DFG establishes 11 new research units


€14.5 million awarded for three-year funding period

At its meeting on 5 July 2005 the Grants Committee on General Research Funding of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) approved funding for 11 new Research Units. In these interdisciplinary research groups several researchers and scientists collaborate to study a specific research topic over a period of six years. The DFG Research Unit programme seeks to promote the collaboration of outstanding researchers, thus also creating new areas of research at universities.

Approximately €14.5 million has been made available to the newly established units for the next three years, with prospective funding for a further three years.

The Research Units in detail:

Humanities and Social Sciences

The Research Unit "Monies, Markets, and Finance in China and East Asia, 1600-1900" located at the universities of Tübingen, Heidelberg and Bochum will study the manufacture as well as the economic and cultural significance of copper coinage in the Chinese Qing and the Japanese Tokugawa dynasties and the late Korean Choseon era. The Research Unit aims to complement the extensive research into the role played by silver in East Asia and in the early stages of the global economy and to conduct an empirically sound investigation into this so far neglected area of research.

Researchers from the universities of Düsseldorf and Frankfurt will collaborate in the Research Unit "Functional Terminology and Frames". They will relate a type of terminology neglected by linguistics, logic, philosophy, cognitive and scientific theory (functional terminology) to the basic model of cognitive conceptual formation and the formation of knowledge (the "frames") and in so doing study its key role in the formation of scientific theory.

Using selected projects from the disciplines of history, art history, philosophy, Jewish studies, Chinese studies and literary studies, the Research Unit "Topic and Tradition. Reordering Processes in the Transfer of Knowledge in the 13th to 17th Century" located at the Free University of Berlin will study processes of the handing down of knowledge and explanation-based learning via topic models.

Natural Sciences

The Research Unit "Coupling Flow and Deformation Processes for the Modelling of Large-Scale Slope Motion" located at the universities of Stuttgart, Berlin and Potsdam will develop models to improve the understanding of hydrologic, hydraulic and geological processes in landslides, slope slippage and rockfalls under water.

In the Research Unit "Non-linear Dynamics of Complex Continua", experimental physicists, chemists, theoretical physicists and fluid mechanics engineers from the University of Bayreuth will cooperate to study specific complex fluids whose motion equations are currently still being modelled and for which a unified description is sought.

The Research Unit "Dated Speleothems:

Records of the Paleozoic Environment" located in Heidelberg will investigate the basic mechanisms involved in the growth and composition of calcareous sinter in caves, known as "speleothems". The researchers aim to gain new insights into Central Europe's climatic history, including information on precipitation levels and temperature fluctuations in the past.

Life Sciences

Molecular biologists and veterinary scientists in the Research Unit "Pathogen-specific Defence Mechanisms in the Mammary Gland" at the universities of Hannover and Munich will investigate the identification and immune response mechanisms involved in infections of the mammary gland. The Research Institute for the Biology of Farm Animals in Dummerstorf will lead the unit.

The objective of the Research Unit "Signalling Paths in Healthy and Unhealthy Hearts" at the University of Hamburg is to identify new signalling transduction mechanisms in myocardial cells. The purpose of this is to create a starting point for therapeutic approaches to combat the increasing heart failure rates.

Engineering Sciences

The Research Unit "Solid Sponges – Utilisation of Monolithic Network Structures in Process Engineering" located at the University of Karlsruhe will seek evaluation criteria for the utilisation of sponges. Scientists will study their load-bearing capacity under elevated temperatures and pressures as well as potential applications in comparison to conventional packing structures.

The Research Unit "High Frequency Parasitic Effects in Converter-Fed Electrical Drives" at the Technical University of Darmstadt will investigate the problems arising from the switching of electrical drives with high-frequency signal edges. Their objective is to find novel solutions for the design and control of machines and power electronics.

Using new material modelling concepts, the scientists in the Research Unit "Fracture Mechanics and Statistical Mechanics of Reinforced Elastomer Blends" aim to describe the wear properties of filled elastomers under dynamic load. The interdisciplinary collaboration between natural scientists and engineering scientists is intended to form the basis for improved modelling of such materials. The projects will be coordinated by the Leibniz Institute of Polymer Research Dresden.

Source: Eurekalert & others

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