University of Tübingen: Brief introduction to the new professors

In the following, we would like to introduce you to four female and six male scientists who have accepted the position at the University of Tübingen in the past few months:

Professor Dr. Robert Bamler
Professorship for Data Science and Machine Learning (Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences)
Dr. On November 1, 2020, Robert Bamler was appointed to the professorship “Data Science and Machine Learning” at the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences at the University of Tübingen. The professorship was established as part of the Cluster of Excellence “Machine Learning: New Perspectives for Science” and the BMBF Competence Center for Machine Learning “Tübingen AI Center”.

Bamler studied theoretical physics at the Technical University of Munich and did his doctorate in this subject at the University of Cologne. He went to the USA as a postdoc. He first worked in industrial research at Disney Research in Pittsburgh and Los Angeles and then moved to the University of California at Irvine.

One focus of his work is the development of statistical methods of machine learning, which should advance research in the natural sciences and humanities. In these disciplines it is often either very time-consuming or not possible to obtain large amounts of data. Bamler therefore works with what is known as Bayesian machine learning, an approach that is suitable for smaller data sets and is aware of the associated uncertainties in predictions.

His main research interests also include data compression, where he is working on the development of new compression methods. In addition, he deals with methods of machine learning that are executed decentrally on blockchains. “One of the advantages here is that users don’t have to give their data to a larger company that has a data monopoly,” explains Bamler.

Professor Dr. Andrea Burgalossi
Professorship for Neural Networks and Behavior (Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences)
Andrea Burgalossi was appointed to the professorship for Neural Networks and Behavior in the Department of Biology, Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, for the 2020/2021 winter semester.

He studied molecular biology at the University of Perugia (Italy) and at the University of Göttingen. Burgalossi received his doctorate from the Max Planck Institute for Experimental Medicine in Göttingen. From 2009 to 2013 he worked at the Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience at the Humboldt University Berlin, before moving to the Werner Reichardt Center for Integrative Neuroscience (CIN) at the University of Tübingen as a junior group leader.

His research focuses on the cellular and synaptic mechanisms of memory formation. He investigates how the rodent hippocampus encodes and stores information about the environment. The hippocampus is an essential brain structure that is involved in memory formation. The aim is to gain an understanding of basic computing processes in the cerebral cortex, such as the coding and storage of information.

Junior Professor Dr. David Dignath
Junior Professorship for General Psychology (Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences)
Dr. David Dignath was appointed junior professor for general psychology at the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences in the 2020/21 winter semester.

Dignath studied psychology at the University of Würzburg and the University of Lisbon. He then worked as a research assistant and postdoc at the Department of Psychology at the University of Würzburg. There he received his doctorate in 2014 with a thesis on conflict of action and task selection in multitasking. Since 2015 he has been an academic advisor at the University of Freiburg.

David Dignath’s working group “General Psychology” is concerned with better understanding the cognitive foundations of human action control. Since most of these mechanisms are unconscious, their meaning often only becomes clear when control is unsuccessful. This becomes clear in everyday life when people make a mistake, for example pressing the wrong button on a mobile phone. A permanent change in control mechanisms in a large number of mental illnesses is serious. In the long term, a better understanding of these cognitive foundations can help both to avoid everyday errors (e.g. through appropriate design of user interfaces) and to treat chronic control deficits more precisely. The influence of affect and reward plays a special role in Dignath’s research,

Professor Dr. Dominque Lunter
Professorship for Pharmaceutical Technology and Biopharmacy (Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences)

Dr. Dominque Lunter was appointed to the professorship for Pharmaceutical Technology and Biopharmacy at the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences in the 2020 summer semester.

Lunter studied pharmacy at the University of Tübingen from 2003 to 2007. In 2012, she completed her doctorate there in pharmaceutical technology with the title “summa cum laude”. She then did research as a postdoc at the University of Tübingen and completed her habilitation there
2019 in Pharmaceutical Technology and Biopharmacy. Her postdoctoral research was funded by the Margarete von Wrangell Habilitation Program. Lunter dealt with the development, improvement and evaluation of dermatics. Dermatics are drugs that are intended for use on the skin, such as creams and ointments. During her habilitation, she taught at the University of Tübingen in the subjects “Pharmacy” and “Pharmaceutical Sciences and Technologies”. In addition, since 2019 she has worked as a visiting professor in the development of the new course in pharmacy at the Paracelsus Medical Private University in Salzburg, where she represented all teaching in the field of pharmaceutical technology.

