This is the new building of FIAS, the Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies, and it's interesting not only because of its colour - it's one of the first public research institutes in Germany financed to a large extent by the money of private sponsors.
Universities in Germany have traditionally been financed by public money of the state and federal governments, and they usually don't have large funds at their own. Frankfurt University is a bit special in this respect, since it has been founded in 1914 by wealthy Frankfurt citizens. While today it is a publicly funded university as it is common in Germany, there is a strong tradition of private sponsoring of research and higher education.
So, a few years ago, theoretical physicist Walter Greiner and neuroscientist Wolf Singer started using their connections to raise private funds to establish a new kind of institute, which was supposed to be legally independent, but closely connected to the university and its science departments. It should bring together theorists from such diverse areas as biology, chemistry, neuroscience, physics, and computer science in order to address problems all revolving around a common theme: The study of structure formation and self-organization in complex systems.
This was the beginning of FIAS.
Today, there are more than 50 scientists, guests and students working together on cooperative phenomena on length scales ranging from quarks in colour superconductivity and heavy ion collisions over atoms in atomic clusters and macromolecules to cells in the immune system and the brain. Details and more links can be found on the pages of the FIAS scientists.
The training of graduate students is organized in a Graduate School. Last summer, I was involved in the compilation of a brochure presenting the FIAS, and I was fascinated by the really inspiring atmosphere among the students, who come from all over the world and form very diverse scientific backgrounds, but were always involved in interesting discussions.
In September, the FIAS is supposed to move into the new, red building, which was built for the institute by a private sponsor, the Giersch Foundation. There, FIAS scientist will have a place to work and think - it will be interesting to follow the outcome of this kind of "experiment".
TAGS: FIAS, Science Funding