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Excellent research projects

Alexander von Humboldt Professorship

The research group "Behavioral Economics for the Environment" of the Alexander-von-Humboldt (AvH) professorship for Environmental Economics of the University of Osnabrück (UOS) is working on behavioral aspects of environmental policies. It is part of the Research Center IUSF (Institute for Environmental Systems Research). We are particularly interested in two types of modern policy approaches and the ways to combine them: economic incentives, in particular payments for ecosystem services (PES), and cooperative approaches based on self-regulation. These two approaches have developed independently and are based on apparently contradicting assumptions about what drives human behavior, namely (i) self-interest, requiring material motivations, or (ii) social and environmental preferences providing intrinsic motivations for sustainable action. However, individuals are more likely to have a mix of these motivations and to weigh them differently in contexts with strong or weak social norms. It is thus increasingly clear that neither approach alone will effectively address contemporary environmental challenges.


Abb.: Collaborative Research Center 944: Physiology and dynamics of cellular microcompartments

Collaborative Research Center 944: Physiology and dynamics of cellular microcompartments

Groups from the University of Osnabrück and Münster share a common interest in the physiology and dynamics of the sub-organellar organization (microcompartmentation) of proteins and lipids. Technical expertise of the groups extends from cell biology to developmental genetics, biophysics and membrane/cell biology. The Z-project provides access to high/super-resolution and time-resolved live cell microscopy, and will provide training for students of the international research training group. The SFB 944 started its work in January 2011 and is now in its second funding period (2015-2018). 

The SFB 944 aims to unravel the general principles underlying the suborganellar organization into microcompartments, to study their constituents (proteome), regulation (dynamics), and turn-over, in order to reveal their physiological importance. Our particular focus is on microcompartments, which form only transiently in the context of membranes or other dynamic subcellular structures, often depending on the specific microenvironment (pH, redox).


European Research Council - Consolidator Grant: Mesoscopic structure formation in Nanopores

Using self-ordered anodic aluminum oxide as inorganic model matrix, the research Group of Prof. Dr.  Steinhart investigates in tight collaboration with various other groups: Kinetics of the infiltration of polymers into nanopores, dynamics and elastic properties of polymers in AAO, crystallization in nanopores, microphase separation of block copolymers in nanopores and structure formation in block copolymer nanorods and functional nanostructured and microstructured surfaces.

The group also investigates, together with their collaborators, nanostructured and microstructured surfaces consisting of block copolymers, nanorod arrays and microsphere arrays. The following aspects are addressed: Patterned polymeric surfaces with specific adhesive properties, applications of block copolymer lithography and nanorod arrays as sensor element, substrate for tissue engineering etc.

European Research Council - Consolidator Grant: Taking turns - The ‘missing’ link in language evolution?

The emergence and development of communication and the special significance of gestures are at the heart of the ERC Consolidator Grant project by Prof. Dr. Simone Pika. It is concerned with the development and evolution of the cooperative turn-taking. In particular, the development of infants, primates and ravens is taken into consideration. In addition, the influence of ecology and social structure on communication as well as the endocrinological profile are examined. The turn-taking system can be understood as uniquely human. At the same time, it can regarded as providing the evolutionary “missing link” between animal and human communication.


DFG Research Training Group Computational Cognition

The Research Training Group in Computational Cognition pursues the re-integration of cognitive science and artificial intelligence. Students in the program will be trained in both fields and will combine insights from both fields to understand intelligence in humans and machines. Exemplary problems that will be dealt with are of these domains that are easy for humans, but still hard for AI. They include analogical reasoning, concept invention, and pragmatic inferences. Integrating ideas from cognitive science and AI in the Research Training Group will allow to finally bridge the gap between low- and high-level cognition.

Participation in research training group: Situated cognition

The main goal of the joint Research Training Group (RTG) at Osnabrück University and Ruhr-University Bochum is to identify deficits in traditional conceptions of the human mind and to refine and enhance the existing conceptions by drawing on new developments in the cognitive sciences that have not yet made their way into the prevailing philosophical approaches. Philosophical analysis will provide the conceptual framework for the investigation of the four central cognitive phenomena perception, agency, emotions and social and linguistic understanding. It will foster the RTG’s understanding of these phenomena by integrating the results of empirical research and philosophical theorizing into a unified theoretical framework.

Since research on mental phenomena has become a decidedly interdisciplinary endeavor over the past two decades, it is inevitable that representative empirical studies are systematically integrated into the RTG’s work. The overarching goal is to develop an account of cognition, by integrating in a philosophically critical way both the empirical advances over the past decades and current conceptions of various cognitive phenomena, in particular with regard to their essentially situated nature.

DFG Research Group „Fundamental Aspects of Statistical Mechanics and the Emergence of Thermodynamics in Non-Equilibrium Systems“

Whether and how a system equilibrates towards some sort of steady long-time limit is a key issue in many areas of modern many-body physics. The DFG-funded research group "Fundamental Aspects of Statistical Mechanics and the Emergence of Thermodynamics in Non-Equilibrium Systems" deals with this complex issue. It is led by Juniorprof. Dr. Robin Steinigeweg. Participants are the universities of Bielefeld and Oldenburg as well as the Forschungszentrum Jülich. The DFG is providing the group with funds amounting to approx. 1.3 million euros for an initial period of three years.

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All research institutions at Osnabrück University (Information in German)