With the Pre-Doc Award, we at Leipzig University support graduates in preparation for doctoral research as well as postdocs in their ability to supervise doctoral candidates. During the finding period, the aim is for recipients to jointly develop a doctoral research project and to acquire funding for it.
Applications for the next Pre-Doc Award funding phase are open until 21 June 2020. Up to 20 positions are available. The Pre-Doc Award contracts are scheduled to begin on 1 October 2020. Please go to the download area for more information and details on how to apply.
Excellent Research, Supervision and Promotion of Junior Researchers
The Pre-Doc Award is a strategic programme for the promotion of junior researchers at our university. Here we give postdocs and doctoral candidates with a very good degree the opportunity to plan a joint research project. The award pays for a one-year position as graduate assistant (WHK) of 19 hours per week. This time allows the tandem to add detail and quality to their project plan and to raise funding for the doctorate. This can be done by the postdoctoral researcher – in the form of external funding applications – or by the Pre-Doc – in the form of scholarship applications. In the best case, the Pre-Doc Award thus enables qualified graduates to make a rapid transition to a well-planned doctoral phase with secured financing.
The Pre-Doc Award therefore pursues the objectives of
- promoting junior researchers at an early stage in their careers,
- strengthening the supervision skills of postdocs,
- and stimulating innovative research.
This is an important contribution to fulfilling the objectives of Leipzig University’s Staff Development Plan (PEK). It is also one of the strategic funding instruments in the area of the promotion of junior researchers, to which we have committed ourselves in the University Development Plan HEP (2025). The Pre-Doc Award was conducted for the first time in 2017. Since then, we have awarded up to 20 such awards annually. The Pre-Doc Award is overseen by the Vice-Rectorate for Research and Early Career Academics and is headed by Professor Schröger.
Do You Have the Idea for Your Doctorate, but No Funding Yet?
Then we might be able to offer you exactly the right programme for your situation! At our university, we can support your path to a doctorate with a preparatory position as a graduate assistant (WHK), if:
- You hold or will shortly hold a very good university degree.
- You would like to do a doctorate at Leipzig University and already have a subject area and ideas for a research question.
- You are determined to obtain funding for your doctorate (either by getting a scholarship yourself or by collaborating with a postdoctoral researcher who applies for a doctoral position for you as part of a broader project).
- A post-doctoral researcher will work with you for the Pre-Doc Award application process, during the course of the Pre-Doc Award year and, at best, beyond, and will be able to advise and support you both professionally and conceptually.
Are You a Postdoc Keen to Develop Your Supervision Skills and Help Promote Junior Researchers?
Then the Pre-Doc Award could be just what you’re looking for. We have also developed this programme to support people like you in the phases of your career after your doctorate. By supporting a Pre-Doc Awardee as a supervising post-doc, you will gain experience of some of the diverse requirements you will encounter as a post-doc in academia:
- Acquisition of external funding
- Supporting and supervising doctoral candidates
- Attracting junior researchers with a focus similar to your own
- Establishing a network within and outside the University
- Applications for research prizes and awards.
If you know a suitable candidate for the Pre-Doc Award, please tell them about the programme! The Pre-Doc Award is aimed primarily at postdoctoral researchers with established or new junior research groups. However, it is also open to postdocs in the early stages after their doctorate as well as to holders of a junior or tenure-track professorship.
The 2020 Cohort Starts Its Funding Year
The funding phase of the third Pre-Doc Award cohort started on 1 January 2020. Most of the awardees started their work at this time or a little later.
On 19 February 2020, the kick-off event took place in the Villa Tillmanns from 2 to 6pm. Our Head of Administration and Finance, Professor Birgit Dräger, congratulated the awardees and encouraged them to make the most of their newly won freedom to work on their research projects and proposals. Vice-Rector Professor Schröger also spoke in favour or personal initiative, encouraging the awardees to also make use of the opportunities for networking and interdisciplinary exchange that go hand in hand with the programme. All awardee tandems gave short presentations introducing themselves and their projects. In addition to a preview of the supporting programme during the award year, a reception ensured a relaxed setting that offered plenty of time for networking.
Pre-Doc Awardees 2020
Below is a list of the doctoral projects of the Pre-Doc Awardees from the 2020 cohort, who will further develop their projects together with the postdoctoral researchers during the course of the year and will seek financial support for their doctorates within the funding period.
