German-Canadian Research Cooperation

Canadian researchers visit Bielefeld University.

Representatives from the two largest Canadian scientific organizations visited Bielefeld University on Wednesday, 22 July 2015, where they learned about the joint international Graduate School of Bielefeld University, the Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada, and the Cluster of Excellence Cognitive Interaction Technology (CITEC). Delegates included Dr. Gilles Patry, President of the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), Dr. Mario Pinto, President of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), and Jean Saint-Vil, International Director of the NSERC. The German Research Foundation (DFG) organized the delegation’s visits to Munich, Bonn, Bielefeld, and Berlin. The visit allowed the Canadian representatives to become acquainted with selected German universities and their educational and research institutes.  

From left: Dr. Rainer Gruhlich, Dr. Thomas Hermann, Dr. Gilles Patry, Dr. Mario Pinto, Dr. Sebastian Granderath, Prof. Dr.-Ing. Gerhard Sagerer, Jean Saint-Vil, Prof. Dr. Helge Ritter, Prof. Dr. Mario Botsch, Dr. Sandra Haseloff, Prof. Dr. Ellen Baake, Dr. Roland Wittler. Foto: Universitat BielefeldRektor Professor Dr.-Ing. Gerhard Sagerer welcomed the Canadian guests. At the level of German-wide higher educational policy, Prof. Dr.-Ing. Gerhard Sagerer participates in the research commission of the German Rector’s Conference. Internationally, he serves as the speaker for the German side of the German-Canadian University Research Association. After the Rektor delivered his opening greetings, the academic coordinator of the International research training group, Dr. Roland Wittler, and Bioinformatics Professor Dr. Ellen Baake spoke about the research training group's activities. Together with doctoral researchers, the Canadian representatives then viewed a poster presentation exhibit.

The research training group is called “Computational Methods for the Analysis of the Diversity and Dynamics of Genomes” and is being funded by the DFG in cooperation with Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada. Statisticians, biologists, and computer scientists are working together to decode genetic information. The goal of this joint international Graduate School is to train young academics and researchers. To accomplish this, both universities are working with the British Columbia Cancer Agency, a Canadian cancer research institute, and the Prostate Center in Vancouver. Both universities are young, research-oriented institutions of higher learning that are among the leading universities for developing bioinformational algorithms and software in each of their respective countries.

At CITEC at Bielefeld University, the Canadian delegates learned about robotics and virtual reality by visiting the laboratories of the Cluster of Excellence and speaking with CITEC Coordinator Prof. Dr. Helge Ritter. Approximately 40 research groups from computer science, biology, linguistics, mathematics, psychology, and sports science conduct research at CITEC, where they are working to impart technical systems with cognitive abilities. Their guiding principle is that machines should adapt themselves to humans, not the other way around. Their vision is for the technical assistants of tomorrow to be able to understand their tasks as fully as possible in order to communicate with people in the most natural way. These technical assistants should also be able to recognize a person’s expectations and emotions, and take these into account in their actions. CITEC is funded as part of the national Cluster of Excellence initiative and the federal state leading-edge research in higher education initiative.