Press releases

Whether it is new and groundbreaking research results, university topics or events – in our press releases you can find everything you need to know about the happenings at Goethe University. To subscribe, just send an email to

Goethe University PR & Communication Department 

Theodor-W.-Adorno Platz 1
60323 Frankfurt


Oct 4 2023

International research team’s mapping of 9,000 years of coral growth using drill cores from Belize shows decreasing accretion rate over recent earth history

Growth of coral reefs likely cannot keep pace with rising sea level

In identifying and dating coral remains in drill cores taken from Belize reefs, a team of experts from Goethe University Frankfurt and partners from Germany, the USA and Canada has shown the importance of specific types of coral for reef-building during the current Holocene geological epoch, dating back some 12,000 years. The scientists found that certain coral species disappeared for longer periods in the past due to climate changes, and identified another climate-related threat to coral reefs: In addition to warming and ocean acidification, among others, the rising sea level also threatens coral reefs, whose growth rates cannot keep up. 

Tropical coral reefs could end up being one of the first victims of climate change. The marine diversity hotspots are threatened by and declining as a result of global warming, ocean acidification, a deterioration of water quality, as well as diseases of reef-building organisms, and their growth is unable to keep up with the projected rise in sea levels. These are some of the conclusions drawn by an interdisciplinary team of scientists from Goethe University Frankfurt's Institute of Geosciences, the company ReefTech Inc., the GEOMAR Helmholtz Center of Ocean Research, the University of Ottawa's Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, and the GSI Helmholtz Center of Heavy Ion Research. Their findings are based on an examination of 22 drill cores collected from the Belize barrier reef and atolls, the largest reef system in the Atlantic Ocean, which focused on identifying and dating coral growth and accretion rates over the past 9,000 years. 

Professor Eberhard Gischler, head of the biosedimentology working group at Goethe University Frankfurt's Institute of Geosciences, and other scientists reexamined the specimens Gischler and Dr. J. Harold Hudson, Miami, USA, had collected between 1995 and 2002 . Studying the drill cores – which taken together measure a total of 215 meters – “enables us to develop both detailed and systematic reconstructions of the environmental conditions that prevailed during the Holocene, based on which previous ecological and environmental conditions can be reconstructed, allowing us to determine whether the current coral and coral reef declines are in fact unprecedented," Gischler says. Pooling their expertise, they identified and dated 127 coral fragments using radioisotope methods, and statistically analyzed the changes in coral community structure over time based on more than 1,100 fossil corals. Radioisotope dating allows scientists to determine the age of a material by referring to the decay rates of radioactive samples present in the sample. 

Having dated the corals, the team then identified the distances between them in the drill cores to estimate their growth rates. “Our data show that coral accretion rates in Belize decreased during the Holocene. While at 3.36 millimeters per year, the average accretion rates of reef margins are in the same range as other regions in the western Atlantic, they are somewhat lower than those in the Indo-Pacific." This has both an important impact on the future of tropical island-nations especially, which are either based on or protected by coral reef structure, and is also interesting in the context of climate change, Gischler explains. “The growth rates are at the lower end of the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) predictions of future sea-level rise until 2100." 

The research confirms the drastic decline in live coral in the Caribbean, where many reefs are no longer dominated by corals, but fleshy algae as well as weedy, generalistic taxa. Looking at the evolution over time, Gischler and his colleagues found that stress-tolerant, reef-building corals predominate in the older sections. “At the base of our cores, directly overlying Pleistocene reef limestone, Pseudodiploria brain corals and Orbicella star corals are most common, illustrating that members of the stress-tolerant taxa are clearly dominating," Gischler explains. Once the reef pedestal was fully inundated and environmental conditions improved, however, the abundance of this type of coral decreased. 

The study's authors point out that the shift from stony corals to fleshy algae and from common reef-builders to weedy taxa underlines the increasing importance of fecundity for the coral community, a trait which it seems helps them cope with increasing environmental stress. 

