Research Focuses at the University of Potsdam

Cognitive Sciences
Photo: ZIM/Frank Poser; Karin Pelte

The University's research focus cognitive sciences is a transdisciplinary research association that investigates the complex cognitive performance of humans and artificial cognitive systems from both empirical and theoretical perspectives.
Researchers from the Faculties of Human Sciences, Sciences and Arts cooperate on basic research on the structure, dynamics, and development of language, visual perception, attention, motor skills and cognition in children, adults, and older people, as well as on the neural and social aspects of these capacities. Therefore corpus-based, experimental or clinical methods and computational cognitive modeling procedures are used. Researchers have access to central laboratory pools providing a wide range of experimental technologies: These include reaction-time measurement, ultrasound and electromagnetic articulography, a swallowing lab, EEG, EMG, ECG, NIRS, TMS, eye-movement monitoring instruments, balance and force measurement platforms, 2D and 3D movement analysis systems, a baby lab, and several motor skills labs.

Website | Excerpt from the 2019 image brochure

Cognitive Sciences
Photo: ZIM/Frank Poser; Karin Pelte
Photo: AdobeStock/monsitj

We are witnessing an enormous expansion in the computational/instrumental resources and the mathematical/statistical underpinning of data science. Our ability to collect, store, process, and interpret data has advanced tremendously and data-driven methodologies have had an unprecedented impact on business and society at large. Science and engineering stands to benefit from the revolution in similar ways but realising this potential requires carefully coordinated interdisciplinary efforts.
The research focus area has been established with the aim to foster world-class research in the emerging area of data centric sciences at the University of Potsdam. The centre seeks to span and indeed link fundamental theoretical foundations with direct impact on application areas ranging across economics, social and natural sciences and the humanities. The focus area will in particular accelerate methodological advances on extracting scientific information from data, fitting and validating existing models to data, comparing scientific models in combination with challenging applications.  In order to achieve its mission the centre will run data study groups and focus retreats, initiate and support new coordinate research activities, and offer postdoctoral research fellowships.


WebsiteExcerpt from the 2019 image brochure

 

Photo: AdobeStock/monsitj
Forschungsswerpunkt Earth and Environmental Systems
Photo: Julia Pommerencke

Within the research focus Earth and Environmental Systems the Institute of Earth Sciences as well as the Institute of Environmental Science and Geography focus on questions concerning the interaction of processes in the geosphere – deep in the earth, in the earth’s crust, and on the earth’s surface – as well as in the atmosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere, and with society. Their aim is to enable a profound interpretation of the interferences and interactions between the different parts of the Earth system, especially taking into account human influences. For this purpose, the researchers use and develop new technologies and methodologies, such as innovative concepts and approaches in field work and laboratory, the combined use of satellites, airplanes, and drones, the quantification of dynamic processes as well as innovative methodological steps, such as data clustering, machine learning, and complex simulation models. In addition, methods of the empirical social sciences and communication research are increasingly being integrated into earth and environmental sciences.

Website | Excerpt from the 2019 image brochure

Forschungsswerpunkt Earth and Environmental Systems
Photo: Julia Pommerencke
Forschungsschwerpunkt Evolutionary Systems Biology
Image: AdobeStock/BestPolygon; AdobeStock/Yü Lan

The FSP Evolutionary Systems Biology is a research network that uses experimental approaches, bioinformatics and modelling to address the question of how new traits arise in evolution through changes in the networks at the various levels of biological organisation. 
The growth and development of organisms is based on the interplay of countless components in molecular and cellular networks, e.g. at the levels of gene activation, metabolism and cell behaviour. In the course of evolution, new traits have evolved by changing the structure of these networks, their components or the dynamics of their interactions. The main goal of the participating researchers from the Institute of Biochemistry and Biology is to understand how these changes came about and how they translate into new traits, but also whether the structure of the molecular and cellular networks favours certain evolutionary changes but makes others more difficult. In order to answer these questions, the participants use various molecular and microscopic high-throughput methods and mathematical modelling of biological systems.

Website | Excerpt from the 2019 image brochure

Forschungsschwerpunkt Evolutionary Systems Biology
Image: AdobeStock/BestPolygon; AdobeStock/Yü Lan