For the second year of the Pre-Doc-Award of Leipzig University, 20 tandems of pre-docs and postdocs from different faculties were selected. The funding of the promising, partly international, pre-doctoral researchers runs from March 2019 to February 2020. The Pre-Doc-Award 2019/20 includes a kick-off meeting, a final symposium, network events among the funded researchers as well as a workshop for the acquisition of third-party funding competence.
Kick-Off-Event on 25 March 2019
On 25 March, the award-winning Pre-Doc - Postdoc - tandems were invited to present themselves and their research projects. They were welcomed by the Vice-Rector for Research and Young Academics, Prof. Dr. Erich Schröger. Two tandems of the successfully completed first funding round 2017/2018 were also attending and reported on their experiences with the Pre-Doc-Award.
The Award Winning Tandems for 2019/2020
The following 20 tandems, each consisting of one pre-doctoral candidate and one postdoc were awarded funding in 2019-2020:
Ewgenia Baraboj & Dr. lic. Phil. Rebekka Gersbach
Topic: Law and Human Emancipation
Institute: Institute of Philosophy
Abstract: There is no doubt that the evolution and installment of rights and a legal system protecting these has advanced emancipation. Modern societies without rights are identified as authoritarian. But the system that the bourgeois revolution brought forth by legal means has its own means of oppression. A critique of capitalism is therefore necessarily a critique of the legal system that lays at its core. Studying Marxist inspired theories of law, I try to analyze what role rights and law play in the oppression specific for capitalism, to ask what rights and law would do and look like in an emancipated, post-capitalist society, and to find possible points of connection with a practical movement aiming to create that society.
David Bayer & Dr. Gilad Ben-Nun
Topic: “Feeding the cycle”: Westphalian fallacies, Local Agency, and Persistent Violence in Post-Intervention Societies
Institution: Global and European Studies Institute
Yi Chen & Jun.-Prof. Berthe Jansen
Topic: Beyond East and West: Searching for an alternative methodology in the study of mindfulness meditation
Institution: Institute for South and Central Asian Studies
Abstract: Mindfulness, originated in Asian Buddhist context, is by far the most studied, popularized and secularized form of meditation. Today, backed up by “hard” scientific evidence, it has given rise to great public and academic interests. Granted its popularity, there is no really satisfying method for deciphering the mindfulness experiences. To advance the research, we believe what is essential and beneficial is to bring in perspectives from the east. The aim of this PhD work is to search for a more integrated methodology in the study of mindfulness experience. We begin with a careful examination of the “clash of epistemologies” between Buddhism and science, and proceed with interviews with Buddhist meditation masters for alternative perspectives and experience in deepening our reflections.
Annika Herrmann & Dr. Anika Bürgermeister
Topic: Classroom discourse in science learning: Students’ participation and teachers’ scaffolding strategies
Institution: Faculty of Education
Abstract: Recently, there has been an increasing interest in investigating classroom discourse, its characteristics, effects on students’ outcomes and especially on implications for beneficial discourse. To date, there rarely is empirical research, which simultaneously investigates students’ participation in classroom discourse and teachers’ scaffolding strategies and their effects. Our aim is, to combine the two research lines and to investigate students’ participation in science instruction as well as teachers’ use of scaffolding strategies to support learners’ participation and consequently their motivational and cognitive development. For that, we will re-analyze data from the video study PLUS (Tröbst et al., 2016) and aim at developing and applying a theory-based category system, which assesses teachers’ scaffolding strategies and their adaptivity as well as learners’ participation in classroom discourse.
Mirjam Kalusa & Jun.-Prof. Simone Fietz
Topic: Differences in cortical neurogenesis and maturation between precocial and altricial species
Institution: Institute of Anatomy, Histology and Embryology
Abstract: Among mammals, two major life history patterns at birth are known: altriciality, when the young are relatively immature for a long time after birth; and precocity, when the young are autonomous within a few hours after birth. Preliminary data suggest that the pattern of prental neurogenesis and brain maturation differs between precocial and altricial species; however, a detailed comparison of brain development between precocial and altricial species is lacking. It is therefore the aim of this project to compare patterns of brain development, specifically neocortex neurogenesis and maturation, between closely related precocial (spiny mouse, European hare) and altricial (laboratory mouse, rabbit) species. This will provide insight into the evolutionary mechanisms that regulate mammalian brain development and the process of speciation.