Among other things, Lunter conducts basic research on the skin’s natural protective barrier. With the new measuring method CRM (confocal Raman microspectroscopy), she was able to prove, for example, how frequently used formulations and ingredients of creams affect the skin’s own lipids in the horny layer. She is also involved in the development of sustained-release dermatics for the treatment of chronic skin diseases and the 3D printing of individualized dosage forms. The findings from this research can help to make preparations for the skin more effective and better tolerated.

Professor Dr. Setareh Maghsudi
Professorship “Decision Making” (Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences)
Dr. Setareh Maghsudi accepted the call to the professorship “Decision Making” at the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences for the 2020/2021 winter semester.

Maghsudi studied electrical engineering in Iran and digital communication at the University of Kiel. She then did her doctorate in communications engineering at the TU Berlin. After her studies, she did research as a postdoc at the Canadian University of Manitoba and as part of a two-year DFG postdoctoral fellowship at Yale University, USA. From 2017 to 2020 Maghsudi was junior professor at the Einstein Center Digital Future (ECDF) and the TU Berlin, head of the “Control of Convergent Access Networks” department. In the meantime, she worked as part of research stays at Kyushu University, Oxford and Cambridge.

Maghsudi researches, among other things, aspects of distributed control and optimization of networks. Modern devices generate, transport and process information. They work increasingly autonomously, without direct human intervention, under real-time requirements and in dynamic environments. However, this can result in conflicts between devices and services. In any case, large dynamic networks are formed that have to reliably communicate and process enormous amounts of data in a short time.

Setareh Maghsudi focuses on the analysis and optimization of such systems by developing efficient decision-making strategies. From a theoretical point of view, the methods developed are at the interface between game theory, artificial intelligence and data science. They are used in various innovative areas.

Professor Dr. Setareh Maghsudi
Professor Dr. Stefan Schwarzer
Professorship for Chemistry Didactics (Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences)

Dr. Stefan Schwarzer accepted the call to the professorship for didactics of chemistry at the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences for the 2020/2021 winter semester.

Schwarzer studied chemistry at the University of Oldenburg, there and at Monash University in Melbourne Australia, where he received his PhD in inorganic chemistry in 2010. After completing his studies, he did research as a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Chemistry Didactics at the Leibniz Institute for Science and Mathematics Education (IPN) in Kiel. At the same time, he taught at a high school in Kiel and a community school. From 2016 to 2017, Schwarzer was head of the junior research group “Didactic impact research in school laboratories” at the IPN. He then taught as a professor for chemistry didactics at the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich.

One of Schwarzer’s main research fields is the school laboratory as an extracurricular learning location. Among other things, he investigates whether scientific working methods can be authentically conveyed to schoolchildren in the laboratory. For this purpose, the first chemical school laboratory for science communication will be opened at the University of Tübingen in 2021. In addition, Schwarzer is interested in the preparation and follow-up of visits to the school laboratory and their effective integration into school chemistry lessons. A second research focus of Schwarzer is the question of how current research results can be prepared for teaching, for example from nanotechnology, fluorescent materials or pyrotechnics. Here he works closely with the chemistry department.

Junior Professor Dr. Nadine Ueberschaer
Junior Professorship for New Testament (Protestant Theological Faculty)

Dr. Nadine Ueberschaer was appointed to the junior professorship for the New Testament at the Evangelical Theological Faculty for the summer semester 2020.

Ueberschaer studied Protestant theology in Munich and Tübingen from 1999 to 2008. She then worked from 2009 to 2014 as a research assistant at the Chair for New Testament Studies at LMU Munich and UZH Zurich. She received her doctorate in Protestant theology in 2016 with a thesis on “Theology of Life with Paul and John. A theological-conceptual comparison of the connection between faith and life against the background of their belief sums ”. In 2017, the work was awarded the annual prize of the Theological Faculty of UZH Zurich. From 2018 she did research at the Chair for New Testament at the University of Greifswald.

In addition, from 2014 to 2016 she completed her vicariate in Konstanz in the Evangelical Church in Baden. She then worked as a pastor in Mannheim until 2018.

Ueberschaer’s research interests include the Johannine writings, the Corpus Paulinum, the Lucan double work, theology, Christology and ethics.

