Transdisciplinary Research

Transdisciplinary Research Areas

Spaces for innovation in research and teaching—this is what the six Transdisciplinary Research Areas (TRAs) at the University of Bonn provide. They are where top researchers work together across faculty boundaries on key academic, scientific, technological and societal issues relevant to our future.

© Uni Bonn

The six TRAs

Eine Wissenschaftlerin und ein Wissenschaftler arbeiten hinter einer Glasfassade und mischen Chemikalien mit Großgeräten.
© TRA Modelling

Mathematics, Modelling and Simulation of Complex Systems

How do complex systems work? How mathematical models come together with observational methods, computer-aided simulations and creative flair.

Eine Wissenschaftlerin und ein Wissenschaftler arbeiten hinter einer Glasfassade und mischen Chemikalien mit Großgeräten.
© Volker Lannert / Uni Bonn

Building Blocks of Matter and Fundamental Interactions

How do the various components that matter is made from interact with one another? How do complex structures form on completely different length scales?

© Volker Lannert/Uni Bonn

Life and Health

Understanding the complexities of life and coming up with new strategies for healthcare. Find out more about the TRA Life and Health.

Eine Wissenschaftlerin und ein Wissenschaftler arbeiten hinter einer Glasfassade und mischen Chemikalien mit Großgeräten.
© Marvin Bongiovi

Individuals, Institutions and Societies

Studying complex relationships between individuals, institutions and societies and developing new perspectives on micro- and macrophenomena.

Eine Wissenschaftlerin und ein Wissenschaftler arbeiten hinter einer Glasfassade und mischen Chemikalien mit Großgeräten.
© AdobeStock 288369706

Past Worlds and Modern Questions. Cultures Across Time and Space

We promote and connect up research into the prerequisites for modern societies, the conditions under which they develop and the processes by which heritage is negotiated.

© Volker Lannert/ Uni Bonn

Innovation and Technology for Sustainable Futures

The TRA Sustainable Futures explores institutional, research-based and technology-driven innovations for promoting sustainability.

Latest news from the TRAs
Artificial intelligence recognizes patterns in behaviour

Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University, the University Hospital Bonn and the University of Bonn have created an open-source platform known as A-SOiD that can learn and predict user-defined behaviors, just from video. The results of the study have now been published in the journal "Nature Methods".

Turning One into Eight

To synthesize potential drugs or natural products, you need natural substances in specific mirror-image variants and with a high degree of purity. For the first time, chemists at the University of Bonn have succeeded in producing all eight possible variants of polypropionate building blocks from a single starting material in a relatively straightforward process. Their work has now been published in the prestigious journal “Angewandte Chemie.”

eROSITA relaxes cosmological tension

The analysis of how galaxy clusters, the largest objects in the Universe, evolve over cosmic time has yielded precise measurements of the total matter content and its clumpiness, report scientists of the German eROSITA consortium, led by the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics and with participation of the University of Bonn. The results affirm the standard cosmological model and alleviate the so-called S8 tension, while at the same time offering insights into the elusive neutrinos' mass. The analysis is based on one of the largest catalogues of galaxy clusters and superclusters, also released today. An important pillar in the analysis is the ``weighing’’ of the discovered galaxy clusters, where the University of Bonn contributed in a major way.

Major Success for University of Bonn

The University of Bonn has some excellent news to report, with two new cluster initiatives given the green light to apply for funding as part of the Excellence Initiative of the German government and federal states. The German Research Foundation and the German Council of Science and Humanities made the announcement earlier today. The two new cluster initiatives are thus among the 41 chosen from the 143 draft proposals in all from across the country that were evaluated. In 2019, the University of Bonn secured an already impressive six clusters, more than any other university in Germany. All of these clusters are applying to maintain their status, putting the University in with a chance of hosting eight Clusters of Excellence.

Transdisciplinary research—realizing a vision

For over 200 years, the University of Bonn has been synonymous with top-level research that has benefited teachers, seasoned researchers and those just embarking on their academic careers.

TRAs and their role in the Excellence Strategy

The University of Bonn’s success in the Excellence contest is down partly to the strong track record of discipline-specific research in its various faculties, which laid the foundations for six Clusters of Excellence—more than at any other university in Germany. However, the University’s six Transdisciplinary Research Areas (TRAs) also make a significant contribution to its Excellence Strategy. The funding secured since 2019 has been channeled into developing and expanding the TRAs as the mainstay of the University of Bonn’s research profile. They are already having an impact not only within the University itself but also in wider society, in technology and in the political sphere.

Science Festival—where visitors young and old can find out all about the TRA

Representatives of the six Transdisciplinary Research Areas (TRAs) were on hand to introduce themselves and their work at the 2023 Science Festival, which was all about “hands-on science for everybody.”


New spaces for inter- and transdisciplinary approaches

The basic idea behind setting up the TRAs was that inter- and transdisciplinary approaches will be the only way to meet many of the challenges that the future holds. Besides a strong track record of discipline-specific research, which at universities is traditionally organized along faculty lines, new structural spaces were to be created to encourage transdisciplinary approaches and give them a framework.

The TRAs are now an integral part of the innovative research culture embraced at the University of Bonn. They provide spaces for innovation in research and teaching that are tackling the interdisciplinary scientific, technological and societal challenges of the future. Creating new network structures is helping to promote efforts to set up and expand new research areas that raise the University’s profile. Over the years, therefore, it has developed six areas in which it now boasts outstanding quality. Each TRA is also linked to a Cluster of Excellence at the University of Bonn.

