Sustainable and interdisciplinary

Collaborative Research Centers and Research Training Groups

Collaborative Research Centers (CRC) and CRC/Transregios (CRC-TRR) of the German Research Foundation (DFG) are the flagships of the German science landscape. The University of Stuttgart is the lead university for eight of these multi-million Euro funded institutes and is a participant in others.

In the Collaborative Research Centers (CRC), sustained by DFG for up to twelve years, researchers collaborate on interdisciplinary, challenging, and costly research projects. CRCs that are permanently located in one university are differentiated from the so-called Transregios (CRC-TRR) that are spread over several university locations.

At present, five Collaborative Research Centers and three Transregional Collaborative Research Centers are housed at the University of Stuttgart. Besides, the University plays a major role in three additional CRC and two Transregios. Added to this University Stuttgart is speaker in three DFG Research Training Groups and we have two DFG Priority Programs as well as numerous Research Units.

Collaborative Research Centers link researchers from the most varied speciality fields and disciplines. Pictured here is a bionic structure from CRC-TRR 141. (c)  ICD
Collaborative Research Centers link researchers from the most varied speciality fields and disciplines. Pictured here is a bionic structure from CRC-TRR 141.

Localized Collaborative Research Centers (CRC)

CRC 716 makes complex calculations intelligible with interactive images. (c) Max Kovalenko
CRC 716 makes complex calculations intelligible with interactive images.

Spokesperson: Prof. Christan Holm, Institute of Computational Physics

Computer simulations allow us to answer questions about the properties of materials, causes of fracturing, machine process flows or biochemical processes. But, to understand the macro world, we first need to grasp it at the small and smallest scales. This is the principle to which the researchers of CRC 716 have dedicated themselves to investigate the smallest particles in nature and technology. With computers, they reconstruct the behavior of atoms and molecules in the quest for answers to current scientific problems.

To this end, we have teams from the natural and engineering sciences as well as computer science working closely together. They develop suitable models for describing the processes in realms that are invisible to the eye. In the process, they seek to make it possible to calculate a maximum of information, long time frames and complex problems on presently available computer architectures in order to create intelligible pictures of the particle world.

Spokesperson: Prof. Jonas Kuhn, Institute for Natural Language Processing, Foundations of Computational Linguistics Research Unit

Words like barrier, supply, or measurement variously describe either a blocking, delivery, or measuring event or can refer to a fence, a good, or a value. The intended meaning can only be determined in context. It is these double meanings and ambiguities that makes “Incremental specification in context” the object of study in CRC 732 where approximately 50 researchers brought together from theoretical linguistics and computer linguistics work. In the current third funding period (2014-2018) we are planning, for one, to apply the research done to date to “non-canonical data,” i.e., for example, constructions that are not unambiguously classifiable, languages that are seldom studied and varieties of “unadjusted” text and spontaneously-spoken dialogs. We also plan to test the resulting hypotheses using data from web corpora. In doing so, CRC 732 will make a significant contribution to the “Digital Culture & Technology” topic of the future at the University of Stuttgart

Spokesperson: Prof. Werner Sobek, Institute of Lightweight Structures and Conceptual Design

The CRC 1244 "Adaptive envelopes and structures for the constructed environment of tomorrow" deals with the question of how to create more living space with less materials in the face of growing world population and shrinking resources. The use of  adaptive elements in load-bearing structures, envelope systems, and interior works makes it possible to precisely change the structural and building-physical characteristics of materials and construction elements so that they ideally adapt to various kinds of loads. This has many advantages: load-bearing structures can be produced with less material and energy usage. In the field of buliding envelopes the adaptive elements promote energy efficiency and improve the quality of stay inside the buildings - an important prerequisite for an improvement of the user's physical and mental well-being. Besides the static-constructive and building-physically relevant opportunities and effects, the integration of adaptive elements also enlarges the scope of drafting and design in architecture.


