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

Maria Laura: Gaucho, Mate, Tango … Microorganisms & Plastic Pieces

Maria Laura’s research tackles the problem of water pollution by microplastics. 
© WiRe / Nikolaus Urban

Let’s start with an easy one: Among other things, Maria Laura told us that her homeland is famous for tango: So she obviously is from Argentina!  From the fact that Maria Laura deals with microorganisms, you could have guessed that she is a microbiologist: Her research project at the University of Münster focuses on analyzing how bacteria isolated from freshwater attach to chitin and plastic material. To put it more generally: Maria’s research project is a contribution to the problem of microplastics in aquatic ecosystems. At the University of Münster, Maria Laura works with Prof. Bodo Philip at the Institute of Molecular Microbiology and Biotechnology on the question of whether some freshwater bacteria attach to microplastics as easily as to chitin (a kind of ‘natural plastic’ they use as a source of ‘food’), and which surface properties might enable or even facilitate this process. Well, we almost forgot one thing: Before coming to Münster, Maria conducted research in the UK – where she drank a lot of tea but didn’t manage to meet the Queen.

Giulia: Mopeds, Seaside Landscapes…the Sound of Archive Drawers & Modernity, Religion, Narratives

Giulia’s research about the role of female Catholic Historians lets her dive into
ancient books in the Diözesanbibliothek Münster. © WiRe / Nikolaus Urban

Mentioning the Sixtine Chapel as a hint to her roots doesn’t give room for speculation: Giulia is Italian! The fact that the Vatican is an island state within Italy might have played a role in the choice of her field of research: Giulia is a church historian, focusing on the role of Catholic women historians in the Catholic Church historiography. At the University of Münster, Giulia is carrying out an exploratory case study of Maude Petre (1863–1942). Petre was an English Roman Catholic nun who became a leading figure of the modernist movement and one of its first and female historians. Giulia analyses her writing of a historical account of the relationship between Christianity and modernity. (After all, maybe it was not so much the fact that the Vatican is surrounded by Italy, but rather the fact that Catholic women historians are largely understudied that motivated Giulia’s research topic choice). Well, there still is one thing to add: Before joining the Centre for Religion and Modernity at the University of Münster, Giulia ate a lot of hot dogs and some pieces of turkey during her research stays in the US!

Chiara: Driving crazily, Bathing in Fountains, …Cultural Evolution, the Ivory Tower & Hammers

It’s not only Nietzsche who used a hammer to get his ideas of philosophy across – Chiara vividly explaining her theory by the help of a couple of hammers. © WiRe / Nikolaus Urban

…what do you make of that? Well let’s start with the easier part: If you have ever been driving in Neaples, you might have experienced that some Italian drivers are willing to take quite some risks! So yes, Chiara is, like Giulia, from Italy. Both actually never took a bath in a fountain – this privilege seems to be reserved for famous actresses. (However, the two of them try to enjoy La dolce vita not only at home in Italy – Chiara did so also during her PhD studies in Philosophy of Biology at the University of Wellington in New Zealand! She has travelled a long way to be with us here in Münster:-). So far so good: Now we come to the tricky part. What on earth does Chiara do with hammers that has to do with cultural evolution and an ivory tower?

Well, the answer is not that easy. No wonder: Chiara’s research area is probably the most theoretical of all the research fields of our WiRe Ladies! Chiara is not researching the development of hammers (hopefully nobody thought that!!!). Rather, as a philosopher, she analyzes what types of “functions” one has to distinguish in order to be able to develop plausible evolutionary explanations of the phenomenon of human culture as opposed to (the development of) non-human cultures. (The cultural development of different types of hammers nicely illustrates that some human cultural traits increase in efficiency over time – while others like music or art apparently don’t. Now, one criterion for what is supposed to be uniquely human culture is efficiency. And efficiency seems to indicate first and foremost a measure of “how well” a specific function is carried out. So cultural evolutionists seem to run into a problem when trying to define human culture on the basis of the efficiency of cultural traits: At least if the underlying concept of “function” only centers around efficiency – art just doesn’t seem to become more efficient over time! This is the point where Chiara’s research comes in: She will show that one has to distinguish between different kinds of functions in order to be able to define the essence of human culture and its evolution.) …Don’t worry if you haven’t understood yet what Chiara reflects on day in and day out at our Department of Philosophy in Prof. Krohs’s group! We will elaborate on that later on.

Anna: Skiing, Blueberries, Family …Growing Cells in the Lab & Women’s Health

Anna explaining the particularities of her research regarding Endometriosis. © WiRe / Nikolaus Urban

Did you know that skiing and blueberries are quite popular in the Czech Republic? Well, we didn’t! Let’s hope Anna will tell us soon more about the best skiing spots in her homeland! To guess Anna’s research topic was not that easy either, was it? Let’s solve the riddle: Anna is a bioengineer! At the University of Münster she conducts research on endometriosis at Prof. Götte’s Lab. Endometriosis is a disease where menstrual tissue grows in other parts of the body causing severe pain and discomfort. Probably many women will benefit in the long run from her research!

Rehana: A Unique Flag, the Highest Mountain in the World, … Smart Technologies and Cities

Rehana enjoying the sun in Münster’s Schlossgarten.
© WiRe / Nikolaus Urban

Many mountaineers have tried to climb Mount Everest – Rehana has not yet taken up the challenge in her home country. She started her career as an architect and urban planner in Nepal, though. Some years ago she followed a kind of family tradition – she told us – and went to study in our neighbouring country!  In many places in the Netherlands people ride bicycles as much as in Münster – you certainly knew that, didn’t you? The implementation of cycle paths into urban infrastructure can be an important topic for geoinformaticians – but Rehena’s research concentrates more on how cities can reduce noise and environmental pollution through “smart approaches”.

After all, we all want healthier habitats – and so we are very excited about the results that Rehena will achieve with Prof. Dr. Christian Kray at our Institute of Geoinformatics.

Angélique: Carnival, rockets, giant turtles, … Virgins and Neuronal Networks

Angélique checking the activity of the dissected drosophila fly brain under the confocal microscope.
© WiRe / Nikolaus Urban

When Angélique asked us where to celebrate carnival in Germany, we were a bit surprised at first: We hadn’t heard of a strong carnival culture in France before. Only when Angélique told us that she grew up in French Guiana our astonishment disappeared: French Guiana is not only home to a spaceport! It is also home to carnival celebrations like in Brazil! Well, and giant turtles, apparently. Angélique’s research focuses on smaller creatures: Angélique is a neurobiologist and an expert in chronobiology. At the University of Münster, she is researching the influence of temperature on the internal clock in fruit flies in Prof. Stanewsky’s lab. Before joining the WWU, Angélique conducted research in London (and many other places).


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