Theologian Friederike Nüssel and genome researcher Michael Boutros have assumed the directorship of the Marsilius Kolleg of Heidelberg University. The two researchers follow in the footsteps of historian Bernd Schneidmüller and biologist Thomas Rausch, who led the interdisciplinary research centre for six years. They begin their tenure as directors together with a new class of fellows that began work in the summer semester: 14 Heidelberg scientists and scholars from different disciplines are focussing their efforts on interdisciplinary projects until March of next year as well as engaging in cross-disciplinary discussions.
Heidelberg University Rector Bernhard Eitel thanked the departing directors for their commendable work, especially in the transition phase from the Excellence Initiative to the Excellence Strategy. The Rector highlighted the central role the Marsilius Kolleg played in shaping the institutional strategies for both those competitions. At the same time, he affirmed his confidence in the new leadership pair, both of whom are extremely well-networked in the university and have strong academic experience; with them, the Marsilius Kolleg will continue to play a pioneering role in identifying and tackling socially relevant research issues and promoting interdisciplinary dialogue.
Friederike Nüssel has been teaching and conducting research since 2006 as Professor for Systematic Theology at the Ecumenical Institute of Heidelberg University, where she is also director. From 2009 to 2013, Prof. Nüssel served as Vice-Rector for Student Affairs and Teaching at Ruperto Carola. Her main areas of research include the comparative interpretation of Christian faith in the Christian denominations, the interpretation and role of values, especially during social crises, as well as the relationship between theology and the neurosciences. Michael Boutros was appointed a professor at the Medical Faculty Mannheim of Ruperto Carola in 2008 and heads the "Signaling and Functional Genomics" Division at the German Cancer Research Center. Among other things, his research focuses on the functional interaction of genes in networks and selective intervention in disease processes. Friederike Nüssel and Michael Boutros began their three-year term as directors in March 2020.
The 13th class of fellows of the Marsilius Kolleg includes Professors André Butz (environmental physics), Andreas Draguhn (neurophysiology), Ekkehard Felder (Germanic linguistics), Ulrike Gerhard (geography), Annika Guse (molecular biology), Nikolas Jaspert (mediaeval history), Peter Kirsch (clinical psychology and neuroscience), Hanno Kube (public law), Martina Muckenthaler (molecular medicine), Karen Nolte (medical history), Katja Patzel-Mattern (economic and social history), PD Dr Friederike Reents (German philology), PD Dr Magnus Schlette (philosophy), along with Reimut Zohlnhöfer (political science). Topics the fellows are collaboratively addressing include humans and the sea, literature of the Anthropocene, and thinking patterns, interpretations, and aspirations of modern neuroscience.
The Marsilius Kolleg was founded in 2007 and brings together researchers from different scientific cultures to promote research-based dialogue across the disciplines of the humanities, law, natural sciences, life sciences and social sciences. The Marsilius Kolleg also aims to intensify the dialogue between science and society through socially relevant research issues. The interdisciplinary research centre is named after Marsilius von Inghen, the first Rector of Heidelberg University.