News Release

Humboldt Research Fellowship for postdoctoral and experienced researchers

Grant and Award Announcement

Technische Universität Dresden

The Humboldt Research Fellowship is one of the most prestigious fellowships for researchers of all nations and disciplines. It sponsors outstanding international researchers to conduct research in Germany. In addition to the fellowship amount, the researchers benefit in particular from networking with the global network of Humboldt Fellows.

Researchers from developing and transition countries can also apply for the Georg Forster Research Fellowship. Their research must address questions highly relevant to the further development of their country.

TU Dresden is currently hosting several Alexander von Humboldt research fellows. Despite the pandemic, they were able to commence their stay in Germany - in compliance with hygiene regulations and quarantine rules. We would like to introduce five of them here.

Pablo Rafael Urbina Aviles (Faculty of Environmental Sciences / Chair of Tropical and International Forestry)

Agricultural economist and sociologist Pablo Rafael Urbina Aviles from Nicaragua has been a guest at TU Dresden for one year since March 2021. Through a climate protection fellowship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, he is conducting research on Participatory Guarantee Systems (PGS) in smallholder agriculture at the Chair of Tropical and International Forestry at the Faculty of Environmental Sciences.

With the climate protection fellowship, Pablo Urbina will investigate the application of PGS systems in two case study municipalities in Junin and Lima in Peru and refine the methodology for implementation. The goal is to make smallholder agricultural production more environmentally compatible, especially climate-adapted, and economically more profitable, while placing great emphasis on participatory knowledge development. "We are planning an international publication of Pablo Urbina's research results," explains Prof. Pretzsch. In addition, Pablo Urbina is to present his findings at future conferences. He has just submitted a contribution for the Tropentag conference in mid-September.

Dr. Nusrat Sultana (Faculty of Biology / Chair of Plant Cell and Molecular Biology)

As part of a Georg Forster Research Fellowship, Dr. Nusrat Sultana from Bangladesh will been researching the genome of various mango species at the Chair of Plant Cell and Molecular Biology at TU Dresden for a period of nearly two years. Based on this research, strategies for mango breeding and the conservation of endangered wild species will be developed. These wild resources are under severe threat from climatic changes, land clearing, and increased industrial use of the land. Through her project, Dr. Sultana aims to find strategic and genetically informed approaches to protect her country's natural resources.

"Our Chair has maintained close contacts with Bangladesh since its inception, which are characterized in particular by student and research mobilities as well as joint publications. Dr. Nusrat Sultana already worked at our Chair as part of an ERASMUS+ mobility program in 2016. During her stay, she conducted first molecular cloning and cytogenetic experiments. Since then, we have been in contact and have already been able to publish joint papers," explains host Dr. Tony Heitkam from the Chair of Plant Cell and Molecular Biology.

Jack Asare Awuku ("Friedrich List" Faculty of Transport and Traffic Sciences/ Chair of Traffic and Transportation Psychology of the Faculty of Transport and Traffic Sciences

Jack Awuku Asare calls himself a "Sustainable Transport Enthusiast" - and as an advocate for sustainable transport and traffic, he has a mission: "I want to show my compatriots in Ghana and developing countries the need for sustainable transport options and alternatives to the private car and get them to rethink and, above all, to switch." This takes a lot of perseverance and a lot of persuasion backed by good arguments and ideas. The 35-year-old expert for infrastructure solutions is currently equipping himself with these - as a Humboldt Fellow at the Chair of Traffic and Transportation Psychology at the "Friedrich List" Faculty of Transport and Traffic Sciences at TU Dresden (TUD). He was awarded one of the Humboldt Foundation's International Climate Protection Fellowships 2021/2022. Since the beginning of March, he is in Dresden for a research year, supervised by Prof. Tibor Petzoldt and his team. His research focus is the "Development and promotion of soft transport policy measures and strategies for climate mitigation and protection in Ghana".

"It is great to have Jack with us. He is very eager to learn, and we will do the best that we can to support him in his endeavour. At the same time, his knowledge of traffic and transportation in developing countries is much appreciated at the faculty, as it helps us to put the ,problems' that we in the developed world have into perspective," says Tibor Petzoldt.

Dr. Gargi Joshi (Politi research group at the B CUBE - Center for Molecular Bioengineering)

Dr. Gargi Joshi wants to use the Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship for the next two years to continue her biomaterials research in the Politi research group at B CUBE - Center for Molecular Bioengineering. "Researchers and engineers continuously look for inspiration in nature and use it to construct better materials from architecture to electronics to biomedical devices. In materials science and engineering, such an approach is known as biomimicking," says Dr. Gargi Joshi. "I was always fascinated by natural design and patterns. Over the years biomaterials evolved because their structure and function mutually influenced each other. I want to explore this interplay, comprehensively understand the principles behind nature's design and put those lessons into practice to develop better artificial materials."

"I am excited about working with Prof. Yael Politi. She is an expert in the field. I have a lot to learn and explore," explains Dr. Joshi. "In this project, I will use a lot of different instruments, some custom-built. In general, with all of our approaches we plan to be able to control the amount of water available and monitor mechanical properties of the cuticle, e.g., the tensile strength. Ultimately, we would like to gather enough data to build a model that determines the optimal amount of water within a particular cuticle. Such data can be an important stepping stone towards designing reconfigurable water-actuated materials."

Gargi comes from India but has moved to Dresden from Japan. She was a Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) Fellow in Prof. Tatsuo Kaneko's group at the Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (JAIST) in Nomi, Ishikawa, Japan. Her work focused on polysaccharides, natural polymers that provide building blocks for bacterial colony film. Dr. Joshi devised a method to manipulate the arrangement of the polysaccharides to design film-like materials with properties tailored for a variety of applications, e.g., controlled drug delivery, tissue engineering, or soft robotics.

Dr. Lu Yang (Anastassiadis and Stewart groups at the Biotechnology Center (BIOTEC) of the TU Dresden)

With her research, Dr. Lu Yang will support the Anastassiadis and Stewart research groups at the Biotechnology Center (BIOTEC) of TU Dresden over the next two years. "I'm very excited to work with Prof. Anastassiadis and Prof. Stewart. They are experts in epigenetics and genome engineering with a multitude of highly-cited publications in renowned journals including Nature Genetics, Nature Biotechnology, Blood, and others. They invented some fantastic genetic engineering tools including tamoxifen inducible conditional mutagenesis, recombineering, and BAC transposition. It is inspiring to work with them using these genetic engineering technologies to investigate the epigenetic regulation of blood development. My studies may lay groundwork for the design of future gene therapies for blood disorders," says Dr. Yang.

Lu Yang studied Cell Biology at Zhejiang University China before starting her PhD studies in Molecular Genetics with Professor Merlin Crossley at University of New South Wales, Australia. She completed her PhD in 2018 and moved to the BIOTEC at the TU Dresden in 2020 to join the Anastassiadis and Stewart groups.


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