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Top Research University Receives Two ERC Grants

Top research university: Two professors receive an ERC grant, one of the European Research Council's most highly endowed awards. Engineering scientist Andreas Fischer and marine scientist Jan-Hendrik Hehemann will each receive around 2 million euros for their foundation research.

"I am extremely happy for the two scientists, their research groups, and for the University of Bremen regarding the approval of these coveted grants," says President Professor Bernd Scholz-Reiter with regard to the decision of the European Research Council. "This is another important moment of recognition of excellent basic research at the University of Bremen and will be a great support. Our researchers are active in research areas that are of great importance to all of us."

Measuring with Light: A New Path for Optical Metrology

Measuring with light keeps Professor Andreas Fischer busy. For decades, this form of measuring has been a guarantee of speed and precision. In fact, immediate information on the production result - that is, on the manufactured component geometry - is the key to making production processes more efficient, resource-saving, and sustainable. But the demands on measurement technology are growing because the variety of geometries and materials that can be produced continues to increase. In order to circumvent the limitations of classical optical measurement principles in this respect, the non-contact, precise measurement of component geometry requires a paradigm shift.

With the InOGeM (Indirect Optical Geometry Measurement) research project funded by the European Research Council, Andreas Fischer aims to develop the fundamentals and potential of such a paradigm shift. "For this purpose, the position of the component surface is measured indirectly instead of a classical direct measurement. In this process, the surrounding air volume is determined optically. The naturally existing imprint of the component in the air is then used to infer the component geometry," he says, explaining the background. "Thus, for the first time, it is not so much the optical properties of the component, but rather of the air surrounding the component that are decisive for measurement success. Consequently, the increasing diversity of the geometry and material to be measured plays a subordinate role - and a new, freely shapeable degree of freedom for optical geometry measurement technology is the result!"

The five-year grant now provides Fischer with a unique opportunity to work with an interdisciplinary team to research this fundamentally new measurement approach, including its promising application potential. The findings are to be used to create a new generation of optical measuring instruments, which should enable metrology to keep up to date with the increased diversity in the manufacturing world in the future.

Professor Andreas Fischer: From Dresden to Bremen

Andreas Fischer completed his studies in electrical engineering at the TU Dresden with distinction as a scholarship holder of the German Academic Scholarship Foundation. He received various awards for his PhD at the TU Dresden in 2009. After habilitating in measurement technology and in-depth research collaborations with the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB), among others, as well as further training as a university lecturer, Andreas Fischer accepted an appointment at the University of Bremen in 2016. Since then, he has headed the area and the Bremen Institute for Measurement, Automation and Quality Science (BIMAQ) within the Faculty of Production Engineering - Mechanical Engineering and Process Engineering. He conducts research on overcoming current limits of measurability in theory and with regard to specific applications. For example, he is working on the usability and extension of the method of thermographic flow visualization in order to increase the efficiency and reliability of wind turbines. Additionally, he is working on optical measurement methods for the rapid and precise recording of shapes, deformations, and surfaces in order to make manufacturing processes more efficient and sustainable.

Basic Research in the Field of Marine Carbon Storage

Professor Jan-Hendrik Hehemann and his team at MARUM – Center for Marine Environmental Sciences at the University of Bremen, within the Faculty of Biology/Chemistry, and at the Bremen Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology are also pleased that their jointly developed ideas in the field of marine carbon storage will be funded by the European Research Council for the next five years.

The climate crisis has created a demand for new ways to reduce the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The ERC project "Discover molecular pathways for glyco-carbon sequestration" (C-Quest) investigates the molecular mechanism of carbon (dioxide) storage by algae in the ocean. C-Quest postulates that particular polysaccharides from algae form a carbon sink in the ocean. "Algae synthesize extracellular polysaccharides from carbon dioxide and position them on their surface. They form a kind of skin or protective wall. This wall is what the bacteria have to penetrate when they try to get at the easily digestible nutrients, proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids inside the algal cell," Hehemann explains. "So it's essential for the alga's survival that these polysaccharides are difficult for the bacteria to digest. Otherwise, the bacteria could break through the protective wall with the help of enzymes and subsequently digest the alga from the inside until it dies."

These protective polysaccharides are formed in the ocean by algae through photosynthesis from the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. As algae form these polysaccharides faster than bacteria can break them down with enzymes – which would release carbon dioxide again – the polysaccharides form a global sink for the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. Thus, they help store unknown amounts of carbon dioxide in the ocean and regulate the climate to an unknown extent.

These hypotheses are now being investigated in the C-Quest project. Jan-Hendrik Hehemann and his Emmy Noether Research Group, which is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), developed the hypotheses and investigation methods in recent years at MARUM at the University of Bremen and at the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology. They are novel bioanalytical and biocatalytical methods. For the first time, they allow for polysaccharides to be measured with sufficient molecular resolution in the ocean. In this way, their contribution to carbon storage can be recorded and their degradability by bacteria can be determined in the laboratory.

Professor Jan-Hendrik Hehemann: Bremen via France, Canada, and the USA

Professor Hehemann studied biochemistry in Hamburg and completed his PhD in France at the Roscoff Marine Station and Pierre & Marie Curie University Paris (now Sorbonne) as a Marie Curie Fellow (2010). He then held two fellowship-funded postdoctoral positions at the University of Victoria (Canada) and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the USA. From 2015, he conducted five years of research in an Emmy Noether project as a group leader networking at the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology and MARUM at the University of Bremen. Since 2021, he has been a Heisenberg Professor heading the Bridge Group Marine Glycobiology at Faculty 02, MARUM, and the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology.

The ERC Grant: a Coveted Award

The ERC Consolidator Grant is one of the European Union's most highly endowed funding measures for individual researchers. With this grant, the European Research Council supports excellent researchers in their innovative basic research.



Prof. Dr.-Ing Andreas Fischer
Faculty of Production Engineering, University of Bremen
Bremen Institute for Measurement, Automation and Quality Science (BIMAQ)
Phone: +49 421 218-64600
Email: andreas.fischerprotect me ?!bimaqprotect me ?!.de

Prof. Dr. Jan-Hendrik Hehemann
Faculty of Biology / Chemistry, University of Bremen
MARUM – MPI Bridge Group for Marine Glycobiology
Phone: +49 421 218-65775
Email: jhhehemannprotect me ?!marumprotect me ?!.de



Zwei Männer
Two successful young researchers: marine scientist Jan-Hendrik Hehemann (left) and engineering scientist Andreas Fischer will now each receive around 2 million Euros in funding from the European Research Council for their basic research.