When do youth generalize representations of parents to peers? One size fits all or generalizing only to those who fit
Abstract: The phenomenon whereby mental representations of significant others guide one’s perception, affect and behavior during encounters with unfamiliar individuals has long caught the attention of researchers and practitioners. However, cognitive-affective mechanisms underlying this process remain surprisingly underspecified to date. The present project aims to shed light upon developmental and clinical aspects of representation generalization by a design combining social-cognitive transference paradigm and game-theoretical tasks. To this end, we are going to examine the extent to which maltreated youth and their non-maltreated counterparts generalize their parental representations to new peers during a computerized Trust Game and how this reflects on their emotion and behavior.
Unravelling the role of catalytic RNAs in bacteria
Abstract: Ribozymes are ribonucleic acids (RNAs) that perform chemical reactions. Fourteen different ribozyme classes are known in nature and they catalyze often-essential functions in the cell. Nine ribozyme classes are self‑cleaving. These ribozymes cut their own phosphate backbone site‑specifically into two pieces by a transesterification reaction. Although the biological functions of some of these self-cleaving ribozymes are well understood, for the majority of individual examples — and especially for entire self-cleaving ribozyme classes — the biological significance remains completely unknown. It is our goal to elucidate functions of self-cleaving ribozymes in bacteria, where, apart from a single exception, we know nothing about the biological roles of these abundant and highly conserved RNAs.
The art of print. Close readings under inclusion of materiality: Stefan George's Tage und Thaten and Arno Holz's Phantasus.
Institution: Philologische Fakultät, Institut für Germanistik
Abstract: My dissertation project is located in the field of literary studies and can be understood as a contribution to a philological countermovement aiming at its ‚rephilologisation’. I attempt close reading that specifically poses questions about the various logics and functions of elements of literary texts. Thus my project seeks to elaborate the individual aesthetic facture of a text, instead of examining it on account of the biographical background of its author or the general defining characteristics of a literary epoch. In addition, an essential aspect of my approach is the increased attention to the materiality of literary texts, e.g. to its typographical realization, asking if or how this materiality might be understood as part of its aesthetic reflection.
The role of bacterial translocation to adipose tissue in metabolic disease
Institution: Klinik für Endokrinologie und Nephrologie
Ms Tabei left Leipzig University in February to take up a PhD position that was offered to her at another German university. We wish her all the best for her personal pathway and research career.
Post-translational protein modification in Parkinson’s disease
Institution: Paul-Flechsig-Institut für Hirnforschung
Abstract: Does a common pathogenic mechanism in neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer´s- (AD) and Parkinson´s disease (PD) exist? To answer this question, we focus on glutaminyl cyclase (QC). The key role of QC-modified-amyloid-beta-peptides is a well-established fact. Now, the assumption of similar molecular mechanisms in PD will be verified by testing α-synuclein fragments as substrates for QC in vitro and in vivo. Further, aggregation and neurotoxic characteristics of modified-α-synuclein will be compared to maternal α-synuclein-peptides in primary mouse neurons, astrocytes and microglia cells. Finally, in co-aggregation assays modified-α-synuclein and Amyloid-beta-peptides will be tested to get insights into protein cross-seeding events that may accelerate neurotoxicity. The major goal is to find a novel overlapping therapeutic target for AD and PD.
The Undoing-effect of Positive Emotions - Psychophysiological Benefits and unknown Scopes of Positive Emotions in Sports
Abstract: Although, research in Sport Psychology aims to promote physical activity and help people to realize their potential, prevalent topics of interest are predominantly deficit-oriented. Our project takes a view of a resouce-oriented field of Positive Psychology and aims to investigate the Undo-Effect of Positive Emotions in the context in psychophysiological stress of performance-oriented athletes. Therefore, a series of lab and field studies are planned. By examining the underlying mechanism of action, we strive to deduce guidance for athletes and coaches in order to enable sport performance in a sustainable and healthy way.
state neutrality – the historical development of a political term
Abstract: State neutrality – the equal treatment of subjects of fundamental rights and the equal distance to certain parties, religions or world views - is currently of great interest. Verdicts against the right to wear a hijab in court or concerning public officials speaking out against the far right occupy courts or fuel public debates. This project examines the definition of state neutrality in the legal discourse: How is the understanding of state neutrality shaped by the historical situations? It will follow the hypothesis that major historical shifts such as the post-1968 turn to the left, the establishment of a migration society or the current rise of the far right are reflected or repelled on the legal terrain through the (re)definition of state neutrality.
