RESEARCH & SCIENCE. Committed to progress

Franziska Fay was appointed Junior Professor of Political Anthropology at JGU in April 2021. (© private)POLITICAL ANTHROPOLOGY

Disciplined empathy as an important tool in highly political times

For over a decade, Franziska Fay conducted research on the Zanzibar Archipelago. There she worked with child protection organizations, children in primary and Koranic schools, was a guest lecturer at Zanzibar University, and advised international aid organizations. After completing degrees in Frankfurt and London, she was appointed Junior Professor of Political Anthropology at the Department of Anthropology and African Studies at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in 2021.


The search for causes of neurodegenerative diseases

In spring 2021, the Faculty of Biology at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) was lucky to acquire a specialist in the field of neurodegenerative disorders – Professor Dorothee Dormann. A cell biologist and biochemist by training, she is an expert in identifying the molecular processes that underlie conditions such as Alzheimer's disease and has already won several awards for her research.


Powerful technologies may help overcome future challenges

How will the field of artificial intelligence (AI) develop in the coming years? What sort of risks, what chances will open up? Professor Stefan Kramer of the Institute of Computer Science at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) is to find answers to these questions – in an interdisciplinary research project in which he and his colleagues will investigate core aspects of AI over the next six years.

Biochemist Professor Ute Hellmich and her team, among them Eric Schwegler, are developing new therapeutic approaches to treat various neglected tropical diseases. (photo: Stefan F. Sämmer)BIOCHEMISTRY

Giving more attention to neglected tropical diseases

More than one billion people worldwide suffer from devastating tropical illnesses that to date have been insufficiently researched. Biochemist Professor Ute Hellmich is exploring new ways in which these neglected diseases can be treated. Her research group employs a structural biological approach, concentrating on three closely-related parasites that causes Chagas disease, African sleeping sickness, and leishmaniasis.


Searching for effective ways to diagnose non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

Around 20 million people in Germany suffer from non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). It can cause severe inflammation, cirrhosis of the liver, and even cancer. At present, there is no simple technique to detect NAFLD reliably at an early stage. But this is essential for the development of appropriate new drugs and therapies. The LITMUS research project seeks to make a major contribution in this field: Involving an international consortium, with the Mainz University Medical Center being a key player, the LITMUS network is developing biomarkers that open up new horizons.


How flies and humans see the world

Professor Marion Silies joined the Faculty of Biology at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in early 2019. Here she has been investigating the organization and function of circuits in the visual system of the fruit fly. Her work has already earned her numerous awards.

Prof. Dr. Hansjörg Schild (r.) und Prof. Dr. Tobias Bopp leiten den Sonderforschungsbereich (SFB) 1292 "Gezielte Beeinflussung von konvergierenden Mechanismen ineffizienter Immunität bei Tumorerkrankungen und chronischen Infektionen" seit 2017. (Foto: Stefan F. Sämmer)IMMUNOLOGY

Tumors and chronic diseases outsmart the immune system

For decades, researchers at the University Medical Center of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) have been doing outstanding work in the field of immunology. In 2017, their work was further enhanced through the establishment of the Collaborative Research Center (SFB) 1292 on "Targeted influencing of the convergent mechanisms of ineffective immunity in cancer and chronic infections". The German Research Foundation (DFG) agreed to fund it to the tune of EUR 9.7 million for an initial period of four years.

Doris Prechel und Frank Maas präsentierten in der Ausstellung "Bringing the Past to Light" die ersten Ergebnisse ihrer interdisziplinären Kooperation. (Foto: Peter Pulkowski) BRINGING THE PAST TO LIGHT

Nuclear physics and cuneiform studies working hand in hand

Doris Prechel, Professor of Ancient Near Eastern Philology at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU), and Professor Frank Maas of the Helmholtz Institute Mainz (HIM) have teamed up to throw light on the past. With the help of state-of-the-art analytical devices developed for use in physics, they are busy deciphering thousand-year-old cuneiform tablets. The two researchers now presented the initial results of their cooperation in an exhibition.

Arthur Schopenhauer's main work was published 200 years ago. (photo: Peter Pulkowski) SCHOPENHAUER RESEARCH CENTER

A philosopher not suitable for a university curriculum?

For a long time, it was the only academic institution at a German university dedicated to the study of Arthur Schopenhauer and today it is still the best place to go for anyone wanting to know more about the philosopher. The Schopenhauer Research Center was founded in 2001 by Professor Matthias Koßler at the Philosophy Department of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU). 


Artificial intelligence as reviewer, text to speech reader – and author?

At the beginning of the year, Professor Christoph Bläsi hosted the 14th Mainz Colloquium on te topic of Artificial Intelligence in the Book World – Machines as editors, Machines as Readers? at the Gutenberg Institute for World Literature and Written Media of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU).  We talked with Professor Bläsi and learned what is currently feasible in the field of Book Studies and where it might be heading in the future.


When fatal stabbing becomes a scientific experiment

In 2017, Stefan Axmann came to the Institute of Forensic Medicine at the Mainz University Medical Center to establish a forensic physics department. It attracted a lot of attention from the media at the time, which was keen to report on the new facility, the first of its kind in Germany. The physicist himself likes to talk about his enthusiasm for his work and explains how he ended up in Mainz.


New religious research network

Twelve renowned European institutions are participating in the EU project "Research Infrastructure on Religious Studies" (ReIReS). Its aim is to promote and network the exchange of religious knowledge and research. Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) is part of the cooperation. Talmud expert Leor Jacobi from Israel will use his ReIReS scholarship to investigate the Yom Kippur ritual of the medieval Jewish community in Mainz.


"Research always involves a major biographical aspect"

Veronika Cummings was appointed Professor of Human Geography at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in 2017. Her current research focuses on social, cultural, and political aspects of migration. In these fields she can also draw from the experiences and insights  she collected during her time in Singapore and the Sultanate of Oman – and on her return to Germany.