Openness and cooperation

The TRAs are open to all researchers active at the University of Bonn and its partner institutions who are able to contribute to the specific topics being studied in them. The support that they give to academic and scientific partnerships also makes the TRAs incubators for new collaborative projects, ideas for which are discussed in workshops and lecture series. Financial support has already been secured for new research ideas, open-science initiatives and teaching projects as well as the groundwork for new Collaborative Research Centers and Research Training Groups. Conducting transparent research into and in dialogue with society is a key pillar of the University’s new research profile.

Hertz Chairs

Named after the University of Bonn physicist Heinrich Hertz (1857–1894), the Hertz Chairs lie at the heart of our efforts to promote excellence. They are filled with researchers of international repute who are leading lights in their field of expertise and burnish the profile of our Transdisciplinary Research Areas. These professors are based centrally within the University and given the freedom to establish new areas of research, forge links between disciplines and inject significant fresh momentum where they see fit.

Dominik Bach
© Gregor Hübl / Uni Bonn

Artificial Intelligence and Neurosciences
Prof. Dr. Dr. Dominik Bach

Within the TRA Life and Health, Dominik Bach is establishing a major new area of focus where the neurosciences meet psychiatry and computer science.

Paul Basu_2.jpg
© Meike Böschemeyer/Uni Bonn

Global Heritage
Prof. Dr. Paul Basu

A Hertz Professor in the TRA Present Pasts, Paul Basu is experimenting with decolonial approaches to cultural heritage and museum studies in transcultural contexts.

Prof. Ina Danquah
© Gregor Hübl/Universität Bonn

Innovation for Planetary Health Prof. Dr. Ina Danquah

Ina Danquah investigates the interactions between climate change, nutrition and health. She is Hertz Chair within the TRA Sustainable Futures.

Woopen,Christiane_Reiner ZensenChristiane Woopen
© Reiner Zensen/Christiane Woopen

Life Ethics Prof. Dr. Christiane Woopen

Within the TRA Individuals and Societies, Christiane Woopen is studying four dynamics of our time that are interacting on a systemic level— technologization, economization, ecologization and globalization—as well as the associated processes of transformation.

Clausius Professorship

The Clausius Professorship was established to mark the 200th anniversary of the University of Bonn physicist Rudolph Clausius (1822–1888). It was awarded to a particularly exceptional early-career researcher from the Blocks of Matter and Fundamental Interactions Transdisciplinary Research Area.

Lena Funcke
© Gregor Hübl / Uni Bonn

Asst. Prof. Dr. Lena Funcke

Lena Funcke is studying the development of new models and computer-aided calculation methods to tackle the questions that lie at the heart of particle physics.

Argelander Professorships

Supporting researchers at all stages of their careers is one of the main aims of the University of Bonn in its role as a University of Excellence. This is why the Argelander Professorships (named after the University of Bonn astronomer Friedrich Wilhelm August Argelander, 1799–1875) were set up. These tenure track professorships are specifically intended to help outstanding early-career researchers and enable them to explore and further develop their research interests at the interface between individual disciplines and beyond subject and faculty boundaries.

Wolfram Barfuss
© Gregor Hübl / Uni Bonn

Integrated System Modeling for Sustainability Transitions
Asst. Prof. Dr. Wolfram Barfuss

Wolfram Barfuss, Argelander Professor in TRA Sustainable Futures, strives to reshape human-environment modeling to identify critical leverage points for sustainability transitions.

© Gregor Hübl/Uni Bonn

Critical Museums and Heritage Studies
Asst. Prof. Dr. Julia Binter 

Julia Binter is a member of the Global Heritage Lab in the TRA Present Pasts. Her transcultural research is paving the way for new partnerships with the natural sciences and theologies.

Florian Brandl
© Gregor Hübl / Uni Bonn

Mathematics—Economics and Computer Science
Prof. Dr. Florian Brandl

Florian Brandl’s work in the TRA Modelling and the Hausdorff Center for Mathematics combines methods and approaches taken from economic theory, mathematics and computer science.

Patrycja Kielb
© Gregor Hübl / Uni Bonn

Biohybrid Research
Asst. Prof. Dr. Patrycja Kielb

By focusing on “bio-spectro-electrochemistry,” Patrycja Kielb’s work is helping to advance molecular science research in the TRA Matter.

Jacqueline Lorenzen
© Gregor Hübl / Uni Bonn

Sustainability and Environmental Transformation Law
Asst. Prof. Dr. Jacqueline Lorenzen

Jacqueline Lorenzen’s research in the TRA Individuals and Societies is focused on legal issues connected with sustainable urban development.

Julia Mink
© Gregor Hübl / Uni Bonn

Environmental Economics, Sustainability and Inequality
Asst. Prof. Dr. Julia Mink

Julia Mink is conducting research at the interface between environmental and healthcare economics in the TRA Individuals and Societies.

Elena Reckzeh
© Gregor Hübl / Uni Bonn

Organoids and Chemical Biology
Asst. Prof. Dr. Elena Reckzeh

Elena Reckzeh is combining chemical biology and organoid research in order to further expand the “Construction” strand of the research profile in the TRA Life and Health.

Ana Ivonne Vazquez-Armendariz
© Gregor Hübl / Uni Bonn

Organoid Biology
Asst. Prof. Dr. Ana Ivonne Vazquez-Armendariz

With her expertise in human lung organoids, Ana Ivonne Vazquez-Armendariz is adding a new dimension to the research profile in the TRA Life and Health.


Avatar Heuer

Dr. Ines Heuer

Strategic Development and Quality Assurance
Avatar Drews

Dr. Eva Drews

Strategic Development and Quality Assurance
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