Shiʿa Islam on a Global Scope: Uṣūlī Religious Literature in the Eastern Islamic World
Abstract: During the 18th and 19th centuries, a Shiʿa Islam reform movement called uṣūlīs aimed at modernizing and globalizing the Shiʿa community based on rational philosophy. Between 1750 and 1857, the Shiʿa dynasty of the Nawabs in North India embraced this approach, and facilitated further intellectual exchange within its realm. However, as only limited research has yet been done, the consequences for Islamic thought in Asia have remained unclear until today. By examining the transmission of Arabic texts from Iraq via Iran to Northern India, and their reception in the dominant Islamic literary languages of Muslims on the Indian subcontinent (Persian and Urdu), the project will analyse transregional intellectual developments in the eastern Islamic world.
How does the child become rational? Understanding the process of familial upbringing with Hegel and the late Wittgenstein
Abstract: What is the fundamental difference between humans and animals? Referring to so-called “transformative theories of rationality”, I understand humans as essentially rational animals: their rational capacities fundamentally transforms their animality. Where to locate and how to understand this transformation? I argue that it is in the context of familial upbringing that a human being acquires rational capacities. The question then is: How to conceive of an infant before the process of turning it into a rational being? And how to conceive of that process? I aim to answer these questions with reference to Hegel and Wittgenstein. I will try to show that rationality emerges when the child is being introduced into an existing linguistic lifeform.
Biogegegraphical, ecological, and morphological variability of European Cyprideis (Ostracoda)
Institution: Institut für Geophysik und Geowissenschaften
Abstract: Invertebrates are highly diverse, vast array of ecosystem services, and important for the human wellbeing, but still often neglected in biodiversity conservation policies. One of them are ostracods, which are popular model organisms to study their biogeography, biodiversity and evolution and the interaction with climatological and ecological changes on geological timescales. Our aim is the understanding of correlation between geographical range, ecological preferences and morphological variability of the brackish water species Cyprideis torosa.
Morphometric investigations of C. torosa soft and hard parts may differentiate geographical morphotypes and/or species with differing ecological preferences and tolerances. Furthermore, the radiation of Cyprideis species in Europe may show geographical patterns, reflecting e.g., changes between glacial and interglacial.
Biomechanics and regeneration of the equine digital superficial flexor tendon examined with High-Speed Fluorescence Kinematography
Abstract: The superficial digital flexor tendon (SDFT) is one of the most injured structures of the musculoskeletal system in sport horses. The project’s aim is to visualize and measure morphometric changes and strain of sound and injured equine SDFT in vivo during motion in walk and trot using biplanar high-speed fluoroscopic kinematography (FluoKin) as an innovative motion analysis technique. The project brings already performed fundamental ex vivo examination into a clinical context. Examination of sound, injured and healing equine SDFT during motion is usable as a model to study biomechanical properties of tendons as a model for pathogenesis and therapy of human tendopathies.
Literarische Polemik in der Dichtung der römischen Republik – Literary polemics in Roman republican poetry
Institution: Institut für Klassische Philologie und Komparatistik
Abstract: Polemical quarrels among people of public interest are not an invention of modern – or even digital – times. Instead, already in classical antiquity people were accusing and insulting each other on a regular basis. Of course, that seems to be a mostly oral phenomenon, but when it comes to poets, things are different: They incorporate their polemics against colleagues or critics into their literary works. Thus, in some cases we still have the opportunity to analyse them. When poets discuss their work and their quality, they necessarily discuss about fundamental questions of poetry. Therefore, my analysis will mainly concentrate on poetological issues treated in polemical passages and how they are formulated.
