Dear Readers,

In 2016, the UDE once again showed its “rising star” status by being placed 17th in the Times Higher Education Ranking List of the World’s TOP 150 Universities under 50 years old. This feat of improving our status by 42 positions might just be a record.

Two new Collaborative Research Centres (SFBs) were secured. SFB 1242 “Non-equilibrium Dynamics of Condensed Matter in the Time Domain” is coordinated by Prof. Uwe Bovensiepen and co-coordinated by Prof. Ralf Schützhold, both from the Faculty of Physics. It bundles academic research activities from the fields of physics and chemistry with the objective of developing a cross-material microscopic understanding of non-equilibrium states. SFB/TRR (Transregio) 196 “Mobile Material Characterization and Localization by Electromagnetic Sensing (MARIE)” is led by the UDE with involvement from the Ruhr University of Bochum and from academic researchers at the University of Wuppertal, the Technical University of Darmstadt, the Fraunhofer Institute for High Frequency Physics and Radar Techniques (Wachtberg), and the Fraunhofer Institute for Microelectronic Circuits and Systems (Duisburg). It aims to investigate the basic principles of a mobile compact material detector with integrated sub-millimetre wave electronics. The creation of a dynamic 3D material map is envisioned.

The German Research Foundation (DFG) has also resolved to fund Research Training Group 1739 “Molecular determinants of the cellular radiation response and their potential for response modulation” for a further four years. The group is coordinated by Prof. Verena Jendrossek with the assistance of Prof. George Iliakis, both from the Faculty of Medicine.

In addition, funding was given in 2016 to the priority programme SPP 1980 “Nanoparticle synthesis in spray flames (SpraySyn): Measurement, Simulation, Processes” which was coordinated at UDE (Coordinator: Prof. Christof Schulz). Furthermore, the research group FOR 1993 “Multifunctional conversion of chemical species and energy” (Spokesperson: Prof. Burak Atakan) was successfully extended for three more years.

June 2016 saw the commencement of the second funding phase of the National Research Centre for Health Economics – “Competent in Competition and Health” (CINCH). Financed by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and led by Prof. Martin Karlsson, the main research focus of this high-profile project is the competition within the healthcare sector.

Since December 2016, the Physics Professor Björn Sothmann has been working as one of three lead researchers to establish a research group on “Nanoscale Thermal Engines” as part of the return programme of the Ministry of Science of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia. The ministry is providing him with total funding of €1.25 million over a period of five years.

There is also much else to report. This includes news from the Vice Chancellor’s Office itself, which set up a “Research Advisory Board” (RAB) in 2016. The RAB’s membership currently comprises five professors with a particularly strong track record in research, who adopt a thematically-based approach. They attend meetings at the Vice Chancellor’s Office and support research at the UDE with their individual and targeted expertise. The areas presently covered by the RAB are DFG collaborative projects, individual and initial DFG applications, grants from the European Research Council (ERC), foundations, and encouragement of up-and-coming academic research talent. The latter is strategically important for the UDE.

In June 2016, the Senate of the UDE decided to establish an Interdisciplinary Centre for Integration and Migration Research (InZentIM) with the idea that this would act as a main research institute at the University. The new centre brings together a multitude of relevant projects and fosters interdisciplinary cooperation between researchers at the UDE with a view to generating even greater visibility for their work. The foundation of the InZentIM is being funded by the State of North Rhine-Westphalia.

“Aurora” is a recently established network of European universities named after the Roman goddess of the dawn. It links nine European universities from the Netherlands, France, Germany, Scandinavia, the United Kingdom and Belgium. The UDE is also one of the founding members, and the only German university among them.

The “Science Support Centre”, which provides wide-ranging and highly effective assistance to research at our university, received an extremely positive external evaluation last year. Considerable success in attracting third-party funding now means that the “Centre of Excellence for Innovation and Company Start-Ups” will enjoy a good level of human resources until the end of 2018, thus enabling it to further expand the UDE’s entrepreneurial culture. In regards to the UDE’s promotion of young research talent, developments towards the establishment of a “UDE Graduate Centreplus” are progressing well.

The University Alliance of the Ruhr (UA) is also funding major research initiatives within the region. Although the UA Ruhr research cluster “Materials Chain” has only been in existence for a short period of time, in 2017 it will form the object of a joint application to the Excellence Initiative. We are keeping our fingers crossed! Two of the partners of the University Alliance Ruhr have set up one of the largest and most effective associations for East Asian research anywhere in Europe. “AREA Ruhr” (Alliance for Research on East Asia) is a new joint academic research institution established by the Faculty of East Asian Research at the University of Bochum and the Institute of East Asian Studies at the UDE. Steps taken to foster the outstanding young research talent we have in the Ruhr area are also bearing fruit. Last year saw the fifth cycle of the Global Young Faculty, an initiative organised by the Mercator Foundation in conjunction with the UA Ruhr and the Mercator Research Centre Ruhr (MERCUR).

2017 also promises to be a highly eventful year in research. The main emphases will be on the Federal Government and the federal states programme to support young academic researchers, on the Strategy for Excellence, on the ongoing North Rhine-Westphalia programme on research infrastructures, and much more. However, the time commitment involved in my role as coordinator of the new “MARIE” Collaborative Research Centre mentioned above unfortunately means that I will no longer have the opportunity to monitor the exciting research developments in 2017 in my current capacity as Vice-Rector for Research, Junior Academic Staff and Knowledge Transfer. I would therefore like to offer my thanks for the highly positive and enriching opportunity offered to me as Vice-Rector at the UDE. I am also grateful for the extremely wide-ranging support I have enjoyed from so many colleagues.

My main thanks, however, must go to all the academic researchers at the university who contribute in all their various ways to making the UDE such a progressive, interesting and diverse research location. Keep up the good work!

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Thomas Kaiser
Vice-Rector for Research, Junior Academic Staff and
Knowledge Transfer (until December 2016)