Pre-Anthropocene gaps in growth 

Another interesting detail unearthed in the drill cores is the existence of three centennial-scale gaps in the fossil record of the fast-growing, competitive “elkhorn coral" Acropora palmata in Belize – about 2,000, 4,000, as well as 5,500-6,000 years before today. The first and last of the gaps coincide with the two Acropora gaps in the Virgin Islands and the wider Caribbean, the researchers say, and likely point to periods of higher temperatures and increased storm activity as well as lower nutrient supply as possible causes. 

By contrast, the gap around 4,000 years before today coincides with a potential mass mortality of grazing echinoids in the region, which might have caused an increase in the abundance of fleshy algae during this time window. Another possible cause advanced by the study's authors is that the mortality was connected to the so-called 4.2 k-event, thought to have resulted in mid-latitude drought in North America as well as elevated sea surface temperature in tropical oceans. 

Publication: Eberhard Gischler, J. Harold Hudson, Anton Eisenhauer, Soran Parang & Michael Deveaux: 9000 years of change in coral community structure and accretion in Belize reefs, western Atlantic. Scientific Reports 13:11349 (2023),

Images for download: 

Photo 1: The upper panel shows a coral reef margin in Belize with living branched Acropora (elkhorn) and platy Millepora (fire) corals, which are both competitive and fast-growing. The lower panel shows broken branches of dead Acropora corals overgrown by weedy, fertile hill and finger corals (Porites) as well as fleshy algae. Photos: E. Gischler.
Photo 2: Eberhard Gischler (left; on winch), Harold Hudson (center; on tripod) and Belizean assistant Eric Vasquez coring using a hydraulic rotary drill on the pavement of the Belize Barrier Reef. Photo: G. Meyer. 

Further information
Prof. Dr. Eberhard Gischler
Head of the Biosedimentology Working Group
Faculty of Geosciences and Geography
Goethe University Frankfurt
Tel.: +49 (0)69 798-40183

Editor: Leonie Schultens, International Communication, PR & Communications Office, Tel.: +49 (0)69 798-12473,


Oct 2 2023

Annual children’s university kicks off on October 4 – Afternoon lectures open to all without prior registration – Friday lecture on gestures and signing includes sign language interpreters

20th Frankfurt Kinder-Uni: All about stardust, AI and talking hands

Schools in Hesse have hardly started again after the long summer break, and already the Frankfurt Kinder-Uni is about to begin. The 20th edition featuring a series of lectures for inquisitive children will take place from October 4 to 6. All morning lectures have already been booked by registered school classes, but starting at 4 p.m. in the afternoons, attendance is open to all without registration, with exciting topics awaiting the Kinder-Uni students. 

It's going to be colorful and lively again on Goethe University Frankfurt's Westend Campus: from October 4 to 6, the university is once again opening its doors to children aged 8 to 12 from all different school types, with the aim of making them curious about science and giving them a first impression of university life. The three events put together by the Kinder-Uni organizing team this year met with great interest: The morning lectures for school classes are completely booked out. Starting at 4 p.m. in the afternoons, however, the lecture hall is open to all inquisitive children and their adult companions, even without prior registration. Frankfurt mayor Mike Josef is among those who have signed up for Thursday's lectures on AI, and Friday's lecture on "The Talking Hands" will be simultaneously translated by sign language interpreters. 

The program
Kicking off the 20th Frankfurt Kinder-Uni on Wednesday, October 4, will be physicist Prof. Camilla Juul Hansen, who will be taking the students into the depths of the universe. "What are stars made of? What starlight reveals about gold and silver in the universe," is the title of her lecture. A starry sky is not only beautiful to look at from a distance; by taking a much closer look, Hansen is able to see light that is invisible to the naked eye. In her lecture, she explains to the children how telescope images can be used to see what stars are made of – and how elements like gold and silver were formed. 