Language and Experience – A Kantian Approach
Institution: Institut für Philosophie
Abstract: We could not acquire knowledge about our environment if we were not able to perceive it in some way or another. But what exactly is the nature of the contribution that
perception makes to knowledge? The standard answers given by contemporary philosophers differ widely at the level of detail, but most of them share the idea that
perception presents something to us on the basis of which we can make judgments about the things we perceive. Bastian argues that any such answer runs into serious
problems, and that we can avoid these problems if we turn to Kant and extract from his text an alternative conception of experience. According to this alternative conception,
perceptual experience is a judgment.
Jurisprudence of climate change
Abstract: There is no doubt that climate change is one of the greatest challenges facing modern society, and its management requires far-reaching social and economic transformation. In order to manage and legitimize the necessary changes, the law has often been made responsible: International treaties oblige states to reduce greenhouse gases, there are lawsuits by associations and individuals against states, against the EU and against corporations. Despite this diverse instruments in the law, the available means appear to be both inadequate and inappropriate. This project aims to investigate why the law has so far been so difficult to find an adequate approach to climate change.
Pre-Doc Awardees 2019
From March 2019 until early 2020, the second tandem cohort completed the Pre-Doc Award year at our university. Of the proposals submitted, an interdisciplinary jury selected 20 projects to receive funding:
Subject: Law and Human Emancipation
Institution: Institut für Philosophie
Abstract: There is no doubt that the evolution and installment of rights and a legal system protecting these has advanced emancipation. Modern societies without rights are identified as authoritarian. But the system that the bourgeois revolution brought forth by legal means has its own means of oppression. A critique of capitalism is therefore necessarily a critique of the legal system that lays at its core. Studying Marxist inspired theories of law, I try to analyze what role rights and law play in the oppression specific for capitalism, to ask what rights and law would do and look like in an emancipated, post-capitalist society, and to find possible points of connection with a practical movement aiming to create that society.
Subject: "Feeding the cycle": Westphalian fallacies, Local Agency, and Persistent Violence in Post-Intervention Societies
Institution: Global and European Studies Institute
Abstract: The project examines the complex relationship between violent conflict and intervention. Specifically, it investigates conditions, under which external intervention in conflict environments exacerbates – rather than ameliorates the underlying conflict dynamics. While much of academia and the intervening bodies themselves frame such operations as impartial efforts in building sustainable peace and institutions, which are to be assessed according to predefined benchmarks of security and governance, the project focuses on the deep hybridity of such undertakings. It posits a reciprocal dynamic between an "interveners mindset" boxed in by myopic discourses of state-centrism and local strategies of "extraversion" appropriating these discourses in order to realize potentially conflicting political projects. The result would be a cyclical political economy, in which persistent violence is not a malfunction but an integral feature. Crucially, this cycle expresses a substantial functionality of governance (albeit one that fuels conflict), which eludes Eurocentric descriptions of failure and deficiency. The project aims to capture these dynamics through a comparative case study design. Verifying the underlying hypotheses would have far-ranging implications, not only in accounting for gaps in the academic literature on violent conflict, but also for addressing fundamental shortcomings of international conflict and development policies.
Subject: Beyond East and West: Searching for an alternative methodology in the study of mindfulness meditation
Abstract: Mindfulness, originated in Asian Buddhist context, is by far the most studied, popularized and secularized form of meditation. Today, backed up by "hard" scientific evidence, it has given rise to great public and academic interests. Granted its popularity, there is no really satisfying method for deciphering the mindfulness experiences. To advance the research, we believe what is essential and beneficial is to bring in perspectives from the east. The aim of this PhD work is to search for a more integrated methodology in the study of mindfulness experience. We begin with a careful examination of the "clash of epistemologies" between Buddhism and science, and proceed with interviews with Buddhist meditation masters for alternative perspectives and experience in deepening our reflections.
Subject: Classroom discourse in science learning: Students' participation and teachers' scaffolding strategies
Institution: Erziehungswissenschaftliche Fakultät
Abstract: Recently, there has been an increasing interest in investigating classroom discourse, its characteristics, effects on students' outcomes and especially on implications for beneficial discourse. To date, there rarely is empirical research, which simultaneously investigates students' participation in classroom discourse and teachers' scaffolding strategies and their effects. Our aim is, to combine the two research lines and to investigate students' participation in science instruction as well as teachers' use of scaffolding strategies to support learners' participation and consequently their motivational and cognitive development. For that, we will re-analyze data from the video study PLUS (Tröbst et al., 2016) and aim at developing and applying a theory-based category system, which assesses teachers' scaffolding strategies and their adaptivity as well as learners' participation in classroom discourse.
