The growing number of proposals makes selection more difficult
The number of funding proposals in the Research Training Group programme offered by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation, DFG) has tripled in the past two years. At its spring session on 22 April 2005, the responsible Grants Committee evaluated 70 new funding proposals and approved 14 new projects from a shortlist of 37. Ninety-eight new funding proposals have already been received for the next round of funding.
The rapid increase in the number of proposals received is partly due to the fact that this DFG programme in itself is so attractive; clear evidence that the changes to this funding instrument made in 2003 are having a genuine effect. Science policy is also having a decisive effect, however. By establishing Research Training Groups, universities align themselves with the Bologna Declaration, which aims to establish a system of doctoral degrees that are comparable throughout Europe. As well as this, the foundation of doctoral training centres, of which Research Training Groups are key elements, has helped to increase universities' focus on research. In addition, there are no funding alternatives apart from the DFG Research Training Group programme available yet, although the excellence initiative, which was announced eighteen months ago, and is still a matter of controversial debate between federal and individual state governments, is still planned.
The DFG is currently funding a total of 269 Research Training Groups, 38 of which are International Research Training Groups. The Research Training Group programme will receive approximately €72 million in funding from the DFG in 2005.
Five of the New Research Training Groups
University of Bielefeld / Academy of Mathematics and System Science Beijing (Chinese Academy of Science), China
China has taken a leading position in mathematics, a fact which the Bielefeld-Beijing collaboration funded by the DFG will use to its advantage. The Research Training Group "Stochastics and Real World Models" combines theoretical mathematics, which is based on probability processes, and the field of financial mathematics, with physics and economics in an innovative and ambitious way. It is intended to combine three important fields of application in the area of stochastics, and make a calculational and conceptional mathematical "tool box" for the other fields of research.
University of Erlangen-Nürnberg
In the Research Training Group "Disperse Systems for Electronic Applications" experimental physicists are cooperating with process and materials engineers to develop an inorganic-based paste that can be used to print electronic circuits on flexible substrates. This innovative procedure could lead to more cost-effective production processes for electronic components such as integrated circuits, radio-frequency tags or conductive and transparent layers in large displays. A particular feature of the project – which aims to combine the flexibility of electronic polymers with the advantages of silicon-based technology – is the collaboration with the chemical company Degussa, which is providing the Research Training Group with nanoparticles, without which this research would be impossible.
University of Göttingen
The Research Training Group "Fit Constellations in School Related Learning: Understanding and Enhancement" consists of psychologists, biologists, educationalists, sports scientists, historians, and theologians. In projects focussed on specific topics, this group of researchers will be testing, analysing and evaluating factors relating to learning and school education, and their interactions in specific learning contexts. These factors will then be optimised by strategies, which will be developed subsequently. The group's aim is to train young researchers in school-related teaching, learning and education research by promoting scientific exchange between the fields of school pedagogics, pedagogical psychology, and various specialist didactics: a project of particular relevance, especially in view of the results of the PISA studies.
University of Leipzig
How are the limited resources available for attention distributed in the human brain when performing highly complex processes such as language learning and comprehension, memory training and motor control? To what extent are other areas of perception affected? These largely unexplored questions are addressed by the interdisciplinary Research Training Group "Function of Attention in Cognition", which is cooperating with Max Planck Institutes in Leipzig and Munich. Neurologists, psychologists, biologists, and zoologists participating in the group will apply methods of cognitive neurosciences such as EEG/MEG, and imaging techniques (fMRI) to studies on adults and children in order to find answers to these questions.
University of Münster / University of Nagoya, Japan
In the first German-Japanese Research Training Group "Complex Functional Systems in Chemistry: Design, Development and Applications", researchers from Münster and Nagoya are concentrating on the study of intermolecular interactions, the understanding of which is indispensable for the design and the control of complex chemical systems. Complex functional systems in the fields of catalysis, biochemistry and materials chemistry will be developed and applied on the basis of this research. The doctoral students will be supported by a group of renowned scientists, such as the former president of the Society of German Chemists, Professor Gerhard Erker, and Nobel Prize laureate, Professor Ryoji Noyori.
List of the New Research Training Groups
RWTH Aachen: "Biocatalysis Using Non-conventional Media. Ionic Liquids, Organic Solvents, Supercritical Fluids and Gases as Reaction Media for Biocatalysed Syntheses"
University of Bielefeld, Academy of Mathematics and System Science Beijing, China: "Stochastics and Real World Models"
University of Düsseldorf: "Dynamics of Hot Plasmas"
University of Erlangen-Nürnberg: "Disperse Systems for Electronic Applications"
University of Frankfurt am Main: "Research, Development and Safety of Biologicals"
University of Göttingen: "Fit Constellations in School Related Learning: Understanding and Enhancement"
Technical University of Karlsruhe: "Self-Organizing Sensor-Actuator Networks"
University of Leipzig: "Function of Attention in Cognition"
University of Magdeburg: "Cell-Cell Communication in Neural and Immune Systems: Topological Organisation of Signal Transduction"
University of Munich: "Oligonucleotides in Cell Biology and Therapy"
University of Münster, University of Nagoya, Japan: "Complex Functional Systems in Chemistry: Design, Development and Applications"
University of Rostock: "New Methods for Sustainability in Catalysis and Technique"
University of Würzburg, Chinese Academy of Sciences Beijing, Chinese Academy of Sciences Shanghai: "From Synaptic Plasticity to Behavioural Modulation in Genetic Model Organisms"
University of Würzburg: "Theoretical Astrophysics and Particle Physics"
Source: Eurekalert & othersLast reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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