Artificial intelligence will stand at the forefront of Prof. Andreas Dengel's lecture, held on Thursday, October 5, which explores the question: "Can machines think? How artificial intelligences become smart and why they have no feelings." Even the youngest members of society are aware that this topic plays a role in more and more areas of life: as such, machines can write texts or paint pictures in the manner of the Old Masters. How exactly does this work? Computer scientist Dengel explains in a child-friendly and vivid manner how AI learns, what it can do – and what it will never be able to understand. Joining him in the afternoon will be Frankfurt city mayor Mike Josef, who will be making his inaugural visit, so to speak, to the Kinder-Uni. 

On Friday, October 6, students will explore a topic from the field of linguistics. As part of a lecture titled "The Talking Hands. On the difference between words, signs and gestures", Prof. Cornelia Ebert (Goethe University Frankfurt) and Prof. Markus Steinbach (University of Göttingen) will explain how important our hands and face are as a means of communication. We all use facial expressions and gestures to make things clear, emphasize or explain, and these gestures are mostly understood by everyone. That is not the case for sign languages used by deaf people, which – like any other language – you first have to learn. Children will learn all about the similarities and differences between gestures and signs on the third day of this year's Kinder-Uni. The lecture will be simultaneously translated into sign language. 

After each morning lecture, the students can enjoy lunch at the dining hall, one of the Student Union's cafeterias or in the "Sturm und Drang" café-bistro located on the first floor of the lecture hall building – just like the "real" students do during term. Children who present their “student ID" at the Casino-Anbau Dining Hall will receive a discounted children's menu for €3.50. 

Even though the morning lectures are already fully booked, starting at 4 p.m. on each of the three days, children are invited to come to Westend Campus individually or in groups, but always with an accompanying adult, to experience an exciting Kinder-Uni lecture. Larger groups are advised to email in advance, so that contiguous seating can be reserved where possible. 

The Experiminta Museum is also on board again this year, and exciting experiments await the children in the foyer of the auditorium building. In addition, teams from the fields of psychology and pedagogy will be on hand in the afternoons to provide information about their current research. 

As every year, there will be a quiz for each lecture. Those who have marked the correct answers stand to receive great book prizes, Kinder-Uni shirts and other great prizes. The quiz questions – and later, the correct answers, too – are available on the Kinder-Uni homepage ( – in German). 

"It's always a wonderful occasion to have hundreds of enthusiastic and curious children flock to campus," says Goethe University President Prof. Enrico Schleiff. "Seeing so many children in a lecture hall, listening spellbound and asking smart questions thrills me time and again. This year's program once again is very multifaceted, and ranges from stardust and artificial intelligence to the question of what messages I send with facial expressions and gestures. There is definitely something for everyone. The doors of Goethe University Frankfurt are wide open to all children, because knowledge imparted in a playful manner is fun and holds a lot of surprises in store!" 

Dr. Marschner Stiftung has been providing financial support to the Frankfurt Kinder-Uni since 2015. "For us, the Frankfurt Kinder-Uni is a valuable format," says foundation chairman Peter Gatzemeier: "The event brings children from very different social backgrounds together at the university at an early age, allowing them to experience an exciting excursion to campus and see real scientists in action – a memorable experience for many. We are very pleased that our financial support helped make this year's Kinder-Uni possible." 

Once again, this year's Kinder-Uni media partner is Frankfurter Rundschau, which will report daily on the events and also offers a prize contest. 

