Research Activity of the Faculty of Agricultural and Nutritional Science

Due to the fact that they explore the resources upon which human life depends, the agricultural and nutritional sciences have a special social significance.  The problems that the agricultural and nutritional sciences (ANS) look at can be seen within the contexts of world population growth, climate change, the globalization and liberalization of world trade, the eastern expansion of the E.U. as well as many other social contexts.  While ANS research was primarily focused on the enhancement of agricultural productivity processes and the improvement of world nutrition up until late in the twentieth century, today's ANS research finds itself serving a variety of complex social interests such as food safety, environmental and natural resource protection, animal welfare and health protection.  This paradigm shift, which is reflected in the focal shift of ANS research, is often subsumed by the terms 'agricultural multifunctionality' and 'consumer health protection'.  Kiel's agronomists and nutritionists are of the opinion that agricultural and nutritional science research can only live up to this special social responsibility when it is understood and carried out as problem- and system-oriented sciences.  Solving complex problems requires a comprehensive, system-oriented, and multi-disciplinary approach to research.  Good research successfully addresses given problems through an interdisciplinary network, without getting stuck at partial solutions.

The Faculty of Agricultural and Nutritional Science of the University of Kiel has, accordingly, adapted to these new requirements.  The faculty distinguishes itself through the fact that its research covers the entire process chain, from the primary production and its resulting environmental impact to the preparation, consumption and health benefits of quality food (food chain analysis).  Through the structural unity of agricultural, nutritional and environmental scientists under the roof of one faculty, all areas of multi-disciplinary expertise are covered.  With that said, due to limited financial resources, not all areas of interest can be pursued with the desired intensity.

The Faculty's main research focuses lie in the areas of agriculture and the environment, agricultural economics and agribusiness, nutrition and health, biotechnology and molecular biology.  The innovative potential of the faculty can not only be seen in a shift towards applied biological science, for which two professorships were established within one year (2004) alone.  In addition to the creation of a C3 professorship in molecular nutrition, the faculty has also been granted approval for a new professorship in the area of  'molecular phytopathology', which is financed by the 'Innovationsfonds des Landes Schleswig-Holstein'.  This innovative process goes along with cutbacks in the classical areas of the agricultural sciences. The research strategy of the faculty of Agricultural and Nutritional Sciences not only distinguishes itself through its overlapping multi-disciplinary approach but also through its balanced dedication to basic and application research.  The spectrum ranges from elementary research projects in the area of genome analysis to methodical research to problem-oriented research with clearly visible practical implications.  An earmark characteristic of Kiel's ANS research is the fact that it utilizes and continues to convert its basic knowledge into concrete solutions to problems.  This research strategy not only implies the aim to transfer innovation into practice, but also to publish in high-ranking scientific journals.  These two goals are faculty priorities and, as such, are kept equally in mind when it comes to the appointment of professorships.  The faculty's application-oriented research has played a significant role in the faculty's excellent reputation as an economic, political and management partner at home and abroad.  Sought after, this approach will continue to serve as a foundation of our work.

The faculty is proud of the fact that Professor Christian Jung of the Institute of 'Pflanzenbau und Pflanzenzüchtung' was awarded the Leibniz-Preis der DFG and regards this award as a reflection of the quality of the faculty's basic research.  This prize in the amount of 1.55 million Euros is the most prestigious and highest-yielding German research prize.  Professor Jung was one of ten scientists selected from 130 nominees to win this award in 2005.  Additionally, the Faculty of Agricultural and Nutritional Science is, according to the latest DFG ranking, the second strongest ANS institution in the category of 'external research funding per professor' after the JLU Giessen.  Furthermore, the faculty has the highest external research funding per professor among all of the faculties of the CAU.  Members of the faculty will continue to work closely with relevant neighbouring disciplines within and outside of the CAU to maintain its excellent reputation in the area of basic research.  A stategic goal is also to establish a standardized PhD program in addition to the various temporarily established 'Graduiertenkollegs' to help advance up-and-coming scientists - and, thus, German ANS research – to maintain an internationally competitive level.  Within the framework of an inter-regional cooperation, first steps have already been made by the agronomists in this direction.

As well, a PhD program is in the works in cooperation with the Faculty of Mathematical Sciences and the Faculty of Medicine due to the founding of the Center for Molecular Biosciences (ZMB).