Two new research areas at Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies

In the 2021/22 winter semester, ten scientists from Freiburg will start their work in two new, interdisciplinary research areas at the Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies (FRIAS). The international research college at the University of Freiburg will fund the research projects for one academic year.

Reading between the cell lines

Scientific research about cell changes in the body, such as those that occur in tumor or scar formation, has focused primarily on the processes in the cells themselves. Little research has been done on the part of the tissue that lies between the cells and surrounds them like a meshwork, known in technical jargon as the extracellular matrix or intercellular substance. This protein-enriched substance is the focus of the new, interdisciplinary research area “MatrixCode: matrisome pathology,” which will be funded at the Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies at the University of Freiburg from October 2021. Dr. Maria Asplund, Dr. Susana Minguet, Dr. Alexander Nyström, Prof. Dr. Winfried Römer, Dr. Dr. Christoph Schell and Prof. Dr. Dr. Oliver Schilling from the University of Freiburg will analyze the so-called matrisome, the totality of all proteins in the extracellular matrix, as well as various aspects of signaling in the intercellular substance that take place during processes such as wound healing or tumorigenesis. The aim is to gain a better understanding of the extracellular matrix in order to contribute to the development of targeted therapies that influence the signaling processes in diseased or regenerating cell structures.

New frontiers in linguistic research

Questions regarding the linguistic approach to social diversity are omnipresent: Can we use gendering to make our language more inclusive? How does language change with age? How do we communicate in a multilingual society? The new FRIAS research focus “Diversity in Language and Cognition” investigates how dimensions of societal diversity affect speaking and understanding. Prof. Dr. Alice Blumenthal-Dramé, Prof. Dr. Evelyn Ferstl, Junior Professor Dr. Adriana Hanulikova and Prof. Dr. Anelis Kaiser Trujillo from the fields of linguistics, cognitive science and gender studies focus on experimental language research, psycholinguistics.

This field of linguistics usually uses characteristics such as gender, age, and origin in quantitative studies to investigate the influence of diversity on language use and perception. This is where the research focus comes in with a new, intersectional approach. “Intersectionality” emphasizes that different characteristics of a person, such as gender and ethnicity, do not add up, but rather interact with each other. With this approach, researchers are looking, among other things, for methods that consider the interplay of multiple characteristics. The aim of the research project is to find out whether an intersectional approach can be usefully applied to quantitative studies in neurolinguistics and psycholinguistic language research, and to promote interdisciplinary exchange on diversity in language.

Public lecture series

A concurrent, public lecture series on Diversity in Language and Cognition will be held on selected dates on Thursdays from 2 to 4 p.m. ct. during the winter semester beginning October 21, 2021. The event is open to the general public and will be held in English.

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