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Genetic study shows major impact of climate change on Antarctic fur seals

Published 24. July 2014
Genetic analysis of Antarctic fur seals, alongside decades of in-depth monitoring,* has provided unique insights into the effect of climate change on a population of top-predators. Published in Nature this week, the findings show that the seals have significantly altered in accordance with changes in food availability that are associated with climate conditions. Despite a shift in the population towards ‘fitter’ individuals, this fitness is not passing down through generations, leaving the population in decline.[Weiterlesen]
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Developing a Distinct “Robot Culture”

Published 18. July 2014
Visiting Professor for Gender Studies Selma Šabanovic held public lectures at Bielefeld University

Depending on their cultural background, people react differently to a robot’s appearance. What this is implies for robot design was the topic of a lecture given by Social Informatics researcher Selma Šabanović, Ph.D., at Bielefeld University’s Center of Excellence Cognitive Interactive Technology (CITEC) on 14 July. In her talk, Dr. Šabanović presented her approach to designing robots whose functions can be understood independently of the user’s cultural background. Šabanović was invited by the CITEC Center of Excellence and is currently a Visiting Professor for Gender Studies at Bielefeld University. In another lecture, she examined the issue of how social robots can intensify gender stereotypes depending on whether they look “female” or “male.” This lecture was held on 16 July at Bielefeld University. Both lectures were open to the public. 
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From Risk-Taking by Banks to the Brain Drain

Published 8. July 2014

Meeting of the EDEEM international doctoral programme atBielefeld University / Award of first degrees

Around 30 doctoral students of the international EDEEM (“European Doctorate in Economics – Erasmus Mundus”) doctoral programme are coming together at Bielefeld University from Wednesday to Friday (9-11 July). At their Summer Meeting, the economists will be presenting the latest results of their research. The topics of the presentations range from risk-taking by banks to discrimination on the job market, and to the costs incurred by companies as a result of the brain drain, i.e. the resignation of talented employees. EDEEM is a doctoral programme in economics involving seven European universities. The programme is coordinated by Bielefeld University with Professor Dr Herbert Dawid as EDEEM coordinator.

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Copying and morality

Published 2. July 2014
International conference at Bielefeld University’s Center for Interdisciplinary Research is trying to formulate an ethics of copying

One party considers that the legal restrictions on copying don’t go far enough; the other party takes advantage of the available copying technologies without any sense of wrongdoing. What could be a fair balance between these two positions? From July 8–11, an international conference entitled ‘The Ethics of Copying’ will be addressing this issue at Bielefeld University’s Center for Interdisciplinary Research (ZiF). 

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The difference between robot girls and boys

Published 11. June 2014

Social informatics researcher Selma Šabanović takes up the Visiting Professorship for Gender Studies at Bielefeld University

When are robots assigned a male or female gender? Do men and women think about or interact differently with robots? How do our social notions and lived experiences of gender influence the design and use of social robots? Social informatics and human-robot interaction researcher Selma Šabanović PhD from Indiana University in Bloomington, USA, investigates questions such as these. From mid-June she will take up the post of Visiting Professor for Gender Studies at Bielefeld University. Šabanović will be giving lectures in the current summer semester and discussing research on gender, culture, and robotics in seminars at the Faculty of Technology and in the Center of Excellence Cognitive Interaction Technology CITEC.[Weiterlesen]
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‘Refugee tragedies are a thorn in the flesh of the EU’

Published 2. June 2014

Sociology professor Thomas Faist addresses Bielefeld conference/ Topic of the conference: Social inequality and crisis

‘The never-ending refugee tragedies in the Mediterranean are a thorn in the flesh of the European Union’ says the migration expert Professor Thomas Faist in the run-up to a conference on social inequality and crisis in Bielefeld. ‘At the same time as EU representatives are demanding respect for human rights, the EU is turning desperate refugees away from its borders. This makes the policies of the EU open to attack,’ considers Faist. At the international conference from 4 to 6 June, Faist and about 30 further researchers will be considering when social inequalities are made a matter of public concern (conference title: ‘A New Social Question or Crisis as Usual?’). The conference is being organized by the Bielefeld Graduate School in History and Sociology (BGHS).
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How can religion and human rights be reconciled?

Published 2. June 2014
New research group at Bielefeld University’s Center for Interdisciplinary Research (ZiF)

The question of religion’s proper role in public life has generated intense debates and conflicts in and between societies worldwide. Internally, countries are divided, sometimes bitterly so, over the secular or religious character of the state, which can pose serious obstacles to constitution-writing in democratic and democratising states. How and through which arrangements do societies negotiate these competing visions and craft constitutions that both protect human rights and accommodate diverse constituencies? As ongoing and recent processes of constitution-writing and -revision in the Arab world and the wider Middle East demonstrate, the proper relationship between religion and the state remains hotly contested. An international research group newly convened at Bielefeld University’s Center for Interdisciplinary Research (ZiF) brings together scholars from different disciplines to address this question in a range of countries and regions.[Weiterlesen]
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The neighbourhood factor

Published 29. May 2014

International symposium at Bielefeld University’s Center for Interdisciplinary Research (ZiF)

Social inequality not only means inequality in income, but also inequality in health-related opportunities, for example. Little research has so far been conducted into the impact of neighbourhood context on the development of inequality. An international symposium being held at Bielefeld University’s Center for Interdisciplinary Research (ZiF) from 2 until  4  June, seeks new methods to understand neighbourhood context and its significance for equality and inequality.[Weiterlesen]
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Marriage of convenience with a fungus

Published 22. May 2014
Biologists at Bielefeld University publish study in ‘Nature Communications’

Thanks to a fungus, the medicinal plant ribwort plantain gains a higher concentration of the defensive compound catalpol. Biologists at Bielefeld University report this discovery in a study to be published this Thursday (22.5.2014) in the scientific journal ‘Nature Communications’. The increase in catalpol gives the plant better protection against pests. In the study, the research team worked with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi. These are known to colonize the roots of land plants. The plants benefit from this, because the fungus provides them with nutrients and minerals. However, are the impacts of this marriage of convenience with the fungus on plant chemistry equal for all plants? That is what the researchers wanted to find out.
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With imprecise chips to the artificial brain

Published 15. May 2014

Researcher from Bielefeld University and international colleagues present their findings

Which circuits and chips are suitable for building artificial brains using the least possible amount of power? This is the question that Junior Professor Dr. Elisabetta Chicca from the Center of Excellence Cognitive Interaction Technology (CITEC) has been investigating in collaboration with colleagues from Italy and Switzerland. A surprising finding: Constructions that use not only digital but also analog compact and imprecise circuits are more suitable for building artificial nervous systems, rather than arrangements with only digital or precise but power-demanding analog electronic circuits. The study will be published in the scientific journal ‘Proceedings of the IEEE’. A preview was published online on Thursday, 1 March 2014.[Weiterlesen]
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