Mascha Lange & Dr. Stefan Schubert
Topic: Rereading Rape: Towards New Understandings of Sexual Violence in Contemporary US-American Literature and Culture
Institution: Institute of American Studies
Abstract: The pop-cultural imaginary of the United States is teeming with depictions of rape. Sexual violence attracts continuous public attention, and therefore appears symptomatic as well as expressive of greater power negotiations. In comparison to previous decades, however, there seems to be a pronounced difference in the representation(s) of sexual violence in contemporary US-American popular culture, not least because of a novel range of texts from new media. Drawing on American Studies’ idea of cultural work, we will investigate US-American popular culture as a playing field for negotiations and conceptualizations of sexual violence. Specifically, this project identifies a new textuality of rape narratives that necessitates a transmedial textual analysis catering to 21st century means of expression.
Yasmine Najm & Dr. Megan Maruschke
Topic: Respatialisation of the French Colonial Empire in Asia : An In-Depth Analysis of the
Socio-Economic Strategies of the French Rule in India and Indochina, 1820-1914
Institution: Global and European Studies Institute
Abstract: Historical research on empire in the 19th century, including from New Imperial History perspectives, has focused on the British Empire and largely neglected a comprehensive study of the French Empire. Within the smaller field of French imperial history, however, researchers have focused on North and sub-Saharan Africa but not on Asia. This dissertation aims to update the state of the art on the French Empire in India and Indochina and situate these findings within global and imperial history debates. I will analyse archival material (i.e., civil registries, maps, and business records) using statistical and digitalhumanities methods. In conclusion, this project suggests that the study of the plurality and contradictions of French colonial legacies in Asia helps to shift the centre of the debates in global and imperial history.
Lisa Riedel & Dr. Franziska Lautenbach & Dr. Kerstin Mayer-Carius
Topic: Efficacy of theta neurofeedback training in promoting flow experience and sport-associated performance outcomes.
Institution: Institute of Sport Medicine and Prevention
Abstract: The research field of sport psychology generally aims to identify psychological factors contributing to athletes’ peak performance. Self-regulation abilities such as emotional and attentional control have been recognized as important features of successful athletes. In detail, athletes with enhanced self-regulation during competitions experience stronger flow states and show improved performance. Importantly, those self-regulation abilities are likely mediated by cognitive control processes, defined as neural mechanisms supporting the adaptation of the cognitive system to achieve current task goals. It is widely acknowledged that cognitive control is implemented by theta oscillations that generate in the midcingulate cortex. Therefore, we aim to investigate whether the upregulation of mid-frontal theta activity via neurofeedback training will improve flow experience and sport-associated performance outcomes.
Jens Pier & Dr. Bianca Ancillotti
Topic: Artikulierte Einheit
Institution: Institute of philosophy
Abstract: What is the right method in philosophy, specifically in metaphysical reflection? In the present debate there are two frequently given answers. According to the first, philosophy should proceed like any other science and formulate systematically arranged propositional sentences about its object of inquiry. The second answer claims that there is no such object for philosophy, and that its method should consist in an explicit presentation of that which we all already know implicitly insofar as we are thinkers and knowers at all. Taking a cue from Kant, in my dissertation I will argue that both of these answers coincide into one: philosophy can only carry out its explicatory project if it brings out the inherently systematic self-conscious unity of thought.
Verena Russlies & Dr. Stephanie Bremerich
Topic: Transiency in German-language contemporary prose fiction
Institution: Institute of German Language and Literature
Abstract: This project is dedicated to an anthropological fundamental issue: the transience of all being. For centuries, a specific time- and motif-structure is characteristic for the representations of temporality and evanescence in the medium of art. In the present age, experiences of suddenness and the fast pace of life as well as the discrepancy between ‘retain’ and ‘release’ (of objects, values, social relationships, finally: life) are ubiquitous. I argue that this trend also manifests itself in contemporary narrative texts, not only through the re-enactment and/or an actualisation of passed on techniques, but also through new patterns and approaches to transform transience into written words. It is striking that today’s literature operates with modified ‘narratives’ and a recourse to historical ways (e.g. the baroque vanitas topos) to anticipate and perform ‘endured loss’. I will derive a theoretical model of transiency presentations in prose and develop a workable concept of the transience topos in present-day narrative texts.
