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University of Bayreuth Centre of International Excellence "Alexander von Humboldt"

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Other Awardees and Fellows

Awardees and Fellows of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation at the University of Bayreuth

(funding period 2020)

Professor Anar Akhmedov
Professor of Mathematics, University of Minnesota, USA

Project Title: The Topology of Complex Surfaces and Symplectic 4-Manifolds

For the purpose of this project, I will collaborate with Professor Fabrizio Catanese with an aim of further understanding of smooth and symplectic structures on 4-manifolds and constructing Lefschetz fibrations on symplectic 4-manifolds using the positive relations in the mapping class group. These investigations will hopefully improve our understanding of smooth and symplectic 4-manifolds, and lead to the creation of new construction techniques. The project will also study the geography of complex surfaces and symplectic 4-manifolds. This project may lead to new results on spin and non-spin symplectic/ complex geography and provide interesting constructions of symplectic 4-manifolds and complex surfaces on and near Bogomolov-Miyaoka-Yau line. 

Disciplines: Symplectic Topology, Algebraic Geometry

Host: Professor Fabrizio Catanese, Mathematics VIII

Research stay: June-August 2020 (Fellow)

Dr Jinke Bao
Argonne National Laboratory, Northwestern University, Evanston, USA

Project Title: Investigations of interplay between lattice and magnetic/charge density wave order in low dimensional quantum materials by X-ray scattering

Quantum materials, a rapidly growing research area, exhibit macroscopic quantum phenomena such as charge/spin density wave, superconductivity and topological protected states. Materials with reduced dimensionality create a suitable crystal structure framework to host exotic states such high-Tc superconductivity due to quantum confinement of electrons. Charge/magnetic density wave order is a collective electronic phenomenon with spin/charge of electrons forming additional periodicity in the translation-symmetric lattice. Modulated crystal structure with periodic lattice distortion in those materials can be formed due to the coupling between charge/spin and lattice. This project aims at investigating those tiny lattice distortions in low dimensional quantum materials by X-ray scattering using synchrotron radiation source. The research will help understand the nature and mechanism of those orders.   

Host: Prof. Dr. Sander van Smaalen, Crystallography

Research Interest: Charge Density Wave, Spin Density Wave, Superconductivity, Modulated Crystal Structure

Research Stay: January 2020 - December 2021 (Fellow)

Professor Tatas Hardo Panintingjati Brotosudarmo
Principal Investigator, Ma Chung Research Center for Photosynthetic Pigments (MRCPP) and Chemistry Study Program, Universitas Ma Chung, Malang, Indonesia​

Project Title: Characterization of the fucoxanthin-based photosynthetic apparatus by single molecule spectroscopy

Here at Bayreuth, Dr. Brotosudarmo will learn to employ a single molecule fluorescence spectroscopy (SMS) to examine the structure-function relationship of photosynthetic light-harvesting complexes, with focus on fucoxanthin complexes. Indonesia represents the world’s biodiversity in marine species. Based on reports, Indonesia has about 134 species of eukaryotic brown algae. These species utilize the Sun energy in a unique way by having carotenoid, called fucoxanthin, as a major light absorbance material in their light harvesting apparatus. In this project, Dr. Brotosudarmo will take closer look at a molecular scale to observe and understand how Sunlight energy absorption and energy transfer occurs in this unique system. Prior to research at Bayreuth, his biochemistry works mainly includes characterization of natural product compounds, especially carotenoids and other pigments, by Mass Spectrometry. SMS is currently a state-of-the-art method in imaging spectroscopy for observation of photophysical properties of a molecule. Knowledge of SMS can impact Indonesia to further explore marine biodiversity and its untapped potentials. The competence in SMS is a rare expertise among scientists in Indonesia and will have a strong impact for the continued development of education programs at higher academic institutions in Indonesia.

Disciplines: Biophysical Chemistry, Biochemistry, Spectroscopy, Biophysics

Host: Professor Jürgen Köhler, Spectroscopy of Soft Matter, Experimental Physics IV

Research Stay: May 2020/August 2021 (Fellow)

Dr Romar Dela Cruz
Institute of Mathematics, University of the Philippines Diliman

Project Title: On error-correcting codes from graphs

Error-correcting codes were introduced to enable reliable transmission of data across noisy channels. These codes are also used to solve problems in other areas like combinatorics and cryptography. An important class of such codes are vector spaces over finite fields called linear codes. These codes are extensively studied because of their nice properties both from the theoretical and practical perspectives. The project aims to study the properties of linear codes obtained from adjacency matrices of graphs.

