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Habilitation in five years

Tessa Quax, Janine Schweier and Elisabeth Zima receive funding for young researchers from the state of Baden-Württemberg

Freiburg, Jan 18, 2018

Habilitation in five years

From left to right: Tessa Quax, Janine Schweier, Elisabeth Zima. private source

The biologist Dr. Tessa Quax, the forest scientist Dr. Janine Schweier, and Dr. Elisabeth Zima, who has a Ph.D. in German Studies, have successfully received support from the "Margarete von Wrangell Habilitation Program for Women." In the coming five years they will carry out their own research projects at the University of Freiburg while obtaining their habilitation on their project topics. Their work will start in the first quarter of 2018 and includes a research position at the University of Freiburg as well as a framework program offering networking, continuing education, and coaching, which is financed by Baden-Württemberg's Ministry of Education, Research, and Art (MWK), and the University of Freiburg. The aim of the program is to support young female researchers along their way to becoming professors.


Tessa Quax: Surface structures of archaea and their role in interacting with their surroundings

The ability to perceive environmental stimuli and to react with directed movement is one of the essential features of any living organism. For this purpose archaea have developed a unique motility structure. Archaea are single-celled, nucleus-free microorganisms that are important for understanding of evolution. Archaea are ubiquitously present in nature and some species can adapt to extreme habitats – such as hot sulfur springs, or extreme salt lakes. Archaea are also found in the human intestinal tract and on human skin. Tessa Quax is studying the molecular mechanisms of signal transduction from the surrounding environment on motility structure of archaea. Moreover, she is investigating how archaeal viruses employ this motility structure during the infection process. Her findings will contribute to a better understanding of interaction of archaea with the environment and their colonization of the human body. Beyond that, structural information about the archaeal motility mechanism could contribute to the development of a biological nanomotor.


Janine Schweier: Low Impact Supply systems in forestry and agriculture

Janine Schweier is investigating innovative ways to provide biomass and bioenergy that will lead to sustainable systems which efficiently mobilize resources and have simultaneously low production costs and environmental impacts. In order to achieve this, the forest scientist is evaluating and testing new types of systems that have minimal effects on humans and the environment – for example the use of forestry equipment that does not cause soil damages during harvest on sensitive terrain. She is also examining ways to raise trees and agricultural crops on the same areas of land. In addition, she is analyzing forest and agricultural management strategies that consider increasing demand for wood, food and energy. She aims to point out practices suitable for enhancing the sustainability of forest and agricultural production chains and products.


Elisabeth Zima: Multimodal motion event descriptions a comparison of experimentally gathered and spontaneous conversation data

In her linguistic habilitation project, Elisabeth Zima is investigating the role of hand gestures during spontaneous conversation about motion events. The mutual dependence of language structure – the grammatical system of a language – and the co-speech use of gestures while talking about motion events have been a focal point of psycholinguistic, experiment-based multimodality research for several years. A specific method of obtaining data is used for this purpose. Test subjects are shown short clips of cartoon videos, immediately after which they tell each other what they have seen. Zima's project, by contrast, looks at data from spontaneous, natural conversations between adult, German-speakers talking about physical motion. Her aim is to test the hypothesis that the multimodal behavior of speakers that are asked to retell cartoons in an experimental setting differs decisively from how the use speech and gesture to talk about motion in non-elicited, spontaneous conversation.


Dr. Tessa Quax
Institute of Biology II – Microbiology
University of Freiburg
Phone: 0761/203-2631


Dr. Janine Schweier
Institute of Forest Sciences – Chair of Forest Operations
University of Freiburg


Dr. Elisabeth Zima
Department of German
University of Freiburg
Fax: 0761/203-97864