Pilot Phase 2019

Image: FSU Jena

24 students were selected for the pilot phase of the Honours Programme in October 2019. For this pilot phase, students could only apply in a supervision tandem with scientists who are part of a structured graduate programme. 

Faculty of Theology

Lena Schaefer Show content

Course of Studies: Protestant Theology (Diplom)

Supervision: Prof. Dr. Miriam Rose

Implications of (medical) ethical questions for theological anthropology
As part of the Honours Programme, I would like to gain an insight into the anthropological perspectives of the other humanities and social science disciplines through the exchange with other research-oriented students to incorporate them into my own research project on theological anthropology, in order to broaden my view beyond the theological horizon. I am particularly interested in questions in the field of ethics, such as the concept of “disease interception”, i.e. the treatment of diseases before they arise, in order to achieve a revolution in the health sector; and what questions arise from this with regard to human life, such as its vulnerability, the question of whether there is a right to ignorance, and the issue of justice. Therefore I am looking forward to an enriching discourse with the participants in the Honors program.

Faculty of Arts

Leon Biela Show content
Leon Biela Leon Biela Image: privat

Course of Studies: History, Political Science (B.A.)

Supervision: Dr. Daniel Stahl

Britain and the Control of Arms Traffic in the Inter-War Gulf Region
At the beginning of the twentieth century, Britain started to pursue a stricter control of the traffic in small arms on an international level as well as locally in its sphere of influence. While this has long been considered as a ‘humanitarian mission’, current historical research understands these arms control measures as instruments intended to secure British rule in the colonies. But how then can be explained why Britain invested great efforts in controlling arms circulation in the Gulf Region, which was part of the British sphere of influence but without any formal colonies? Were these efforts solely intended to prevent uncontrolled arms transfers to India and other colonies or were other interests decisive? Which importance had the League of Nations and the international disarmament efforts of the inter-war years? And how did the inhabitants and polities of the Gulf handle the arms control measures? The project will answer these questions by undertaking a first systematic examination of arms circulation and British arms policy in the inter-war Gulf Region based on the files of the British colonial administration. It is part of a research project on the international standardization of the arms trade at the Jena Center History of the 20th Century. First results of the project will be published in the Journal of Modern History at the end of 2021.

Louisa Kunze Show content

Course of Studies: Literature – Art – Culture (M.A.)

Supervision: Prof. Dr. Caroline Rosenthal

A comparative study of the decadence phenomenon in European and North American literature
Decadence describes the phenomenon of physical and/or social and moral decay. This can both refer to the decline of a culture as well as to that of an individual. The decadent exhibits attributes such as a weariness with life, lethargy, sickness and a sense of artificiality; the dandy, the dilettante, the femme fatale or femme fragile are common figures. The European literary decadent movement first arose during the Fin de Siècle and reemerged throughout the 20th and 21st century as neo- or post-decadence.
(Where) can decadence be discovered in North American literature? Do parallels to the “European” decadence exist, such as in the contrast between European urban spaces and North American wilderness? By considering these questions, the project develops an interdisciplinary and comparative approach and wants to examine similarities and differences. Next to a focus on the keywords space, gender and the historical context of modernism, this project will closely examine the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire as it is portrayed in Joseph Roth’s Radetzky March (1932) and Liviu Rebreanu’s Forest of the Hanged (1922).

Faculty of Physics and Astronomy

Paul Herrmann Show content

Course of Studies: Physics (B.Sc.)

Supervision: Prof. Dr. Christian Spielmann

Band structure reconstruction using high harmonic generation
In computer processors but also solar cells, electrical currents flow in semiconductor materials. The properties of the current flow in the semiconductor, such as signal transition time but also losses, are determined by its band structure. Thus, exact knowledge of the band structure is of extremely high technological importance, since it enables a further targeted optimization of the semiconductor components.In this project I am investigating a new optical method to characterize the band structure. For this purpose, nonlinear currents are induced in a semiconductor by intensive ultrashort laser pulses. The subsequently emitted radiation contains harmonics of the frequency of the laser light (high harmonics) [1]. Varying the polarization of the laser light, i.e. the direction of the induced currents, causes a modification of the harmonics. The band structure of the material can be reconstructed by comparing the experimentally determined dependence of the harmonics with quantum mechanical simulations [2, 3, 4].

