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Getting to know our new fellows…cohort 2021/22

Here, you get a first tiny introduction to our new fellows in 2021!

Julie: Researching the history of exhibition and art criticism

Julie Sissia © Julie Sissia

Bonjour ! I am Julie, I was born in Lyon and I live now in Paris. Since the beginning of my university education, and even before, I have been attracted to Germany, its language and culture, especially art and literature, and particularly Romanticism! I lived in Cologne for 3 years, and spent several research stays in Berlin and other lesser-known places like Nürtingen around Stuttgart!

I am an art historian, with specialisation in the art of the second half of the 20th century. My research focuses on the history of exhibitions and art criticism, which I approach through the lens of Franco-German dialogue and the question of identity – always plural and fluctuating.

Fun fact: In Münster, I will be interested in the Skulptur Projekte, an art event I discovered by mere chance in 2008 during a train journey. I didn’t expect to come back and study it!

Rui: Works on smartphone usage and psychological wellbeing

Dr. Rui Sun © Dr. Rui Sun

Hi, my name is Rui Sun. I was born in China but have been living in Europe since 10 years ago. I am a social psychologist with wide research interests including smartphone usage, social media, social connections, and psychological wellbeing. For the WiRe fellowship, I will work on smartphone usage and psychological wellbeing among couples.
I got my previous postdoc training at the Department of Social Psychology, University of Amsterdam (UvA), working on positive emotion experience across cultures. Before joining UvA, I completed my PhD in social psychology at the University of Cambridge, my MRes of Cognitive Neuroscience at University College London, and my BS in Psychology at Peking University. 

In my spare time, I love doing all sorts of sports; my new hobby is windsurfing 🙂

Mariagiulia: Exploring EU and State responsibility beyond borders

Dr. Mariagiulia Giuffre © Dr. Mariagiulia Giuffre

Hi, my name is Mariagiulia (Giulia), I’m Italian and I work in the UK. Though I love warm weather, I have spent many years in cold countries (Finland, Sweden, the Netherlands, the UK, and now Germany)!

My research? Let’s say that to limit onwards movements of migrants and refugees to Europe, the EU and its Member States have increasingly opted for a strategy based on the full externalisation of migration and border controls, mostly through dedicated financial and technical support to third countries of origin or transit in Africa. European States are also preventing arrivals by means of non-rescue or delays in the succours of migrants in distress at sea. What responsibility do States have in case of human rights violations committed beyond their territorial borders? What is the content and scope of the right to life?

Anna: Wants to know what makes a plant happy

Dr. Anna Podgorska © Dr. Anna Podgorska

I was born in Warsaw (Poland) but I went to school in Hamburg (Germany). Then I moved back to Poland and received my PhD in Biology. After a few more years of work, I’m now back for a short visit in Germany where I’m getting to know Münster. The research group that welcomed me here is called “Plant Energy Biology” which is similar to my home laboratory called “Plant Bioenergetics” and therefore joining our powers together makes sense. These terms also reveal my research interests, which are based on the energy that drives metabolism including redox chemistry, oxidative stress and intracellular signaling. Here I can make use of specific biosensors to get insight into what is actually happening in vivo in plant tissues.

Let’s say I can trace what a plant is feeling or if it is stressed. Based on changes in redox state, I want to know what is the preferred source of nitrogen to feed to a plant. If a researcher is using the wrong nitrogen fertilizer, a lot can go wrong; its metabolic disturbances are is still not fully understood. False nitrate application causes a lot of ecological problems and can be dangerous for human health, while ammonium leads to plant growth suppression. In the end, everything comes down to maintaining sustainable agriculture.

Fun fact: I know how plant metabolism works on an organelle scale but I can’t help you with your Monstera turning yellow, and can’t make your tomatoes produce more fruits.  

Debdatta: Works on building the world’s thinnest optics

Dr Debdatta Ray. © Dr Debdatta Ray

I am Debdatta Ray and I am Indian by origin. My life seems like “Comedy of Errors” as I am continuously mistaken for a guy since my name is similar to both genders!! 

Nevertheless, similar to my native country, my academic career boasts of diversity as well. I started out my Bachelor’s in Electronics and Communication Engineering in Kolkata, situated in the eastern part and the 3rd largest metropolitan city in India. I continued to do my Master’s in Photonics at the Indian Institute Of Technology, Madras (IITM), a city on the coast of the Bay of Bengal. During this time, I had my first interaction with Germany as I had spent 7 months at the University of Stuttgart in DAAD Exchange Scholarship. For my PhD, I moved to the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland, a country also known as “heaven on Earth”. 

