Funded Projects 2017

Seven projects were selected for funding in the third call of the profile partnership between Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and National University of Singapore

(1/2017) The role of lipid asymmetry in the organization and dynamics of plasma membranes

HU PI: Andreas Herrmann (Professor, Faculty of Life Sciences, Department of Biology)
NUS PI: Thorsten Wohland (Professor, Department of Biological Science)
Abstract: The basic structure of the cell plasma membrane is based on a lipid bilayer that accommodates various proteins to ensure the proper function of the cell. This lipid bilayer however is not just a passive matrix but is actively regulated. Mis-regulation can lead to severe impairment of cell function and cell death. In this project we are particularly interested in the asymmetric composition of the inner and outer leaflet of the membrane which is essential for its function. Despite many years of research it is still not clear whether the two bilayers are organizationally and/or dynamically coupled. The group of Andreas Herrmann has developed various methods to specifically label lipid components to investigate lipids in the two leaflets while the group of Thorsten Wohland has developed microscopy and spectroscopy tools to investigate lipid organization and dynamics. The combination of these two approaches would provide a unique opportunity to investigate specifically the two lipid bilayer leaflets and investigate their relationship. While Andreas Herrmann And Thorsten Wohland have met before at various workshops and conferences we have not yet collaborated.

 

(2/2017) Precision diode laser drivers for optical quantum technologies onboard CubeSats

HU PI: Markus Krutzik (Team Leader, Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, Department of Physics)
NUS PI: Alexander Ling (Assistant Professor, Department of Physics)
Abstract: Real-world applications of modern quantum technologies in space require compact and reliable laser sources as key components. Due to their intrinsic properties and superior size, weight and power (SWaP) budgets, ruggedized diode lasers have become a promising candidate for deployment in space. A major contribution to the stability and quality of the laser output important to the sensitivity of the application comes from the laser current driver – Its characteristics play a significant role especially in the behaviour of monolithic diode laser modules, such as compact distributed feedback (DFB) diodes. So far, the options for space-proven electronics with the required noise level and output specifications are limited to customized, cost-expensive space company products or even not available at all, while ground based
electronics are usually stable but heavy, large and unsuitable for space-platforms.
In this project, we aim to develop a diode laser current source capable of operating in space within the restrictions of CubeSat geometry and power budgets while providing performance comparable to laser current drivers typically available in Earth-based laboratories. In combination with flight-proven laser diodes from heritage, these drivers would increase the ability to launch quantum technologies into space: CubeSats are small satellites that provide a standardized, short development timescale, low cost context with a large number of flight opportunities. As such, it enables technology tests in order to qualify components and subsystems that might be required for future, more complex satellite missions. The increased stability of laser and laser driver technologies for small satellites will allow for more elaborate quantum technology experiments in the field of fundamental physics, quantum information, quantum sensing and navigation in GPS-free environments.

 

(3/2017) Effects of heavy precipitation events on near-surface climate and particulate matter concentrations

HU PI: Sebastian Schubert (Doctor, Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, Department of Geography)
NUS PI: Matthias Roth (Professor, Department of Geography)
Abstract: We will study the effects of heavy precipitation on the near-surface climate and particulate matter concentrations in Singapore. To this end, we will apply the urbanized regional climate model COSMO-CLM/DCEP to the region of Singapore and evaluate it with weather and energy flux measurements from the city. Furthermore, we will use the air quality measurement device URBMOBI to study particulate matter concentrations focussing on periods before and after tropical rainfall events. We will study to what extent statistical approaches such as land-use regression or neural network models can be used to describe the concentrations in Singapore. The results from this study will help to develop monitoring and forecasting strategies more generally applicable to cities located in the tropics and the Global South.

 

(4/2017) Event-Driven Methods for Demand Response in Electrical Grids

HU PI: Mathhias Weidlich (Professor, Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, Department of Computer Science)
NUS PI: Jimmy Chih-Hsien Peng (Assistant Professor, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering)
Abstract: Methods of demand response (DR) have been introduced by power utilities and regulators to improve the stability margins of electrical grids. They work with the financial incentives provided to the consumers to shift their short-term electricity usage voluntarily with the aim to reduce the overall peak demand. This project explores the advanced analytics in electrical power engineering and computer science that can be interlinked to support DR. Specifically, the goal of the project is to assess the feasibility of integrating the event stream processing and the stabiliy analysis. The proposed research contributes towards improving the reliability while reducing the operating costs of the electrical grids.

