The German Research Foundation (DFG) announced that it will be funding three Collaborative Research Centres (CRCs) at the University of Cologne for another four years. The projects can thus continue until 2024. In total, the DFG’s funding for the three Collaborative Research Centres amounts to approximately 27 million euros.
Collaborative Research Centre 1211: Earth – Evolution at the Dry Limit explores the relationship between landscape development and the evolution of life. While the Chilean part of the Atacama Desert was the focus of the first funding phase, the scientists will also conduct research in the Namib in Namibia in the coming period. CRC 1211 is a joint project of the Universities of Cologne (Applicant Institution) and Bonn as well as RWTH Aachen University, and encompasses an international team of more than 80 scientists from different disciplines.
‘The combination of the results from the different research areas has great potential to significantly advance our understanding of our planet,’ says Professor Dr Tibor Dunai from the Institute of Geology and Mineralogy, spokesperson of CRC 1211. ‘With our research area we occupy a scientific niche which, not least of all in times of global climate change, offers an enormously relevant and exciting field to explain the fundamental processes of our planet.’ For example, biologists are investigating how plant populations that grow in barren landscapes with practically no rain are related. Geologists use drill cores to reconstruct the desert climate of the last two million years. Meteorologists use weather stations and satellites to analyse the relationships between land, sea, and atmosphere. In geomorphology, scientists determine the influence of the extremely dry conditions in the desert on the formation of landscapes. The Collaborative Research Centre will be funded with approximately 11 million euros.
CRC 1218: Mitochondrial Regulation of Cellular Function is also entering the next funding phase. ‘We are very pleased about this recognition. Over the last four years, our research cooperation has increased the visibility of Cologne as a centre for mitochondrial research,’ said the coordinator of CRC 1218, Professor Dr Elena Rugarli, at the Institute of Genetics. Mitochondria, which are considered the powerhouse of the cell, have been the focus of research for many years. The CRC investigates how mitochondria communicate and signal the cells to adapt their function to altered physiological conditions. Understanding this novel and dynamic aspect of mitochondrial function is crucial to deciphering how these organelles influence different disease states. ‘The strength of our consortium is that it brings together scientists with different backgrounds and technical expertise. We are very excited to continue our studies and explore new hypotheses over the next four years,’ said Rugarli. In addition to the University of Cologne, the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Aging, the Max Planck Institute for Metabolism Research and a project at the University of Bonn are involved. The funding for the next four years amounts to approximately 9 million euros.
The CRC/Transregio 183: Entangled States of Matter will also receive funding for another four years. Complex quantum systems can form entangled states in which the large number of atomic constituents can protect each other from disturbances such as radiation, noise, or other environmental influences. The goal of CRC/TRR 183 is to use the fundamental laws of quantum mechanics to develop solid state systems that materialize such macroscopically entangled states in a tangible form. ‘With the research work in our Europe-wide Transregio, we are laying the foundations for new forms of information processing. Our field is moving very quickly from theoretical predictions to experimental realizations, so the next four years will certainly be very exciting,’ said speaker Professor Dr Simon Trebst. CRC/TRR 183 has been granted approximately 7 million euros. Besides the University of Cologne as Applicant Institution, the participating institutions are Freie Universität Berlin, Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf, the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot (Israel), and the University of Copenhagen (Denmark).
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