Dr. Klaudia Dombrowsky-Hahn (l.) of Goethe University and Dr. Sabine Littig of JGU are implementing the new research project "Africans in the Rhine-Main region". (photo: Peter Pulkowski)AFRICAN LINGUISTICS

Pilot project on linguistic integration and strategies of language acquisition

The Department of Anthropology and African Studies of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) and the Institute of African Studies of Goethe University Frankfurt initiated the joint pilot project "Africans in the Rhine-Main region" in early 2019. It is dedicated to the currently much-debated sociopolitical issue of linguistic integration. The Rhine-Main Universities (RMU) Initiative Funding for Research finances this partnership undertaking.

Professor Peter Baumann is one of the world's leading cell biologists and chromosome researchers. (photo: Peter Pulkowski)ALEXANDER VON HUMBOLDT PROFESSORSHIP

Highest endowed German research award brings world-class biologist to Mainz University

He is a world-leading cell biologist and chromosome researcher and recipient of an Alexander von Humboldt Professorship, the most highly-endowed research award in Germany: Professor Peter Baumann. In 2017, Baumann left the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Kansas City in the USA and moved to Germany to work at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU), where he supports the strategic realignment and expansion of the life sciences disciplines.

Professor Jairo Sinova has set up new research infrastructures in the area of ​​spintronics at Mainz University. (photo: Peter Pulkowski)SPINTRONICS

"We need to get out of our comfort zone"

Professor Jairo Sinova came from Texas A&M University to Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in 2014 to take up an Alexander von Humboldt Professorship. He is one of the world's leading researchers in the field of spintronics and has already set-up the Spin Phenomena Interdisciplinary Center (SPICE) and the Interdisciplinary Spintronics Research (INSPIRE Group) at Mainz University.

Prof. Dr. Holger Tost vom Institut für Physik der Atmosphäre der JGU forscht zu Klima- und Wettereinflüssen. (Foto: Peter Pulkowski)ATMOSPHERIC PHYSICS

Tracking the climate using MESSy

Professor Holger Tost wants to find out what is going on in the atmosphere and uses computer simulations to investigate the processes influencing our climate and weather. He was appointed to the Carl Zeiss Foundation Endowed Professorship on Environmental Modeling in the Climate System at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in 2016.

Sikelelwa Anita Mashiyi studies the underground hip hop of South Africa. (photo: Stefan F. Sämmer)ANTHROPOLOGY AND AFRICAN STUDIES

South African exchange student researches underground hip hop

Sikelelwa Anita Mashiyi is the first exchange student to come from the University of the Western Cape to Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU). A Master's degree student, she is currently undertaking research in JGU's African Music Archives (AMA) on the underground hip hop of South African townships. With the Department of Anthropology and African Studies planning to intensify its partnership with three African universities and to establish a network for research and teaching, further visits might follow.

Professor Michael Bruse has been working on the development of an urban climate planning software for 25 years. (photo: Peter Pulkowski)GEOINFORMATICS

A model of urban climate

With the help of ENVI-met, it is possible to determine the microclimate of a city down to the square meter, while effects of construction projects, soil sealing, and green spaces can be exactly predicted. Professor Michael Bruse of the Institute of Geography of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) has been working on this software for 25 years.  As time went by, the specialist in geoinformatics incorporated increasingly more factors and made the 3D simulation more complex. ENVI-met is now in use around the world.

Zhiyuan Wang had the opportunity to work on his own project in a nuclear physics research group at Mainz University. (photo: Peter Pulkowski)PRISMA CLUSTER OF EXCELLENCE

Attractive internship program for young talent

A special internship program regularly succeeds in getting talented young people to come to PRISMA, the Precision Physics, Fundamental Interactions and Structure of Matter Cluster of Excellence at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU). Seven students were welcomed this summer. Zhiyuan Wang is one of them. He took the opportunity to work on his own project in nuclear physicist Professor Dmitry Budker's team.

Seit Juli 2017 fördert das Bundesforschungsministerium an der JGU ein Projekt zum Thema "Dschihadismus im Internet", initiiert von Prof. Dr. Mattias Krings (r.) und unter der Leitung von Dr. Christoph Günther (l.). (Foto: Peter Pulkowski)JIHADISM ON THE INTERNET

Tracking down Islamist propaganda

The Jihadism on the Internet interdisciplinary junior research group started last year. The researchers analyze online radical Islamist propaganda and track down all individuals that respond in any way to this kind of material. The group is also preparing a unique online platform. The project at the Department of Anthropology and African Studies at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz receives funding from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) to the tune of EUR 2.7 million. 

Dr. Sandra Vlasta untersucht am Gutenberg-Institut für Weltliteratur und schriftorientierte Medien europäische Reiseberichte aus dem 18. und 19. Jahrhundert. (Foto: Stefan F. Sämmer)COMPARATIVE LITERATURE

European travelogues in context

Dr. Sandra Vlasta joined the Gutenberg Institute for World Literature and Written Media of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz in October 2017 with a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowship.  Here, the Viennese expert in comparative literature is currently working on her research project on European Travelogues in Context. The Socio-Political Dimension of Travelogues in Europe: 1760 – 1850.

Dr. Michael Pirie of the Institute of Organismic and Molecular Evolution (IOME) has been studying the Ericaceae (heather) family for about a decade now. (photo: Stefan F. Sämmer)EVOLUTIONARY SBIOLOGY

On the trail of biodiversity

In order to research the mechanisms involved in speciation, Dr. Michael Pirie has selected a plant genus which actually originated in Europe but which has developed into an unbelievable number of varieties mainly in South Africa. The botanist, who works at the Institute of Organismic and Molecular Evolution (IOME) at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU), has been following the trail of the Ericaceae (heather) family for a decade now.

