August 2021


In the series “33 questions” we introduce, in no particular order, our WiRe Fellows who are currently working on a research project here at the University of Münster. Why 33? Well, if we think of the rush hour of life, it is kind of the age that lies in its middle. And we also like the number😉.

In today’s episode we are speaking with Louisa, artist-publisher/researcher and passionate lover of publishing and self-publishing within and across visual arts and literature.

Julie: Researching the history of exhibition and art criticism

Dr Julie Sissia. © Dr 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. 

Author: Dr. Giulia Marotta

This is the second blogpost in a series from Giulia, one of our first-ever WiRe fellows whose research focuses, among other things, on the contemporary history of Catholicism in Europe. We are thrilled to have her back as a guest on the blog, this time introducing by way of creative writing her newest research project on the conceptual history of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Giulia would like to thank the WWU for funding the preparatory stages of the project through the Post-doc Program and Erasmus+, and Professor Dr. Olaf Blaschke, apl. Professor Dr. Klaus Große Kracht, and Professor Dr. Dr. h.c. Hubert Wolf for their invaluable input and support. The story, all names, and characters portrayed in this blogpost are fictitious.