To the project website (german)

Spokesperson: Professor Rainer Helmig, for Water and Environmental Modelling

The Collaborative Research Center (CRC) 1313 has set itself the target of developing a fundamental understanding of how the interfaces – for example between two fluids or between the fluid and a solid material – influence flow, transport and deformation in porous media. On the one hand it should be quantified which influencing factors like pore geometry, the heterogeneity and cracks in the porous medium have on the dynamics of the flow processes. On the other hand mathematical and numerical models should be developed with which the impacts of processes that take place on very many small scales can be integrated into flow simulations.

How liquids or gases (fluids) spread in porous media, for example in rocks, and to which deformations this leads plays a role in very many fields of application. Examples of this are the optimisation of fuel cells, the storage of carbon dioxide or methane underground, the prediction of landslides after heavy rain or the transport of medicaments in human tissues.

To the project website

Spokesperson: Prof. Michael R. Buchmeiser, Institute of Polymer Chemistry

The CRC “Molecular Heterogeneous Catalysis in Confined Geometries” will investigate catalytic reactions in the pores of various carrier media. The aim is to develop new heterogeneous metal-organic catalyst systems with higher selectivity, and thus contribute to more efficient use of raw materials, among other goals.

Read more

Transregio Collaborative Research Centers

A minuscule droplet is kept in suspension by a laser while its light scattering characteristics are analyzed. (c) Sven Cichowicz
A minuscule droplet is kept in suspension by a laser while its light scattering characteristics are analyzed.

Spokesperson: Prof. Bernhard Weigand, Institute of Aerospace Thermodynamics 

Droplets have a key role in many areas of nature and technology. Gaining a fundamental understanding of droplet dynamics processes is crucial for improving technical systems or predicting natural processes. Many of these processes take place under extreme environmental conditions and are already applied in technical systems despite a lack of fundamental knowledge. This is precisely where the Transregio “Droplet dynamics under extreme ambient conditions” picks up. The goal is first to gain a profound physical understanding of these processes, then show how to describe them analytically and numerically and find ways to implement them. This is expected to lead to improved prediction of larger natural systems or technical applications..

Following on the first funding phase of CRC-TRR 75 in which the focus was on fundamental processes of single droplets, the current second phase concentrates on small droplet groups and droplet clusters all oriented to the selected lead examples.

CRC-TRR 141 translates natural structures - here made by a diving bell spider - into innovative architecture. (c) ICD/ITKE
CRC-TRR 141 translates natural structures - here made by a diving bell spider - into innovative architecture.

Spokesperson: Prof. Jan Knippers, Institute of Building Structures and Structural Design

Building the way nature does it: Transregio 141 opens a new avenue to design and construction in architecture. It links the competencies of the University of Stuttgart in the fields of lightweight construction and simulation techniques with the focus of partner Universities of Freiburg and Tuebingen in biology, physics, and the geosciences. The goal is to develop multi-functional, adaptable structures that are simultaneously ecologically efficient and also far exceed the limits of conventional structural design. An important characteristic of natural structures is their multi-layered, hierarchically structured and locally differentiated combination of a few basic molecular components. These lead to multiple networked functions. Recent developments in computer-based modeling, simulation, and production offer new options for more closely analyzing these principles and for transferring them to building construction and other technological areas. Our researchers aim not only to improve technical performance but also focus on the ecological characteristics of natural structures, particularly the effective use of limited resources and their closed materials cycles.

To make the quality and practicality of image information measurable, findings from eye tracking research are utilized. (c) VISUS
To make the quality and practicality of image information measurable, findings from eye tracking research are utilized.

Spokesperson: Prof. Daniel Weiskopf, Visualization Research Center

Do images get the information they contain across to the observer? How much effort is required to extract it? What possibilities do new interaction techniques offer? CRC/Transregio 161 focuses on visual computing, that is, the computer-aided processing and presentation of pictorial information. The joint project is carried out by the Universities of Stuttgart and of Constance; the Max-Planck-Institute of Biological Cybernetics in Tuebingen is also a participant.

Subsumed in the “visual computing” title are numerous applications from research and industry as well as from individuals such as the visualization of measurement data or simulations, virtual maps and tours or computer-generated movie scenes. Information scientists from various disciplines collaborate with engineers and psychologists on new technologies for simplifying the representation and processing of the steadily growing masses of data and for further improving the quality of computer-generated images. The goal of the approx. 40 participating scientists is to make the quality and precision of existing as well as new visual computing methods measurable, determinable and adaptable to the needs of different applications and users.