Further information: Dr. Anke Sauter and Dr. Markus Bernards, Science Communication, Westend Campus, Tel: +49 (0)69 798-13066 or 798- 12498;; Homepage (in German):

Editor: Dr. Anke Sauter, Science Editor, PR & Communication Office, Tel: +49 (0)69 798-13066, Fax: +49 (0) 69 798-763 12531,


Oct 2 2023

Conference at Goethe University Frankfurt brings together international expertise

Carnival traditions around the world between regional manifestations and global transformations 

The various manifestations of Fasching, Fastnacht, Karneval [Carnival and Shrovetide] and their interdisciplinary scientific consideration stand at the center of an upcoming conference held 

from October 5 to 8
in Seminarhaus Room 3.104
Max-Horkheimer-Str. 4 on Goethe University Frankfurt's Westend Campus

The conference, titled “Rethinking Carnival from the Pre-modern to the Present," will explore the dynamic history of this ritual, offering a comprehensive look at historical developments in their political and social contexts as well as in the history of everyday life and emotion. The event is organized by Goethe University's Institute for Romance Studies (Dr. Roberta Colbertaldo) and the University of Exeter's History Department (Dr. Jeremy DeWaal).

The tradition that emerged in the Middle Ages is the subject of much research – not only in history and cultural studies, but also in literary studies, sociology and anthropology. As they spread throughout Europe and across several continents, customs took on very different regional manifestations. As a result, the state of research also differs depending on the regions and epochs concerned. Held in English, the international and interdisciplinary conference, funded by the British Arts and Humanities Research Council, will bring together scholars and researchers from thirteen countries with the aim of discovering new perspectives on the spread and transformations of carnival forms and their interpretations. The event is supported by the German Research Foundation's [Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG] project “Fat Worlds II". All interested parties are invited to attend, informal registration is requested at

Download the event poster: 

Further information:
Dr. Roberta Colbertaldo
Institute for Romance Studies
Goethe University Frankfurt
Phone +49 (0)69-79832015
Conference program:

Editor: Dr. Anke Sauter, Science Editor, PR & Communication Office, Tel: +49 (0)69 798-13066, Fax: +49 (0) 69 798-763 12531,


Sep 12 2023

Global scientific community gathers in New York City to discuss contributions to achieving Sustainable Development Goals

Astrophysicist Luciano Rezzolla from Goethe University Frankfurt to speak at 78th UN General Assembly’s Science Summit

Renowned global scientists have come together at the United Nations General Assembly's Science Summit in New York City to drive forward the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In his talk, Prof. Luciano Rezzolla of Goethe University Frankfurt will focus on the vital role international collaboration plays in scientific advancement. 

FRANKFURT/NEW YORK CITY. High-profile scientists from around the globe are convening at the Science Summit around the United Nations General Assembly in New York City for the ninth time today to present and discuss contributions to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This year, Professor Luciano Rezzolla from Goethe University Frankfurt's Institute for Theoretical Physics is among them. 

"It is a great honor and privilege to share my work in this context," says Rezzolla, who has been invited to offer insights into the creation of the first-ever image of a black hole and the first image of the black hole located at the center of our Milky Way. Images of these supermassive black holes, known as M87* and Sgr A*, are exciting not only to the astrophysical community, but have also generated significant media attention in recent years. What made these groundbreaking images possible was the global "Event Horizon Telescope" collaboration, which connects radio telescopes worldwide into a virtual telescope, the sheer size of which can be compared to that of Earth, and as part of which participating scientists and institutions process collected data, and conduct intricate theoretical calculations. 

Establishing such international scientific collaborations is also a declared goal of the Science Summit, which aims to bring the realization of the SDGs closer – a goal that is also reflected in the title of the session that will feature Professor Rezzolla as the keynote speaker: "Expanding Scientific Horizons through International Collaboration and Networking." Emphasizing the importance of interdisciplinary cooperation, he says: "Unlike a century ago, many scientific breakthroughs today are made possible only through close and interdisciplinary collaboration among countless scientists worldwide. The Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration brought together more than 300 researchers from 80 different institutions and this has ultimately allowed what was till then thought to be impossible: take a photo of a black hole." 

Interdisciplinary collaboration continues to play a central role in Rezzolla's daily research activities. He is the spokesperson of the ELEMENTS cluster project, which brings together more than 100 astrophysicists and nuclear physicists, who work collaboratively and employ diverse methods to investigate how heavy elements originated in the universe. 