Professor Edward Lemke undertakes research into the formation and function of special protein complexes in cells. (photo: Bernd Eßling)BIOPHYSICS

The mystery of flexible proteins

Professor Edward Lemke conducts research into intrinsically disordered proteins. Among other things, he has developed new methods of observing these albumins. He has been a professor at the Faculty of Biology of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) since January 1, 2018. Here he works in collaboration with the Faculty of Chemistry, Pharmaceutical Sciences, and Geosciences. He is also Adjunct Director of the Institute of Molecular Biology (IMB) and a Fellow of the Gutenberg Research College (GRC).

Professor Randolf Pohl conducts research at the PRISMA Cluster of Excellence, among other things measuring the size of the proton in muonic hydrogen. (photo: Peter Pulkowski)PRISMA CLUSTER OF EXCELLENCE

The proton radius puzzle

His results have made headlines beyond the academic world of physics. In May 2016, Randolf Pohl was appointed to a professorship at the PRISMA Cluster of Excellence of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU). Using a new technique, he succeeded in measuring the size of the proton, one of the fundamental building blocks of the atomic nucleus. According to his results, the radius of the proton is four percent smaller than the previous value accepted by science. This result is puzzling and could have serious consequences for the Standard Model of particle physics.

The MAIUS-1 sounding rocket with the entire mission team (photo/©: Thomas Schleuss, DLR)RESEARCH ROCKET

Pioneering measurements in space

The MAIUS-1 sounding rocket mission has enabled physicists to generate a Bose-Einstein condensate in space for the first time. This will allow them to measure the Earth's gravitational field more precisely in the future and, crucially, to test Einstein's equivalence principle more accurately than ever before. The research group Experimental Quantum Optics and Quantum Information at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) is closely involved in the project. 

The Rhine-Main Neuroscience Network held its fourth Biennal Meeting in June 2016. RHINE-MAIN NEUROSCIENCE NETWORK

In shape for the German Excellence Strategy competition

The Rhine-Main Neuroscience Network (rmn²) looks back on five successful years and is now preparing to meet the challenges of the next half decade. rmn2 is expanding and planning to prove its scientific strength in the upcoming Excellence Strategy competition. Some 300 neuroscientists based in the Rhine-Main region came together for a three-day symposium during which they exchanged views, listened to presentations given by eminent colleagues, and drew up plans for the future.

(© Universitätsmedizin Mainz)UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER

Center for Rare Diseases

The Center for Rare Diseases of the Nervous System (ZSEN) at Mainz University Medical Center was opened in late 2015. It is a key node in a new network of centers designed to treat people with rare diseases. It was previously the case that the majority of people suffering from these diseases had very low chances of receiving the correct diagnosis or successful treatment. 

A piece of writing from the Clemens Brentano Collection of the Mainz University Library (photo: Peter Pulkowski) CLEMENS BRENTANO COLLECTION

The mouse, the poet, and the dance

The Clemens Brentano Collection provides intimate insights into the life and world of one of the greatest German Romantic poets. Along with hundreds of examples of lively correspondence, there are drafts of poems and household plans, outlines for dramas and drawings. The collection, which was acquired by Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in 1950, is housed in the Mainz City Library.

(photo: Stefan F. Sämmer) ICE LABORATORY

The riddle of the icy droplets

In order to understand atmospheric processes, it is necessary to discover how ice nuclei form within clouds. This is the task of the INUIT research group, to which Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) is contributing. A team in the laboratory of the Institute of Atmospheric Physics is working with small drops, a wind tunnel like no other in the world, and a special cold chamber that will help find answers to these fundamental questions.

Aerial view of the excavated early Islamic caliph's palace Khirbat al-Minya (photo/©: Yaniv Darvasi, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem) ANCIENT STUDIES

Saving a desert palace in the green Jordan valley

The caliph's palace Khirbat al-Minya is an important testimony to early Islamic culture in Israel. However, the site has been falling into disrepair ever since German archaeologists uncovered it in the 1930s. Dr. Hans-Peter Kuhnen, Head Academic Director at the Department of Ancient Studies at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU), has taken a first step towards stopping the decay.

Pfirsichkerne der Archäobotanischen Vergleichssammlung (Foto: Thomas Hartmann)THE ARCHAEOBOTANICAL REFERENCE COLLECTION

The essence of all things

The largest object is a peach stone lying next to cereal grains, tiny grape pips, and the seeds of wild herbs. At first glance, the Archaeobotanical Reference Collection of the Pre- and Protohistoric Archaeology division at the Department of Ancient Studies at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) seems anything but impressive. But as Dr. Margarethe König begins to tell of the stories and history that form its background, it is becoming more and more interesting.

IMB International Summer School 2015 INSTITUTE OF MOLECULAR BIOLOGY

A summer vacation with top researchers

The International Summer School (ISS) organized by the Institute of Molecular Biology (IMB) in Mainz offers students from around the world an opportunity to participate in an exceptional program. Every year IMB selects a small group of budding scientists from hundreds of applicants and, next to lectures, directly involves them in current research projects for a period of six weeks. The Mainz University Medical Center and the Faculty of Biology of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) also participate in this project which contributes towards enhancing Mainz's reputation as an international science hub.

Professor Peter Hoor undertakes research and teaches at the Institute of Atmospheric Physics of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz. (photo: Peter Pulkowski) ATMOSPHERIC PHYSICS

Tracking the climate by airplane

Professor Peter Hoor and his Airborne Measurements and Transport Processes work group at the Institute of Atmospheric Physics at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) are studying the processes that occur in the tropopause. The events that take place in this boundary layer between the stratosphere and the troposphere are still puzzling scientists but have significant effects on the climate of our planet.