[1] S. Ghimire, et al., Nature Physics, 15, 10 (2019).
[2] G. Vampa, et al., Phys. Rev. Lett., Phys. Rev. Lett. 115, 193603 (2015).
[3] A. A. Lanin, et al., Optica, 4, 5, 516 (2017).
[4] C. Liu, et al., et al., Phys. Rev. A 93, 043806 (2016).

Sebastian Klimmer Show content

Course of Studies: Physics (M.Sc.)

Supervision: Prof. Dr. Giancarlo Soavi

Ultrafast opto-electronics with atomically thin materials
Since the discovery of graphene the family of two-dimensional materials has experienced an impressive growth leading to the discovery of layered semiconductors, insulators, superconductors and ferromagnets. Among other, a peculiar advantage of 2D materials is the possibility to stack them with atomic precision into on-demand heterostructures. This approach has shown promising results towards the development of highly efficient nanoscale devices such as light emitters, photodetectors and photovoltaic cells. The first task of this project is the preparation and characterization of samples based on 2D materials and related heterostructures. We will then study the relaxation and charge transfer dynamics of these materials by means of ultrafast optical spectroscopy, aiming to a deeper understanding of their opto-electronic properties in view of potential applications in nanoscale devices.

Faculty of Medicine

Karoline Frieda Haupt Show content

Course of Studies: Medicine (State Examination)

Supervision: Prof. Dr. med. Bettina Löffler

Influenza A Virus and Staphylococcus aureus Co-infection
Influenza A viruses (IAV) cause highly contagious respiratory tract infections associated with a significant morbidity and mortality worldwide (Webster and Govorkova 2014). Beyond the virulence of the virus itself, bacterial superinfections are a major cause for increased mortality. Amongst the bacteria that cause superinfections, Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is frequently identified (Chertow and Memoli 2013).The interplay of IAV and S. aureus in co-infection scenarios are investigated in different in vitro models. Since virulence factors of S. aureus work in a species specific mannerexperiments are performed in primary human immune cells. Here, the mechanism of Panton-Valentine leucocidin as a key toxin of S. aureus is under evaluation by using polymorphonuclear neutrophils. To investigate the effect of the co-infection on the endothelial barrier and on immune cells, we use an organ-on-a-chip model consisting of different cell types (Deinhardt-Emmer et al 2020).

Max Schubert Show content

Course of Studies: Medicine (State Examination)

Supervision: Prof. Dr. Michael Bauer

Finding a metabolic balance in sepsis
My research interests are host defense strategies in inflammation and infections. Living beings use different strategies to respond to stress imposed by inflammation and infection. During an infection, the infected host needs to balance its resources to combat the infection, repair damaged parenchymal organs and maintain vital functions [1, 2]. This balancing process needs to be tightly controlled as exaggerated deviations to one of the needs will only be possible at the costs of the others which might have detrimental consequences[3]. An infection may develop into a syndrome termed sepsis. Sepsis is defined as life-threatening organ dysfunction caused by a dysregulated host response to infection [4].
A better understanding is necessary to restore the balance in septic patients. Despite advances in treatment and critical care mortality remains high to this day [5]. If you are further interested in this research topic, consider reading:

  1. Soares, M.P., R. Gozzelino, and S. Weis, Tissue damage control in disease tolerance. Trends Immunol, 2014. 35(10): p. 483-94.
  2. Weis, S., et al., Metabolic Adaptation Establishes Disease Tolerance to Sepsis. Cell, 2017. 169(7): p. 1263-1275 e14.
  3. Bauer, M., et al., Deterioration of Organ Function As a Hallmark in Sepsis: The Cellular Perspective. Front Immunol, 2018. 9: p. 1460.
  4. Singer, M., et al., The Third International Consensus Definitions for Sepsis and Septic Shock (Sepsis-3). JAMA, 2016. 315(8): p. 801-10.
  5. SepNet Critical Care Trials, G., Incidence of severe sepsis and septic shock in German intensive care units: the prospective, multicentre INSEP study. Intensive Care Med, 2016. 42(12): p. 1980-1989.

Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences

Immanuel Adam Show content

Course of Studies: Applied Ethics and Conflict Management (M.A.)

