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  • Creating the Future

    The Hector Fellow Academy initiates innovative research projects on latest scientific problems.

Overview of doctoral projects

Every year, the Hector Fellow Academy supports several doctoral positions for promising young scientists from all over the world. Under the supervision of a Hector Fellow, they will work on their innovative doctoral projects over a period of three years. In addition to financing their positions, they receive additional research funding from the Academy and take part in further training events.

The following projects are supported:

High-throughput Virus Discovery in Next Generation Sequencing Data

Franziska Klingler – Hector Fellow Ralf Bartenschlager

Anelloviruses are a diverse group of ubiquitous viruses infecting humans and vertebrates. Their contribution to disease development remains elusive. We hypothesize that during lifelong, persistent infection disbalances in the viral community can drive onset and progression of disease, e.g. cancer. We aim at a thorough description of the viral spectrum present in healthy and diseased tissue by high-throughput screening of sequencing data and subsequent identification of viral variants correlated with pathogenesis. More ...

Temporal and spatial microbial dynamics in the Arctic Ocean

Magda Car­dozo Mino – Hector Fellow Antje Boetius

The project investigates composition and function of microbial communities in Fram Strait, the major gateway between the Arctic and the Atlantic Oceans, and how these are linked with environmental conditions. A series of cutting-edge, molecular approaches are applied to assess microbial functional capacities, community composition and their temporal variation in a region under special threat by climate change. The project is supervised by Hector Fellow Antje Boetius. More ...

Towards Understanding the Genetic Basis of Appetitive Aggressive Behavior

Jan Gerwin – Hector Fellow Axel Meyer

Aggressive behavior can be of two distinct origins: (1) reactive aggression, as a response to threatening or dangerous situations and (2) appetitive aggression, that is motivated by intrinsic factors, for example positive feelings through the exertion of violence. More ...

Unveiling the Galactic History with Pulsating Variable Stars

Gustavo Medina Toledo – Hector Fellow Eva Grebel

This project aims to explore the use of young and old pulsating variable stars to improve our current understanding of the Milky Way. This will be achieved by performing a novel study of the kinematics, ages and chemical compositions of Cepheids and RR Lyrae stars which, in spite of being archetypes of different stellar populations, represent key tracers of the recent star formation and assembly history of the Galaxy. More ...

Bank Structuring in Urban Environments through Micro Groins

Andreas Müller – Hector Fellow Franz Nestmann

The European Water Framework Directive requires that all waterbodies achieve a good ecological status until 2027. In urban environments the restricted spatial conditions and different interests cause problems in river restoration. More ...

Sensitive period plasticity and functional recovery after sight restoration

Rashi Pant - Hector Fellow Brigitte Röder

Visual experience during a sensitive period is crucial for the normal development of the brain. Individuals who are treated for congenital cataracts more than a few weeks from birth suffer from low visual acuity as well as specific deficits (such as impaired face processing). This project investigates the possible mechanisms that mediate this sensitive period, by non-invasively assessing brain structure and function in congenitally and developmentally visually deprived individuals. More ...

Defining novel resilience pathways in rare monogenic disorders

Daniel Petersheim - Hector Fellow Christoph Klein

In the EU alone, approximately 30 million people are affected by a rare disease, many of them children. Most of the 6,000 to 8,000 rare diseases known to date are caused by the altered function of a single gene (Boycott&Ardigó, 2018). This project under the supervision of Prof. Christoph Klein aims to develop innovative strategies for precision medicine in rare diseases by (i) re-wiring aberrant molecular networks for therapeutic purposes and (ii) identifying novel “druggable” targets using CRISPR-Cas9-mediated genome-wide screens. More ...

Towards Topological Many-Body Physics Using State-Dependent Optical Lattices

Hendrik von Raven – Hector Fellow Immanuel Bloch

In modern condensed matter physics topology plays a fundamental role in the classification of phases of matter. A prominent example is the quantum Hall effect discovered in two-dimensional electron gases under extreme conditions. Quantum Hall insulators are isolating in the bulk, but exhibit conducting edge states, which results in a quantised Hall conductance. More ...

Mechanisms of Reproductive Isolation During Rapid Speciation

Sina Rometsch – Hector Fellow Axel Meyer

Reproductive isolation, the ceased exchange of genetic material, is crucial for the divergence of populations into distinct species. This is commonly facilitated by an extrinsic physical barrier, but rarely it can also occur devoid of such barriers. Whether speciation proceeds by the same or different reproductive isolation mechanisms under these two geographic scenarios remains a matter of debate. We aim to contribute to this fundamental question in biology by taking advantage of a model system of speciation: the Midas cichlid fishes. More ...

Helicity Preserving Cavity for Circular Dichroism Enhancement

Philip Scott – Hector Fellow Martin Wegener

Most modern drugs are made up of one handedness of a chiral molecule (one enantiomer). In many cases, depending on the handedness of the enantiomer, the drug could have either beneficial or harmful effects, thus is it desirable to be able to detect the handedness. Circular dichroism (CD) spectroscopy can differentiate between the handedness due to differential absorption of circularly polarised light but suffers from weak signals; therefore, a method that can enhance the signal is desired. More ...

Accommodation Behavior and Ciliary Muscle Activity in Myopia

Sandra Wagner – Hector Fellow Eberhart Zrenner

Prevalence of myopia (shortsightedness) increases considerably in industrialized countries. The mechanisms behind this development need to be fully understood in order to arrive at prevention. A well-founded hypothesis for myopia development is based on the underaccommodation during near-vision activities (lag of accommodation) which could trigger axial eye elongation. More ...

1,3-Diketon Based Ligands for Transition Metal Catalysis

Jonas Wunsch – Hector Fellow A. Stephen K. Hashmi

The development of catalysts to increase the chemical efficiency or to find completely new chemical reactions has found great interest. For this a wide variety of ligands are needed.
The doctoral is supervised by Hector Fellow A. Stephen K. Hashmi and aims at developing new ligands that are based on the formal double deprotonation of 1,3-diketones and thereby enlarging the chemical space of known ligands. For this new synthetic methods have to be found and the obtained ligands have to be tested and characterised. More ...

Epigenetic Underlying of Appetitive Aggression

Anja Zeller – Hector Fellow Thomas Elbert

Aggression can be distinguished in a reactive form, which is a protective response to an acute threat and an instrumental form, which is goal directed. Appetitive aggression is a sub form of instrumental aggression, which is defined by the experience of lust when perpetrating violence.

So far, the latter has been only assessed through self-report. The doctoral project under supervision of Prof. Thomas Elbert intends to create an objective, epigenetic marker for appetitive aggression. More ...