Augsburg Master Builders' ledgers 1454, 1456/1, 1456/2 and 1463 (Imperial City, Master Builders' Office, Official Ledgers 51, 53, 54, 60) (photo/©: Augsburg City Archive) HISTORICAL CULTURAL STUDIES

From parchment to the Internet

The Augsburg Master Builders' ledgers offer deep insights into the history of an important German imperial city. This nearly seamless chronicle extends over almost five hundred years. Professor Jörg Rogge of the Department of History of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) has initiated a project which aims at preparing a digital version of this amazing historical source documentation.

Mahmoud Hassanein has translated "Das Sams" into Arabic. (photo: Britta Hoff) TRANSLATION

The Sams learns Arabic

Last year, the Goethe Institute awarded its German-Arabic Translation Prize in the Young Translators category to Mahmoud Hassanein, a doctoral candidate at the Faculty of Translation Studies, Linguistics, and Cultural Studies of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in Germersheim. Here he talks about his work, about literature, and about cultures.

Author Raúl Zurita and Liliana Bizama (photo: Max Frömling) RESEARCH FUNDING

Arte es Vida – Life is Art

Through its internal Research Funding Line I, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) provides support to various research projects. Among these is an unusual undertaking that focuses on the Chilean artist collective C.A.D.A., its members, and their global links to other avant-garde movements. This is the particular interest of Liliana Bizama of the Faculty of Translation Studies, Linguistics, and Cultural Studies in Germersheim.


A donation of intellectual property

Books on brain research, on philosophy and psychology of mind are expensive, yet at the time of their appearance the publications themselves may already be obsolete. Thus, the Open MIND Project decided to take another path. It provides a compendium of high-quality specialist papers that is freely accessible online. The initiator of this huge venture is Professor Thomas Metzinger of the Department of Philosophy at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU).


Of differences and differentiation

People are not simply different; they additionally make distinctions among themselves. At times, skin color is to play a role, then there is faith, nationality, gender. The research unit "Un/doing Differences. Practices in Human Differentiation" investigates the mechanisms that are behind what causes us to make distinctions and what it is that can make these distinctions disappear. A range of different researchers at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) are working hand-in-hand for this purpose – across the boundaries of their own disciplines.

The exhibition 'VALUABLES. The collections of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz' brings together items from the various collections to create new associations between the objects from various disciplines. (photo: Peter Pulkowski) UNIVERSITY COLLECTIONS

Cuneiform tablets, lumps of coal, and a letter written by Brentano

The research collections held by Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) are to be exhibited publicly for the first time in Mainz City Hall. The universal exhibition 'VALUABLES' offers insight into a cross section of various subjects and disciplines. It brings together skulls and prophets, medical instruments and minerals, musical instruments and ancient coins and much more.

Among the Egyptology Study Collection at Mainz University is this altar piece showing Seti I offering a sacrifice of wine to the goddess Hathor. (photo: Stefan F. Sämmer) EGYPTOLOGY STUDY COLLECTION

From the Holy Water of Horus to Akhenaten's pot belly

Some 30 exhibits are witness to 3,000 years of history. They tell of gods and pharaohs, of raising poultry, of magic water, and of unusual fashions. The Egyptology Study Collection at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) may be small, but it offers a lot of material for learning and teaching, for discovery and discussion.

Professor Dagmar von Hoff (photo: Peter Pulkowski) EUROPEAN RESEARCH NETWORK

"What we are doing is 'reading' violence"

What can literature and film, what can the various media do to help uncover the structures underlying violence? This is the focus of research being undertaken by a network of German Studies scholars, among whom is Professor Dagmar von Hoff of the German Department at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU). She believes that German Studies as a discipline needs to take a more international, intercultural, and intermedial approach.

Professor Krishnaraj Rajalingam (photo: Stefan F. Sämmer) HEISENBERG PROFESSORSHIP

What happens in cells

In the person of Krishnaraj Rajalingam, the Research Center for Immunotherapy of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) has been very lucky to acquire one of the world's foremost cell biologists. The newly appointed Heisenberg Professor focuses on the molecular signal pathways that regulate a wide variety of different processes within cells. He investigates not only the causes of cell growth and cell differentiation but also the pathogenesis of tumors and cancer and thus supplies concepts for new treatment approaches.

The interior of the BES-III detector at the Institute for High Energy Physics (IHEP) in Beijing, China (© Institute for High Energy Physics, Beijing) NUCLEAR PHYSICS

What holds matter together?

Subatomic particles, muons, quarks, gluons, and their cousins: Physicists working with the MAMI electron accelerator at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) are also playing an important role in the BESIII Experiment in Beijing in China. They are on the trail of the basic building blocks of matter and are thus hoping to pave the way for a New Physics.

PD Dr. Detlef Becker treats patients with neurodermatitis at the Department of Dermatology of the Mainz University Medical Center using the innovative approach of photodynamic therapy. (photo: Peter Pulkowski) NEURODERMATITIS

Blue light therapy can allay inflammation

There is hope for people suffering from neurodermatitis: PD Dr. Detlef Becker, senior physician at the Department of Dermatology at the Mainz University Medical Center, has achieved fantastic results with photodynamic therapy, a treatment with blue light. But it is expensive and the statutory health insurance does not cover it. A new clinical study shall provide reliable data on the efficacy of the method.

Circuit board (photo: Stefan F. Sämmer) COMPUTER SCIENCE

Research at the interface of disciplines

Thirty years ago the first Professor of Computer Science was appointed at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU). A lot has since changed in this relatively recent field. This special anniversary is a good reason to take a quick look back, despite the fact that the professors at the Institute of Computer Science prefer to talk about their current work and projects. After all, the present and future are far more interesting to them than a brief history of their discipline.

