DFG research training groups become increasingly international


Structured doctoral programmes more attractive – 23 new projects approved

The Research Training Groups of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) are attracting increasing numbers of applicants. At its meeting on 8 October 2004 the Grants Committee on Research Training Groups selected 23 projects out of 66 new funding proposals. This is the highest number of funding proposals received over the past eight years. The programme has become increasingly attractive to international groups of applicants. The large number of new proposals from the engineering sciences is particularly encouraging. The DFG currently funds a total of 270 Research Training Groups, 34 of which are international. In 2004 the DFG is providing approximately 70 million euros in funding for Research Training Groups.

In the newly established International Research Training Group "Economic Behavior and Interaction Models" at the University of Bielefeld and the University of Paris Panthéon Sorbonne, researchers are studying the economic behaviour of individuals within society. The main emphasis is on new methods of mathematical economic theory in conjunction with various other approaches, venturing as far as the social sciences. They are studying the interaction between dynamic evolutionary processes, institutional circumstances and human decision-making behaviour. The focus is on combining the strategic aspects with the interactive dynamics.

In the Research Training Group "Trustworthy Software Systems – Construction, Certification and Application" at the University of Oldenburg, computer scientists and jurists are studying user requirements for security and trust in software systems, because complex control systems are playing an increasingly crucial role in every day use – for instance in motoring technology or in the health care sector. The focal points of the research being conducted by this interdisciplinary Research Training Group are not restricted to the issue of security, but also deal with issues such as reliability, correctness, adherence to data protection regulations and the availability of software systems.

Interdisciplinary cooperation between researchers from different branches of engineering is supported in the Research Training Group "Harbours for Container Ships of Future Generations: Interaction of Ship, Fluid, Structure and Soil" at the Technical University of Hamburg-Harburg (TUHH). Researchers from shipbuilding, mechanical and ocean engineering and geotechnics are working on basic research into the interactions between the ship's hull and the water, the quay and the soil. In view of the increasing size of container ships anticipated in the years ahead, ports need to adapt to the new demands that will be placed upon them and basic research into suitable quay constructions is required.

Working groups from the institutes at the department of medicine, the biological sciences, pharmacy and psychology are working on neuroscience in the Research Training Group "Interdisciplinary Approaches in Cellular Neurosciences" at the University of Leipzig. Their research will focus on studies of the retina as a visual organ as well as processing systems for acoustic signals. This combination of biological sciences and biophysics is ideal for applying specialised methods to the study of highly complex neurological problems.

The interaction between pathogens and their hosts at the molecular level is the topic of the interdisciplinary group "Genetic and Immunologic Determinants of Pathogen-Host-Interactions" at the Humboldt University in Berlin. Whereas the studies into virology, bacteriology and parasitology are still highly focussed on their specific area, the applicants hope that this group will cross over the boundaries between the subjects. Their focal point is the intersection between the three groups of organisms in various host species.

The new Research Training Groups in detail:

  • The Role of Biodiversity for Biogeochemical Cycles and Biotic Interactions in Temperate Deciduous Forests, University of Göttingen
  • Viruses of the Immune System, University of Erlangen-Nürnberg
  • Modelling, Analysis and Simulation in Economathematics, University of Ulm
  • Analysis, Numerics and Optimisation of Multiphase Problems, Humboldt University Berlin
  • Generation History. Generational Dynamics and Historical Change in the 19th and 20th Centuries, University of Göttingen
  • Development of New Computer-based Methods for the Future Working Environment in Visceral Surgery, University of Heidelberg
  • Functional Proteomics of the Heart, University of Düsseldorf
  • Trustworthy Software Systems – Construction, Certification and Application, University of Oldenburg
  • Harbours for Container Ships of Future Generations: Interaction of Ship, Fluid, Structure and Soil, Technical University of Hamburg-Harburg
  • Physics at Hadron Accelerators, University of Freiburg
  • From Cells to Organs: Molecular Mechanisms of Organogenesis, University of Freiburg
  • Visualization of Large and Unstructured Data Sets. Applications in Geospatial Planning, Modelling and Engineering, Technical University of Kaiserslautern
  • Embedded Microsystems, University of Freiburg
  • Genetic and Immunologic Determinants of Pathogen-Host-Interactions, Humboldt University Berlin
  • Orientation and Motion in Space, University of Munich
  • Interdisciplinary Approaches in Cellular Neurosciences (InterNeuro), University of Leipzig
  • Cellular Mechanisms of Learning and Memory Consolidation in the Hippocampal Formation, Free University Berlin
  • Geometry and Analysis for Symmetries, University of Paderborn
  • Aero-thermodynamic Interpretation of a Scramjet Drive System for Future Space Transport Systems, University of Stuttgart
  • Optical Techniques for Measurement of Interfacial Transport Phenomena, Technical University of Darmstadt
  • Art and Technology. Material and Form in Artistic and Technological Design Processes, Technical University of Hamburg-Harburg
  • Interference of Pathogens with the Host Signaling Machinery, University of Würzburg
  • Economic Behavior and Interaction Models, University of Bielefeld/University of Paris Panthéon Sorbonne

    The DFG has funded Research Training Groups for particularly highly qualified doctoral students from all scientific disciplines since 1990. Between 15 and 25 researchers per Research Training Group work in a research and study programme that is usually interdisciplinary, under the supervision of professors who are distinguished in research and teaching. Approximately six percent of all doctoral students in Germany complete their doctorates within a Research Training Group. Graduates of Research Training Groups generally have a more rounded qualification than others and complete their doctorate two years earlier on average. At 27 percent, the proportion of foreign students participating in Research Training Groups is almost three times as high as the German national average.

    Further information is available from Dr. Jörg Schneider, Head, Research Training Groups and Research Careers Division, Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, Kennedyallee 40, D-53175 Bonn, Germany, Tel.: 49-228-885-2424, e-mail: [email protected].

    Source: Eurekalert & others

    Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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