The 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly opened on September 5, 2023. Held concurrently from September 12-29, the 9th Science Summit brings together numerous stakeholders from the fields of science and politics to discuss the contributions of science to the implementation of the SDGs. The meeting also will provide input for the United Nations Summit of the Future, which will take place in September 2024. 

Virtual participation in the 9th UN Science Summit is free of charge. Professor Luciano Rezzolla's talk will be broadcast on September 15, 2023, at 2:45 p.m. CEST. For further information, please visit

Image for download: 

Caption: On September 15, Luciano Rezzolla will address the significance of scientific collaboration at the UN General Assembly's Science Summit. (Photo: Uwe Dettmar) 

Further Information
Prof. Dr. Luciano Rezzolla
Chair Theoretical Astrophysics
Institute for Theoretical Physics
Goethe University Frankfurt
Tel: +49 (0)69/798-47871 

Editor: Dr. Phyllis Mania, Science Communication Officer, PR & Communication Office, Tel: +49 (0) 69 798-13001, Fax: +49 (0) 69 798-763 12531,


Oswin Köhler Archive continues collaboration with Namibia's Khwe: An exhibition at the University Library 

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen 

The Oswin Köhler Archive at Goethe University Frankfurt's Institute of African Studies houses the world's largest collection of documents on the Khwe language and culture in Namibia, compiled by the Africanist Oswin Köhler between 1959 and 1992. A process to research and catalog the collection began in 2015, with the parallel aim of developing ways of working together with members of the Khwe community and creating forms of presentation that meet their needs and interests. An exhibition on the results and challenges of this collaboration will be on display until September 4, 2023. Its title: 

“We are happy to see these things" – again 
Collaborations of the Oswin Köhler Archive with Namibia's Khwe 

With a view towards continuing the collaboration and developing further projects, a three-week workshop with four Khwe representatives from Namibia is currently underway, funded by the Centre for Interdisciplinary African Studies (Zentrum für interdisziplinäre Afrikaforschung, ZIAF). 

To mark the occasion, we hereby invite you to a press briefing, during which the four Khwe representatives from Namibia will also be present to answer questions. The event will take place 

on August 25, 2023, at 11 a.m. 
at the Johann Christian Senckenberg University Library, Central Library
Bockenheimer Landstraße 134-138, 60325 Frankfurt, Germany
Schopenhauer Studio (ground floor)

Language: English, translation into German if required. 

The following people will participate in the discussion:

  • Thaddeus Chedau, Khwe Headman from Mutc'iku, Bwabwata National Park, Namibia
  • Sonner Ciayi Geria, Chairman of the Khwe Custodian Committee from Chetto, Bwabwata National Park, Namibia 
  • Hendrik Mbangu, younger brother of Oswin Köhler's late field assistant Ndo Tinene from Mutc'iku, Bwabwata National Park, Namibia 
  • Snelia Mangonga, granddaughter of former Khwe Chief Martin Ndumba from Mutc'iku, Bwabwata National Park Namibia 
  • Professor Dr Axel Fanego-Palat, Managing Director of Goethe University Frankfurt's Institute of African Studies 
  • Dr Karen Hahn, Coordinator of the ZIAF Centre for Interdisciplinary African Studies, Goethe University Frankfurt 
  • Dr Gertrud Boden, Research Associate at the Oswin Köhler Archive (Research and Documentation Center for Bequests in German and International African Studies), Institute of African Studies, Goethe University Frankfurt 
  • Moderator: Professor Dr Rainer Voßen, former director of the Institute of African Studies and head of the Oswin Köhler Archive 

We are looking forward to welcoming you and reading your coverage of this event! We kindly ask that you register by sending an email to

General press queries: Bernhard Wirth, Central Library Staff Departments for PR and Personnel Development, Tel. +49 (69) 798 39223; E-Mail: