Destination of choice for Humboldt scholars

Guests from all over the world enrich research and teaching at FAU

Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) welcomes six new Humboldt scholars from different corners of the globe. Alexander von Humboldt grants are only awarded to highly qualified research scientists who are chosen by means of a stringent selection process. As far as the host university is concerned, such a sign of approval is both a substantial asset and an honour as the scholars are free to select their host institution. Guest researcher residencies can last between six months and two years. Over the course of this period the scientists pursue a research project of their own choosing in conjunction with their hosts. This, in turn, supplements and expands the university’s research and teaching content – in some instances the projects offer the scholars points of contact for Bachelors and Masters dissertations.

Assistant professor at Universidad de los Andes in Columbia’s capital city Bogota since 2010, Dr. Juan Pablo Montiel is set to arrive in February 2012 and shall spend a year at the Department of Criminal Law, Law of Criminal Procedure and Legal Philosophy under Prof. Dr. Hans Kudlich. His current research foci are concerned with criminal law doctrines, compliance, criminal law and international criminal law. Dr. Montiel has already been a guest scholar at various German institutions including that of his current host department in Erlangen – where he spent some months in 2006, 2007 and 2008. In 2012 he intends to address the topic of “exceptional liability” in criminal law. This entails the criminal liability of those persons who for some reason cannot be criminally accused for their behaviour at the time of the incident, but who were incremental in causing the conditions which led to the irresponsible act.

Two scholars are expected at the Department for Multimedia Communication and Signal Processing led by Prof. Dr. André Kaup. Prof. Dr. Jie Liang from Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, Canada is dedicating his six month residency from February to July 2012 to the topic of “Video coding: practical design and information-theoretic analysis” and thus the reduction of data required to transfer image sequences. Dr. Guangtao Zhai from McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada is coming to Erlangen in April 2012 on a one year grant to pursue his research into the topic of “Understanding perceptual image quality using psychophysical principles and a non-linear dynamical model”. In an attempt to understand the perception of picture quality, research will draw on both the interaction between subjective experience and external stimuli, and complex mathematical correlations.

Humboldt scholar Dr. Morag K. Mansley intends to work on a two year project at the Institute for Cellular and Molecular Physiology under Prof. Dr. Christoph Korbmacher as of March 2012. She has already dealt with the topic of renal and transport physiology within the scope of her PhD which she completed at the University of Dundee in Scotland in 2010. Thanks to a postdoctoral grant from the Bavarian Research Foundation she has been involved in preliminary work for her up-coming research for the past year. This research focuses on molecular biological mechanisms which regulate renal sodium excretion with reference to dietary intake. More particularly, this deals with the control of a specific ion channel in the kidneys, the epithelial sodium channel (ENaC), by means of the hormone noradrenaline and other messengers within the sympathetic nervous system. This is based on the hypothesis that excessive sympathetic activity in this ion channel is a contributory factor in causing high blood pressure. It is known that ENaC regulation is of central importance to the long-term management of arterial blood pressure. Dr. Mansley is to adopt a sophisticated combination of biochemical and electrophysiological methods within the scope of her experimental research.

It is also in March 2012 that Dr. Stanislava Vodrazkova is joining us from Prague for two years to add her expertise to the paleoenvironmental specialist group at GeoZentrum Nordbayern which is headed up by Prof. Dr. Axel Munnecke. Her research project entitled “The Middle Devonian Kačák event: biostratigraphy, microfacies analysis and oxygen isotope analysis” puts the control mechanisms of an, as yet, little researched crisis in the earth’s history under the microscope. Traces of this event which happened around 390 million years ago can be found, among other places, in the central region of the Czech Republic. It is thought that a sharp drop in oxygen levels in sea water resulted in the extinction of numerous organisms at that time.

Prof. Dr. Sule Erten-Ela from Ege Üniversitesi in Izmir, Turkey has been a guest at the Department for Organic Chemistry II under Prof. Dr. Andreas Hirsch since December 2011. She is working on an aspect of organic photovoltaics which deals with creating new carbon-rich molecules which can be used as both electron acceptors and electronic conductors. Prof. Erten-Ela who is a specialist in the field of synthetic chemistry has already gathered extensive experience, primarily at the University of Madrid. The expertise she displayed there in the chemistry of synthetic carbon allotropes will be of particular use in Prof. Hirsch’s lab. Organic photovoltaics is one of the topics that play a major role for the “Engineering of Advanced Materials” (EAM) cluster of excellence in Erlangen. Both parties involved in this international cooperation benefit in equal measure from the grants awarded by the Humboldt Foundation to post doctoral researchers and experienced scientists.

Further information for the media:

FAU Press Office
Gertraud Pickel
Tel.: 09131/85-70216

uni | media service | news No. 15/2012 on 26.1.2012

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