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Press Release No. 14 | 21 May 2013
DFG Establishes 11 New Research Training Groups

Topics Range from Labour Productivity to Power of Interpretation and Software Infrastructures / First German-Israeli Project / 39 Million Euros for 4.5 Years

The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) is establishing 11 new Research Training Groups to further support early career researchers in Germany. This decision was made by the relevant Grants Committee in Bonn. Funding of approximately 39 million euros has been awarded to the new programmes for an initial period of four and a half years. In addition to the 11 new Research Training Groups, the Grants Committee approved the extension of six for another four and a half years. Research Training Groups offer doctoral researchers the chance to complete their theses in a structured research and qualification programme at a high academic level.

The topics covered by the new Research Training Groups range from labour productivity to conflicts of interpretational power and the dynamics of quantum systems. Others will study the development and mathematical analysis of new statistical methods, the challenges facing the realisation of human rights, and the modelling of software infrastructures.

Two of the new grants are International Research Training Groups (IRTGs). In addition to a German-American collaboration, the first German-Israeli cooperation has been established, bringing together researchers in the fields of criminology, law, politology and philosophy in Berlin and Jerusalem.

The new Research Training Groups
(in alphabetical order by host university)

The first German-Israeli Research Training Group will study the most pressing challenges facing the realisation of human rights. Named "Human Rights under Pressure – Ethics, Law and Politics", the IRTG will consider human rights during times of crisis and emergency and in terms of their relationship to diversity and globalisation. The somewhat abstract concept of human rights will be given concrete meaning with the historical relationship between Germany and Israel and thus open up new insights, transcending purely national and traditional notions of human rights.
(Host University: Free University of Berlin, Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Klaus Hoffmann-Holland; Partner University: the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel)

The economic structures of earlier cultures are of interest in the context of current debates on globalisation, economic crisis and the depletion of natural resources. These structures are the primary research interest of the RTG "Archaeology of Premodern Economic Areas". The group intends to study the structure, efficiency and dynamics of the economic systems and economic areas of premodern societies. The research team will begin with the premise that phases of economic prosperity contribute to the dynamic development and stability of early societies, whereas economic crisis can trigger phases of upheaval.
(Host Universities: University of Bonn, University of Cologne, Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Michael Heinzelmann)

The RTG "RoSI: Role-Based Software Infrastructures for Consistently Context-Sensitive Systems" is concerned with the concept of role modelling in software development. In programming languages, data modelling and access control, roles have been used as a means of context modelling in individual cases but never consistently throughout the software development process. Hence, the aim of the group is to furnish evidence that roles can be modelled consistently. This will create opportunities for new and innovative software architectures, which are important for example in context-sensitive natural-energy-based computing and software for cyber-physical systems in the home, in transport and in manufacturing.
(Host University: Technical University of Dresden, Spokesperson: Professor Dr.-Ing. Wolfgang Lehner)

The heart and blood vessels influence the function of other organs in the human body, such as the kidneys. Mechanical forces, oxygen availability and locally released signal molecules are all crucial factors which play an important role in modulating cell-cell communication, cell migration and cell-matrix interactions in the cardiovascular system. The German-American IRTG "Intra- and Interorgan Communication of the Cardiovascular System" intends to study the functional and molecular mechanisms of communication within and between the cells of the cardiovascular system as the basis for normal and pathologically altered cell and organ function.
(Host University: University of Düsseldorf, Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Axel Gödecke; Partner University: University of Virginia, USA)

In philosophy and sociology, the uncertainty of human experience is referred to as contingency. The RTG "Precaution, Prevision, Prediction: Managing Contingency" will study the problem of contingency from a historical perspective and pose the question of how it can be managed through action. The focus will be on human beings and their current behaviour in the face of an uncertain future. The group's approach is fundamentally different from previous analyses of contingency: the focus is not on perceptions about the future but on the actors’ actions in relation to future. In this way the team intends to define the plurality of horizons of possibility in society.
(Host University: University of Duisburg-Essen, Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Stefan Brakensiek)

Nanotechnology offers ways of structuring materials at the smallest level and thus of achieving new properties and functionalities. However, this requires modern forms of nanocharacterisation and the development of new and advanced in situ procedures. This is the area of study of the RTG "In situ Microscopy with Electrons, X-rays and Scanning Probes". In situ methods make it possible to study the formation, stability and mechanical integrity of nanostructures at the nanoscopic and microscopic levels and understand relationships between structure and functionality.
(Host University: University of Erlangen-Nürnberg, Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Erdmann Spiecker)

Far-reaching changes are taking place in statistics as a result of the ever-growing and ever more complex datasets available in applications – for example in meteorology and high-frequency trading on the stock markets. The RTG "Statistical Modelling of Complex Systems and Processes – Advanced Nonparametric Approaches" seeks to develop and mathematically analyse new statistical methods. The aim of the group, based at the universities of Heidelberg and Mannheim, is to give doctoral researchers a modern mathematical basis for front-line research in theoretical statistics.
(Host Universities: University of Heidelberg, University of Mannheim, Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Enno Mammen)

In an economic system there is a direct link between labour productivity and standard of living. This becomes all the more pertinent when we consider the ageing population and the increase in the number of years spent in education and training. The RTG "Microeconomic Determinants of Labour Productivity" will analyse the determining factors affecting labour productivity at a microeconomic level, taking into account both individual decisions and the role of incentive systems, innovations and the organisation of labour. In particular, the group will analyse heterogeneity in labour productivity in order to reach conclusions for employees, businesses and policymakers.
(Host University: LMU Munich, Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Carsten Eckel)

The RTG "Combinatorial Structures in Geometry" seeks to establish closer links between algebra, analysis, topology and stochastics by looking at the central topic which gives the group its name. By bridging the gaps between these different areas at the interface between theoretical and applied mathematics and informatics, the group intends to develop new methods and gain new insights. The RTG also intends to counter overspecialisation on the part of its members in their respective fields.
(Host University: University of Osnabrück, Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Matthias Reitzner)

How does interpretation power emerge, “function” and disintegrate? The RTG "Power of Interpretation. Religion and Belief Systems in Conflicts of Interpretational Power" will study these questions in the context of religion and other (philosophical or ideological) belief systems. The project seeks to analyse significant constellations and conflicts that arise around the power to explain, interpret, and define meaning in both contemporary and historical contexts. Particularly in today's pluralised societies, established interpretational power is becoming increasingly precarious – as seen, for example, in clerical crises. It is at these points that conflicts arise, and an interpretation’s claim of recognition and validity needs rationalisation.
(Host University: University of Rostock, Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Philipp Stoellger)

The applications of the laws of quantum mechanics are becoming more common in science and technology than ever before. For example, neither magnetic resonance imaging nor photovoltaics would be possible without quantum mechanics. Although the fundamental laws of quantum mechanics are known as general mathematical equations, these are often very hard to solve in specific cases. Hence, basic quantum phenomena which occur in applications often cannot be correctly described mathematically. The RTG "Spectral Theory and Dynamics of Quantum Systems" intends to address this problem. The group will advance the mathematical level in order to make better qualitative insights available to allied disciplines.
(Host Universities: University of Stuttgart, University of Tübingen, Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Marcel Griesemer)

Further Information

Further information will also be provided by the spokespersons of the Research Training Groups.

Contact at the DFG Head Office:

More details about the funding programme and current Research Training Groups are available at: