Skip to content

U Bremen Excellence Chairs

The ‘U Bremen Excellence Chairs’ programme underscores the strong international networking of existing research strengths and enhances their visibility. It promotes the University of Bremen’s internationalisation efforts on a high level. Eight Chairs will be supported for four to seven years by means of the so-called University Allowance funded within the Excellence Initiative of the German federal and state governments. They are primarily established in the University’s High-Profile Areas and other areas of high potential. Additionally, three Chairs are foreseen in the Excellence Cluster titled ‘The Ocean Floor – Earth’s Uncharted Interface‘.

Chair-holders are outstanding experts in their disciplines and represent bridgeheads for collaboration with leading institutions worldwide. As ‘visiting Chairs‘ they will be regularly present at the University of Bremen over a period of several years and will establish their own working groups here. The U Bremen Excellence Chairs are closely integrated in the University’s subject areas and will be eligible to supervise doctoral candidates. Further chairs will be selected in autumn 2019. From 2020, up to four other Excellence Chairs will be able to begin their work at the university.

The following Chairs have been assigned for the period from January 2019 to December 2022.

Prof. Dr. Haizhou Li is nominated for research on a biologically inspired auditory model for machine listening that matches human listening ability. With his U Bremen Excellence Chair, he will implement a ‘Machine Listening Laboratory’ in the University of Bremen’s high-profile area MMM on ‘Minds, Media, Machines’. The Chair ist hosted by Prof. Dr. Tanja Schultz.



The Excellence Chair will supervise a research program to model, implement and verify a biologically inspired auditory model for machine listening that emulates human listening ability. The research group takes an anthropomorphic approach to address the machine listening problem that fits into the emerging paradigm of explainable artificial intelligence. The anthropomorphic approach features a two-way cognitive loop between the speech acquisition frontend and speech understanding backend, that will tremendously improve voice-based technologies, such as auditory attention in cocktail-party listening, multi-talker speech recognition, and robotic audition in real-world applications. The research marks a departure from today's speech processing architecture, that is based on a one-way pipeline.

Prof. Dr. Petar Popovski is nominated for research on satellite technologies with special focus on wireless communication. His U Bremen Excellence Chair is established in AEOS, the University of Bremen’s Cluster Initiative on ‘Advancing Earth Observation Sciences’ and hosted by
Prof. Dr. Armin Dekorsy.



The key objective of the joint project is to complement the research experience of the University of Bremen in designing baseband technologies for wireless communications with the outstanding expertise of Prof. Popovski in designing access protocols for wireless (satellite) networks. The research aims at a joint design of baseband and access technologies, which are needed for high performance networks of small satellites for the NewSpace area. A key research direction is the design and adaptation of wireless connectivity protocols by integration of data-driven approaches and tools from Machine Learning (ML). These tools will supplement the traditional statistical methods applied in communication engineering, towards robust parameter adjustments as well as novel, ML-inspired algorithms for signal design and protocol specification.   

Prof. Dr. Nicola Marzari is nominated for research on the computational design and discovery of novel structural metallic alloy and the simulation of their behaviour under mechanical and electromagnetic load. His U Bremen Excellence Chair is established in MAPEX, the University of Bremen’s
Center for Materials and Processes and hosted by Prof. Dr. Lucio Colombi Ciacchi.



The Excellence Chair will ignite and drive an effort in the computational design and discovery of novel structural metallic alloys of key industrial and applied relevance, and to the simulation of their behaviour under mechanical and electromagnetic load. The strength of this effort will come from a combination of novel atomistic modelling techniques, based on neural networks and machine learning, with novel informatics approaches in the high-throughput exploration of materials combinations. On one hand, the work will comprise the development and applications of machine-learning interatomic potentials, augmented with spin Hamiltonians, to simulate the elasto-plastic response of magnetic alloys (e.g. Fe, Co, Ni alloys) in the presence of extended defects (grain boundaries, dislocations, etc). On the other hand, it will comprise the first-principles, high-throughput evaluation of alloy properties as a function of their composition and thermomechanical treatment. This will be realized via a descriptor-based procedure assisted by inverse-problem solving and machine learning methods.

Prof. Dr. Shalini Randeria is nominated for research on soft authoritarianism in comparative interdisciplinary persectives. Her U Bremen Excellence Chair is established in WoC, the University of Bremen’s research platform on ‘Worlds of Contradiction’, including the humanities, social sciences, cultural sciences and law. The Chair is hosted by Prof. Dr. Michi Knecht and Prof. Dr. Ingo Warnke.



The interdisciplinary research group ‘Soft Authoritarianisms: Comparative Interdisciplinary Perspectives’ will focus on contradictions which, in rhetorical terms, appear as contradictio in adiecto, but in fact function as effective power options, as a used fusion of softness and authority. The research group investigates how “soft authoritarianisms” unfold, how elections bolster the power of strongmen and how the rule of law is dismantled by using the law to sabotage accountability. Three contrastive case studies linking ethnography with discourse analysis and documentary research will focus on India, Poland and Turkey resp. the Turkish-European diaspora. These case studies will trace processes within democracies as well as in transnational settings in order  to analyse authoritarian practices of state transformation,  to develop an empirically based typology and to build process-sensitive theory that overcomes the West-non-West divide characteristic of the social sciences.