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Göttingen University submits full proposals for four Clusters of Excellence


Research Clusters build on the collaborative research at the Göttingen Campus

On 21 February 2018, the University of Göttingen submitted full proposals for four Clusters of Excellence in the Excellence Strategy funded by the German Federal and State Governments. The topics are “Multiscale Bioimaging”, “Primate Cognition”, “The Making and Unmaking of the Religious” and “Integrative Land Use Science for Sustainable Development”. The University and their partners at the Göttingen Campus worked on the proposals as a team. The final funding decision will be announced at the end of September 2018.

“I thank all participating researchers and scientists for their commitment”, said universities president Professor Ulrike Beisiegel. “The Clusters are an integral part of our overall strategy. They build on our successful collaboration with our campus partners over the last ten years.” Funding for at least two Clusters will allow the university to submit its proposal in the Universities of Excellence funding line. On 21 February 2018, the University submitted its letter of intent.

The University submitted full proposals for the following four Clusters of Excellence:

Multiscale Bioimaging: from Molecular Machines to Networks of Excitable Cells
The Cluster aims to understand the structural and functional properties of excitable cardiac and neural cells across several length scales. To decipher disease-relevant nanoscale functional units in these cells innovative imaging methods will be developed and applied. The biomedical insights gained from the multiscale analysis shall then be used to devise novel diagnostic and therapeutic approaches for diseases of the heart and brain. Project spokespersons are Professor Tobias Moser, neuroscientist at the University Medical Centre Göttingen, Professor Claudia Steinem, chemist at Göttingen University and Professor Patrick Cramer, molecular biologist at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry.

Primate Cognition – Information Integration in a Complex Social World
The Cluster aims to better understand the evolutionary origins and mechanisms that characterise cognition and sociality in humans and non-human primates. Specifically, the aim is to explain the emergence of the discontinuity in cognitive capacity that sets humans apart from other primates. To accomplish this objective, behavioural, hormonal and neurophysiological data will be collected from individuals in social interactions observed under a wide range of conditions from the field to the lab, and then evaluated using innovative methods. Professor Julia Fischer, with a joint appointment in primate cognition at Göttingen University and the German Primate Centre, is the project spokesperson. She is being supported by Professor Hannes Rakoczy, Professor Annekathrin Schacht and Professor Stefan Treue.

The Making and Unmaking of the Religious
The cluster aims to advance knowledge on the dynamics of the making and unmaking of the religious across historical time periods and cultural settings. To that end, it analyses practices of drawing boundaries that demarcate religious from non-religious domains, and that delineate inter- as well as intrareligious differences. Integrating comparative methods with the study of global and transregional entanglements, this cluster will develop new research tools for studying the religious in a digital age. It is designed to reorganise the interdisciplinary study of religion. Project spokespersons are Professor Matthias Koenig, sociologist of religion, Professor Hedwig Röckelein, historian, and Professor Ran Hirschl, Alexander von Humboldt Professor of Comparative Constitutionalism at Göttingen University.

Integrative Land Use Science for Sustainable Development (LUSci)
The Cluster links forestry and agricultural research whilst focusing on global problems of land use, primarily in developing and transition countries. The aim is to establish an internationally visible centre of excellence for land use science. The centre will provide the knowledge base and new methods to answer overarching questions. One main objective is to study how to make land use sustainable. Project spokespersons are Professor Edzo Veldkamp, forestry scientist, Professor Bernhard Brümmer, agricultural economist, and the ecologist Professor Kerstin Wiegand at Göttingen University.