High demand for structured doctoral programmes

December 28, 2005

In response to the increasing number of proposals for its funding programme for young researchers, the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) has decided to establish 26 new Research Training Groups. In its meeting on 15 December 2005 the responsible Grants Committee selected the new projects out of 52 funding proposals. Within the last three years the number of proposals has almost tripled: from 73 in 2003 to 136 in 2004 and to 205 in 2005. The DFG currently funds a total of 265 Research Training Groups, 39 of them at an international level.

"We must ensure sustained funding for this initiative", DFG Secretary General Dr. Reinhard Grunwald emphasised, justifying the increase in funds for the programme from approximately 68 million euros in 2004 to approximately 72 million in 2005. For 2006, a further increase to 79 million euros is scheduled. The DFG also plans to modify this funding instrument. Until June 2006, a working group established by the DFG's Senate will elaborate proposals for a further development of the program. The DFG will therefore not accept any new proposals until the end of 2006.

Five Research Training Groups in focus

University of Duisburg-Essen
The objective of the Research Training Group "Nanotronics - Photovoltaics and Optoelectronics from Nanoparticles" is to develop components for electronic applications. Doctoral students at the University of Duisburg-Essen initially will examine the scientific foundations of nanotronics, which might allow new applications for the conversion of radiation energy into electric energy (photovoltaics) as well as for the exploitation of light energy (optoelectronics). Within the framework of training courses as well as a three month stay in the Science-to-Business-Center of Degussa AG, the doctoral students will subsequently put their research findings into practice. The cooperation with the industrial partner enables them, among other things, to gain valuable professional experience in market-oriented product development.

Technical University of Chemnitz / Fudan University, Shanghai, China / Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China
The International Research Training Group "Materials and Concepts for advanced Metallisation Systems" also focuses on nanotechnology. Together with their Chinese partners of Fudan and Shanghai Jiao Tong University, chemists, physicists and electrical as well as IT specialists will research new materials at the nanometer level and study their usability in industrial mass production. The Research Training Group allows young scientists in particular to carry out doctoral studies on topics at the intersection between basic and application-oriented research in nanoelectronics and to gain experience in a leading international research environment. The German and Chinese participants will also be able to attend seminars, workshops and summer schools as well as enjoy a three-month stay in the respective host country.

Humboldt-University of Berlin
"Constitution beyond the State: From the European to the Global Community of Law?" This question will be investigated by a Research Training Group at Humboldt-University in Berlin. The project focuses on the legal consequences of the increasing interconnectedness and interdependence of people in the context of globalisation. The goal is to scrutinise and further develop the existing legal systems on the basis of practical considerations. For the participating doctoral students, this means that they need to frame their dissertation topics not only from a legal perspective but also with regards to political science and history. Experts from public and private institutions in Germany, the European Union and the United Nations supervise the training and enable the young scientists to take up placements in their respective organisations with a view to acquiring professional experiences in an international environment.

Albert-Ludwigs-University Freiburg
By using model plants such as rice, moss or mouse-ear cress, the Research Training Group " Signal Systems in Plant Model Organisms" will analyse regulation and signal systems that are crucial for a plant's development. The project managers first recruit interested students via placements. The selected doctoral students of biology and bioinformatics not only benefit from being part of the "BioValley Network", a research association that includes the universities of Freiburg, Strasbourg and Basel, but also from international contacts of their leading scientists. Conference travel and laboratory stays in cooperation with universities in the Netherlands, South Africa, Hungary and the United States are planned in order to enhance the interdisciplinary and intercultural skills of the junior scientists.

Hannover Medical College / Karolinska Institute, Sweden
The International Research Training Group "Strategies of Human Pathogens in the Process of Causing Acute and Chronic Infection" is a joint project of Hannover Medical College, Karolinska Institute in Sweden and the Society for Biotechnological Research in Braunschweig. Scientists are primarily interested in investigating the problem of persistency of pathogens in infections and finding solutions both through theoretical and clinically oriented projects. Possible topics for doctoral dissertations range from the biochemical composition of pathogens to their genetic variation and to the so-called escape mechanisms, which are used by pathogens to avoid the human immune system. Besides working on their dissertation, the German and Swedish doctoral students will participate in laboratory courses, summer schools, seminars on presentation techniques and rhetoric as well as lectures in both their host countries and their countries of origin.