 

(5/2017) Solidarity in Diversity: State Responses to Religious Diversity in Germany & S'pore

HU PI: Christian Waldhoff (Professor, Faculty of Law, Department of Public Law)
NUS PI: Jaclyn L. Neo (Assistant Professor, Faculty of Law; Thio Li-ann (Professor, Faculty of Law)
Abstract: Religious diversity is a reality in both Singapore and Germany. While Singaporean society has been religiously diverse since its inception as an independent state, German society, which had traditionally been dominated by the Christian faiths, has become increasingly diverse due to reunification and migration. In both states, social solidarity is seen as an important objective, even a prerequisite for political unity and the constitutional state. The inter-relationship between religious diversity and solidarity thus raises important theoretical and practical questions: How does and should the state respond to religious diversity and diversification? Does the state need to actively manage inter-religious relations? And what are the normative limits to such state action? Our project addresses these challenges from an interdisciplinary and comparative law perspective, bringing together researchers from NUS and Humboldt University for two workshops, and publishing the scholarly outcomes. Building upon the existing core competences of both universities, the project also seeks to establish long-term collaborations especially among junior researchers on issues concerning religious diversity.

 

(6/2017) Kersterites and hybrid perovskites for novel functionalities: insight from experiment and theory

HU PI: Claudia Draxl (Professor, Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, Physics Department and IRIS Adlershof)
NUS PI: Andrivo Rusydi (Professor, Department of Physics)
Abstract: Kersterites and perovskite-structured hybrid organic-inorganic lead halides have been causing a wave of ever-increasing excitement following recent breakthroughs in solar-to-electric power conversion efficiency. While in the beginning many research activities were predominantly dedicated to photovoltaic applications, the excitement about these materials has spread towards other optoelectronic applications, including lasers, photodetectors, light-emitting devices, photocatalysis, and X-ray detectors. Most of these applications rely on a fundamental excitation. This is the so-called exciton, which is a (bound) electron-hole pair induced by light-matter interaction. Our current understanding on excitonic effects and also the underlying electronic structure of these systems is very limited.

In this joint HUB-NUS project, we aim at addressing this fundamental problem from both, theoretical and experimental point of views. The theory team (HUB) develops concepts and computer codes to describe and predict materials properties from first principles. These comprise density-functional theory (DFT), time-dependent DFT (TDDFT), and many-body perturbation theory. Claudia Draxl’s group is the main hub of the all-electron full-potential code exciting (http://exciting-code.org), based on the linearized-augmented planewave (LAPW) method that is regarded the gold standard of electronic-structure methods for solids. All this methodology is implemented in her code, that, obviously, has a strong focus on excited-state properties. Various kinds of spectroscopy can be treated, comprising photoemission, photoabsorption, second harmonic generation, X-ray scattering, dichroism, electron loss, 1st and 2nd order Raman spectra, and orbital maps. Most of these techniques have their correspondence in terms of experimental labs available at the NUS team. In fact, the NUS team has recently constructed and installed new in-situ synchrotron-based characterizations, which are ideal for this study.

 

(7/2017) Patterning and Timing in Development and Evolution

HU PI: David Garfield (Independent Junior Group Leader, IRI Life Sciences, Department of Biology)
NUS PI: Timothy Saunders (Assistant Professor, Mechanobiology Institute)
Abstract: Embryonic development represents a balancing act between robustness and evolvability. For individual organisms, developmental processes must be robust to environmental fluctuations and the influence of segregating mutations. But at the same time, development must be able to evolve if populations are to adapt. Understanding this interplay requires the integration of genetic and evolutionary approaches, a physical understanding of how the embryo develops, and modern methods for assessing developmental phenotypes (from developmental rate to embryonic shape to developmental gene expression profiles).
HU and NUS lead in aspects of this required synthesis. Through a workshop and funding for preliminary research collaborations, we propose to combine these strengths in pursuit of competitive research projects aimed at understanding the emergence of developmental robustness and evolvability.

 


 

(1/2016) Comparative studies on housing market systems under different cultural-political contexts

HU PI: Elmar Kulke (Professor, Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, Department of Geography)
NUS PI: Harvey Neo (Assistant Professor, Department of Geography)
Abstract: Housing market systems are a crucial factor of urban development. Yet, they attract only moderate consideration by economic geographers. What is more, housing market issues receive hardly any attention in the recent debate on comparative urban research. The exploration of housing markets and their various effects on the social and economic geography of cities from both an internationally comparative and a theoretically sound perspective would promise robust insights into what is assumedly the most important factor of city building. Through the study of the various dimensions of urban housing markets in Berlin and Singapore, this research project will also take particular account of the potential and limits of the comparative approach in urban studies. Specifically, the project will address two research questions:

‐ The first, which is more empirically driven, analyses to what extent are housing market systems, as well as respective policies, of particular cites shaped by globalized market imperatives; and what are locally specific resources for the deployment of housing policies that are capable of mitigating both market failures and other problematic socio‐political impacts of housing market systems.