Subject: Differences in cortical neurogenesis and maturation between precocial and altricial species
Institution: Veterinär-Anatomisches Institut
Abstract: Among mammals, two major life history patterns at birth are known: altriciality, when the young are relatively immature for a long time after birth; and precocity, when the young are autonomous within a few hours after birth. Preliminary data suggest that the pattern of prental neurogenesis and brain maturation differs between precocial and altricial species; however, a detailed comparison of brain development between precocial and altricial species is lacking. It is therefore the aim of this project to compare patterns of brain development, specifically neocortex neurogenesis and maturation, between closely related precocial (spiny mouse, European hare) and altricial (laboratory mouse, rabbit) species. This will provide insight into the evolutionary mechanisms that regulate mammalian brain development and the process of speciation.
Subject: Rereading Rape: Towards New Understandings of Sexual Violence in Contemporary US-American Literature and Culture
Institution: Institut für Amerikanistik
Abstract: The pop-cultural imaginary of the United States is teeming with depictions of rape. Sexual violence attracts continuous public attention, and therefore appears symptomatic as well as expressive of greater power negotiations. In comparison to previous decades, however, there seems to be a pronounced difference in the representation(s) of sexual violence in contemporary US-American popular culture, not least because of a novel range of texts from new media. Drawing on American Studies' idea of cultural work, we will investigate US-American popular culture as a playing field for negotiations and conceptualizations of sexual violence. Specifically, this project identifies a new textuality of rape narratives that necessitates a transmedial textual analysis catering to 21st century means of expression.
Subject: Respatialisation of the French Colonial Empire in Asia: An In-Depth Analysis of the Socio-Economic Strategies of the French Rule in India and Indochina, 1820-1914
Institution: Global and European Studies Institute
Abstract: Historical research on empire in the 19th century, including from New Imperial History perspectives, has focused on the British Empire and largely neglected a comprehensive study of the French Empire. Within the smaller field of French imperial history, however, researchers have focused on North and sub-Saharan Africa but not on Asia. This dissertation aims to update the state of the art on the French Empire in India and Indochina and situate these findings within global and imperial history debates. I will analyse archival material (i.e., civil registries, maps, and business records) using statistical and digitalhumanities methods. In conclusion, this project suggests that the study of the plurality and contradictions of French colonial legacies in Asia helps to shift the centre of the debates in global and imperial history.
Subject: Efficacy of theta neurofeedback training in promoting flow experience and sport-associated performance outcomes.
Institution: Institut für Sport- und Bewegungspsychologie
Abstract: The research field of sport psychology generally aims to identify psychological factors contributing to athletes' peak performance. Self-regulation abilities such as emotional and attentional control have been recognized as important features of successful athletes. In detail, athletes with enhanced self-regulation during competitions experience stronger flow states and show improved performance. Importantly, those self-regulation abilities are likely mediated by cognitive control processes, defined as neural mechanisms supporting the adaptation of the cognitive system to achieve current task goals. It is widely acknowledged that cognitive control is implemented by theta oscillations that generate in the midcingulate cortex. Therefore, we aim to investigate whether the upregulation of mid-frontal theta activity via neurofeedback training will improve flow experience and sport-associated performance outcomes.
Subject: Artikulierte Einheit
Institution: Institut für Philosophie
Abstract: What is the right method in philosophy, specifically in metaphysical reflection? In the present debate there are two frequently given answers. According to the first, philosophy should proceed like any other science and formulate systematically arranged propositional sentences about its object of inquiry. The second answer claims that there is no such object for philosophy, and that its method should consist in an explicit presentation of that which we all already know implicitly insofar as we are thinkers and knowers at all. Taking a cue from Kant, in my dissertation I will argue that both of these answers coincide into one: philosophy can only carry out its explicatory project if it brings out the inherently systematic self-conscious unity of thought.
