Excellence Initiative

Junior Research Groups


Dr. Jeanne Féaux de la Croix (Ethnology department)

Junior research group: Cultural History of Water in Central Asia

Across the world, there are enormous inequalities in people’s access to sweet water, with climate change likely to further exacerbate the situation. As a group of anthropologists and archaeologists, we set out to trace people’s changing attitudes to water in Central Asia. We pursue historically-informed research on moral economies of water in a landlocked region where most agriculture depends on irrigation. We ask in what contexts water in Central Asia was and is treated as sacred, as a public or private resource (in various formats) or used to produce other resources such as electricity and cotton. Homepage..

Dr. Michael Franke (Language Processing)

Junior research group: Data-oriented modeling of language games

The group studies processes of interactive linguistic decision making: speakers choose utterances, listeners choose interpretations, where ideally each takes the other's perspective into account. To this end, the group develops probabilistic cognitive models that predict experimental data from language production and comprehension. Homepage..

Dr. Stephan Hailfinger (Interfacultary Institute of Biochemistry)

Junior research group: Molecular Mechanisms of NF-kB Activation in Lymphocytes and Lymphomas

Detection of antigens by T and B cells leads to lymphocyte activation and thus to production of immune mediators and a rapid growth of the cells. We aim to identify new regulators of lymphocyte activation and to understand the underlying molecular mechanisms. Signaling pathways mediating lymphocyte activation are often deregulated in lymphomas and autoimmunity. We therefore hope that our research will contribute to a better understanding of various pathological situations. Homepage..

Dr. Jessica Heesen (International Centre for Ethics in the Sciences)

Junior research group: Media Ethics in an Interdisciplinary Perspective - Values and Social Cohesion in New Public Spaces

This junior research group investigates the impact of new forms of public communication in terms of values and norms. The aim is to explore the meaning, significance and foundation of the concepts of solidarity and social cohesion in media ethics. Homepage..

Dr. Virginia Herrmann (Cultures of the Ancient Orient)

Junior research group: The Iron Age

This project comprises excavation and survey in and around the archaeological site of Zincirli, Turkey, the Iron Age (ca. 900-600 BCE) city of Sam'al. This city was the capital of a small Aramaean kingdom on the cultural and geographic border between Anatolia and Syria, an area that alternated between small-scale autonomy and inclusion into the periphery of much larger regional or imperial polities, such as the Hittite and Neo-Assyrian empires. The project's primary aim is to investigate the relationship among political structure, settlement organization, social groups, and daily life practices, as the political landscape developed from post-imperial fragmentation to local territorial consolidation and back to imperial domination. Homepage..

Dr Simon Meisch (International Center for Ethics in the Sciences and Humanities)

Junior research group: Ethics of Science in the Research for Sustainable Development

The group aims to explore the outlook, content and the methodology of scientific expertise when it comes to dealing with central themes of a Sustainable Development (SD) and to develop elements and modules of an ethics of inter- and transdisciplinarity with regard to SD. In the moment, it deals among others with the Anthropocene concept, animal ethics and SD, SD indicators for universities and education for SD. Homepage..

Dr. Marcus Scheele (Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry)

Junior research group: Coupled Hybrid Nanostructures

We combine inorganic semiconductor nanoparticles with organic semiconductors for application in optoelectronic devices. By precise tuning of the energy levels in a given material combination, conductive channels emerge which specifically filter charge carriers and lead to novel electronic properties. We exploit this concept for the fabrication of field-effect transistors, light-emitting diodes, photodetectors and solar cells. Homepage..

Dr. Sandra Schwarz (Interfaculty Institute of Microbiology and Infection Medicine)

Junior research group: Pathogenesis of Infection

Pathogenic bacteria are equipped with an arsenal of virulence factors that modulate host processes in order to promote infection. Understanding the function of these factors is key to the development of novel approaches to treat bacterial infections. We are investigating the mechanism of action of the type VI secretion system -a device to inject bacterial proteins into host cells- and its role in the pathogenesis of Burkholderia species infection. Homepage..

Dr. Nicole Tieben (LEAD)

LEAD Intersektion 5: Education, Life Course Development and Social Disparities

I am interested in Sociology of Education and my current core research questions comprise social reproduction and mobility in education and student progress and success in higher education. My research covers the entire life-course from primary school to adult education, education-to-work transitions and returns to education. I am particularly interested in “non-linear” educational trajectories, thus deviations from the “typical” educational pathways and the social process leading to detours and corrections of prior educational decisions. Homepage..

Dr. Magdalena Wolska (LEAD)

LEAD Intersection 4: Language and Learning: At the interface of educational research, linguistic and cognitive modelling

Magdalena Wolska is a computational linguist whose main research interests are in the general area of applications of computational linguistics/natural language processing in educational contexts. Within the LEAD Graduate School she is involved in investigating language-related factors involved in explaining achievement levels (for instance, in reading, mathematics, and second/foreign language proficiency), educational assessment (for instance, advance prediction of difficulty with reading/listening comprehension and reduced-redundancy tests, automated and computer-assisted scoring) and collaborative knowledge construction. Homepage..