Model of the Tower of Babel (photo: Stefan F. Sämmer) BIBLICAL ARCHAEOLOGY COLLECTION

The Tower of Babel in the basement

Hardly any other collection of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) can boast as many unique pieces. Models represent life in Biblical times, ten thousand photos and valuable maps document the early history of Israel while seven ossuaries evidence a turning point in burial practices at the time of Christ. The Biblical Archaeology Collection may be relatively new but it goes way back into ancient history.

A look into the Indian Bronze Collection (photo: Peter Pulkowski) INDOLOGY COLLECTIONS

Buddha's nose and good fortune

The collection is small but impressive: the bequest of Ursula Walter has found a home at the Institute of India Studies at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU). Indian gods and Buddhas, various everyday objects, and fine votive offerings for the temple can be found here. Part of the collection is on display in the Philosophicum building, but most of it languishes in a nondescript gray metal cabinet at the institute.

(fltr) Dr. Alejandro F. Schinder and Prof. Dr. Benedikt Berninger (photo: Peter Pulkowski)BESSEL RESEARCH AWARD 

New neurons for the brain

Dr. Alejandro F. Schinder of the Instituto Leloir in Buenos Aires has received a Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Award granted by the Humboldt Foundation for fundamental research that has provided important insight into how new nerve cells are incorporated in the adult brain. The presentation of the award has set in motion a joint international project and Professor Benedikt Berninger of the Research Center Translational Neurosciences at the Mainz University Medical Center intends to cooperate closely with his Argentinian colleague over the next years.


Mobile app looks behind the Iron Curtain

Nineteen students from the Cultural Anthropology / Folklore division at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) have compiled experiences and stories of contemporary witnesses to the Cold War between East and West for theinternational "Iron Curtain Stories" project. Their interviews and much more have just been made available on the "Memory of Nations" website and a smartphone app.

Professor Mita Banerjee of the American Studies division speaks about the new 'Life Sciences, Life Writing' research training group at Mainz University. (photo: Peter Pulkowski)RESEARCH TRAINING GROUP

Overcoming barriers in order to scrutinize limits

The new research training group 'Life Sciences, Life Writing: Extreme Experiences of Human Life between Biomedical Explanations and Life Experiences" attempts to bridge the gap between the natural-medical sciences and the humanities. The German Research Foundation is providing almost EUR 2 million to support this unusual project at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU).

View over the ice at the geographic South Pole to the above ground measuring station of the IceCube observatory, where the data from the photo sensors in the ice is extracted and analyzed. (photo/©: Sven Lidstrom, IceCube/NSF)ICECUBE

Hunting neutrinos in the Antarctic

Over the past three years, the IceCube neutrino observatory at the South Pole has managed to detect extreme high energy neutrinos originating from the depths of the universe. Even experts doubted for a long time whether the idea would work, but reports of success came in 2013. Professor Lutz Köpke of the Institute of Physics at Mainz University and his work group are involved in the international research project.

(photo: Stefan F. Sämmer)ORIENTAL STUDIES

The world of Turkic peoples epitomized in books held in Mainz

There is almost no other university that can boast such a treasure: The library for Turkic Studies of the Department of Oriental Studies at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) has an enormous variety of works covering the languages and cultures of the Turkic peoples; some 50,000 volumes are available. Junior Professor László Károly knows it well. He guides through the labyrinth of bookcases to where some remarkable volumes are kept.

Medical-historical injection equipment (photo: Dagmar Loch)MEDICAL HISTORY COLLECTION

When the life awakener was used to fight arthritis

There is a small but fine collection of various historical medical objects in the library of the Institute of History, Philosophy, and Ethics of Medicine of the Mainz University Medical Center. Professor Norbert W. Paul knows his way around here. The Director of the Institute tells some of the stories that lie behind the exhibits.

(photo/©: Joachim Burger)ANTHROPOLOGY

Cattle, milk, and Europeans

With their article on "The milk Revolution," Professor Joachim Burger and his work group at the Institute of Anthropology at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) managed to catapult themselves into the media headlines. But milk in fact only represents an incidental aspect of their research. Their real concern is the history of the settlement of Europe.


A journey through 470 million years of plant history

There is hardly any other place at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) that is as inviting to relax or take a stroll as the Botanic Garden. However, it is much more than simply a recreational facility. The garden is a place of research and teaching while it also provides a storehouse of rare plants, which is the largest of all the collections present on campus.


History in skulls

Over the past three years, PD Dr. Holger Herlyn of the Institute of Anthropology at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) has assembled a modern teaching collection of replica skulls that document the development of human beings and their relationship to other primates. The exhibits in the collection's display cabinets are ready to be investigated by the probing hands of the students.

Professor Scott A. Lukas (photo: Stefan F. Sämmer)CIS Visiting Professor

Theme parks in the center of research

Amusement and theme parks are supposed to be fun. These amenities are all about the excitement of roller coasters, about spectacle, and entertainment. That’s it! Is it? American cultural anthropologist Scott A. Lukas has made theme parks his specialty. He is currently at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) as a visiting professor to report on his experiences and to teach, but he also came to learn.

Professor Frank Sirocko (photo: Stefan F. Sämmer)GEOSCIENCES

The climate remains a mystery

In his book Geschichte des Klimas (A history of the climate), one of the leading paleoclimate researcher takes us on a journey through the geological eras. Professor Dr. Frank Sirocko of the Institute of Geosciences at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) provides insight into the past while also venturing to forecast the future.

(photo: Stefan F. Sämmer)UNIVERSITY HISTORY

How the French brough Comparative Literature to Mainz

An institute unique to Germany and treasures from the Mainz University Archive were the two main topics of the lecture evening recently held in the Central Library of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU). Through this and similar events, the University History Research Association hopes to throw light on the history of the university. The evening commenced with a look at the subject of Comparative Literature.