Supervision: Prof. Dr. Dr. Dr. Nikolaus Knoepffler

Postmortal Organ-Donation in Germany and Brazil
There is an excellent cooperation between the Institut of Applied Ethics at University of Jena (Prof. Nikolaus Knoepffler) and the Institut of Bioethics of the Medical school of Universidade da Região de Joinville UNIVILLE (Prof. Euler R. Westphal and Prof. Glauco A. Westphal) in Santa Catarina, Brazil. Thanks the support of the “Honours-Programm” I have the opportunity to do research in Brazil. My point of interest are regulations, basic conditions and the organisation of postmortal organ-donation in Brazil, especially in the state of Santa Catrarina and to compare these regulations with the german situation. There is a concentrate view on medical ethics in my research activities about organ-donation. I will use some experiences and results from the time in Brazil for writing my Master-Thesis in the Master studies “Applied Ethics and Conflict Management”.
Univille University published an article about the project:

Pia Lucia Diergarten Show content
Pia Lucia Diergarten Pia Lucia Diergarten Image: privat

Course of Studies: Education – Culture – Anthropology (M.A.)

Supervision: Prof. Dr. Dr. Ralf Koerrenz

Education between isolation and attachment - Pedagogical approaches according to Lyotard

This project addresses French philosopher Jean-François Lyotard’s conception of the “postmodern”, and its potential pedagogical consequences, precisely focussing on the relation between plurality and universality. For the most part, Lyotard’s philosophy is understood as an effort to diagnose and approve diversity and radical heterogeneity, which form plurality in all spheres of life. As such, his conception is seen as a testimony for inevitable dissent and incommensurability between diverse elements of the Social. Consequently, Lyotard’s conception of a particular instance that would allow for linkage between isolated, diverse elements is interpreted as a fundamental error of his philosophy – an unintended inconsistency. This seeming contradiction, which culminates in his metaphor of the “archipelagos”, shall be extensively examined in a research project. The relation between the two aspects of Lyotard’s position - radical heterogeneity and connective mediation - will be investigated from a pedagogical perspective.

Karolin Ebmeyer Show content

Course of Studies: Psychology (B.Sc.)

Supervision: Prof. Dr. Franz Neyer

Loneliness and Quality of Daily Interaction in Romantic Relationships: A Dyadic Data Analysis
I investigate loneliness – understood as perceived discrepancy between desired and experienced closeness and intimacy in social relationships. It has been shown, that loneliness is associated with a hypersensitivity towards social threats and negative affect throughout the day. Though, loneliness and its cognitive components are relatively unexplored and there is still a lot to learn. I am interested in the association between loneliness and potentially biased perception of the quality of daily interactions in romantic relationships. Specifically, I will investigate the following research questions: Is loneliness associated with a more negative self-reported perception of daily interactions? Is loneliness associated with a more negative partner-reported interaction quality? I will also investigate gender-related differences regarding these relations. I analyze diary data of the project “PASST”, which is currently being conducted at the FSU under the direction of Marcus Mund and Pia Drewke.

Madeleine Frister Show content

Course of Studies: Cognitive Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience (M.Sc.)

Supervision: Prof. Dr. Stefan Schweinberger

The Other-RaceEffect in Face Recognition
In my project, I am investigating the perception and identification of faces and their neural correlates in the human brain. Main focus is the so-called other-“race” effect, which describes the phenomenon that people remember and recognize faces of their own ethnic group better than faces of other ethnic groups. In particular, it will be examined to what extent such an effect can be artificially created by image manipulation of faces of one’s own ethnic group. The manipulation consists of editing a set of faces on the basis of statistically calculated dimensions that describe certain facial components. In contrast to caricatures, it is not individual facial features that are exaggerated, but the calculated dimensions are enhanced to the same extent for all faces. It is assumed that this kind of manipulation leads to the faces being perceived as more similar to each other, analogous to the perception of faces of other ethnic groups.

Johanna Jurgeleit Show content
Johanna Jurgeleit Johanna Jurgeleit Image: privat

Course of Studies: Applied Ethics and Conflict Management (M.A.)

Supervision: Dr. Martin O'Malley

Transdisciplinary development of a theory of values-based decision processes
My research project focuses on the meaning of moral values for economic actions. The aim is to create an instruction for values-based decision processes which can be used in economic but also other contexts. The project combines ethical theories, for instance the Value Ethics Approach by Martin O'Malley, with practical and application-oriented approaches. The latter was supposed to be examined during an internship with the firm EcoPlan International in Vancouver, Canada, starting in April 2020. The internship had to be postponed indefinitely on account of the worldwide spreading of the new corona virus. Therefore, my master‘s thesis will be the next step for the time being to build and expand the theoretical foundation of the project. The thesis will work on the research question of how monetary value and moral value can be compatible.

