Four researchers from the University of Fribourg have obtained "Sinergia" funding from the Swiss National Fund. Sinergia supports ambitious collaborative projects between two to four professors in Switzerland, on topics that cross the boundaries between different fields. Obtaining Sinergia funding is remarkable because the competition is high, and also because interdisciplinary collaborations are often especially challenging to set up.
The four successful Unifr professors are Jörn Dengjel and Stefano Vanni in biology, Ralph Müller in German studies and Christian Mazza in mathematics.
For instance professor Mazza will collaborate with biology Professor van der Meer at University of Lausanne. The idea is to explore whether complex microbe ecosystems, like those in soils for instance, can be understood with the mathematics developed to study chemical reaction networks. Because chemical networks are so important in cell biology, the mathematical tools to model them are quite advanced. Microbe ecosystems are currently modeled either with general population equations or by simulating the individual interactions between the different types of microbes, the Sinergia project explores a completely different approach.