The new Research Training Groups in detail

RWTH Aachen: "Algorithmic Synthesis of Reactive and Discreetly Continuous Systems"

RWTH Aachen and University of Pennsylvania (USA): "Brain-behaviour Relationship of Normal and Disturbed Emotions in Schizophrenia and Autism"

University of Bayreuth and University of Erlangen-Nuremberg: "Stable and Metastable Multiphase Systems at High Application Temperatures"

Free University of Berlin and Humboldt-University of Berlin: "The Influence of Infections on the Functioning of the Nervous System"

Humboldt-University of Berlin, Boston University (USA) and Kyoto University (Japan): "Genomic and System Biological Analysis of Molecular Networks"

Humboldt-University of Berlin: "Constitution beyond the State: From the European to the Global Community of Law?"

Humboldt-University of Berlin: "Model-based Software Development for Self-organising Decentralised Information Systems"

Technical University of Chemnitz / Fudan University, Shanghai, China / Shanghai Jiao Tong University (China): "Materials and Concepts for Advanced Metallisation Systems"

University of Darmstadt: "Quality Improvement in e-learning through Back-fed Processes"

University of Duisburg-Essen: "Nanotronics - Photovoltaics and Optoelectronics of Nanoparticles"

Albert-Ludwigs-University of Freiburg: "Friends, Patrons, Followers. Practice and Semantics of Friendship and Patronage in Historical, Anthropological and Comparative Cultural Perspective"

Albert-Ludwigs-University of Freiburg: "Signal Systems in Plant Model Organisms"

University of Hamburg: "Tailor-made Metal-semiconductor Hybrid Systems"

University of Hamburg and Tsinghua University, Beijing (China): "Intersensorical Interaction in Natural and Artificial Cognitive Systems"

Medical College Hannover and Karolinska Institute, Stockholm (Sweden): "Strategies of Human Pathogens in the Establishment of Acute and Chronic Infections"

University of Jena: "Alternatives and Element Mobilisation at Microbe-mineral Boundary Layers"

University of Karlsruhe: "Analysis, Simulation and Design of Nanotechnological Processes"

University of Constance and University of Zurich (Switzerland): "Cell-based Characterisation of Disease-related Mechanisms of Cell Tissue Destruction and Repair"

University of Cologne: "Global Structures in Geometry and Analysis"

University of Leipzig: "Fracture Zones of Globalisation"

Philipps University of Marburg: "Intra- and Inter-cellular Transport and Communication"

University of Rostock: "Culture Contact and Scientific Discourse"

University of Saarbrücken: "Calcium Signals and Cellular Nano-domains"

University of Saarbrücken: "Formation of Structures and Transport in Complex Systems"

Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen and University of Dundee (Great Britain): "The PI3K Signal Path in Tumor Growth and Diabetes"

University of Würzburg: "Regulation of Electrical Properties of Aggregates of n-conjugated Molecules"
Since 1990 the DFG has promoted particularly qualified doctoral students in Research Training Groups in all scientific disciplines. Between 15 and 25 researchers per Research Training Group work in largely interdisciplinary research and teaching projects under the guidance of professors with specific qualifications in research and teaching. Currently about six percent of all doctoral students in Germany earn their doctorate in a Research Training Group. Graduates of Research Training Groups are usually better qualified and on average two years younger than other doctoral students. The proportion of foreign doctoral students is 28 percent, which is almost three times the national average.

Further information
Further information about the Research Training Groups is available on the Internet: www.dfg.de/forschungsfoerderung/koordinierte_programme/graduiertenkollegs/

Contact person for the DFG Research Training Groups is Dr. Jörg Schneider, phone 49-228-885-2424, e-mail: joerg.schneider@dfg.de.

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft

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