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Forschungsmagazin BI.research

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Bielefeld University’s research magazine

BI.research, Bielefeld University’s research magazine, reports on the University’s academic foci in a generally understandable manner. It is aimed at academics as well as journalists, at current and former members of the University as well as at decision-makers in politics, business, academia, and administration.

This bilingual German-English magazine appears twice a year.

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The current issue

Coming to Grips with the World Together

Cover of Edition 54 of BI.Research
© Bielefeld University

The rapid advances in technology and artificial intelligence (AI) are constantly creating new interactions between humans and machines. How do robots and AI ‘understand’ the world around us and what role do we humans play in this process? An interdisciplinary research initiative by Bielefeld University, the University of Bremen, and Paderborn University is taking a closer look at this fascinating relationship. This concerns taking a new path in the interaction between humans and robots that follows the principle of co-construction—that is, learning through cooperating. The three universities are now bundling their expertise by setting up a new centre: CoAI ‘Cooperative and Cognition-enabled Artificial Intelligence’. The dossier in this issue of BI.research, research magazine of Bielefeld University, introduces the research cooperation’s approach.

This issue also sheds light on the connection between climate change and the extinction of species. Together with her research group, Professor Dr Caroline Müller is investigating the effects of climate change on plants and insects.

Professor Dr Benjamin Gess is calculating what the smallest coincidences can lead to. We present the stochastician and specialist in the analysis of fluctuations. He is receiving two million euros of research funding from the European Research Council (ERC).

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Navigating Uncertainty

Cover of Edition 53 of BI.Research
© Bielefeld University

The pandemic, the war in Ukraine, and global warming: they are all putting our society under pressure—and the consequences are unforeseeable. People have always been exposed to uncertainty. A new group of researchers at our university does not view uncertainty just as a threat. The researchers highlight that people in societies have developed different strategies to deal with and use uncertainty. How societies navigate through uncertainty – this is the topic of the dossier in this issue of BI.research, research magazine of Bielefeld University. One of many other topics we look at in this issue is how fossil raw materials can be processed more efficiently. A new research group considers one solution to this to be found in synthesizing enzymes. We also introduce the Heisenberg professor Dr Maximilian Benz. The medievalist is working to revive the social history of Middle High German literature.

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Individualization and Change

Cover of Edition 52 of BI.research
© Bielefeld University

Individualization is one of the hallmarks of our society. However, it is not just people who need to decide and act independently. Animals also develop individual characteristics while being dependent on the conditions of their environment. The Transregional Collaborative Research Centre NC³ (CRC/TRR 212) of the universities of Bielefeld and Münster has been providing findings on this since 2018. Academics from the two universities have founded a new institute—the JICE—that follows on from the work of the Collaborative Research Centre. Read in this dossier how individualization permeates the lives of humans and animals. The Bielefeld University is to have five Collaborative Research Centres (CRCs) in future. Two CRCs are being extended and a CRC applied for by the universities of Bielefeld and Paderborn has also been added. The care of people with disabilities and chronic illnesses is the focus of six regional research projects funded by our university’s Medical Research Start-up Fund. We report on the innovative approaches the projects are pursuing.

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The Americas and Democracy

Cover of Edition 51 of BI.research
© Bielefeld University

Where are the democratic states on the American double continent heading? This question applies not only to the USA—in view of the presidential election in November 2020 for instance—but also to Brazil, for example, which is led by a right-wing government. Read the dossier in the new issue to find out what developments Bielefeld academics have been observing in the democracies of the Americas and what research they are carrying out on this and related topics at the Center for InterAmerican Studies (CIAS). This issue also deals with the future question: ‘What will electronics be made of in the future?’ (page 32). You will learn which business idea transformed a start-up from Bielefeld University into an internationally sought-after company (page 36). What challenges are associated with the digitalization of medicine? Professor Dr med. Sebastian Kuhn explains this in our section ‘The Big Picture’ (page 52). Kuhn has been setting up his new Digital Medicine working group at Bielefeld University’s Medical School OWL since October.

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