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Promoting academic careers

Three University of Freiburg women researchers receive bridging scholarship STAY!

Freiburg, Apr 12, 2017

Promoting academic careers

Christina Pfeuffer, Mirjam Lücking, Rupinder Kaur (from left). Photos: privat

The University of Freiburg and the Neue Universitätsstiftung Freiburg are once more supporting three female researchers in 2017 with STAY! bridging scholarships. The scholarships are aimed at female junior researchers who would like to continue with an academic career but have yet to obtain follow-on funding. The funding of 1,800 euros per month is approved for six months initially and may be extended to one year. In that time, the scholarship holders have the freedom to work on a research exposé with which they can apply for a research job and advance their academic careers. This year's recipients are Dr. Rupinder Kaur of the Department of Microsystems Engineering, Christina Pfeuffer at the Department of Psychology and Mirjam Lücking of the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology.

Sustainable energy sources are a key requirement for a clean, safe environment. One promising source is producing hydrogen by splitting water molecules. That could provide renewable energy for the future - and a viable alternative to fossil fuels. Dr. Rupinder Kaur is conducting research into semiconductor composites and nanostructured materials. Her goal is to characterize the properties of these composites and to improve them so as to promote the water-splitting reaction. Kaur studied Chemistry, Botany, Zoology, English, and Punjabi at the Punjabi University in Patiala, India; her Master's degree is in Chemistry, focusing on Physical Chemistry. In her doctorate, completed in late 2014 at the Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology University in Patiala, Kaur was working on composites for splitting water molecules. She investigated the interface between semiconductors and metallic nanoparticles. Her work was singled out for a scholarship for Women in Science by the Department of Science and Technology in India.

Mirjam Lücking focuses on the interrelated relationship between anti-Islam and Islamic populism. The prominence of "Islam" as "enemy image" and Muslim reactions to globalized Islamophobia play an important role in current elections. It is not only in Western democracies that xenophobic images are central to populist electioneering; the same is true in Muslim-majority democracies. In a case study comparing international situations, Lücking will investigate what makes various forms of xenophobic populism attractive. This will include the issue of to what extent Islamophobic populism leads to Islamic populism and vice versa. Lücking studied Social and Cultural Anthropology and Islamic Studies in Freiburg, gaining in-depth, first-hand regional insights and language skills with studies in Indonesia, Syria, and Morocco. As research assistant at the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology, she coordinated a German-Indonesian tandem project. She completed her doctorate in Social and Cultural Anthropology in the context of the German government-sponsored Southeast Asian Studies at Freiburg program. Early this year Lücking defended her PhD-thesis on current controversies concerning an "Arabization" of Islamic lifestyles in Indonesia and the question of to what extent travel to the Middle East spurs cultural and religious change.

Christina Pfeuffer uses eye movements as a means to investigate processes of human action control. Humans are influenced in their behavior by the expected consequences of their actions. This is reflected among other things in our eye movements. Even before we carry out an action - such as switching on a light - our gaze moves to the location where we anticipate the effect of our action - a light bulb lighting up – to happen. Such anticipatory eye movements can be used to examine our expectations regarding the future consequences of our actions. Using this approach, Pfeuffer aims to draw conclusions regarding basic processes of human action control. She studied Psychology at the University of Würzburg and will soon finish her doctorate at the University of Freiburg on the subject of instruction-based action control. Pfeuffer held scholarships from the Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes and the Bavarian government's Max Weber Program.

Dr. Rupinder Kaur
Department of Microsystems Engineering
Phone: 0761/203-7059

Mirjam Lücking
Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology
Phone: 0761/203-2385

Christina Pfeuffer
Department of Psychology
Phone: 0761/203-9165