Press Release No. 35 | 19 July 2010
Six New Research Units Established
Topics Range from the Mamluk Period to Electronically Correlated Solids
The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) is setting up six additional Research Units to facilitate transregional and interdisciplinary cooperation among researchers. This decision was taken by the DFG’s Senate at its summer session within the scope of the organisation’s annual plenary meeting in Berlin. The new networks are intended to provide researchers with the opportunity to address current and urgent issues in their fields and to develop new methods for tackling them.
The Research Units established are concerned with such issues as the role of molecule groups in neurophysiological processes and ways in which correlated solids can be optimally analysed using computer calculations. One of the new units established is a “DFG-Reserach College”, a type of Research Unit specifically tailored to research methods in the humanities and social sciences. This Research Unit is characterised by a long-term, international approach, a concept enabling research into broad-based issues, in this case, the Mamluk era. Several of the Research Units established are interdisciplinary and international in nature, involving cooperation with India, Austria and Switzerland.
During the first funding period, the new Research Units will receive a total of 15.3 million euros in funding over a three-year period (for the DFG-Research College, a four-year period). This brings the total number of DFG-funded Research Units to 215.
The new Research Units in detail (in alphabetical order by coordinating university):
The “Dynamical Mean-Field Approach with Predictive Power for Strongly Correlated Materials” Research Unit is working on developing a new standard in the computer-assisted examination of correlated solids. Electronically correlated materials have unusual properties and are therefore of great interest, not only for basic research, but also for future technological applications. Based on the “Dynamic Molecular Field Theory”, this group of researchers from Germany, Austria and Switzerland aims to calculate and predict the properties of complex electronically correlated materials. (Coordinator: Professor Dr. Dieter Vollhardt, Augsburg University)
A small group of chemically related molecules, known as biogenic amines, regulates various neuropsychological processes and behaviour patterns. In order to clarify the way they work precisely, the Research Unit “Biogenic amines in insects: coordination of physiological processes and behaviour” analyses the comparatively simple nervous systems of different types of insects, such as the honeybee and the grasshopper. By examining the various different systemic levels of the insect brain, the Research Unit aims to achieve a comprehensive understanding of biogenic amines. This, in turn, will enable important conclusions to be drawn regarding the functions of this molecule group in vertebrates. (Coordinator: Professor Dr. Hans-Joachim Pflüger, the Free University of Berlin)
The DFG-Research College, “Society and Culture in the Mamluk Period (1250-1517)” brings together international research on the Mamluk Period and its unique model of society. In this model, a predominantly Arabic population was ruled by an elite group of freed military slaves of consistently Turkish descent. The Mamluk researchers intend to pose globally historic questions and to implement transcultural comparisons in their analysis of this unusual system, focusing particularly on the topics of governance, narrative strategies, economic system and global interlacing. (Coordinator: Prof. Dr. Stephan Conermann, University of Bonn)
Combustion processes play a major role in many systems and apparatuses in chemical industry and in energy technology. To date, however, there has been little basic research performed on the safety aspects of ignition processes. The “Physicochemical-Based Models for the Prediction of Safety-Relevant Ignition Processes” Research Unit therefore aims to focus on examining ignition processes using new metrological and numeric methods. (Coordinator: Professor Dr. Ulrich Maas, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology)
The “Himalaya: Modern and Past Climates (HIMPAC)” Research Unit focuses on investigating fluctuations in the Indian summer monsoon during the Holocene period – the most recent epoch in geological history. The researchers intend to examine the causes and consequences of extreme climatic events, such as droughts and floods, using information from geological and biological archives. The investigations carried out within the framework of this German-Indian project will focus on selected climate-sensitive regions of the Himalayas and Central India in order to characterise and quantify regional differences in climatic processes. (Coordinator: Dr. Sushma Prasad, Helmholtz Centre, Potsdam, GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences; Professor Dr. Manfred R. Strecker, University of Potsdam)
The Research Unit, “Elementary reaction steps in electrocatalysis: Theory meets Ex-periment” focuses on achieving a fundamental understanding of structures and proc-esses at the interface of electrodes and electrolyte solution. Electrochemical and electrocatalytic processes at atomic level are not only interesting from a basic research perspective; they also play an important role in the conversion and storage of energy, for example in fuel cells and batteries. The planned research is based on the same modern analysis methods and effective theoretical tools that made research into elementary processes possible in the first place. (Coordinator: Professor Dr. Axel Groß, Ulm University)
Detailed information on Research Units can be found at:
Further information is also available from the coordinators of the various Research Units.