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University of Bayreuth on road to success in Excellence Strategy

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University of Bayreuth, Press Release No 116/2017, 29 September 2017

An important victory in the Excellence Strategy by the German federal and state governments: the University of Bayreuth will be competing nationwide with two full proposals for excellence clusters in African studies and polymer science. The German Research Foundation (DFG) has just announced that the draft proposals for both clusters received positive reviews from an international panel of experts at a meeting in Bonn on 27-28 September. As a result, the University of Bayreuth has now been asked to submit full proposals for the clusters. A total of 195 project proposals in various fields had been submitted by 63 higher education institutions in Germany. Now 88 of those projects have managed to clear the first hurdle. The final decisions regarding the full proposals will be announced in September 2018.

“The results published today show that relatively small universities do have a chance to succeed in the competition surrounding Excellence. They are a testament to the University of Bayreuth’s strategy of linking strong, internationally visible research expertise in interdisciplinary focus areas. These focus areas include both African Studies and Polymer & Colloid Science, fields we have continued developing since the establishment of the University. Our hope is that the excellence clusters will enable us to implement pioneering research in those fields and to further strengthen the University’s research profile. My sincere thanks go to all the scholars here in Bayreuth who contributed so tirelessly to the draft proposals and to the Bavarian State Ministry of Sciences, which provided us with guidance and support at each stage of submitting the proposals,” said University President Prof. Dr. Stefan Leible.

A new chapter in Africa research

“Obviously, the fact that our draft proposal has made it to the final round of the Excellence Strategy is great for African Studies in Bayreuth. We are particularly pleased that we managed to convince the jury of our approach of ‘researching Africa together with Africa,’” said Prof. Dr. Rüdiger Seesemann, chairman of the proposed cluster. “For African Studies at the University of Bayreuth, this is major recognition of our work to date, especially in the Graduate School BIGSAS, the Excellence centre that already exists at the University of Bayreuth. These results are both an incentive and a challenge to continue pursuing our way of developing new approaches and creating innovative structures in Africa research. In this connection, we will continue expanding our cooperation, particularly with our partners in Africa, by jointly developing and carrying out interdisciplinary research projects. Our aim is to develop a new scientific understanding of how very different kinds of living environments of culture and society and different cultures of knowledge and science are intertwined on the African continent. Our findings could contribute to developing new prospects of cooperation between Europe and Africa. Now we are betting everything on bringing this cluster to Bayreuth and beginning a new chapter in Africa research,” explained Seesemann.

Periodic table of supramolecular elements

The other successful draft proposal for an Excellence Cluster – this one in cooperation with the University of Würzburg – focuses on new materials that are based on complex molecular, bio-molecular, and macromolecular structures. In this endeavour, the universities can build on their focus areas (Polymer & Colloid Science in Bayreuth and Molecular Chemistry and Materials in Würzburg) and on their cooperation in the scope of the Bavarian Polymer Institute (BPI).The development of a periodic system of supramolecular elements is expected to enable the envisaged Excellence Cluster to develop functional nanosystems based on uniform molecules and molecular structures. The design of such supramolecular nanosystems will be similar to natural systems as they occur in living organisms. Additional functions and hierarchical structures will make these systems extremely attractive, for example in technological applications such as bio-electronics. The special thing about our cluster will be creating a strong research field by linking Würzburg’s molecular and supramolecular chemistry with Bayreuth’s polymer research,” explained Prof. Dr. Hans-Werner Schmidt, chairman of the cluster at the University of Bayreuth. Prof. Dr. Frank Würthner, cluster chairman at the University of Würzburg, added, “Our goal is to understand molecular and macromolecular self-organization at different spatial and temporal scales and to use it to construct complex materials. In doing so, we take every effort to ensure that early-career scholars involved in our research.”

Additional information:

Press release published by the DFG on 29 September 2017:


For information on the Excellence Cluster in African studies:

Prof. Dr. Rüdiger Seesemann
Faculty of Languages & Literature
University of Bayreuth
Universitätsstr. 30, GW I
95447 Bayreuth
Phone: +49 (0)921 / 55-3553
E-mail: ruediger.seesemann@uni-bayreuth.de

For information on the Excellence Cluster with the University of Würzburg:

Prof. Dr. Hans-Werner Schmidt
Faculty of Biology, Chemistry & Earth Sciences
University of Bayreuth
Universitätsstr. 30, NW II
95447 Bayreuth
Phone: +49 (0)921 / 55-3200
E-mail: hans-werner.schmidt@uni-bayreuth.de

Editorial Office:

Christian Wißler
Press Contacts
University of Bayreuth
Universitätsstr. 30 / ZUV
95447 Bayreuth
Phone: +49 (0)921 / 55-5356
E-mail: christian.wissler@uni-bayreuth.de

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