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High-profile areas

Research at the University of Bremen is dedicated to seeking responses to the burning questions of the future for today’s societies. It focuses on six key scientific areas that largely define the research profile of the University, while at the same time reflecting core fields of innovation for the Federal State of Bremen itself.

In these high-profile areas, which all have an interdisciplinary approach, researchers work in close cooperation with internationally leading non-university research institutes in Bremen. The high-profile areas are regularly evaluated, and decisions on new areas are taken by the Academic Senate of the University on the basis of transparent criteria.

Marine, Polar and Climate Research

The oceans, polar regions and the atmosphere and their roles in global climate change – both in the geological past and the present – are at the heart of marine and environmental research activities carried out at MARUM – Center for Marine Environmental Sciences at the University of Bremen. With a Cluster of Excellence and extensive involvement in international research programmes, MARUM is dedicated to studying the marine environment, from the coasts to the depths of the oceans. One of its key focal areas is the development of large submarine vehicles and research devices. These include remote-controlled underwater robots which are able to operate in the depths of the oceans as the eyes and arms of human researchers, and mobile drilling rigs that can retrieve cores at depths down to 2000 metres. With its core repository, MARUM also maintains a unique climate archive, storing seafloor samples from around the world and making them available to the international research community. Other researchers in this high-profile area are studying the atmosphere using satellite-based observation systems, and investigating the ecosystems of the oceans based on the adaptation strategies of selected microorganisms.

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Social Change, Social Policy and the State

Inequality, social policy and the welfare state – in this high-profile area, researchers at the SOCIUM Research Center on Inequality and Social Policy and the Institute for Intercultural and International Studies (InIIS) are committed to investigating the development of society and the welfare state under the pressure of globalisation and liberalisation. To this end they work in two directions: First, in a Collaborative Research Centre, they study how social policy has spread throughout the world since its beginnings 150 years ago and what variants of it have developed in individual countries since then. In a second line of research, they concern themselves with the conduct of life of the middle classes. This also includes study of the phenomenon that in recent times, sections of the middle classes, who have traditionally been viewed as guardians of social cohesion, have come to play a leading role in populist right-wing movements, endangering the democratic social order. In keeping with their traditional strengths, the researchers are pursuing an empirical, theory-guided and internationally comparative approach. This includes the Bremen International Graduate School of Social Sciences (BIGSSS), funded twice by the Excellence Initiative, which attracts Ph. D. students from all over the world to come and study and experience social and political integration.

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Materials Sciences and Technologies

Resource-saving, customisable, durable  – making materials that meet these criteria is at the heart of the research undertaken at the MAPEX Center for Materials and Processes. Its work covers the complete process chain, from initial development through to the application of materials of all kinds. A main focus lies on the hard-to-predict physico-chemical changes to materials that occur in the course of their synthesis, production and use. The researchers aim to predict these changes at atomic level and so contribute, for example, to enabling the production of novel materials with individually tailored and locally varying thermo-chemo-mechanical properties. Such materials are needed for use in inhospitable environments, for instance corrosive media or extreme temperatures. A further focus is on the development of resource-saving processes so as to enable high-tech products such as cars, aircraft or mobile phones to be made with greater efficiency, reliability and sustainability.

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Minds, Media, Machines

Cognition, mediatised worlds, and robotics  – scientists from these three fields join forces to explore the complex processes involved in human intelligence and perception. Their goal is to develop a new generation of intelligent and safe systems which will enable an effortless exchange and interaction between humans and machines. The scientists are recognised worldwide for their achievements in the field of spatial cognition, a research area that was initially founded in Bremen and that focuses on spatial capabilities like the orientation of humans and machines. A major field of research for the new generation of intelligent systems are ‘living technologies’ which can be used in digital systems from smartphones to domestic robots and can support people throughout their lifetime. An example of such systems are the robots developed in the EASE Collaborative Research Centre, which will master complex everyday manipulation tasks such as setting the table. One specific research challenge is the requirement that these artificial intelligence systems should not only assist people in their everyday lives, but should also offer transparent, easily manageable privacy options that enable users to remain in control of their own data.

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Logistics

Efficiency, adaptability and flexibility – these goals are pursued by researchers in the fields of economics, production engineering, computer science and electrical engineering. They are engaged in interdisciplinary research and the development of concepts, methods and technologies for production and logistics systems. Their activities range from fundamental  and applied research to practical industrial application. In addition to logistical processes at manufacturing companies, one specific area of logistics research in Bremen are maritime logistics chains in the seaports of Northern Germany. Special attention is paid to joining up and optimising logistical processes by making them more customer-oriented and interorganisational in order to cross company boundaries. The Bremen logistics researchers recognise as the most important challenge, but also the biggest opportunity, the use of information and communication technologies and the digitisation of logistical processes in local, national and global value creation networks. In a world that is developing towards autonomous logistical processes – a trend that has been observable since Industry 4.0 – where workpieces communicate with machines, for example, Bremen-based logistics research is right at the cutting edge.

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Health Sciences

Prevention, health care, nursing care – these three areas are right at the heart of research in the fields of health science and epidemiology. The researchers study, for example, how lifestyle and environment can contribute to the development or prevention of chronic disease, what health-promotion measures are effective and efficient, or how need-based health and nursing care can be assured. Special attention is paid to questions of equity in relation to health and health care, including, for example, the phenomenon that wealthy people tend to have a higher life expectancy. In other areas, researchers explore the connection between health and the ageing process and engage in establishing basic knowledge relating to the preservation and improvement of public health. To this end, they cooperate closely with regional, national and international health research centres and health system institutions.

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Updated by: SPE