Mainz University pinpoints its top-level research areas

Core research areas will receive a total of EUR 8.5 million annually through the Rhineland-Palatinate Research Initiative

21.02.2014

Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) will further consolidate its position as one of Germany's leading research universities and increase its international competitiveness over the coming decade. "With regard to the Rhineland-Palatinate Research Initiative, we plan to stick to our strategy of focusing our resources on selected research-dominated areas," explained Professor Georg Krausch, President of Mainz University. "Our profile-building strategy is rooted in the conviction that research on an internationally competitive level can be promoted through the targeted support of individual excellence and the systematic formation of academic networks in promising interdisciplinary research areas."

The main outline of JGU's research profile is defined by strongholds represented by a cluster of excellence and two research centers, together with nine research units with significant development potential.

Cluster of Excellence and Research Centers at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz:

  • Cluster of Excellence "Precision Physics, Fundamental Interactions and Structure of Matter" (PRISMA)
  • "Center for Innovative and Emerging Materials" (CINEMA) in close collaboration with the Graduate School of Excellence "Materials Science in Mainz" (MAINZ)
  • Research Center "Translational Medicine"

Research Units at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz:

  • BiomaTiCS – Biomaterials, Tissues and Cells in Science
  • Gene Regulation in Evolution and Development (GeneRED)
  • Historical Cultural Sciences (HKW)
  • Interdisciplinary Public Policy (IPP)
  • Media Convergence
  • Computational Sciences in Mainz (RFN)
  • Social and Cultural Studies Mainz (SoCuM)
  • Volcanoes and Atmosphere in Magmatic Open Systems (VAMOS)
  • Center for Educational and Higher Educational Research (ZBH).

To 2016, these core research areas will receive EUR 8.5 million a year in support through the Rhineland-Palatinate Research Initiative.

The institutional integration of leading academics in the policy-making processes for the university's strategic development is a hallmark of governance at JGU. Two institutions of excellence, the Gutenberg Research College (GRC) and the Gutenberg Teaching Council (GTC), are at the core of the strategy. Both act as strategic advisors to the governing bodies at Mainz University while also providing support to outstanding individual academics. As a central institution designed to promote top-level research, the GRC contributes towards defining JGU's profile within the framework of the Rhineland-Palatinate Research Initiative. The work of these two institutions of excellence will be supplemented in future by the Gutenberg Council for Young Researchers (GYR), which, in a similar fashion, will generate proposals for improving the promotion of young researchers and will itself provide support to outstanding young academics. Among the central tasks of the Gutenberg Council for Young Researchers will be to ensure sustained enhancement of the working and supervisory conditions of young researchers and the provision of individually-tailored support programs.

The Rhineland-Palatinate Minister of Science, Doris Ahnen, emphasized: "The universities and universities of applied sciences in Rhineland-Palatinate have defined and extended their core research areas over the past years. In the case of Mainz University, its success in the Excellence Initiative of the German federal and state governments represents clear evidence of the extraordinary achievements of its researchers. The Rhineland-Palatinate Research Initiative has acted as a catalyst that generates both success and significant motivation. We intend both to continue and intensify the support we are providing, thus sending a definitive signal to all universities in Rhineland-Palatinate. An important element for Mainz University in this context is the Gutenberg Council for Young Researchers. Here, excellent young academics will be receiving targeted assistance and support. At the same time the university will become ever more attractive for young researchers."

JGU's approach to profile-building in science and research since 2008 within the framework of the Rhineland-Palatinate Research Initiative has proved its worth:

  • The number of federally co-financed research institutes in JGU's immediate vicinity has doubled and several new forms of institutional collaboration have been initiated with the formation of the Max Planck Graduate Center, the Helmholtz Institute Mainz, and the Institute of Molecular Biology (IMB).
  • Mainz University was successful in the second round of the Excellence Initiative of the German federal and state governments. Three of its research centers were asked to submit full proposals for the establishment of new clusters of excellence. Finally, the proposal for JGU's Cluster of Excellence "Precision Physics, Fundamental Interactions and Structure of Matter" (PRISMA) was accepted and support for the Graduate School of Excellence "Materials Science in Mainz" (MAINZ) was further extended. This means that Mainz University will receive additional funding of EUR 43 million (including overheads) supplied by the Excellence Initiative to 2017.
  • In keeping with the university's profile building strategy, more than 30 professorships have been either newly established or reassigned over the past five years.
  • In the period 2010–2013, JGU appointed 26 foreign researchers to professorships, with about half of these originating from the USA. Roughly every second appointment was in the university's core research areas, with the other half spread across various disciplines.
  • The continuing improvement in JGU's research achievements since 2008 is evidenced by the coordinated research programs (Collaborative Research Centers and Research Units sponsored by the German Research Foundation as well as participation in joint research projects receiving EU and federal support) and by JGU's increasing success in the acquisition of third-party funding (expenditure of third-party funding in 2007: EUR 67 million; 2012: EUR 92.5 million).

The Rhineland-Palatinate Research Initiative has supported the four state universities since summer 2008 and the seven state universities of applied sciences since autumn 2010 to be well positioned in the competition for personnel, investments, and third-party funding. The structure formation strategy of the Rhineland-Palatinate Ministry of Science is designed to promote autonomous profile formation at each university and builds on existing strengths. By the end of 2013, approximately EUR 100 million had been spent in research funding. Total funding of some EUR 60 million has already been earmarked for distribution through the initiative to 2016.

In addition to basic financing, the funding from the Research Initiative will be provided to support profile-building research units and centers. The Mainz University Management Board has a centralized control instrument in the form of the newly established strategic fund that will be targeted at sponsoring university-wide measures, such as the promotion and mentoring of young research talents, gender equality, quality assurance, enhancement of the research infrastructure, knowledge transfer, and internationalization.