PRE- AND PROTOHISTORYDr. Sabine Hornung (photo: Stefan F. Sämmer)

Caesar's Gallic Wars come to life

Dr. Sabine Hornung of the Institute of Pre- and Protohistory at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) created quite a stir in the summer of 2012: She had identified the oldest Roman military camp yet to be found in Germany, a huge fort that most likely played an important role in Julius Caesar's Gallic Wars. Her announcement attracted a lot of attention, but the archaeologist is having trouble funding her project.

(photo: Uwe Feuerbach)GLOBAL WESTERN

The cowboy travels the world

Through his pioneering project "Global Western – Intercultural Transformations of the American Genre par Excellence", Dr. Thomas Klein of the Department of Anthropology and African Studies at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) is scouting uncharted vistas. Many aspects of the Western still remain unexplored. With the project now reaching its conclusion, the cultural studies expert convened a conference, including a preview on future research topics.

Roman coins were often palm-sized. (photo: Peter Pulkowski)COIN COLLECTION

Roman small change was rather big

Although the coin collection of the Department of History's Ancient History division at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) fits into a single vault, it still holds quite a few surprises – at least for the layperson. Huge Roman coins sit beside ranks of imperial representations. Alexander the Great and Cleopatra can be admired here in silver, gold, and bronze.

(photo: Stefan F. Sämmer)HERBARIUM

The collection is growing and growing

The herbarium at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) is hardly known – although it includes a number of rare plants and fungi, some of which are still awaiting proper classification. In addition to the extensive array of fungi and plants native to the Rhineland-Palatinate region and gathered from the Mainz Sand Dunes nature reserve, there are also exotic specimens from Costa Rica and Rwanda. Dr. Gudrun Kadereit shows what the herbarium has in store.

Professor Dr. Stephan Goertz (photo: Stefan F. Sämmer)MORAL THEOLOGY

The Catholic Church under fire

The Catholic Church seems to be constantly in the headlines, but for all the wrong reasons. The controversies surrounding the morning-after pill, child abuse, and the employment rights of those working for the church are making waves. The atmosphere has become so charged that the situation is becoming increasingly radicalized. Professor Dr. Stephan Goertz, holder of the Chair of Moral Theology at the Faculty of Catholic Theology at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU), has taken a stand.


Discovering nature

Robots search for new drugs to fight cancer and Alzheimer's and analyze the effects of nanoparticles in humans: at the Mainz Screening Center, Professor Dr. Roland Stauber and his colleagues work in a whole range of fields. The Mainz Screening Center is at the hub of a widely distributed network consisting of a group of highly varied institutions.

High-altitude research aircraft Geophysica (photo: Stephan Borrmann)METEOROLOGY

Hunting down clouds in a spy jet

Two of the most important factors influencing climate events are still a mystery: The clouds and the aerosols in the Earth's upper atmosphere. Professor Dr. Stephan Borrmann is tracking them both down. A new, large-scale project is ready to start in the skies above India. The European Union is providing EUR 2.75 million in financial support.

Mussels of the genus Glycymeris from the Mainz Basin, ca. 30 million years old (photo: Peter Pulkowski) GEOSCIENTIFIC COLLECTIONS

Mollusks chronicle the climate

Mammoths and mussels, dragonflies and corals: the Paleontology Collection at the Institute of Geosciences at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) is incredibly diverse. What's missing is a proper curator. Because the million or so specimens in the collection are too much for anyone to manage on a part-time basis.

(photo: Stefan F. Sämmer)HYMNBOOK COLLECTION

4,000 litmus tests from history

The Hymnbook Archive of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) holds perhaps the world's most important collection of utilitarian Christian literature, making it an essential resource for scholars. Hymnbooks reflect history in a unique way. Professor Dr. Hermann Kurzke invites us to take a tour through the centuries.

(photo: Peter Pulkowski)EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY

When ants stir up a rebellion

It has long been known that certain ants keep other ants as slaves. However, Professor Dr. Susanne Foitzik of the Institute of Zoology at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) has discovered that these slaves have what it takes to rebel. And she can explain how this ability has developed during the course of evolution.


African music from the basement

There are more than 10,000 recordings stored in the Department of Anthropology and African Studies at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU). The African Music Archives (AMA) represents a unique treasure trove of African music. There are old shellac disks from Tanzania, LPs from Mali, and the latest CDs from Senegal. Archive Director Dr. Hauke Dorsch invites visitors on a tour of this diverse aural landscape.


Most Germans would vote for Obama

Exactly one week before the final decision is reached in the US presidential election, the relative chances of success of Barack Obama and his Republication opponent, Mitt Romney, were discussed in the largest lecture hall on the campus of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU). Germany would clearly vote for Obama – but what about the Americans?


Of resources, conflicts, and the view of  Europe

3,500 participants, 400 speakers, 99 dedicated helpers on site and two years' preparation time: the 49th German Historikertag (German Historians Conference) at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) turned out to be a major event. For four days, one of the largest European conferences for humanities scholars focused on the topic of "Resources – Conflicts" and much more.

(photo: Peter Pulkowski)SPORTS SCIENCE

The Olympic spirit has a home in Mainz

Professor Dr. Norbert Müller has played an important role in forming the modern image of the Olympics. He advises the International Olympic Committee in various posts, is initiating new projects, and has always been a passionate defender of the Olympic ideal, which he considers more important than all the medals.

(photo: Uwe Feuerbach)IMAGINES III

Ancient mythology conquers modern culture

Dr. Irene Berti has no doubts: "The echoes of antiquity are everywhere as modern culture has stolen a lot from it. The past is still present." The scholars of the IMAGINES research network made this their focus at the "Magic and the Supernatural from the Ancient World" conference at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU), where the subjects included sorceresses and zombies, mythical creatures and superheroes.

