News & Press

Keeping an Eye on Global Challenges

Webinar of the Convergence Center for Living Multifunctional Material Systems brings together researchers from livMatS and Penn State University

Jul 31, 2020

In the webinar, researchers from both locations discussed challenges that they will meet in their joint research.

More than 100 registered participants met for the newest webinar of the Convergence Center for Living Multifunctional Materials Systems (LiMC²). The virtual event on 22 and 23 July 2020, which is part of a lecture and discussion series of workshops of the center, focused on three selected topics: materials for diagnostics, adaptive architecture and advanced manufacturing. The goal of the webinar was to identify challenges, sharpen the focus for joint activities in these areas and thus provide the Center with a guideline for transnational research in the coming years.

In a welcoming address to the participants, the Vice Rector of the University of Freiburg, Prof. Dr. Gunther Neuhaus, made it clear that the research of the Convergence Center is more important than ever: „Cooperative, transparent and science-based responses to the global challenges of our times are needed, not only in the field of medicine and health care but also with regard to sustainability,“ Neuhaus stated in his speech. „In this context the Convergence Center is a highly important cooperation project which has the full support of the University of Freiburg.”

Prof. Dr. Lora Weiss, Senior Vice President for Research of Penn State University, stressed the great potential of joint research on the topics discussed in the webinar: „Although both our universities are very strong in the fields, we are big believers in the power of interdisciplinary teams and how together we can truly transcend gradual progress that we may have had on our own.”

In twelve lectures, scientists from both locations presented their research on biosensors that can detect viruses and bacteria, on responsive and adaptive materials for smart buildings and what can be learned from plant models concerning structural adaptivity. A further topic was how to produce such attractive functional structures by modern methods of additive manufacturing, for example by using light-induced processes.

In the course of the webinar, lively panel discussions offered the opportunity to identify points of contact and exchange information about gaps in research. The participants saw a central challenge in the fact that researchers from many areas in the sciences and engineering would have to work even more closely together in the future to enable new functionalities of materials. The panels put forward visions of how such cooperations will bring about new medical devices and more sustainable construction of buildings and infrastructure.

To address these and other challenges, the Convergence Center will publish the first call for proposals for seed grants for joint projects between researchers from the University of Freiburg and Penn State University in September 2020. This was announced by Prof. Dr. Zoubeida Ounaies, Penn State Director of the Convergence Center, and Prof. Dr. Jürgen Rühe, her Freiburg counterpart and spokesperson of the Cluster of Excellence Living, Adaptive and Energy-Autonomous Materials Systems (livMatS) at the end of the webinar. Also starting in September, undergraduates will have the opportunity to work in an internship program on binational projects – specially designed to operate under the current conditions which put severe restrictions on international travel. In the coming months, researchers from both locations will furthermore be working on position papers on the central topics of the Center.

Website of the Convergence Center