5 projects of SPbU receive joint grants from the RSF and the GRF (DFG)


The Russian Science Foundation and the German Research Foundation (the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft) have summed up the results of the fifth joint grant competition for international research teams. Five of the 18 winning projects will be implemented under the supervision of St Petersburg University scientists. This is the best result among all participating organisations.

Projects in the field of physics, mathematics, natural sciences and humanities have received grants. Each research team includes scientists from Russia and Germany.

18 million roubles will be received by each project over three years: from 2021 to 2023.

One of the winners is the project 'Saints and heroes from Christianisation to Nationalism: Symbol, Image, Memory (Nord-West Russia, Baltic and Nordic countries)'. It is implemented by St Petersburg University in cooperation with the University of Greifswald. The principal investigator from the Russian side is Professor Alexander Filyushkin, Head of the Department of History of Slavic and Balkan Countries at St Petersburg University, Doctor of History.

As part of the project, the scholars will study the evolution of images of medieval saints and heroes related to the history of the Baltic Sea region. The project description states: ‘Comparison of these phenomena will allow a deeper understanding of the laws of development of national cultures around the Baltic Sea. This will therefore help explain the differences in present-day political culture. Which countries and regions had a penchant for the cults of kings and warriors? How were male and female identification figures distributed? How did cults appear? How did they transform in history? What images and symbols were these models presented through?’

The grant is also given to the project of St Petersburg University and the University of Regensburg ‘Mixed main group compounds of p block elements’. The Russian principal investigator is Alexey Timoshkin, Professor at the Department of General and Inorganic Chemistry at St Petersburg University, Candidate of Chemistry. The project deals with the synthesis of a new class of donor-acceptor stabilised hydrogen compounds of elements of the main subgroups. The scientists will carry out calculations of the electronic and optical properties of such compounds. They plan to obtain information about their structure, volatility and thermal stability, and many other data in order to understand how viable their use as precursors for obtaining functional composites is.

The Russian Science Foundation will support 18 joint Russian-German projects.

Another winning project is ‘Russian in Germany across Generations’. It will be implemented by St Petersburg University in cooperation with the University of Greifswald and the University of Konstanz. On the Russian side, the research team is headed by Leonid Moskovkin, Doctor of Pedagogy, Professor at the Department of Russian as a Foreign Language and Methods of its Teaching at St Petersburg University. The research is focused on the identification and theoretical description of changes in the language of the Russian-speaking population living in Germany. The linguistic changes across generations will be described. Russian speech of the first generation will be compared with the speech of the second and third generations at the phonetic, lexical, morphological and syntactic levels.

‘It is possible to carry out such a study only in Germany, since the Russian-speaking diaspora ranks second in terms of number. Additionally, this diaspora is unique in that it consists of different groups of people. Firstly, these are Russian Germans, and secondly, the so-called contingent refugees of Jewish descent. Both groups were granted the right to enter Germany with whole families. Therefore, Germany provides a unique opportunity to track the development of Russian across generations depending on their age when emigrating,’ the project description states.

A grant is also received by the joint project of St Petersburg University and the University of Cologne ‘Tensor 3D interpretation of CSRMT data with novel high frequency sources considering displacement currents and anisotropy’. From the Russian side, it is headed by Alexander Saraev, Associate Professor at the Department of Geophysics at St Petersburg University, Candidate of Geology and Mineralogy. The project focuses on improving the controlled source radiomagnetotelluric (CSRMT) sounding method, which is used for studying shallow depths. Using this method, geophysicists solve various environmental, engineering and geological problems.

The grant is also allocated to the project of St Petersburg University and Justus Liebig University Giessen ‘Unravelling the Pontocaspian biodiversity crisis’. From the Russian side, it is headed by Professor Maxim Vinarski, Head of the Laboratory of Macro-Ecology and Biogeography of Invertebrates at St Petersburg University, Doctor of Biology. The research team will investigate the history and current state of biodiversity of molluscs in the water bodies of the Caspian, Black Sea and Aral basins. Molluscs are chosen as an object for study because their shells are easily preserved in the fossil record. This makes it possible to compare the present-day situation with that of the past.

The researchers also plan to identify potential refugia, i.e. areas in which the endemic fauna of the Ponto-Caspian region can potentially survive. These can be deep-water zones of lake basins, groundwater, estuaries, and satellite lakes. They can be detected on the basis of predictive modelling and targeted field work.


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