Transregio Collaborative Research Centers of other universities with participation of the University of Stuttgart


Spokesperson: Prof. Nikolaus Andreas Adams, Institute of Aerodynamics at the Technical University of Munich

Sub-projects of the University of Stuttgart: Prof. Bernhard Weigand, Institute of Aerospace Thermodynamics

CRC-TRR 40 has scientists at the Universities of Aachen, Braunschweig, Munich and Stuttgart focusing on those components of rocket-propelled space transportation systems that are exposed to extremely high loads and temperatures: the combustion chamber, the nozzle, and the aft body. Structure cooling and flow-structure correlation are also subjects of detailed research in order to improve currently deployed systems.

The projects housed at the University of Stuttgart specifically investigate direct numerical simulation of effusion cooling and new, innovative cooling methods for rocket combustion chambers. Also being investigated is turbulent spray combustion in rocket combustion chambers and droplet vaporization near the critical point and under supercritical conditions.

To the project website

Spokesperson: Prof. Gunter Malle, TU Kaiserslautern

Sub-projects of the University of Stuttgart: Prof. Meinolf Geck, Institut für Algebra und Zahlentheorie

A decisive feature of current developments is that more and more of the abstract concepts of pure mathematics are made constructive, with interdisciplinary methods playing a significant role. The TRR 195 aims at taking a leading role in driving these developments: In the five core areas listed below, it will provide the computational open source infrastructure for years to come; it will create vast amounts of data important to the mathematical community; and it will exploit the infrastructure and data to solve fundamental mathematical problems.

To the project website

Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Dieter Braun, LMU Munich

Sub-projects of the University of Stuttgart: Prof. Clemens Richert, Institute of Organic Chemistry (IOC)

The goal of the CRC/Transregio “Emergence of Life: Exploring Mechanisms with Cross-Disciplinary Experiments” is to test, in the laboratory, various hypotheses about the emergence of life. This will be made possible through close collaboration between researchers from the fields of astronomy, biology, chemistry, the geosciences and physics.

Spokesperson: Prof. Günther Meschke, Ruhr-University Bochum, Lehrstuhl für Statik und Dynamik

Sub-projects of the University of Stuttgart: Prof. Holger Steeb, Institute of Applied Mechanics (Civil Engineering)

In collaborative research centre 837 "Interaction modelling in mechanised tunnelling", researchers draw up models in order to make tunnel construction more economical and safer. They develop numeric models, computer-supported simulation methods and draft concepts to realistically portray the complex interactions between the building ground, the tunnel boring machine, support measures and above-ground building development in a computer model. And problems should thus be identified reliably before the working face, the point at which the cutting wheel digs the tunnel. Knowledge from this Collaborative Research Centre enables tunnel projects to be planned and implemented better.

To the project website

Spokesperson: Prof. Marlis Hochbruck, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Institute of Applied and Numeric Mathematics

Sub-projects of the University of Stuttgart:
Prof. Guido Schneider, Institute of Analysis, Dynamics and Modelling

The goals of this Collaborative Research Center include analytically understanding wave propagation under realistic conditions, modeling them numerically and also ultimately controlling them. The fundamental methodological approach is one of integrated mathematical analysis and numerics. The focus of Prof. Schneider’s contribution to this work is approximation using amplitude equations. It finds application in waterwaves or non-linear optics and is used in cases when direct numerical simulation is not feasible due to the multiscale character of the problems under consideration.

Spokesperson: Prof. Peter Grathwohl, University of Tübingen

Sub-projects of the University of Stuttgart: Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Nowak, Institut of Modelling Hydraulic and Environmental Systems, Stochastic Simulation and Security Research for Hydro Systems

The CRC "CAMPOS – Cycle of matter in drainage areas: Metabolization of pollutants on the landscape scale“ examines the transport and turnover of pollutants in the spacious and long-term process chains that are predominant in nature. By using innovative monitoring systems as well as numerical landscape models the CRC wants to create a basis for more reliable predictions of future soil and water quality under the conditions of climate and land-use change. A special focus is laid on landscape elements such as rivers, subsections in the spring area of rivers, valley floors, fractured aquifiers and soil. The University of Stuttgart's contributions are in the areas of planning experiments and the assessment of uncertainties that are inevitable when modelling and simulating this kind of complex and not fully understood processes concerning pollutant transport.

