Lise Meitner Groups
The new Lise Meitner group leaders 2021 have been appointed
Free scientific development, long-term career security and clear career prospects - these are the cornerstones of the Lise Meitner Excellence Program. In 2018, the MPG launched the four-year pilot phase of the program.
In the first two calls for application nearly 700 candidates took the opportunity to apply for group leadership positions. They underwent a competitive selection process, conducted by a commission made up of national and international experts from various fields. 79 highly qualified applicants were invited to a personal presentation at a symposium. Based on their impressive research accomplishments to date and their demonstrably strong potential, the Max Planck Society offered an appointment to 30 young female researchers.
Lise Meitner Group Leaders 2021
Lise Meitner Group “Endangered objects: decay, loss and conservation in art history” Bibliotheca Hertziana – Max-Planck-Institut für Kunstgeschichte
, Rome, Italy
We want artworks to last as long as possible. We safeguard them from natural decay, wars, vandalism. We study the original condition at the time of their creation, but we also know that changes are inevitable. Francesca Borgo and her group investigate what happens to ageing artefacts over time. To better understand the mechanics of decay and loss, they focus on how the physical instability of objects defines the way they are treated.
Lise Meitner Group “In search of a new, light physics” Max Planck Institute for Physics
We still don’t know what the Dark Matter of the universe is made of. Presumably, novel types of elementary particles form this mysterious cosmic substance. Up to now, it has only been possible to detect it indirectly through gravitation – the mutual attraction of masses. Babette Döbrich and her group are also involved in the worldwide search for a concrete trace of Dark Matter. They collaborate in experiments to discover new, light particles of which it might consist.
Lise Meitner Group “Spin3D: three-dimensional magnetic systems” Max Planck Institute for Chemical Physics of Solids
Magnets are omnipresent in our everyday lives: they have a key role to play in energy generation and data processing. Yet the physics of magnets and the search for how to harness them beyond known applications remain mostly two-dimensional. Claire Donnelly and her group are applying new techniques to push into the third dimension. With their 3D experiments, they seek to lay the foundations for more environment-friendly and more powerful magnetic devices.
Lise Meitner Group “Active Sensing” Max Planck Institute for Biological Intelligence, in foundation
Our eyes are constantly on the move. However, we rarely take note of this consciously because the brain partially suppresses visual perception as these movements occur. Lisa Fenk and her team are seeking to understand how the brain filters visual features as relevant (or irrelevant), thereby determining what we actively and consciously see. They use fruit flies as a model organism: these can move their retina via tiny muscles, and the resulting eye movements are surprisingly similar to our own.
Lise Meitner Group “Language and Computation in Neural Systems” Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics
, Nijmegen, Netherlands
Are we humans still superior to artificial intelligence? In the field of language and its processing, this is clearly the case. Only human beings can understand and name things they have never heard of before. Our stored linguistic knowledge in our brains goes far beyond learned knowledge and distributional information gained from experience. Andrea Martin and her group are investigating how the brain can store and use both structured and statistical linguistic information.
Lise Meitner Group “Genome organization and regulation” Max Planck Institute for Multidisciplinary Sciences
The ability of cells to precisely regulate the activity of their genes enables the development of complex organisms with hundreds of specialized cell types which all share the same DNA sequence. In her research, Marieke Oudelaar investigates the molecular mechanisms by which gene activity is regulated during development. In particular, her group focusses on the spatial organization of the DNA within cells and how the resulting 3D structures are related to the activity of the genes they contain.
Lise Meitner Group “Social behaviour” Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology
Living in groups comes with both advantages and disadvantages. For example, group-living enables division of labor, which can increase efficiency; on the other hand, it can facilitate the spread of infectous diseases. Yuko Ulrich and her team are investigating the causes and consequences of social behavior, and whether there may actually be forms of social organisation that can reduce disease transmission, using ants as an experimental system.
Lise Meitner Group Leaders 2020
Lise Meitner Group “China in the Global System of Science”
Max Planck Institute for the History of Science
China has become the world’s largest producer of scientific articles and a fast climber in global university rankings. The Chinese government is promoting this rise, differentiating strongly between the natural and the social sciences, and aiming at a political control of science. Anna Ahlers will elaborate a sociology of science with her research group that focusses on the political regime and societal values as environmental factors for science in China and for the global system of science.
Lise Meitner Group “Cellular computations and learning”
Center of Advanced European Studies and Research (caesar), Bonn
Cells process information in real-time and respond to combination of chemical signals that vary both in space and time. Such information processing dynamically resembles the sensory computations of the neural microcircuits in the cerebral cortex. Aneta Koseska wants to develop a generic theory of computations and learning on the level of biochemical networks in single cells.
Lise Meitner Group “Technological Primates”
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Tool use paved the way for human development in an evolutionary trajectory. Surprisingly, very little is known regarding the origin and evolution of human tool use. Lydia Luncz studies non-human primates as a model for potential tool behaviour of early hominins. Comparisons between species help to expand our knowledge regarding the adaptive significance of tool use and substantially further our understanding of the cultural and behavioral evolution of humans.