Research Interests: Coding Theory, Cryptography

Host: Professor Alfred Wassermann, Mathematics and Didactics

Research Stay: May 2019 - April 2020 (Fellow)

Dr. Constant Kpao Sare
Associate Professor of German literature and culture, University of Abomey-Calavi, Benin

My research focusses on German literature from the 18th century to the present, including postcolonialism in contemporary German literature: Reiseliteratur, Ratgeberliteratur, Forschungs-und Entdeckungsreise, etc. During my upcoming stay at University of Bayreuth, I aim at carrying out key findings in the discourse about ‘African things’ and technics of African things modelling in German-speaking literature (Thing studies). My overall goal is to seek for and document valuable and sustainably useful African things that could be exhibited in museums of Things. In this respect, I will be doing an "Analysis of things" in order to contribute to the postcolonial discussion by exploring the postcolonial potential of African things in German literature, including relevant theories of cultural turn, material turn, postcolonial memory etc.

Disciplines: German Studies, African studies, Thing studies

Host: Professor Gesine Lenore Schiewer, Intercultural German Studies

Forschungsaufenthalt: July-December 2020

Dr Oliver Nyambi
Department of English, University of the Free State, South Africa

Project title: The crisis of liberation in contemporary Zimbabwe: texts, counter-texts, and contexts in the crisis years (2000 – 2020)

The project focuses on changing conceptions of liberation in crisis literatures and cultures of crisis in contemporary Zimbabwe. Situated in the context of Zimbabwe's twenty-year-old economic and political implosion, the project explores literary/cultural contestations of the Zimbabwean government’s grand narrative of liberation. Under Robert Mugabe and (as of 2017) Emmerson Mnangagwa, post-2000 Zimbabwe was/is marked by heightened hegemonic attempts to dominate what is (or should be) entailed by liberation now. In a context in which the expressive space is legally constrained and panoptically surveilled to curve space for the state’s neo-nationalist and essentialist notions of patriotic liberation, imaginative literature has emerged alongside other modes of cultural texts and performances as a critical space for a renewed discourse on (re)thinking old and new liberations. Informed by postcolonial theories that center the politics of local agency, the project reads literatures and other cultural products of the Zimbabwean crisis as important alternative sites of national memory, which are invaluable to a fuller understanding of shifting and contested (re)visions of the concept of liberation during Zimbabwe’s crisis years. (Recent related publication: O. Nyambi, Life-Writing from the Margins in Zimbabwe: Versions and Subversions of Crisis, Routledge Taylor & Francis, London & New York, 2019).

Research interests: Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwean crisis (2000 - ), Crisis literatures in Africa, Literature and politics, Critical Liberation Studies, Critical Discourse Analysis, Life-writing and African political identities

Host: Professor Susan Arndt, English Studies and Anglophone Literatures

Research Stay: September 2018 - August 2020 (Fellow)

Professor Raz Zarivach 
​Department of Life Sciences, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel

This project aims to advance our structure-function relationship understanding of magnetotactic bacteria related proteins. For that, during the visit, we will purify several magnetotactic bacteria proteins using various protein purification techniques. Once ready, we will test these proteins using a large array of biophysical techniques including Cryo-EM and X-ray crystallography. This project will bring together a combination of advanced microbiology and structural biology expertise to advance the study of various microbiological protein systems. The expected outcomes will allow us to understand the biological systems taking place in these specific bacteria with a deep structural view, which in the long term may allow structure-based modifications of magnetotactic bacteria.

Disciplines: Protein Biochemistry, Structural Biology, Protein Purification, Microbiology

Host: Professor Dirk Schüler, Microbiology

Research stay: July - September 2020 (Fellow)

Leibniz Prize 2016

Prof. Dr. Daniel J. Frost
Bayerisches Geoinstitut (BGI), Universität Bayreuth

Photo Professor Frost

Dan Frost is an experimental scientist studying the nature of Earth’s deep interior and the formation processes of planets. He employs the results of high pressure and temperature experiments on minerals, rocks and magmas to interpret geochemical and geophysical observations. In particular, he is interested in the cycle of volatile elements inside the Earth and the mechanisms that explain the long term retention of carbon within the interior. By measuring mineral elastic properties at high pressures, he is also interested in placing constraints on the chemical composition of the Earth’s deepest, inaccessible layers by interpreting the velocities of earthquake waves that pass through these regions.