‐ The second, more theoretically rooted, discusses to what extent has the current debate on comparative urbanism suffer from its neglect of housing market issues?

(2/2016) NUS-HU Q-Teams for "Electronic Materials Interface Doping"

HU PI: Norbert Koch (Professor, Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, Department of Physics, IRIS Adlershof)
NUS PI: Andrew T. S. Wee (Professor, Department of Physics)
Abstract: We aim to initiate and operate two Q-Teams, jointly led by NUS and HU PIs, involving postdocs as well as graduate and undergraduate students, in the scientific context of "Electronic Materials Interface Doping". This Q-Team program is intended to align the research portfolios of NUS and HU in physics and chemistry, with the goal of strengthening a proposal of IRIS Adlershof for a Cluster of Excellence (preliminary title "Doping of Emerging Materials Initiative") within the upcoming round of the German Excellence Initiative (ExIni III). This provides a unique opportunity for long-term
third-party funding of Q-Teams as strategic measure of NUS-HU cooperation.

(3/2016) Cellulose: A Renewable Resource for Environmental Technologies and Food Substitutes

HU PI: Klaus Rademann (Professor, Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, Department of Chemistry)
NUS PI: Suresh Valiyaveettil (Professor, Department of Chemistry)
Abstract: Cellulose, an abundant polymer in Nature has not attracted significant attention from academia and industries owing to processing difficulties. Shortage of potable water supply and lack of food are some of the problems faced by the population in the underdeveloped world. Naturally abundant cellulose may help to solve both these problems. This proposal focuses on two aspects of cellulosic research, the first part addresses the difficulty in processability using ionic liquids as solvent and chemical modification of the cellulose backbone. Both commercially available and newly synthesized ionic liquid will be used for this purpose. Chemical modification allows us to introduce functional groups such as -NH2, -NHR, -SH, CO2H etc. on the cellulose backbone and enhance the application of cellulose for efficient removal of multiple pollutants from water. Such technology offers low cost, easy employability in rural areas and ability for the nontechnical people (i.e. people with low level of education) to handle the operation. In the second part, the proposal also focus to develop a simple method to degrade cellulose into soluble and processable monosaccharides and disaccharides using designed nanocatalysts under ball milling or microwave irradiation. From these approaches, we hope to deliver a series of processable functionalized cellulose materials for water purification and other applications. Also, developing an economic pathway to degrade cellulose into small molecules as food resource would help to provide a new food source from nonedible cellulose waste materials. On top of the above, the exchange of researchers between the two institutions during this project is expected to enhance collaboration, sharing of existing know-how in related areas, develop mutual understanding of scientific culture in HU and NUS, add networking options for researchers and lead to submitting joint proposal to funding organizations.

(4/2016) Efficient Probabilistic Verification of Reconfigurable Software System

HU PI: Lars Grunske (Professor, Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, Department of Computer Science)
NUS PI: David S. Rosenblum (Professor, Computer Science Department)
Abstract: When designing and developing new software, significant amounts of resources are spent in the requirements elicitation phase. These requirements are often quantitative in nature, that is, requirements may be satisfied to various degrees, and tradeoffs between these satisfaction degrees are often necessary. Requirement engineers also know that changes in requirements and assumptions about the environment are unavoidable. These changes trigger the need for adaptations to the software system, in order to cope with the effect they may have on the requirements' satisfaction.Self-adaptable software aims at decreasing the effort of tailoring to these changes. Such software is able to detect these environmental changes, or fed with requirement changes, and can autonomously adapt its architecture and behaviour to satisfy the new requirements. This process is in general expensive and current adaptation techniques do not take into account previous adaptations. In this project, we propose an automated approach to self-adaptability that aims at reusing information from both the currently functioning system and its previous adaptations. In this way, we aim at reducing the effort in finding the new adaptation, by
performing incremental adaptations over the possible space of solutions.

(5/2016) Migration and Ageing: Comparative Perspectives

HU PI: Magdalena Nowicka (Professor, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Department of Social Sciences)
NUS PI: Elaine Ho (Associate Professor, Department of Geography)
Abstract: This application seeks funding for a joint workshop between NUS and HU researchers focusing on the topic of migration and ageing. Studies of ageing tend to be approached through national-level frameworks. Increasingly, the elderly are moving across international borders as caregivers or care recepients yet this remains an understudied field. This proposed workshop, first, gives NUS and HU researchers an opportunity to share their research findings on this topic. Second, it includes a component for postgraduate professional development. Third, the workshop entails a joint grant-writing activity directed at bringing into greater synergy the research activities of both institutions for longer term collaboration.

