properties of material can become manageable.
(Host university: Albert Ludwigs University of Freiburg; Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Günter Reiter; Collaboration partner: Université de Strasbourg, France)
Finding solutions for the scaling problems in statistics that occur in the scientific and public sectors is the aim of RTG 1644 “Scaling Problems in Statistics”. This includes identifying suitable methods and their adaptation, as well as developing new models and methods. The three fields of applications – economics, environmental science and genetics – will be examined in detail, whereby the methodological connection will be produced using mixed models and geostatistics.
(Host university: Georg August University of Göttingen; Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Martin Schlather)
International RTG 1627 “Virtual Materials and Structures and their Validation” will be generating a forum for researching and developing the newest methods in the area of numerical simulation processes, of virtual experiments and their validation. Participating French and German researchers are thus reacting to the high research demand to develop robust and reliable calculation tools for the performance of virtual experiments on materials and structure. This is the focus of the interdisciplinary research programme , i.e. research on methodological topics and the simulative performance of virtual experiments as well as their validation for materials and structures.
(Host university: Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz University of Hannover; Spokesperson: Prof. Dr.-Ing. Peter Wriggers; Collaboration partner: Ecole Normale Supérieure de Cachan, France)
With the concept of “doing space while doing gender”, RTG 1599 “Dynamics of Space and Gender: Discovering, Conquering, Inventing and Narrating” seeks to examine the reciprocal spatial and gender constitutions in present-day and historical societies within and beyond Europe. The planned projects aim to take into greater account the category of “gender” in research on “space”, since this category receives less attention the more global the field of observation is.
(Host university: University of Kassel, Georg August University of Göttingen; Spokespersons: Prof. Dr. Rebekka Habermas, Göttingen/Prof. Dr. Renate Dürr, Kassel)
RTG 1608 “Self-Making – Practices of Subjectivation in Historical and Interdisciplinary Perspective” addresses a question which has not only attained great relevance in the days of the internet: how does a subject become a subject? How protagonists become subjects under various conditions and, for example, become recognisable as such by habitus or language is the specific focus. The analyses refer to the historical dimension of the formation of self and concentrate upon body, surroundings and materials.
(Host university: Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg; Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Thomas Alkemeyer)
The research programme of RTG 1660 “Key Signals of Adaptive Immune Response” seeks to provide fundamental contributions to understanding adaptive immune response under physiological and pathophysiological conditions, using the molecular analysis of three central cell populations. The prime objective is to train and promote young researchers in the field of adaptive immunity.
(Host university: Friedrich-Alexander University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Hans-Martin Jäck)
RTG 1539 “Visibility and Visual Production: Hybrid Forms of Ikonic Knowledge” will examine the interplay between imagery and knowledge that represents one of the core topics of present-day research. Research will focus on the processes of “visibility” and “visual production” in historical and current-day respects from philosophical and technical perspectives. This multi-university collaboration will combine expertise from philosophy, art history, literature, media science, mediaeval studies, cognitive psychology, informatics and cartography, as well as from mathematics.
(Host university: University of Potsdam; Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Dieter Mersch)
Current developments in arithmetic and analysis are characterised by the growing use of geometric language and methods. The main focus of RTG 1692 “Curvature, Cycles and Cohomology” will be the development and communication of common geometric, analytic and topological aspects. Additional benefits are promised by the transport of ideas, principles and methods from the participating mathematical fields and the application upon their central problems.
(Host university: University of Regensburg; Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Ulrich Bunke)