Research interests: Mineral elastic properties and their use in interpreting seismic data on the Earth’s interior, the behaviour of volatile elements in the Earth, the redox state of the mantle, the accretion and differentiation of Earth and the terrestrial planets, the rheology of mantle rocks, phase transformations, thermodynamic properties of minerals, fluids and melts.

ERC Advanced Grant

Professor Dr Tomoo Katsura
Bavarian Research Institute of Experimental Geochemistry and Geophysics (BGI), University of Bayreuth

Photo Prof Katsura

We are attempting to obtain better understanding about the structure, dynamics and evolution of the Earth’s deep interior. Since we cannot access the Earth’s interior directly, we obtain such understandings by comparison of physical and chemical properties of geomaterials with geophysical and geochemical observations. Because the Earth’s interior is at high pressures and temperatures, phase relations, element partitioning, equation of state, electrical conductivity and defect mobility are determined by high-pressure-temperature experiments especially using large-volume multi-anvil presses (LVP).

One research topic is determination of chemistry, Si and O self-diffusivity and grain-growth rate of bridgmanite, the major lower-mantle mineral, to interpret abrupt increase in viscosity around 1000-km depth. Another is accurate determination of bridgmanite-forming phase transformations by means of in situ X-ray diffraction to understand the transition between the upper and lower mantles.

Because freedom and quality of such investigations depend on experimental technology, we are developing LVP technologies. For in situ X-ray diffraction, we have constructed an experimental station in the synchrotron facility, DESY. We have raised the pressure and temperature limits from 26 to 52 GPa, and from 2500 to 3000K, respectively. We have increased the furnace cooling rate by 10 times to quench previously-unquenchable melts and investigate their properties. 

Research interests: Structure, dynamics and evolution of the Earth and planetary interiors, Physical and chemical properties of Earth and planetary materials, High-pressure physics and chemistry, Development of high-pressure-temperature technology

Heisenberg Professor for Experimental Biogeochemistry

Professor Dr Martin Obst
Bayreuth Center of Ecology and Environmental Research (BayCEER)

Project Title: Environmental Redox Processes at the Microscale 

Photo Prof Obst

The aim of Prof. Obst’s work is the identification and quantification of fundamental environmental processes that occur on the micrometer scale. In the environment, we often observe reduction and oxidation processes that cannot be explained by classical geochemical models. For example, reactions are coupled that - based on their individual chemical requirements - should not occur together. One fundamental aspect that often has not been considered in previous studies, mostly due to limitations in our experimental possibilities, is the spatial heterogeneity of environmental systems.

The development of innovative experimental approaches, in particular in the fields of synchrotron-based X-ray spectromicroscopy and lab-based in-situ approaches such as the coupling of environmentally sensitive fluorescence probes with confocal laser scanning microscopy now became promising tools to study such heterogeneities. In my group, we develop and use these approaches identify and to map structural and chemical sub-micron scale heterogeneities in environmental, redox-active biofilms. Furthermore, we study their influence on biogeochemical reactions, in particular on the cycling of carbon, iron, manganese and sulfur, as well as their effects on related chemical species such as toxic heavy metals. In addition to studying natural biofilms, mainly from mining-related sites in the region Fichtelgebirge, we also use microfluidic model systems will help to gain a fundamental understanding of the underlying processes under controlled laboratory conditions.

Research interests: redox-reactions in environmental biofilms, sediments & soils, the fate of heavy metals, interactions between element cycles (C, Fe, Mn, S)

Marie-Skłodowska-Curie-Actions: Individual Fellowship

(funding period 2020)

Dr Frederik Van De Putte
Ghent University, Belgium

Collective decisions are pervasive in every aspect of our society. As shown by Brexit and other recent episodes in European national politics, the way we shape our collective decisions can have far-reaching implications. However, even though there is a vast literature on the aggregation and revision of preferences in and by groups, there are no exact mathematical models of the way groups construct and revise a given decision problem – a process I call constructive deliberation. Getting grip on this political “logic of discovery” is a necessary step towards a suitable combination of information technology with various forms of direct democracy.

In this project, I will develop a formal theory of constructive deliberation. Relying on my background in defeasible reasoning and the expertise at the host and secondment institution, I will create mathematical models of individual agents that reason and share information about the decision problem at hand, and show how and when this interaction results in group consensus. This way, the project will complement existing work on collective decision-making, which is in turn necessary for the improvement of democratic processes.

Research interests: Logics of social interaction, deontic logic, classical (non-normal) modal logics, multi-agent systems, collective decision-making, deliberative democracy

Research stay: 2018-2020

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