(photo: Stefan F. Sämmer)CLIMATE

Finnish trees tell the story of 2,000 years of climate history

Over the past 2,000 years, the climate in northern Europe has cooled more than previously assumed. This is the conclusion drawn by an international group of researchers following the examination of the growth rings of fossilized pines from Finnish Lapland. Scientists from Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) also took part in this major project, most notably the climate geographer Professor Dr. Jan Esper.

(photo: Peter Pulkowski)EURO CRISIS

Don't panic, we're still on course

The euro crisis is on everyone's lips and one disaster has hardly had to time to dissipate before the next arrives. Germany is putting up billions, Greece is still sinking despite bailout fund, Spain and Italy are teetering on the edge of the abyss, the financial markets are fluctuating between nervousness and hysteria. Mainz economist Professor Dr. Philipp Harms tries to remain objective in view of the situation.

(illustration/©: Institute of Geography, JGU)MIGRATION SURVEY

No gap between foreigners and Germans

It is no longer possible to clearly differentiate between foreigners and immigrants on the one hand and Germans on the other. These are the preliminary findings of the "Survey of Migration in Mainz" undertaken by the Institute of Geography and the Center for Intercultural Studies (ZIS) at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU), in which hundreds of students participated.

(photo: Carola Lentz)BURKINA FASO AND GHANA

Archiving West African settlement history

Anthropologists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) and Goethe University Frankfurt have documented an extensive record of the settlement history of more than 200 villages in Burkina Faso and Ghana that had previously only been handed down in oral form. The researchers' findings have been presented to the National Archives of Burkina Faso where they represent an important contribution to the long-term preservation of this country's intangible cultural heritage.

(photo: Frank Erdnüß)SPONGES

On the trail of an ancient survivor

Sponges have a lot to relate: And Mainz molecular biologist Professor Dr. Werner E. G. Müller has been showing the world exactly what they have to tell us over the past few decades. In an interview he talks about this long underestimated organism, its significance to research, and its potential to help people in so many different ways.

(photo: Stefan F. Sämmer)SOCCER AND FANS

Mainz 05 reinvents itself as a carnival club

What form does regional identity take in an increasingly globalized world? This was the subject of the inaugural lecture of cultural anthropologist Dr. Christina Niem. Her talk was entitled "Regional representation or competing regional identities? Two Rhineland-Palatinate Bundesliga soccer teams in comparison", and she used it to provide an analysis of 1. FSV Mainz 05, 1. FC Kaiserslautern, and their fan clubs.


The action cinema of the ancient world

Powerful ancient masterpieces, detailed paintings on Greek ceramic vessels, and much more are on offer in the cast and original collections of Classical Archaeology division at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU). Not only teaching staff but also students are involved with the collections. They jointly develop design concepts and organize exhibitions.

(photo: Andreas Linsenmann)HANDBOOK

A state with big differences

The first handbook of the history of Rhineland-Palatinate is now available. There has not been a book like this before and the 40 authors who worked on it have charted new territory. Co-publishers Professor Dr. Michael Kißener, Professor for Contemporary History at Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz (JGU), and Dr. Pia Nordblom, coordinator of the handbook project at JGU, talk about the challenges they faced in the momentous project.


Immortal minerals

The Mineralogical Collection of the Institute of Geosciences is housed in a simple room with 60s charm. Here, rubies, emeralds, gold, and much more sparkle in plain glass cabinets. Professor Dr. Wolfgang Hofmeister guards these treasures and is responsible for adding new items – sometimes even vaporizing a diamond in the service of science.

(photo: Stefan F. Sämmer)ECONOMIC PLANTS

Renewable resources

The magic word that promises to facilitate energy transition is "renewable resources". They seem like the perfect solution: environmentally neutral, versatile, and constantly replenishing themselves. But are they really a panacea? Dr. Ralf Omlor, custodian of the Botanic Garden at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU), is using the occasion of the "Renewable Resources – Plants, Products, Perspectives" Week to put his case that we need to take a more critical approach to this complex aspect.

(© N'Socialist Soundsystem)MUSICOLOGY

Right-wing extremism breaks into new music genres

The 'white power' rock bands that emerged in the 1980s are now a thing of the past. Neo-Nazi-inspired strains are moving on to conquer whole new  swathes of different styles of music. And this is a development that Dr. Thorsten Hindrichs of the Institute of Musicology at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) finds extremely worrying. In his view, a broad-based collective approach is necessary to counteract this trend.


Siri Hustvedt deplores categorization

She read from her books and tirelessly discussed and debated with experts from various disciplines. The famous US-American author Siri Hustvedt was the star guest of the  59th annual conference of the German Association for American Studies at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU). However, she was not the only one with something to say to the more than 300 guests from around the world. Seventy-six speakers gave presentations on the conference theme "American Lives."

(photo: Thomas Hartmann)NEW BUILDING

A new home for excellent research

The Institute of Molecular Biology (IMB) is a new center for life sciences on the campus of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU). The Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation is providing EUR 100 million over 10 years in support for running the project, while the state of Rhineland-Palatinate is financing the institute's construction and building. In a special tour given for the JGU MAGAZINE, Dr. Bernhard Korn, Director of Scientific Core Facilities and Technology, highlights the work completed to date.


Bronze head tells a tale of African culture and European plunderers

The Ethnographic Collection of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) is tucked away in the basement of the Forum universitatis. The more than 3,200 objects not only tell the stories of foreign cultures but also reveal just as much about the culture of European collectors over the past century. Custodian Dr. Anna-Maria Brandstetter provides insight into this treasure trove.

(photo: Stefan F. Sämmer)LITERATURE

Writing about 9/11

"Ground Zero Fiction: History, Memory, and Representation in the American 9/11 Novel" is a 500-page analysis of American novels dealing with the events of September 11 written by Birgit Däwes, Junior Professor of North American Studies at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU). The book has been awarded the American Studies Network Book Prize for 2012.

