IRTG Teams

Teams at the universities of …

University of Münster

The Institute for Geoinformatics at the University of Münster is the largest of its kind in Germany and in Europe. It has three senior and a junior professor position in geoinformatics, as well as two and a half additional teaching staff positions. Its size stems mainly from the substantial extramural funding activities, currently supporting about 20 doctoral and 30 diploma students through projects.

One of these project groups, the Muenster Semantic Interoperability Lab (MUSIL), consists of currently ten doctoral and eleven BSc, MSc, and diploma students performing research on semantic interoperability for geospatial information ( The research program of MUSIL provides one of the central pillars for this IRTG and a lively environment of ongoing research. MUSIL has also been an active participant in a major industry undertaking, the Open Geospatial Consortium’s Semantic Interoperability Experiment in 2005. A close cooperation with a non-university research center in the topical area of the IRTG has been established with the Institute for Environment and Sustainability, European Commission Joint Research Centre, Ispra, Italy (; it involves regular internships, joint publications, and mutual visits in the context of European research projects and industry collaborations.

The four other participating research labs at Münster (Jiang, Krüger, Klemm, Pebesma) are equally oriented toward extramural funding and international dissertation work. They provide core geoscience and computer science expertise to the IRTG. All Münster professor have not only strong academic records, but engage in substantial collaborations with industry, both nationally and internationally. Industry regularly funds projects, and professor acts in consulting and advising roles on industry boards. Current main industry contacts include ESRI (USA), Ionic (Belgium), Image Matters (US), LaserScan (UK), Snowflake (UK), Google (CH), Eyeled GmbH, (Saarbrücken), Samsung AG (Korea), Palm Germany (München), BMW (München). Close ties to standardization bodies and consortia (ISO TC211, OGC, W3C) have been maintained for over 12 years and will be exploited to guarantee state-of-the-art technological approaches as well as early feedback into standardization and technology development processes.

The IRTG will be complementary and consecutive to the international learning environment at the Masters level. The Institute for Geoinformatics (in collaboration with the Institutes for Computer Science, Landscape Ecology, and Geography) has recently introduced two English-taught Masters programs in Geoinformatics and in Geospatial Technologies. The MSc in Geoinformatics rests on the BSc program in Geoinformatics. Worldwide, there are few consecutive BSc/MSc programs in Geoinformatics, and in Germany, the University of Münster is the only university offering an MSc program in Geoinformatics in English. Consequently, the conditions for qualifying graduates as “input” to the IRTG are excellent.

The MSc in Geospatial Technologies is a joint Masters program of the University of Münster, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal, and Universitat Jaume I, Spain. ERASMUS Mundus, the European excellence program in education, funds this joint Masters program with 3.8 Mio. € from 2007 to 2013 (see The Mundus Masters program addresses international and highly qualified holders of Bachelor degrees in application areas of Geographic Information. The Institute for Geoinformatics coordinates the program and has thereby acquired substantial experience in the organization and coordination of international qualification programs. We expect the following synergy effects between the international Masters programs and the IRTG:

  • Increased and complementary internationalization of the learning environments of both, Master and doctoral researchers;
  • Motivation for Master students through examples from and discussions with doctoral researchers on the next stage of scientific work;
  • A competitive challenge to teachers and students to further improve the quality of education;
  • Applicants from both Masters programs for the IRTG as research students or doctoral researchers;
  • Additional non-DFG-funded international research students working in the research initiatives;
  • Increased networking with international scientists and teachers, e.g., enabling better acquisition of visiting researchers.

University of Bremen

The DFG Transregional Collaborative ResearchCenter SFB/TR 8 Spatial Cognition: Reasoning, Action, Interaction integrates the research activities of about forty scientists at the University of Bremen. In weekly colloquia that will be open to the IRTG participants, researchers from the SFB/TR 8 and from laboratories worldwide discuss their work. The SFB/TR 8 also forms the nucleus of the International Quality Network (IQN) on Spatial Cognition that connects researchers from 30 universities. The IQN researchers are frequent visitors at University of Bremen and enhance the scientific exchange in the area of spatial cognition. The IQN was initiated through the future investment program (ZIP) of the German government and is coordinated at the University of Bremen. About twenty doctoral researchers are funded through the SFB/TR 8. About ten additional doctoral researchers that contribute with their research to the SFB/TR 8 are funded through the university directly. Additional international doctoral researchers receive scholarships from national or international scholarships. The SFB/TR 8 attracts growing numbers of international scholar ship applicants to the University of Bremen.