Clemens Klein Show content
Clemens Klein Clemens Klein Image: privat

Course of Studies: Education – Culture – Anthropology (M.A.)

Supervision: Prof. Dr. Dr. Ralf Koerrenz

Staging and Judgment
In my research, I try to reflect the question of normativity in contemporary theories of education. I want to use the concept of staging to investigate possible interrelations between conflict perception in aesthetical, medial and political formats and the human feature of moral judgment. This research project hopes to formulate a contemporary understanding of human judgment regarding its development and its change within biographical transition phases. The research is a contribution to the concept of media literacy in a "permanent crisis" society between constantly being addressed, being alienated and being overwhelmed.

Rico Stecher Show content

Course of Studies: Cognitive Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience (M.Sc.)

Supervision: Prof. Dr. Gyula Kovács

Machine learning based EEG-fMRI fusion unveils the spatiotemporal dynamics of neuronal identity processing
I investigate how our brain processes identities using machine learning. I present a set of natural images of celebritiesto participants, while in one session recording their brain potentials using electroencephalography (EEG) and in another session measuring the blood flow in their brain using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). I then train machine learning algorithms on the EEG data and the fMRI data and let them predict for each possible pair of images which of the two the subject was shown during the measurement. The resulting prediction accuracies of each image pair form information patterns. I analyze at which point in time in the EEG and in which brain areas in the fMRI these information patterns are similar and then I compare them to a theoretical identitymodel.This allows me to depict how identity-related information flows through our brain across time.

Faculty of Chemistry and Earth Sciences

Georg Dittmann Show content

Course of Studies: Biogeosciences (M.Sc.)

Supervision: Prof. Dr. Gerd Gleixner

Understanding the emergence of fairy circles in Namibia
This project investigates circular vegetation free depressions in Namibian grasslands so called “fairy circles” using biogeochemical measures. In before it is hypothesized that self-organization of vegetation, termite activity and allelochemical reason may cause this landscape patterns. In 2011, Yvette Naudé et al. hypothesized additionally that onshore gas seepage may lead to fairy circle formation. Although much discussed, a final comparative analysis of the different hypotheses has still not happened. In this project, a comparative analysis of fairy circles at different locations will be performed. Based on existing satellite images we preselected fairy circles that are emerging, disappearing and stable in time. We collected soil and soil gas to analyze the composition of volatile organic carbon and soil lipid profiles using GC-MS. The comparative analysis of our results will help to identify factors most likely connected to fairy circle formation.

Naudé, Y., M. W. van Rooyen and E. R. Rohwer (2011). “Evidence for a geochemical origin of the mysterious circles in the Pro-Namib desert.” Journal of Arid Environments 75(5): 446-456.

Veronika Grupp Show content

Course of Studies: Geoinformatics (M.Sc.)

Supervision: Prof. Dr. Alexander Brenning

Analysis of spatio-temporal trends in global environmental data
Adaption strategies to climate change need to be based on a reliable and accurate detection of past and future changes in ecosystems and climate. In the Honours Programme I work with Prof. Alexander Brenning and José Cortés (Chair of GIScience and MPI for Biogeochemistry) on the problem of multiple testing in the analysis of spatio-temporal environmental data. Often tests are performed on a lower scale, e.g. the pixels of a satellite image, which can result in a high number of simultaneous tests. This procedure leads to an increased probability of false positive results and wrongly drawn conclusions when the whole image is subsequently analyzed for a global effect. In the course of his PhD José Cortés has already worked on solutions for the multiple testing problem and applied them to a global vegetation index. In my work I want to further investigate his approach with a case study regarding global temperature anomalies or an additional vegetation index.

Nina Hagmeyer Show content

Course of Studies: Chemistry (M.Sc.)

Supervision: Prof. Dr. Benjamin Dietzek

EPR spectroscopy for the investigation of photoactive materials
In view of the planned transition from fossil to more sustainable energy sources, the use of sunlight for various operations plays a central role. Despite extensive research, light-harvesting systems that allow an efficient energy transformation or application in catalytic processes are scarce. A comprehensive understanding of these processes on a molecular level is therefore indispensable for the development of promising materials. The aim of my project is the combination of an optical system with an electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectrometer enabling the characterization of photoinduced processes on a nanosecond timescale. As a result, it would be possible to draw a complete picture of the photoinduced structural and electronic changes the investigated system undergoes which leads to a detailed mechanistic understanding. The corresponding measurements will serve as a valuable addition to the optical methods currently used in the “Molecular Photonics” group.