(photo: private)NIGERIA

From war in Biafra to the conflict in the Niger Delta

Professor Edlyne Anugwom of the Department of Anthropology and African Studies at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) is working on a project entitled "From Biafra to the Niger Delta Conflict: Memory, Ethnicity, and the State in Nigeria". We asked him to talk about his country, which is suffering not just from the current conflict but also, it seems, from denial of the past as well.

(photo: Peter Pulkowski)SOCIAL MEDIA

Privacy is just an illusion

From party photos to relationship status to sexual orientation – self-disclosure in the social web has become part of our everyday lives. But, users rarely make distinctions between good friends, acquaintances or workmates when posting private information. As a result, the 'private sphere' is disappearing. Dr. Leonard Reinecke, Junior Professor at the Institute of Media and Communication Studies at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU), has been looking closely at this trend; how are users of social network platforms like Facebook dealing with this problem of self-disclosure and the protection of their private sphere?

Professor Günter Meyer (photo: Peter Pulkowski) SYRIA

"I have never experienced such a mode of disinformation before"

Günter Meyer is a popular interview partner when the crisis in Syria is the subject. Media representatives arrive in droves to talk with the professor, who works at the Institute of Geography at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU). The expert on the Middle East is trying to correct the picture being propagated by mainstream journalism with its excessive bias in favor of the opposition.

(Foto: Peter Pulkowski)SURVEY

Germans spend EUR 103 billion on sport

Sport is dear to German hearts, but before Holger Preuß conducted his study nobody had any idea just how dear it is. The professor of Sports Sociology and Sports Business Administration at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) presents figures that provide impressive proof of the economic impact of sport: Germans spend at least EUR 103 billion on sport every year.

(photo: Peter Pulkowski)BIOLOGY

A molecule folds itself into a solar sail

Professor Dr. Harald Paulsen and his team are researching the characteristics of the light-harvesting protein LHCII. The protein and its unusual self-organization skills have fascinated biologists for twenty years. It plays an important role in photosynthesis and may one day majorly increase the efficiency of solar cells.

(photo: Peter Pulkowski)FUKUSHIMA

The media fueled fears while experts went unheard

What happened a year ago in Fukushima? What role did the media play concerning safety assessment? What are the risks of nuclear power? Dr. Gabriele Hampel, operating manager of the research reactor TRIGA of the Institute of Nuclear Chemistry at JGU, advocates an objective discussion about questions such as these. She sees the symposium "Radiation Protection - A Year after Fukushima" as a step in the right direction.

(photo: Harald Schleicher)VIDEO INSTALLATION

Six years of filming on the river

The video installation 'fliozan' invites visitors to lose themselves in the fascinating network of German riverscapes. It took six years for Professor Dr. Harald Schleicher of the Academy of Fine Arts at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) to complete this monumental project. It is now on display in Duisburg.


Winnetou under scrutiny

Professor Dr. Mita Banerjee's research focuses on indigenous peoples. She studies how Maori, Inuits, Aborigines, and American Indians live in contemporary society. The North American Studies specialist challenges stereotypes and combines diverse academic disciplines in her projects.


Failures fuel science

Leonie Mück and Thomas Jagau found they were meeting a previously unexpected need when they started their "Journal of Unsolved Questions" in 2011. The two doctoral candidates at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) were surprised by the positive response that their journal elicited from all sides. Even though the interest in the publication is still considerable, the future of their "Journal of Unsolved Questions" remains uncertain.

(photo: Stefan F. Sämmer)DOPING IN MASS SPORTS

Drugs testing is only a band-aid

Professor Dr. Dr. Perikles Simon has caused a stir with his method for detecting gene doping: He and his colleagues have succeeded in doing what was previously thought impossible. When it comes to headlines, this kind of research is exactly what the media love. However, in an interview, the head of the Sports Medicine, Prevention and Rehabilitation division at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) tends to take a rather different view.

(photo: Stefan F. Sämmer)GENIZA PROJECT WEISENAU

A treasure chest of everyday Jewish life in the 18th century

The geniza of the old synagogue in Weisenau provides an in-depth look at the culture and everyday life of this old Jewish community. Professor Dr. Andreas Lehnardt of the Faculty of Protestant Theology at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) has spent the last two and a half years carefully combing through this legacy from the 18th and 19th centuries. In the process, some very unique items have been discovered.


The landscape of surnames

As Professor of Historical Linguistics at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU), Damaris Nübling's special interest is the development of the German language from its first documented form as Old High German, dating to around 800 AD, to contemporary German. Her current projects are witness to the fact that historical linguistics is actually anything but a drab and dry-as-dust discipline. Currently she is investigating the morphology of surnames in Germany.  

(photo: Stefan F. Sämmer)PARTICLE PHYSICS

Higgs boson electrifies Mainz physicists

Matthias Neubert and his team are elated since scientists at Geneva's CERN research center found the first indications of the existence of the Higgs boson. This is the last building block missing from the standard model of physics. The head of the Theoretical Elementary Particle Physics unit at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) now expects his area of research to take off.

(photo: Stefan F. Sämmer)DIAGNOSTICS

Evaluating cirrhosis 'live' and accurately at the cellular level

Detlef Schuppan and his colleagues are developing a revolutionary method that will make it possible to evaluate the progress of fibrosis and cirrhosis at the cellular level and to even view the effects. For this work, the physician and chemist has been awarded the most highly endowed research grant of the European Union, the ERC Advanced Grant.

(photo: Peter Pulkowski)ECONOMIC EXPERTISE

The euro area needs a redemption pact

Beatrice Weder di Mauro presented the Annual Report of the five-member German Council of Economic Experts at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU). This council, which has included Weder di Mauro since 2004, is suggesting a redemption pact for the euro area as a way out of the current crisis.