Lise Meitner Group “Metal-Organic Framework and Nanoparticle Catalysis”Max-Planck-Institut für Kohlenforschung
, Mülheim / Ruhr
The research topics in my group are clustered around problems that, if solved, would either enable or significantly improve the sustainable production of vital resources. The design of a catalyst that can selectively activate a stronger bond in the presence of a weaker bond, or the development of a catalyst support material that can direct the course of a chemical transformation would enable more straight-forward synthetic routes to important commodity products.www.neumannlab.science
Lise Meitner Group “Galactic nuclei”
Max Planck Institute for Astronomy
Nadine Neumayer and her research group are investigating the role black holes play in the evolution of galaxies. At what point in the development of a galaxy and under what conditions is a massive black hole formed? Do all galaxies have a central black hole? To answer these questions, she systematically studies those galaxies that are still in an early stage of development. The findings provide insights into how galaxies evolve and how matter is distributed in the universe.
Lise Meitner Group “Malaria parasite biology”
Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology
In many malaria endemic regions, mosquitoes are absent for several months. Biologist Silvia Portugal seeks to identify central molecular mechanisms that regulate parasite virulence seasonally, and enable several months of subclinical parasite persistence which will allow resuming transmission upon mosquitoes return.
Lise Meitner Group “Knot theory and low-dimensional topology”
Max Planck Institute for Mathematics
Topology is the study of spaces of arbitrary dimensions and their properties. For example, the surface of a ball is a two-dimensional manifold, while a circle is a one-dimensional manifold. Three- and four-dimensional manifolds are more abstract and difficult to visualise directly. Remarkably, they can be precisely described and studied using knotted loops in three-dimensional Euclidean space. Arunima Ray’s research aims to further understand this correspondence, specifically with respect to topological and smooth structures.
Lise Meitner Group “Systems Epigenetics”
Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics
In mammals, a single genome carries information on how to generate many different cell types. Edda Schulz will make use of recently developed methods based on the CRISPR system that now allow us to precisely modify specific genes or genomic elements in a high-throughput fashion. Combined with a series of theoretical and computational approaches we can now start to tackle the complexities of genome regulation.
Lise Meitner Group “Gravitational lensing and its astrophysical applications”
Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics
Simona Vegetti will use strong gravitational lensing observations to measure the abundance and structural properties of dark matter haloes and thereby provide clean observational constraints on the nature of dark matter. She will also measure the physical properties of high-redshift lensed galaxies to study star formation and feedback processes at cosmologically-interesting epochs on sub-kpc scales.
Lise Meitner Group Leaders 2019
Lise Meitner Group “Astrophysical spectroscopy and cosmic nucleogenesis”
Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg
Spectroscopy is a standard technique that is used in physics, chemistry and technology. Maria Bergemann has succeeded in advancing astrophysical spectroscopy in her research to date by developing new models of radiation transfer in stellar atmospheres. Using an interdisciplinary research approach, the astrophysicist is now seeking to generate new intelligent methods for pattern recognition from stellar spectra, in order to provide new constraints on the origin of chemical elements and on the evolution of our Milky Way galaxy.
Lise Meitner Group “Cognition and Plasticity“
Max Planck Institute for Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Leipzig
For a long time, the adult brain was regarded as unchangeable. This was until neuroscientists found out that synapses, nerve cells and even entire brain sections were indeed capable of selective alteration during a person’s lifetime. Psychologist Gesa Hartwigsen seeks to identify central mechanisms of this neuroplasticity, for example, when acquiring new cognitive skills or compensating for brain lesions such as after a stroke.
Lise Meitner Group “Principles of stem cell maintenance and tissue regeneration, organoid cultures and disease modelling”
Max Planck Institute for Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, Dresden
Meritxell Huch conducts research into organoid cultures. Based on her previous findings on the contribution of liver and pancreatic cells to the regeneration of adult tissue, the pharmacologist has now set herself the following goal: she wants to identify the underlying biological mechanisms involved in tissue regeneration and carcinogenesis.
Lise Meitner Group “Environmental Neurosciences”
Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin
What effects does the physical environment have on the brain, behaviour and health? This is the question addressed by Simone Kühn. Her particular focus is on neuronal mechanisms – both in urban life and in extreme environments such as the Antarctic. The aim is to derive measures that sustainably enhance human well-being.
Lise Meitner Group “Simulations from ab initio approaches: Structure and dynamics from quantum mechanics”
Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter, Hamburg
Mariana Rossi aims to develop a new framework for the investigation of realistic bioorganic/inorganic systems with unprecedented resolution and accuracy, joining first principles of quantum mechanics for electrons and nuclei with different machine learning methods aimed at accelerating calculations. One of her main goals is to be able to predict not just structure, but also nuclear and electronic response properties of matter composed by inorganic and organic components
Lise Meitner Group “Pan-African Evolution”
Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Jena
Archaeologist Eleanor Scerri and her team are studying human evolution and demography in Africa and South-West Asia. She combines field projects with various approaches from archaeology, genetics, biogeography and climate sciences. One particular focus of her work is West Africa, one of the least understood regions of the continent with regard to human evolution.
Lise Meitner Group “Universal Census of Ionized Media with Radio Bursts”
Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy, Bonn
Astronomer Laura Spitler’s research focuses on Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs). These include short, one-off bursts of radio radiation that last a few milliseconds at (presumably) extragalactic distances. Now Spitler aims to investigate the potential of FRBs as probes for extragalactic plasmas.
Lise Meitner Group “Neural circuits for vocal communication”
Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, Seewiesen
Whether riding a bicycle, sewing a seam or whistling a pure tone – most movements are perceived as effortless. Daniela Vallentin knows that this is not the case: using songbirds as an example, the neuroscientist investigates neuronal circuits that form the basis of their learning and the generation of their complex vocal behaviour.