My research aims to build the world’s thinnest optics!! I work on patterning hundreds of micrometer sized area with nanometer sized structures and investigate the effects as light of different colours fall on them. This requires very special environment called “clean room” where the air is almost dust free. 

Louisa: Contributes to the understanding of the book as a commodity and publishing in a post-digital age

Dr Louisa Preston. © Dr Louisa Preston

I am an artist-publisher/researcher. I trained in Fine Art, specialising in sculpture, and went on to develop mixed media installation work employing drawing and photography (www.louisapreston.net). These creative skills of drawing and making, honed through professional contemporary art practice between 2004 and 2011, are now incorporated and explored as tools for developing understanding in my research in publishing and book studies. 

My research explores the relationships and intersections between publishing activity in the visual arts and the publishing industry. Current research adopts an autoethnographic approach to produce an aesthetic and experiential understanding of the artists’ book fair, artists’ publishing practice and the associated networks of cultural production, consumption and dissemination. The research aims to contribute to our consequent understandings of the book as a commodity and publishing in a post-digital age. 

I was born in Stockport, England but grew up in a house up Birnam Glen, close to Birnam Wood (yes! – the one that features in Shakespeare’s Macbeth). I currently live in Perth, Scotland with my husband and four-year old son. 

Kate: Investigating religious organisations‘ investments in slavery

Dr Kate Boehme. © Dr Kate Boehme

I’m originally from the United States of America, but I currently live in the UK, where I have resided for the past eleven years. I am based in Leicester, where I live with my husband and two cats.

I’m a Historian, focused on the history of empire. My research examines commercial networks, and the social, cultural and economic implications of those connections. My present research considers religious organisations in early nineteenth-century colonial Jamaica, investigating their direct and indirect financial investments in economies of slavery.

Julija: Innovative statements to the age-old question of desiring eternal existence

Dr Julija Naett Vidovic. © Julija Naett Vidovic

Hi, my name is Julija. I was born in Tuzla (Turkish name meaning salt) in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Since the wars in ex-Yugoslavia, I travel.  I lived in Serbia, then in France and a bit in between. At the moment, I live in Strasbourg. A city I am looking forward to discovering as soon as Covid is behind us – let’s be positive! 

I am a theologian. Although I am far from being one. The Orthodox Church, of which I am a lay member, recognises only three theologians: The Evangelist John, St Gregory of Nazianzus of the fourth century and St Simeon the New Theologian of the tenth century. But we must not despair, as the Greek poet Constantine Kavafy said in his poem „Ithaka“, it is not the goal that counts, it is the path.

I have always been impressed by the human being, by the way he/she lives, by the way he/she experiences and conceives life, its meaning and the world. Today, I am trying to understand these new quests for eternity with or without God that the trans and posthumanist movements are proposing.

Why am I doing this research? To better understand the expression of this deep desire to exist, to really be, that is to say to exist eternally. The question is an old one, but the statements are intended to be innovative. Whether they are so new remains to be seen.

Fun fact: I wonder if there will be coffee in heaven.  

Yamina: Working on sufficiency policies against global warming

Yamina Saheb in Paris on February 1st, 2021. © Yamina Saheb

I was born in the sunny Alger la blanche (white Algiers) and I live in the beautiful Paris. I work on one of the major challenges of human history: Climate Change!!

Like most of other climate change scientists, I dream of being wrong in my conclusions and that we will not overshot the 1.5°C global warming target by the end of the century.

The focus of my work these days is on sufficiency policies which aim at avoiding the increase of energy and materials’ demand while providing a decent living standard for all.

Julietta: Giving a voice to individuals, who have lived long before us

Dr Julietta Steinhauer. © Julietta Steinhauer

I’m originally from North Rhine Westphalia and here from an area where we take our Carnival seriously (alaaf). I have been living in the land of fish & chips for most of my adult life. 
My research, however, concerns the lands where most people holiday – the sunny Aegean islands and Asia Minor, or, in modern terms, the west coast of Turkey. This is where I gather information from stones, artefacts, and libraries.
About my work on migration: I’m obsessed with gravestones and lists, the more the merrier. These can give us key information about demographics and people movements. 
I would describe my work as giving a voice to marginalised individuals that have lived thousands of years before our time and establishing what their lived experiences were – as women, migrants, and slaves.

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