№ 69/2010 from Mar 24, 2010
Freie Universität Berlin and St. Petersburg State University have opened the first Center of Excellence for Research and Education in Russia. It will be funded for the next five years by the German Federal Foreign Office with roughly 1.25 million euros. The aim of the Center of Excellence is to identify the particular strengths of Russian and German science and to promote international networking in training junior researchers and the exchange of lecturers. In 2009 Freie Universität and St. Petersburg State University emerged successfully from a competition of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).
The opening was attended by the acting president of Freie Universität Berlin and the president of St. Petersburg State University, Prof. Dr. Ursula Lehmkuhl and Prof. Dr. Ljudmila Werbizkaja; the current president of the German Academic Exchange Service, Prof. Dr. Max Huber; and the Consul General of the Federal Republic of Germany in St. Petersburg, Peter Schaller.
The interdisciplinary center of excellence, German-Russian Interdisciplinary Science Center (G-RISC), builds on a long tradition of scientific cooperation between scientists of both countries. Freie Universität has been working in close cooperation with St. Petersburg State University for more than 40 years. In recent years, under the leadership of Freie Universität the Russian-German Laboratory was built at the storage ring facility BESSY II in Berlin-Adlershof, and numerous exchange programs were initiated with St. Petersburg State University. This collaboration between leading working groups established the basis for the G-RISC Center of Excellence.
With the establishment of G-RISC, a new dimension of cooperation in scientific research and teaching has opened up. Scientists from the disciplines of physics, geophysics, physical chemistry, and mathematics will be cooperating across traditional subject boundaries. In total, more than 30 institutions and more than 100 groups from Russia and Germany will conduct research and teach at the center. It opens up new opportunities for interdisciplinary training of young scientists and is the basis for an internationally visible and long-term collaboration between leading scientists from Russia and Germany who are making contributions, for example, to current research on nanoscopic materials, intermolecular interactions, and ultrafast processes.
The official launch of the Center of Excellence was preceded by a first competition for the best project proposals with 23 projects being awarded funding. In the future this type of competition will be organized biannually.
Prof. Dr. Eckart Rühl, Department of Biology, Chemistry, and Pharmacy, Freie Universität Berlin
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