Lise Meitner Groups

The new Lise Meitner group leaders 2020 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 470 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. 51 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 22 young female researchers.

Lise Meitner Group Leaders 2020

Lise Meitner Group “China in the Global System of Science” Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin 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. more
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. more

Dr. Lydia Luncz

Lise Meitner Group “Technological Primates” Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig 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. more
Lise Meitner Group “Galactic nuclei” Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg 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. more

Dr. Silvia Portugal

Lise Meitner Group “Malaria parasite biology” Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology, Berlin 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.

Dr. Arunima Ray

Lise Meitner Group “Knot theory and low-dimensional topology” Max Planck Institute for Mathematics, Bonn 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, Berlin 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. more

Dr. Simona Vegetti

Lise Meitner Group “Gravitational lensing and its astrophysical applications” Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics, Garching 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

Dr. Maria Bergemann

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.

Dr Gesa Hartwigsen

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.

Meritxell Huch, PhD

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.

Dr Anna Ijjas

Lise Meitner Group “Gravitational Theory and Cosmology” Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert-Einstein-Institute), Hannover Did our universe have a beginning? Will it ever end? What is space-time like in the interior of black holes? In her research, Anna Ijjas targets the big open questions of cosmology. She combines novel theoretical ideas with modern techniques of mathematical and numerical general relativity and beyond, with the ultimate goal of making these questions empirically testable.

Prof Dr Simone Kühn

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.

Dr Mariana Rossi

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

Dr Eleanor Scerri

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.

Laura G. Spitler, PhD

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.

Dr Daniela Vallentin

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.
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