Subject: Transiency in German-language contemporary prose fiction
Institution: Institut für Germanistik
Abstract: This project is dedicated to an anthropological fundamental issue: the transience of all being. For centuries, a specific time- and motif-structure is characteristic for the representations of temporality and evanescence in the medium of art. In the present age, experiences of suddenness and the fast pace of life as well as the discrepancy between 'retain' and 'release' (of objects, values, social relationships, finally: life) are ubiquitous. I argue that this trend also manifests itself in contemporary narrative texts, not only through the re-enactment and/or an actualisation of passed on techniques, but also through new patterns and approaches to transform transience into written words. It is striking that today’s literature operates with modified ‘narratives’ and a recourse to historical ways (e.g. the baroque vanitas topos) to anticipate and perform 'endured loss'. I will derive a theoretical model of transiency presentations in prose and develop a workable concept of the transience topos in present-day narrative texts.
Subject: Mapping Digital Feminist Activisms in Europe
Institution: Institut für Kulturwissenschaften
Abstract: The research project will examine the changing practices of digital feminist activisms against the contradictory backdrop of surging populism and authoritarianism and the growing visibility of grievances in light of technological change. Based on initiatives, campaigns and movements in Hungary, Austria, Turkey and Germany, as well as on the basis of transnational European networks, digital landscapes of feminist activisms in Europe and the ways transnational digital feminist activisms intersects with different national configurations of feminist political work, will be examined. The results will be condensed into a systematic theorization of the communicative side of feminist activisms, so that a better understanding of these communication processes, emerging public spheres, (transnational) solidarity and resistance practices becomes possible.
Subject: How socio-ecological characteristics influence cognition in ungulates
Institution: Institut für Biologie
Abstract: Ungulate species show an impressive variety of socio-ecological characteristics like dietary breadth, predation level, group size, fission-fusion sociality or domestication level. By testing different species, we will assess which of these socio-ecological characteristics are linked to enhanced performance in different cognitive tasks, while controlling for intra-specific variation (in terms of sex, age, rank, sociality, personality). By directly comparing their performance with the same battery of ecologically valid cognitive tasks, we will be able to understand which evolutionary forces likely led to the emergence of these skills. Our project will use a consolidated methodological approach to reliably map the distribution of cognitive skills within and across ungulate species varying in terms of brain size, ecological and social characteristics.
Subject: Effects of strength-endurance exercise training on blood volume in ischemic heart disease patients
Institution: Institut für Sportmedizin und Prävention
Abstract: Heart failure is a multifactorial and systemic disease, in which the ventricular dysfunction of the heart muscle leads to volume overload and circulation redistribution. Anemia is also a common consequence. Exercise training is an effective therapy for patients with heart failure. In turn, endurance training has a significant effect on the composition of the blood. In training studies only concentration-dependent blood parameters of heart failure patients have been measured in exercise programs so far. The aim of the proposed randomized controlled trial is therefore to examine possibly exercise-induced changes in blood volume and hemoglobin mass for the first time in patients with heart failure.
Subject: Selective Catalytic Ammonia Oxidation (NH3-SCO) over Copper-Exchanged Zeolite USY
Institution: Institut für Technische Chemie
Abstract: The selective catalytic oxidation of ammonia into nitrogen and water vapor is among the most promising methods for elimination of NH3 from diesel car off-gas. It is generated onboard from a urea solution and used as a reducing agent in the selective catalytic reduction of NOx. However, catalysts (including micro-/mesoporous materials) of sufficient activity, selectivity and stability under application-relevant reaction conditions are not yet available. Our project focuses on the postsynthetic modification of the ultrastable zeolite Y (USY) by mesopore generation and its influence on the catalytic properties of the resulting micro-/mesoporous materials in NH3-SCO. The wide range of methods used for preparation and physico-chemical characterization of catalysts enables to describe their structural and textural properties and to determine active species involved in NH3-SCO.
Subject: Life and Mind - Hegel on the formal difference between human beings and other animals
Institution: Institut für Philosophie
Abstract: According to a long philosophical tradition, reaching back to Aristotle and the German Idealists, what is thought to be distinctive of human beings compared to other animals is their rationality. But what is the relation between rationality and the capacities we share with mere animals? Recently this question has been taken up by important contemporary philosophers like John McDowell or Matthew Boyle who argue that reason can neither be reduced to some animal capacity, nor treated as an additional capacity over and above our animal capacities. Rather, the difference manifests itself in the way all capacities of a human being form a self-conscious unity. Accounts arguing along these lines are called Transformative Theories of Rationality. The two main goals of my project are to show on systematic grounds that recent accounts of Transformative Theories of Rationality face serious problems, and that we can find the resources to overcome these problems in Hegel's writings.