 


 

(1/2015) A Comparative and Historical Study of Post-WWII British Military Trials in Germany and Singapore

HU PI: PD Dr. Moritz Vormbaum (Senior Research Fellow, Faculty of Law)
NUS PI: Cheah Wui Ling (Assistant Professor, Faculty of Law)
Abstract: The project undertakes a comparative study of post-WWII trials conducted by the British military in West Germany and Singapore which were governed by the same legal framework, namely the 1945 Royal Warrant, but implemented by different legal and judicial personnel. We have worked together on several publication projects where we have examined the German and Singapore trials separately. For this proposed project, we will conduct a comparative study on these trials. Such a comparative study has not yet been done. We intend to undertake a comparative examination of three aspects of the German and Singapore trials: (a) substantive legal doctrine; (b) trial procedure; and (c) sentencing practices. Our project aims to contribute to emerging historical studies on less-known post WWII trials. We also intend to achieve a better understanding of the origins of today’s international criminal justice system.

(2/2015) Migration, Diversity and Encounters, a NUS-Humboldt Joint Seminar

HU PI: Magdalena Nowicka (Professor, Faculty of Humanisties and Social Sciences, Department of Social Sciences)
NUS PI: Brenda Yeoh Saw Ai (Professor, Department of Geography)
Abstract: In recent years the impact (new) migrants make on the multicultural and multiracial dimensions of cities in Europe and Asia has featured prominently on the research agenda. While this has led to an efflorescence of insightful publications, little effort has been made to develop a collaborative perspective. The East-West divide, in that sense, sees itself replicated in research agendas which all too easily agree on ‘difference’ and ‘otherness’. With this workshop we wish to argue differently. Its main goal is to bring together researchers from two prominent universities, one located in the East (National University of Singapore) and one in the West (Humboldt University Berlin) and to have them enter into dialogue about what we can learn from each others’ findings. The focus will be on ‘migrant encounters’, especially where it concerns new or recent migrants and their arrival and subsequent integration into cities. How do migrants encounter each other and the local population in Eastern and Western contexts? How do these encounters take shape and what direction do they take? What can be learned from these encounters with respect to the development of the study of migration in Asia and Europe? Special attention will be paid to the way the public domain in respective regions engages and grapples with these questions. How do public discourses about this impact our respective research agendas? The ultimate goal is two-fold: One, to pave the way for a larger international conference to be hosted by Humboldt University in May 2016; and Two, to explore the possibility of collaborative research projects based on the questions and findings that emerge from the seminar and (later to be held) conference.

(3/2015) Photoswitchable Diradicaloids

HU PI: Stefan Hecht (Professor, IRIS Adlershof, Department of Chemistry)
NUS PI: WU Jishan (Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry)
Abstract: Professor Stefan Hecht's group at HU has developed various photoresponsive systems for spatial and temporal control of chemical and physical processes, including bond formation and catalysis as well as charge-transport, signal amplification, and actuation. Professor Jishan Wu's group in NUS has synthesized a series of open-shell diradicaloids with unique optical, electronic and magnetic properties. The aim of this joint project is to combine the expertise of both groups and to develop new photoswitchable diradicaloid systems with potential applications in electronics, photonics, and information processing.

(4/2015) Mathematics of Finance and Risk Management

HU PI: Ulrich Horst (Professor, Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences)
NUS PI: Steven Kou (Provost's Chair Professor, Mathematics, Risk Management Institute)
Abstract: HU Berlin and NUS host two of the leading mathematical finance groups in the world. This project will bring together the experts of the two groups to work on the following topics arising from mathematical finance and risk management: (1) mathematical models of limit order books and trading under illiquidity; (2) trading and risk management in illiquid markets; (3) model uncertainty and robust risk management; (4) optimal investment with market imperfections and/or constraints. Despite that there has been substantial prior collaboration between the two mathematical finance groups, this project is the first attempt to connect them to work on the same research topics. It would then be leveraged into a larger and long-term collaboration in the area of Mathematics of Finance and Risk Management with external funding from the German and Singapore governments or other funding agencies.

 

Kontakt

Dr. David Glowsky

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Tel.: +49 30 2093-20081
david.glowsky@hu-berlin.de