Lara Saadi & Dr. Uta Karstein
Topic: Mapping Digital Feminist Activisms in Europe
Institution: Institute for the Study of Culture
Abstract: The research project will examine the changing practices of digital feminist activisms against the contradictory backdrop of surging populism and authoritarianism and the growing visibility of grievances in light of technological change. Based on initiatives, campaigns and movements in Hungary, Austria, Turkey and Germany, as well as on the basis of transnational European networks, digital landscapes of feminist activisms in Europe and the ways transnational digital feminist activisms intersects with different national configurations of feminist political work, will be examined. The results will be condensed into a systematic theorization of the communicative side of feminist activisms, so that a better understanding of these communication processes, emerging public spheres, (transnational) solidarity and resistance practices becomes possible.
Alina Schaffer & Dr. Federica Amici
Topic: How socio-ecological characteristics influence cognition in ungulates
Institution: Institute of Biology
Abstract: Ungulate species show an impressive variety of socio-ecological characteristics like dietary breadth, predation level, group size, fission-fusion sociality or domestication level. By testing different species, we will assess which of these socio-ecological characteristics are linked to enhanced performance in different cognitive tasks, while controlling for intra-specific variation (in terms of sex, age, rank, sociality, personality). By directly comparing their performance with the same battery of ecologically valid cognitive tasks, we will be able to understand which evolutionary forces likely led to the emergence of these skills. Our project will use a consolidated methodological approach to reliably map the distribution of cognitive skills within and across ungulate species varying in terms of brain size, ecological and social characteristics.
Patrick Schwaiger & Dr. Roberto Falz
Topic: Effects of strength-endurance exercise training on blood volume in ischemic heart disease patients
Institution: Institute of Sport Medicine and Prevention
Abstract: Heart failure is a multifactorial and systemic disease, in which the ventricular dysfunction of the heart muscle leads to volume overload and circulation redistribution. Anemia is also a common consequence. Exercise training is an effective therapy for patients with heart failure. In turn, endurance training has a significant effect on the composition of the blood. In training studies only concentration-dependent blood parameters of heart failure patients have been measured in exercise programs so far. The aim of the proposed randomized controlled trial is therefore to examine possibly exercise-induced changes in blood volume and hemoglobin mass for the first time in patients with heart failure.
Rujito Sesariojiwandono Ridho Suharbiansah & Dr. Eng. Magdalena Jabłońska
Topic: Selective Catalytic Ammonia Oxidation (NH3-SCO) over Copper-Exchanged Zeolite USY
Institution: Institute of Chemical Technology
Abstract: The selective catalytic oxidation of ammonia into nitrogen and water vapor is among the most promising methods for elimination of NH3 from diesel car off-gas. It is generated onboard from a urea solution and used as a reducing agent in the selective catalytic reduction of NOx. However, catalysts (including micro-/mesoporous materials) of sufficient activity, selectivity and stability under application-relevant reaction conditions are not yet available. Our project focuses on the postsynthetic modification of the ultrastable zeolite Y (USY) by mesopore generation and its influence on the catalytic properties of the resulting micro-/mesoporous materials in NH3-SCO. The wide range of methods used for preparation and physico-chemical characterization of catalysts enables to describe their structural and textural properties and to determine active species involved in NH3-SCO.
Isabel Sickenberger & Dr. Jonas Held
Topic: Life and Mind - Hegel on the formal difference between human beings and other animals
Institution: Institute of Philosophy
Abstract: According to a long philosophical tradition, reaching back to Aristotle and the German Idealists, what is thought to be distinctive of human beings compared to other animals is their rationality. But what is the relation between rationality and the capacities we share with mere animals? Recently this question has been taken up by important contemporary philosophers like John McDowell or Matthew Boyle who argue that reason can neither be reduced to some animal capacity, nor treated as an additional capacity over and above our animal capacities. Rather, the difference manifests itself in the way all capacities of a human being form a self-conscious unity. Accounts arguing along these lines are called Transformative Theories of Rationality. The two main goals of my project are to show on systematic grounds that recent accounts of Transformative Theories of Rationality face serious problems, and that we can find the resources to overcome these problems in Hegel’s writings.