To the project website

Providing opportunities for young scientists: Research training groups

The focus of the Research Training Groups funded by the German Research Foundation is the qualification of doctoral researchers within the framework of a topically focused research program and a structured training concept. Research Training Groups with an interdisciplinary approach are most desired. The aim is to prepare doctoral researchers intensively for the complex “science” job market and at the same time foster their early scientific independence.

Research Training Groups (GRK) at the University of Stuttgart


Spectral theory and dynamics of quantum systems
Spokesperson: Prof. Marcel Griesemer, Institute for Analysis, Dynamics and Modelling, Department of Analysis

Technologies for droplet interactions (DROPIT)
Spokesperson: Prof. Bernhard Weigand, Institute for Aerospace Thermodynamics

Whether it concerns the spray cooling of food, the process of evaporation or combustion processes in engines: how droplets interact among each other and with surroundings plays a central role in many industrial uses. The technological progress in this field requires the development of adequate calculation approaches. Yet this is only possible if you analyze the hardly recognizable detail processes at the phase boundary as well as the micro structure of surfaces. This is the goal of the German-Italian graduate college at the University of Stuttgart which receives €3.5 million funding from the German Research Foundation DFG.

„Soft Tissue Robotics" - Simulation methods for the development of control and automatization strategies for robots when interacting with soft tissues

Spokesperson: Prof. Oliver Röhrle, Professor for „Continuum Bio Mechanics and Mechano Biology“ in the Exzellence Cluster Simulation Technology and at the Institute of Applied Mechanics - Chair II

Whether you look at exoskeletons, fully automatic apple pickers or picking up parts in butchery: numerous challenging problems occur when ‘stiff’ robots have to deal with soft tissues. Finding solutions is the task of the new international graduate college (IKG) “Soft Tissue Robotics - Simulation methods for the development of control and automatization strategies for robots when interacting with soft tissues” at the University of Stuttgart. The IKG has the University of Auckland, New Zealand as a partner.

To improve basic knowledge the research concentrates its main focus on simulation technologies, automatization and control as well as the combination of technological and biological concepts. First of all, simulation techniques and sensors are to be further developed to enable an estimation of the deformation of materials after certain interactions. The second goal is the development of regulation and control technologies for robots interacting with soft tissues.

Eine Wissenschaftlerin und zwei Wissenschaftler im Gespräch. (c)
Supporting and fostering young scientists is of the utmost importance.

High-quality teams: DFG research units

A DFG research unit is a close-knit team of several outstanding scientists from a university who cooperate with researchers at other institutes on medium-term – generally up to six years – research projects that, in terms of thematic focus, duration and funding extend considerably beyond regular individual grant programs. Research units frequently contribute to establishing new research directions.

DFG priority programs

A DFG priority program (SPP) is a research program arranged for six years for supra-regionally bundling of scientific cooperations. It is designed for the advancement of important new scientific topics through coordinated funding distributed over multiple locations. Currently active at the University of Stuttgart are two DFG priority programs:

Prof. Marc Toussaint with his robot that is capable of learning. (c)
Prof. Marc Toussaint with his robot that is capable of learning.

Nr. 1527 Autonomous learning

Coordinator: Prof. Dr. Marc Toussaint, Institute for Parallel and Distributed Systems, Department of Machine Learning and Robotics

Nr. 1569 Generation of multifunctional inorganic materials by molecular bionics

Coordinator: Prof. Dr. Joachim Bill,  Institute for Materials Science, Chair of Materials Chemistry, Bio-inspired Mineralization Working Group

Novel Production Processes and Multi-Scale Analysis, Modelling and Design of Cell-Cell and Cell-Bioreactor Interactions (InterZell)
Coordinator: Prof. Dr. Ralf Takors, Institute of Biochemical Engineering


Dieses Bild zeigt Harrer

Birgit Harrer

Head of National Research Funding