Dean: Prof. Dr. Markus Kaiser

The Faculty of Biology has for some years focused predominantly on three main research areas: Medical Biology, Water and Environmental Research, and Empirical Educational Research. The Faculty presently has 21 research groups working in these areas, not organised in research institutes but associated according to their overall research direction with central research units at the UDE (Centre for Medical Biology (ZMB), Centre for Water and Environmental Research (ZWU), and Interdisciplinary Centre for Educational Research (IZfB)).

In addition, the Faculty is currently running appointment procedures for five professorships to further strengthen the existing research directions.

Although the Faculty of Biology, if measured solely by the number of research groups, belongs to the smaller faculties of the University of Duisburg-Essen, its scientific performance and organisational capability enables an efficient and flexible response to current research developments. The required critical mass for inter- and transdisciplinary research is achieved by extensive collaboration chiefly with the Faculties of Medicine, Chemistry, and Engineering as well as other, non-university research institutions. The Faculty of Biology thereby aims to perform research and teaching on all “biological scales”, from the biomolecule to cells, tissues, whole organisms and even ecosystems. Young investigators are recruited to the research groups from external sources as well as from the Faculty’s own study courses. They are the Bachelor’s programmes in Biology and Medical Biology and the Master’s in Biology, Medical Biology, Biodiversity, Environmental Toxicology, and Transnational Water Management (TWM), as well as teaching degrees for future biology teachers at all school levels. From the winter semester (WS) 2019/20, the Faculty will also be offering new Bachelor’s courses in Molecular Biology and Aquatic Biology, which will be complemented by the corresponding Master’s courses from WS 2022/23.

The Medical Biology research programme is part of the Centre for Medical Biotechnology (ZMB), to which research groups from the Faculties of Medicine and Chemistry also belong. The goal of this research programme is elucidation of the molecular mechanisms that are the basis of (patho-)biological processes and transfer of these results into medical applications. ZMB research groups are engaged in different aspects of basic research as well as in the development of new active compounds and diagnostic assays. Besides scientific research, the current twelve groups working in the Medical Biology research programme are responsible for the entire Bachelor’s and Master’s programmes in Medical Biology as well as the new Bachelor’s and Master’s in Molecular Biology. They are additionally involved in the Bachelor’s and Master’s Biology and Biology teaching degree programmes. Appointment procedures for three further professorships are currently ongoing. The research programme is supported by an infrastructure that includes the Analytics Core Facility Essen (ACE), the Imaging Centre Campus Essen (ICCE), and the Imaging Centre Essen (IMCES).

The Water and Environmental Research programme is meanwhile part of the similarly named Centre for Water and Environmental Research (ZWU), to which groups from the Faculties of Chemistry and Engineering also belong. The ZWU research groups are mainly concerned with issues relating to aquatic biodiversity and the effect of different stress factors on water ecosystems. The research methods range from modern genomic analysis to classical field studies. The current seven research groups of this research programme undertake to a considerable extent the teaching in the Master’s courses in Biodiversity, Environmental Toxicology, and Translational Water Management as well as in the planned Bachelor’s and Master’s in Aquatic Biology. They additionally support the Bachelor’s and Master’s courses in Biology and the Biology teaching degree. To strengthen this research programme, appointments to two further professorships (including a DFG-funded Heisenberg professorship) are currently under negotiation. Infrastructural support will be provided by two additional core facilities, the Genomics Core Facility (GCF), and the Central Collection of Algae Cultures (CCAC), the world’s largest collection of algae, which is currently still under construction.

The research programme in Empirical Teaching and Learning Research is represented by two research groups from Biology Didactics and is part of the Interdisciplinary Centre for Educational Research (IZfB). Both groups work on themes related to the measurement of performance and competency modelling in teaching biology, as well as in context-oriented learning and the development of suitable methods to professionalise teaching. Both groups are involved in the teaching degree courses of the Faculty of Biology. To further support research in this field, a special teaching and learning laboratory (LLL) was established as an extracurricular place of learning to facilitate individual acquisition of knowledge and expertise in natural sciences through independent experimentation.

The Faculty’s research groups were and are actively involved in diverse collaborative research programmes as a result of the consistent efforts to develop its research focus. Examples from Medical Biology include the German-Chinese CRC Transregio TRR 60 (spokesperson: Prof. Ulf Dittmer, Faculty of Medicine, until June 2018; with participation of two research groups from the Faculty of Biology), Collaborative Research Centre 1093 “Supramolecular Chemistry on Proteins” (spokesperson: Prof. T. Schrader, Faculty of Chemistry; with participation of nine research groups from the Faculty of Biology), the DFG Excellence Cluster RESOLV, and the Research Training Group RTG 1739. Scientists from the Faculty have also been involved in EU projects such as the European Lead Factory of the Innovative Medicine Initiative, the H2020 Research Training Network on Integrated Component Cycling in Epithelial Cell Mobility (InCeM), and the International Max Planck Research School in Chemical and Molecular Biology (IMPRS-CB). Successful third-party funding of cooperation projects in Water and Environmental Research are, for example, coordination of the EU MARS project, which deals with the effect of multiple stress factors on water and water bodies, or the COST-Action DNAqua-Net on the use of genomic methods in water evaluation. Other initiatives include the North Rhine-Westphalia research group “Future Water”, the DFG-funded Priority Programme SPP 1704, and the “Future Water Campus” funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF/EFRE). Empirical educational research is firmly rooted in the Bio-Innovativ network and has received support from the DFG-funded Research Unit ALSTER, the BMBF “Focus on Educational Justice” project (Teaching Quality Initiative) and “ProViel” (Teacher Education Quality Campaign). Additional applications for structured research programmes coordinated within the Faculty are in preparation; among others, two preliminary proposals for Collaborative Research Centres have already been submitted (one from Medical Biology and one from Water and Environmental Research).