Olympia Morata ProgrammeOn the Way to a University Career

3 May 2024

Olympia Morata Programme of Heidelberg University awards fellowships to four early-career researchers

Four young female postdoctoral researchers working on outstanding academic qualification projects are being funded in the context of Heidelberg University’s Olympia Morata Programme. Those selected – after a successful assessment of their applications – were Dr Julia Anthea Gessner from the Institute for Physical Chemistry, Dr Lisa-Marie Schütz from the Institute of Sports and Sports Sciences, along with Dr Charlotte Kirsch-Klingelhöffer and Dr Carolin Ziethe from the Theological Seminary. The programme aims to attract more women to university and scientific careers and contribute to increasing the proportion of women in leadership positions within and outside the university.

In her research project at the Institute for Physical Chemistry, Dr Gessner studies the optical properties of energy materials. These functional materials are meant to be used in sustainable, energy-efficient technologies such as solar cells, LEDs or batteries. A key to practical application lies in investigating ultra-rapid processes that take place during the interaction of these materials with light. To do this, the scientist would like to develop an innovative microscope using attosecond pulses in order to resolve the electronic phenomena in functional materials in time and space.

Porträt: Dr. Julia Anthea Gessner

At the Institute of Sports and Sports Sciences, Dr Schütz is studying psychological interventions employed to optimise performance prerequisites and promote and foster the mental health of athletes. Here the researcher links up empirically-supported sports-psychology approaches with innovative training methods, in order to place the quality of psychological care on a more strongly evidence-based foundation. The aim is to evaluate the efficiency and effectiveness of interventions both at the individual and team-based level.

Porträt: Dr. Lisa-Marie Schütz

At the Theological Seminary, Dr Kirsch-Klingelhöffer’s habilitation project analyses the only extant speech ascribed to Constantine the Great, who became Roman emperor in 306 CE. In this “Speech to the assembly of the saints” – Latin “Oratio ad sanctorum coetum” – he outlines his understanding of Christian doctrine and links it with his own imperial programme. The scholar wants to examine aspects such as the doctrine of God, the ethics and ideology of Constantine’s reign, placing it in the context of further testimonies of this emperor. 

Porträt: Dr. Charlotte Kirsch-Klingelhöffer

Likewise based at the Theological Seminary, Dr Ziethe’s research project engages with the early Christian reception of the Jewish father figures − Abraham, Moses and David − in the Acts of the Apostles and the Gospel of Luke. Besides their reception in early Jewish texts, Greco-Roman culture with its special esteem for antiquity, constitutes a relevant frame of reference. The research correlates with the fundamental question about the importance and identity-creating role of the past for the present of early Christianity, which was just beginning to emerge.

Porträt: Dr. Carolin Ziethe

The aim of the Olympia Morata Programme is to support female postdoctoral researchers who are pursuing an outstanding qualification project. To further their university career, the fellows are granted posts for a period of two years in the context of Heidelberg University’s equal opportunity policy. There are also further training and career development courses. The support programme is in memory of Olympia Morata, an Italian poet and humanist scholar, who died in Heidelberg in 1555.