The internationally renowned German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) comprises about 190 full-time researchers at Kaiserslautern and Saarbrücken and has recently established a new branch, the DFKI-Lab Bremen. This branch initially consist of two departments, Robotics (Director: Kirchner) and Safe and Secure Cognitive Systems (Director: Krieg-Brückner). Both departments are cooperating with the University of Bremen in the SFB/TR 8 Spatial Cognition; the Safe and Secure Cognitive Systems Lab, in particular, will actively cooperate with the planned IRTG. Research students will find an active environment for interaction with other basic and industrial research projects in related areas.

As the SFB/TR 8 review board recommended, the Bremen teams intend to exploit the existing expertise and research infrastructure at the SFB/TR 8 to train doctoral students in a very active and internationally embedded research environment; in this way, the doctoral researchers can benefit from the ongoing discussions and presentations of research results, from the visits of international experts in the field, and they can contribute through their own research questions and approaches as well as through their connections to the partner universities. The IRTG further strengthens the international research profile of the University of Bremen and opens new opportunities for a top level education of doctoral candidates.

The University of Bremen already provides an impressive infrastructure to the SFB/TR 8. This infrastructure will also be available for the IRTG; it includes, in particular:

  • a new building with office space, meeting rooms, laboratory space
  • lecture hall (auditorium Rotunde) with telecolloquium facilities
  • secretarial, administrative, and technical support

The University of Bremen provides parents with sufficient access to childcare and kinder garten facilities within a short distance of the university campus. In addition, emergen cy care is given in case no kindergarten or other care opportunity is available. A 14-day summer / autumn school holiday care at the university is offered for the time when school holidays and semester overlap.

The International Office at the University of Bremen helps international students and guests with housing facilities and the like; the City of Bremen operates a special office on campus for visa issues etc.

The University of Bremen operates a career center jointly with the Bremen employment center. Students, graduates, and scientific employees can get advice on job and career planning; on the combination of different working areas; on qualification requirements; on job application strategies; placement for internships and employment positions; development of job search strategies; individual qualification and continuing education and their financing.

University at Buffalo

Our international partner is the University at Buffalo (State University of New York). Through its office of the National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis (NCGIA), the University at Buffalo (UB) is one of the leading sites for research and education in Geographic Information Science (GIScience) in the United States. The NCGIA coordinates GIScience activities for a campus community of about 60 professor researchers in 20 academic departments across 5 schools. NCGIA was established by the National Science Foundation (NSF) by a grant to a consortium of three universities including Buffalo. NCGIA is an interdisciplinary research center that reports to the Vice-President for Research, and no academic department has the majority of NCGIA members. The greatest number of members are, however, in the Department of Geography. The Department was ranked as 11th best in its discipline in the most recent Doctoral program evaluations by the National Research Council, and has grown considerably in numbers of doctoral researchers since that evaluation was conducted.

The excellence of UB in GIScience doctoral education was re-affirmed when the NSF awarded one of the first cohort of Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT grants) to UB in 1998 for a GIScience-centered program. Then, in 2003, UB was one of five IGERTs to be awarded a second five-year funding period. UB also is very strong in ontology, and recently partnered with Stanford University to form NCOR, the National Center for Ontological Research. All of the Buffalo participants in this IRTG project are members of the NCGIA, and many are affiliated with both NCOR and UB’s Center for Cognitive Science. David Mark is Director of the Buffalo site of the NCGIA, Barry Smith is co-Director of NCOR, and Stuart Shapiro is Director of the Center for Cognitive Science—all are participants in this project,

Buffalo’s current IGERT program is fully compatible with this IRTG proposal, and already includes an exchange program with Münster and Buffalo. On October 31st, UB has submitted a pre-proposal to the PIRE program of the National Science Foundation (NSF) for An International Partnership for Research Training and Education in Semantic Integration of Geographic Information. The PIRE proposal has been tightly coordinated with this IRTG proposal and involves the same professor.