Professor Dr. Robert C. Williamson
Professorship for “Basics of Machine Learning Systems” (Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences)

Dr. Robert C. Williamson has accepted the professorship for “Foundations of Machine Learning Systems”, which is supported by the Cluster of Excellence “Machine Learning: New Perspectives for Science”. Williamson is one of the pioneers in the field of machine learning, and his work and dedication have had a tremendous impact on the field. After having worked most of his life at the Australian National University in Canberra, Australia, he will start his position at the University of Tübingen in March.

In his research, Williamson focuses on understanding and designing machine learning systems as a whole. “The vast majority of research in machine learning is focused on developing new algorithms to solve specific technical problems,” he explains. “I’m interested in how one can think about the behavior of such systems on a higher level”.

He also examines the challenging problems that arise from machine learning being embedded in socio-technical systems. “There is relatively little research and understanding of these issues right now,” says Williamson. However, their social impact can be great. That is why he deals, for example, with data quality and ethical issues such as fairness.

Williamson already has strong connections to the Tübingen research community in the field of machine learning. “I think Tübingen is the best place in Europe, and I think, even now, worldwide, for the kind of machine learning research I want to do,” he says. “It’s amazing how many talents there are and how broad the location is.”

Professor Dr. Stephan Winter
Professorship for Liturgical Studies (Catholic Theological Faculty)
Stephan Winter accepted the professorship for liturgical science at the Catholic Theological Faculty for the summer semester 2020.

Winter studied, as a long-term scholarship holder of the German National Academic Foundation, Catholic theology and philosophy at the Philosophical-Theological University (PTH) Sankt Georgen in Frankfurt am Main, at the University of Philosophy in Munich (Magister Artium) and at the University of Münster. There he completed his theology studies in 1999 with a licentiate. Winter then completed a postgraduate course and received his doctorate in 2001 in Münster in the subject of “Basic Philosophical Questions in Theology”. Parallel to his postgraduate studies, he taught at an episcopal comprehensive school in Münster. Since 2006, Winter has taught at the Catholic University of North Rhine-Westphalia in Paderborn, at the University of Osnabrück and at the Universities of Erfurt and Bonn. In 2010 he completed his habilitation in liturgical science at the University of Erfurt and was also appointed private lecturer there. He then taught liturgical science at the PTH Münster, since 2015 as a full professor. He was also an employee at the Competence Center for Christian Spirituality at PTH Münster, where he is still involved in collaborations. From 2001 to 2020, Winter also worked in various positions in the Catholic diocese of Osnabrück.

His main research interests include the further development of a systematically oriented theology of the liturgy, Christian ritual activities in modern societies, and the connection between worship and ethics. In addition, Winter conducts research on basic questions of theology and the form of ecumenical worship services as well as on liturgy and piety-historical contexts, including the example of the Diocese of Osnabrück.

Professor Dr. Stephan Winter
Professor Dr. Andrea Worm

Professorship for Art History with a focus on the Middle Ages (Philosophical Faculty)
Dr. Andrea Worm was appointed to the professorship for art history with a focus on the Middle Ages at the Philosophical Faculty for the 2020/2021 winter semester.

Andrea Worm studied art history, classical archeology and modern German literature at the University of Augsburg. There she received her doctorate in 2004 with a study on Romanesque book illumination. She taught as a research assistant at the University of Augsburg and as a lecturer at the Universities of Cologne and Basel and worked from 2006 to 2007 as a research assistant at the “Cambridge Illuminations Research Project”. She was a university assistant at the Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz, where she completed her habilitation in 2015 with a thesis on visual historical concepts. From 2018 to 2019 she represented the professorship for medieval art history at the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg.

Her research has been funded by a number of internationally renowned grants. She was a scholarship holder at the Kunsthistorisches Institut (Max Planck Institute) in Florence, at the University of Cambridge and at the “Institute for Advanced Study” in Princeton and at the “Israel Institute for Advanced Studies”.

Andrea Worm researches the history of art and images from the Middle Ages to the Reformation, with a focus on the culture of books and knowledge. Further areas of interest lie in the Latin West’s view of Jerusalem and the Holy Land as well as in visual manifestations of the relationship between Jews and Christians in the Middle Ages. In recent years, she has paid particular attention to the visualization of knowledge (diagrams and maps as media for understanding the world), concepts of time and history and thus also apocalyptic.

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