Philippe René Meisinger Show content

Course of Studies: Chemistry (B.Sc.)

Supervision: Dr. Beemelmanns

Biosynthesis of pseudoxylallemycin
In my project I try to elucidate the biosynthesis of pseudoxylallemycin. Pseudoxylallemycin is a cyclic peptide produces by Pseudoxyllaria, a termite-associated fungus. I therefore synthesize a deuterium labelled precursor and use this in a feeding experiment. Afterwards I check if and how the fungus used the precursor in the biosynthesis of the final product.

Anika Zorn Show content

Course of Studies: Geography (M.Sc.)

Supervision: Prof. Dr. Sebastian Henn

Climate adaptation in municipalities
Climate change is a global phenomenon with locally varying impacts. For many municipalities, adaption to climate change is a major challenge. Especially municipalities in structurally weak regions often lack resources such as knowledge, personnel and financial means to adapt appropriately to the impacts of climate change, such as the increase in extreme weather events. Against this background, a final thesis will analyse whether an awareness of anthropogenic climate change, corresponding responsibilities and sensitivity has developed, and if potential adaptation measures will likely be accepted a selected structurally weak district. In particular, the aim is to analyse using the framework of a media discourse analysis, how extreme weather events in the Burgenlandkreis are framed in the largest local daily newspaper with regard to climate change. For this purpose, relevant newspaper articles are analysed applying software-supported qualitative text analysis (MAXQDA). The project serves as a preparation to the BMBF-funded joint project KLIMAKONFORM.

Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Science

Tim Hoffmann Show content

Course of Studies: Mathematics (M.Sc.)

Supervision: Prof. Dr. Ingo Althöfer

Oana-Iuliana Popescu Show content

Course of Studies: Computer Science (M.Sc.)

Supervision: Prof. Dr. Joachim Denzler

Luc Nicolas Spachmann Show content

Course of Studies: Mathematics (M.Sc.)

Supervision: Prof. Dr. Ingo Althöfer

Faculty of Biological Sciences

Tosin Aminat Odejide Show content

Course of Studies: Microbiology (M.Sc.)

Supervision: Dr. Matthew Agler

Is leaf-associated diversity maintained by cross-feeding?
Microbial communities colonize plants and play important roles in regulating plant fitness, including protection under stress and disease pressure. Commensal leaf microorganisms presumably obtain resources from the host. But leaf metabolites are unstable, variable among plant species, photosynthesis type and due to pathogens. Cross-feeding stabilizes microbial relationships in such environments. Auxotrophic microorganisms lack essential metabolic pathways and must obtain these metabolites from their environment. Pathogens can increase leaf bacterial load, probably by increasing resource availability for all microbes. We hypothesize that auxotrophs have a growth advantage during pathogen infection. We isolated bacterial endophytes from surface-sterilized, symptomatic and asymptomatic leaves from plants with different photosynthetic pathways. We are characterizing them by taxonomy (16S rRNA genes) and growth on two different media (with and without amino acids and vitamins). Further information about the group can be found here.

Kerstin Unger Show content

Course of Studies: Microbiology (M.Sc.)

Supervision: Dr. Matthew Agler

Microbial adaptations to the plant’s glucosinolate-defense system
The Plant Microbiosis Lab (click here for further details) works on microbial communities on/in plants. It is investigated how microbial communities establish on leaves of model plants and which factors drive this process. Many plants of Brassicaceae-family, e.g. the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana, produce glucosinolates (commonly known as mustard oil glycosides). Protecting the plant, these defense molecules are degraded to toxic isothiocyanates by an attack of an herbivore or a microbial pathogen. In return, some microorganisms developed adaptions to avoid the toxic effect; they are resistant. In this project it is investigated whether and to which extent isothiocyanate-resistant microorganisms influence the establishment of a microbial community in leaves of Arabidopsis thaliana. Their ability to detoxify isothiocyanates could facilitate other non-resistant microorganisms to more easily colonize the plant. In the end, this could have an impact on the whole community.

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