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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.

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.

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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), which attracts PhD 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  – researchers 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 researchers 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. In the EASE Collaborative Research Centre, a robot is already being developed that will manage household chores around the clock. The researchers place particular emphasis on ensuring that these artificial intelligence systems not only support people in their everyday lives: They should also be able to make their own decisions about the use of their data and thus their privacy.

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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 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.

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Updated by: SPE