High-Profile Areas

Top Research in Five High-Profile Areas

Researchers at the University of Bremen are dedicated to seeking responses to the burning questions of the future for today’s societies. They focus on five 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, which are funded jointly by the state and federal governments. The high-profile areas are regularly evaluated, and decisions on new areas are taken by the Academic Senate of the University based on transparent criteria.

Tauchroboter Quest

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 programs, 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, making core samples available to the international research community. The BreMarE research center also investigates the marine ecosystem on the basis of the adaptation strategies of selected microorganisms. In addition, scientists from environmental physics are investigating, among other things, the atmosphere with satellite-based remote sensing of the earth in this focus area.

Seminar an der BIGSSS in den Sozialwissenschaften im Jahr 2023

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) investigate social and political developments of contemporary societies and welfare states in the context of globalization and liberalization on the one hand and geopolitical competition and economic de-coupling on the other.

Two collaborative projects are central to this research: First, in a Collaborative Research Centre (CRC 1342), the researchers of this high-profile area study how social policy has spread throughout the world since its beginnings 150 years ago and which country-specific variants have emerged since then. Thereby the analytical perspective is expanded from the nation state to interdependencies between societies and from the global North to the global South. In the nationwide Research Institute Social Cohesion (FGZ/RISC), the researchers analyze social, cultural and political inequalities and conflicts as sources of threat to social cohesion. Focusing on the relationships between different social milieus, they ask whether these are drifting further apart and what can foster an understanding across milieu boundaries.

The recent research initiative on Global Solidarity (GlobaLab) integrates these ongoing research strands into a new format of transnational collaboration that brings together diverse substantive, analytical, and methodological approaches from around the globe. The guiding research question is whether and under what conditions global solidarity is possible in a fragmented world.

In keeping with their traditional strengths, the researchers in this high-profile area pursue an empirical, theory-guided, and internationally comparative approach. This includes the Bremen International Graduate School of Social Sciences (BIGSSS), funded under the German Excellence Initiative, which attracts PhD candidates from all over the world to study and experience social and political integration.

Light microscopy image of magnetic chitosan helices

Materials Sciences and Technologies

Resource-efficient, tailor-made, durable – these criteria are at the core of the research at MAPEX Center for Materials and Processes. The scientists pursue them along the entire process chain, from the development to the application of materials of all kinds.

One focus is on studying the difficult-to-predict physicochemical changes in materials that occur during their synthesis, manufacture, and use. The researchers use their findings to develop resource-saving materials and processes. These can be used to make everyday high-tech products such as cars, airplanes and cell phones more efficient, reliable and sustainable.

The use and production of materials under extreme conditions is playing an increasingly important role. This is precisely the focus of the Humans on Mars Initiative initiated by MAPEX. The scientists involved are investigating how essential goods and spare parts can be produced with scarce resources and without the use of fossil fuels. The 'Martian mindset' enables the interdisciplinary team of researchers to understand resource scarcity as an opportunity and basis for a paradigm of sustainability – also on Earth.

The scientists at MAPEX combine all disciplines of science, engineering and mathematics. Their goal is a deeper understanding of the relationships between processes, properties and performance of materials. To achieve this, they use state-of-the-art methods in the field of materials synthesis and characterization as well as computer-aided modeling of materials and processes.

KI-Forschung mit Roboter PR2 bei MMM im Jahr 2023

Minds, Media, Machines

An improved understanding of intelligence for the benefit of society – that is what scientists from computer science, the natural sciences, engineering and the humanities aim for in the high-profile area Minds, Media, Machines (MMM).

In the Collaborative Research Center EASE (CRC 1320), for example, MMM scientists are developing a new generation of artificial intelligence (AI) methods for robots with cognitive abilities enabling them to provide need-oriented assistance with everyday tasks to humans in their own homes. Joint learning of humans and machines is central to the development of such AI methods. To investigate this, Co-Construction – the joint generation of knowledge and skills between humans and robots – is a crucial new concept that MMM is advancing in an MMM-driven Cluster of Excellence initiative together with scientists from the Universities of Bielefeld and Paderborn. MMM further strengthens the research field of cooperative and cognitive AI through its collaboration with the Joint Research Center on Cooperative and Cognition-enabled AI (CoAI JRC).

For large lighthouse projects like these, MMM builds on a strong foundation of three pillars: The Minds research area is dedicated to the question of how we can better understand natural cognitive systems such as humans, for example, through computer models. The Media research area investigates how people interact with digital media and how we can use digitization for the benefit of society. In the Machines research area, scientists develop intelligent technical systems - smallest hardware components as well as cognition-enabled robots - and explore which methods of cognition-enabled AI, machine learning, and data science are best suited for this task.

MMM scientists conduct their research together across disciplines, connecting the three pillars. In doing so, they shape research fields that address pressing societal issues. In MMM, Artificial Intelligence is being designed in a human-centered way. It is tailored to human needs and to allowing humans to decide for themselves how their data is used and thus their privacy.

Laborantin am PC

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 needs-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 centers and health system institutions.

Updated by: SPE