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

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
New findings on hair loss in men

A receding hairline, a total loss of hair from the crown, and ultimately, the classical horseshoe-shaped pattern of baldness: Previous research into male pattern hair loss, also termed androgenetic alopecia, has implicated multiple common genetic variants. Human geneticists from the University Hospital of Bonn (UKB) and by the Transdisciplinary Research Unit "Life & Health" of the University of Bonn have now performed a systematic investigation of the extent to which rare genetic variants may also contribute to this disorder. For this purpose, they analyzed the genetic sequences of 72,469 male participants from the UK Biobank project. The analyses identified five significantly associated genes, and further corroborated genes implicated in previous research. The results have now been published in the prestigious scientific journal Nature Communications.

Mongolia Honors Two University of Bonn Researchers

Two archaeologists from the University of Bonn have been presented with major awards in recognition of their many years of successful research work in Mongolia. At a ceremony held at the Ministry of Education and Science of Mongolia in the capital Ulaanbaatar, State Secretary M. Batgerel pinned the Order of the Polar Star - the highest honor that the country can award to a foreign citizen - onto Professor Jan Bemmann’s lapel. Susanne Reichert received the Friendship Medal. The two researchers are currently working in Mongolia as part of Research Unit 5438, “Urban Impacts on the Mongolian Plateau - Entanglements of Economy, City, and Environment,” which has recently secured funding from the German Research Foundation (DFG). 

Study calls for improvements in climate protection

Projects that reduce deforestation often sell carbon credits - for instance, to consumers purchasing airline tickets. However, over 90 percent of these project credits do not actually offset greenhouse gas emissions. This is the conclusion of a study conducted by the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (Netherlands), the University of Bonn, the University of Cambridge (United Kingdom) and the European Forest Institute in Barcelona (Spain). It was carried out on an exemplary basis for 26 projects in six countries. The results have now been published in the renowned journal Science.

Researchers decode new antibiotic

More and more bacterial pathogens are developing resistance. There is an increasing risk that common drugs will no longer be effective against infectious diseases. That is why scientists around the world are searching for new effective substances. Researchers from the University of Bonn, the German Center for Infection Research (DZIF), Utrecht University (Netherlands), Northeastern University in Boston (USA) and the company NovoBiotic Pharmaceuticals in Cambridge (USA) now have discovered and deciphered the mode of action of a new antibiotic. Clovibactin is derived from a soil bacterium. This antibiotic is highly effective at attacking the cell wall of bacteria, including many multi-resistant “superbugs.” The results have now been published in the renowned journal “Cell.” 

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.

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© 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.

© Barbara Frommann/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

+49 228 73 7222

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Dr. Eva Drews

Strategic Development and Quality Assurance

+49 228 73 66204

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