Dominik Vietinghoff & Dr. Nicolas Wieseke
Topic: Novel Methods for Orthology Inferrence and Gene Tree / Species Tree Reconciliation
Institution: Institute of Computer Science
Abstract: A major task in bioinformatics is the retrieval of the evolutionary history of given species and their genes based on knowlege of amino acid sequences. A novel approach to this task uses certain mathematical relations, that are to be obtained from pairwise distances between genes. It is expected that the generated relations will allow the reconstruction of the phylogentetic trees reflecting the evolution of the genes and their species. The task therefore boils down to two objectives: (a) The generation of the mathematical relations from pairwise gene distances and (b) the
reconstruction of the phylogentetic trees from those relations.
Victoria Vitanova & Dr. Katharina Neef
Topic: Religion as a means to create the new socialist citizen. On the atypical appreciation of new religions and esotericism in socialist Bulgaria
Institution: Institute for the Study of Religions
Abstract: My project focuses on communist Bulgaria of the 1970s and especially on one of the most controversial political figures of that time: Lyudmila Zhivkova (1942–81), culture minister and the only daughter of the leader of the Bulgarian communist party Todor Zhivkov. Being in possession of political power and material resources, she was able to implement the living ethics, Nicholas and Elena Roerich’s philosophical theory, based on theosophy and mysticism, in Bulgaria’s educational and cultural policies. The project concentrates on her double role as a political and religious actor at the same time and aims at the subsequent question: How do religion and politics intersect in the person and agency of Lyudmila Zhivkova and, in a broader perspective, how was religion in general conceptualized in socialist Bulgaria?
Anna Lena Weyand & Dr. Alec Hinshelwood
Topic: Human needs and human nature
Institution: Institut of Philosophy
Abstract: To define justice, as I argued in my master’s thesis, we need a substantial notion which draws on the concept of need/desire (Bedürfnis). In order to play this role, the concept must meet three conditions: needs must be distinguished from wants, in that their satisfaction must not be optional for us. Our relationship to our needs must be practical. And the needs of another must be able to move us to act in the way our own can. In my PhD project, I aim to develop this conception of human needs. With ideas of Aristotle and Marx I aim to develop an account of what being a self-conscious creature is which supports a concept of needs which meets these conditions.
Eyck-Marcus Wendt & Dr. Ringo Rösener
Topic: The Political Characterology as a Method – Hannah Arendt and Leo Löwenthal
Institution: Institut for the Study of Culture
Abstract: Hannah Arendt is considered one of the great minds of 20th century, although much of her works lack a certain scientific reliability. Hannah Arendt’s understanding seems to point to something deeper than scientific accuracy. With the term “Political Characterology” I try to come closer to understanding Hannah Arendt’s “unsystematically” way of theorizing in much of her works. Leo Löwenthal serves as counterpart to balance Hannah Arendt’s idiosyncratic method. In his works we find a solid method of characterology based on historic and literary research. With the help of Löwenthal’s systematization of the characterology as a scientific method using literary style, I try to outline a way political analysis that could bridge the gap between historical data and epistemological understanding.
Xiaofan Xie & Dr. Thomas Fuhs
Topic: Multicellular Tumor Spheroids, a model system for investigation of solid tumor mechanics
Abstract: It has been shown that the mechanical properties of the tumor environment correlate with the aggressivity of the tumor. As well as tumor cells are softer than healthy cells, while the tumor as a whole is stiffer than the healthy surrounding. As primary tissues are very complex, we are using the Multicellular Tumor Spheroids as a 3D model. MTS mimic important features of the real tissue, such as the heterogeneity of nutrients, pH value, oxygen, growth and signal factors. The mechanical environment is set by other cells, and ECM produced by them, and not the hard substrate of a petri dish. We expect the cells in a MTS to be in a jammed or fluid state based on phenotype. This project focusses on the contribution of the cytoskeleton of individual cells to the mechanics of the whole spheroid. We plan to systematically address individual components of the cytoskeleton by using drugs and toxins (cytochalasin D, Jasplakinolide, taxol, nocadazole, ML7 and etc.). We expect that softening the cytoskeleton will push the cells towards an unjammed state, while stiffening the cells or reducing the motility drives them into a jammed state. Addressing the individual sub-networks we hope to isolate their respective contribution to the overall mechanical properties of the spheroid.