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First Research Awards of the University of Bayreuth Centre of International Excellence “Alexander von Humboldt” 

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University of Bayreuth, Press release No. 051/2020, 8 April 2020

The University of Bayreuth Centre of International Excellence “Alexander von Humboldt" - Bayreuth Humboldt Centre for short - has announced its first selection of international researchers who will soon be coming to Bayreuth for research stays of several months. With its Humboldt Centre, the University of Bayreuth intends to nurture internationally outstanding personalities in research, and further strengthen academic exchange across disciplines and cultural borders.


"The worldwide coronavirus crisis affecting almost all areas of life shows how important it is to promote international and interdisciplinary research cooperation more intensively than ever. At the University of Bayreuth, we are very much looking forward to being able to welcome the first excellent award winners on campus, hopefully in a few months' time. The planned research projects promise to make fascinating contributions to topics that are already firmly established at the University of Bayreuth, enjoying great success and a high international profile" explains University President Prof. Dr. Stefan Leible. 

The Bayreuth Humboldt Centre has created three sponsorship programmes with the aim of expanding and intensifying the international networking of outstanding scientists and scholars on the Bayreuth campus. For their research stays in Bayreuth lasting several months, Senior Fellows and Junior Fellows will receive prize money amounting to € 50,000 and € 30,000 respectively. In addition, travel grants for shorter research stays and strategic scientific workshops on the campus of the University of Bayreuth will be provided. 

Recently, the selection decisions for the first six Senior and Junior Fellowships were agreed. "The selection is the responsibility of our External Advisory Board made up of renowned experts from Germany and abroad. All those involved were impressed by the extraordinarily high quality of the applications received, meaning their decisions were understandably very difficult", says Dr. Mirjam Horn-Schott, Managing Director of the University of Bayreuth Centre of International Excellence "Alexander von Humboldt". 

In the end, the following Fellows were selected:

  • Professor Sarah Colvin, Schröder Professor at the University of Cambridge, UK, will work in Bayreuth on the project "Towards a Politics of Fiction”, together with PD Dr. Kyung-Ho Cha, Senior Research Associate of Modern German Literature (Senior Fellowship).
  • Dr. Vincent Merckx is a research assistant at the Naturalis Biodiversity Center in Leiden, Netherlands. Together with Prof. Dr. Gerhard Gebauer, Head of the BayCEER Keylab of Isotope Biogeochemistry and Academic Director of the Bayreuth Center of Ecology and Environmental Research (BayCEER), and with Junior Professor Dr. Johanna Pausch of the Agroecology research group, he will investigate carbon transfer in plant-fungal relationships (Senior Fellowship).
  • Professor Philip Smith (Yale University, USA), together with Dr. Florian Stoll of the Sociology of Africa research group, is planning a cultural-sociological project on the festival culture revolving around the Richard Wagner Festival (Senior Fellowship).
  • Dr. Heikki Takala, head of a junior research group at the University of Helsinki in Finland, will investigate in Bayreuth the molecular signalling mechanisms of bacterial phytochromes that react to red light. His research partner in Bayreuth is Professor Dr. Andreas Möglich of the Biochemistry research group (Senior Fellowship).
  • Dr. Yannig Luthra, currently at the University of Essex, UK, together with Professor Dr. Cristina Borgoni Gonçalves, Professor of Epistemology, and Professor Gabriel Wollner, Professor of Political Philosophy, is investigating the philosophical complex of social freedom and domination (Junior Fellowship).
  • Dr. Celia Rodriguez Dominguez of the Instituto de Recursos Naturales y Agrobiologia de Sevilla, Spain, is studying the process of evaporation in plants and photosynthesis with Professor Andrea Carminati (Junior Fellowship).

"With their projects, the six awardees prize-winners demonstrate most impressively what true international research cooperation can be like. It will be very interesting to see how the projects develop, and we look forward to new and strengthened connections to their home universities and international research institutions", says Prof. Dr. Anna Köhler, Founding Director of the Bayreuth Humboldt Centre and Chair of Soft Matter Optoelectronics at the University of Bayreuth.

Already in January this year, "Short Term Grants" (travel grants) were awarded to ten international scientists. The grantees, from countries including India, Brazil, France, the USA, and Australia, will spend between one and three weeks at the University of Bayreuth to attend conferences or plan joint publications and projects. The next call for proposals for this second sponsorship programme was published at the end of March. The deadline for applications for the third programme "Strategic Scientific Workshops" is the beginning of May. 

Homepage of the Bayreuth Humboldt Centre:



Dr. Mirjam Horn-Schott
Managing Director 
The University of Bayreuth Centre of International Excellence "Alexander von Humboldt"
University of Bayreuth
Tel.: +49 (0) 921/55-7879
E-Mail: Mirjam.Horn-Schott@uni-bayreuth.de 

Editorial office:

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


Ralph Reindler

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