Subject: Novel Methods for Orthology Inferrence and Gene Tree / Species Tree Reconciliation
Institution: Institut für Informatik
Abstract: A major task in bioinformatics is the retrieval of the evolutionary history of given species and their genes based on knowlege of amino acid sequences. A novel approach to this task uses certain mathematical relations, that are to be obtained from pairwise distances between genes. It is expected that the generated relations will allow the reconstruction of the phylogentetic trees reflecting the evolution of the genes and their species. The task therefore boils down to two objectives: (a) The generation of the mathematical relations from pairwise gene distances and (b) the reconstruction of the phylogentetic trees from those relations.
Subject: Religion as a means to create the new socialist citizen. On the atypical appreciation of new religions and esotericism in socialist Bulgaria
Institution: Religionswissenschaftliches Institut
Abstract: The project focuses on communist Bulgaria of the 1970s and especially on one of the most controversial political figures of that time: Lyudmila Zhivkova (1942–81), culture minister and the only daughter of the leader of the Bulgarian communist party Todor Zhivkov. Being in possession of political power and material resources, she was able to implement the living ethics, Nicholas and Elena Roerich's philosophical theory, based on theosophy and mysticism, in Bulgaria’s educational and cultural policies. The project concentrates on her double role as a political and religious actor at the same time and aims at the subsequent question: How do religion and politics intersect in the person and agency of Lyudmila Zhivkova and, in a broader perspective, how was religion in general conceptualized in socialist Bulgaria?
Subject: Human needs and human nature
Institution: Institut für Philosophie
Abstract: To define justice, we need a substantial notion which draws on the concept of need/desire (Bedürfnis). In order to play this role, the concept must meet three conditions: needs must be distinguished from wants, in that their satisfaction must not be optional for us. Our relationship to our needs must be practical. And the needs of another must be able to move us to act in the way our own can. In the PhD project, Weyand aims to develop this conception of human needs. With ideas of Aristotle and Marx she aims to develop an account of what being a self-conscious creature is which supports a concept of needs which meets these conditions.
Subject: The Political Characterology as a Method – Hannah Arendt and Leo Löwenthal
Institution: Institut für Kulturwissenschaften
Abstract: Hannah Arendt is considered one of the great minds of 20th century, although much of her works lack a certain scientific reliability. Hannah Arendt's understanding seems to point to something deeper than scientific accuracy. With the term "Political Characterology" I try to come closer to understanding Hannah Arendt's "unsystematically" way of theorizing in much of her works. Leo Löwenthal serves as counterpart to balance Hannah Arendt's idiosyncratic method. In his works we find a solid method of characterology based on historic and literary research. With the help of Löwenthal's systematization of the characterology as a scientific method using literary style, I try to outline a way political analysis that could bridge the gap between historical data and epistemological understanding.
Subject: Multicellular Tumor Spheroids, a model system for investigation of solid tumor mechanics
Institution: Peter-Debye-Institut für Physik der weichen Materie
Abstract: It has been shown that the mechanical properties of the tumor environment correlate with the aggressivity of the tumor. As well as tumor cells are softer than healthy cells, while the tumor as a whole is stiffer than the healthy surrounding. As primary tissues are very complex, we are using the Multicellular Tumor Spheroids as a 3D model. MTS mimic important features of the real tissue, such as the heterogeneity of nutrients, pH value, oxygen, growth and signal factors. The mechanical environment is set by other cells, and ECM produced by them, and not the hard substrate of a petri dish. We expect the cells in a MTS to be in a jammed or fluid state based on phenotype. This project focusses on the contribution of the cytoskeleton of individual cells to the mechanics of the whole spheroid. We plan to systematically address individual components of the cytoskeleton by using drugs and toxins (cytochalasin D, Jasplakinolide, taxol, nocadazole, ML7 and etc.). We expect that softening the cytoskeleton will push the cells towards an unjammed state, while stiffening the cells or reducing the motility drives them into a jammed state. Addressing the individual sub-networks we hope to isolate their respective contribution to the overall mechanical properties of the spheroid.