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New Humboldt Fellows at LMU

Munich, 04/13/2011

Two new Humboldt Fellows have chosen to come to LMU Munich to conduct research in their specialized fields. Dr. Michael Hundley (Cambridge University, UK) began his project in the Division of Old Testament Studies (Faculty of Protestant Theology), as a guest of Professor Christoph Levin, on 1 April.  Professor Melissa Knothe Tate (Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, USA) is working in collaboration with Profes-sor Stefan Milz at the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology. The Postdoctoral Fel-lowship Program sponsored by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation enables highly qualified postdoctoral scholars and scientists from abroad to carry out research projects in Germany. The Fellowship Program for Experienced Researchers provides the opportunity for independent, experienced researchers to carry out research col-laborations in Germany. The successful applicants work together with an established investigator of their own choice. Thus the number of Humboldt Fellows hosted by a university is a useful indicator of its international reputation and the size of its network of contacts.


Michael Hundley
Michael B. Hundley‘s research project, entitled “Perceptions of Divine Presence in Portions of the Non-Priestly Pentateuch,” is concerned with elucidating the religious concepts found in the oldest textual layers of the first two books of the Bible, with particular reference to episodes of divine revelation. The objective is to isolate the elements that derive from the earliest sources by applying the techniques of textual criticism, and then to compare them with similar traditions in the neighboring cultures of the Ancient Near East. Our knowledge of the earliest stages in the transmission of the Pentateuch remains fragmentary. On the other hand, this improves the chances that comparative analyses of other traditions from the region can help to close the gaps. The problem addressed by Dr. Hundley is central to our understanding of the historical evolution of the Old Testament. The study will focus on the form and context of “cultic speech patterns,” and seek to define those features that are especially characteristic of religious utterance.

Michael Hundley studied at Harvard University Divinity School and at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. In 2010 he obtained his doctorate at Cambridge University (UK). In his doctoral thesis, entitled “Keeping Heaven on Earth: Safeguarding the Divine Presence in the Priestly Tabernacle,” Hundley investigated the ideas underlying depictions of the cultic presence of God in the younger of the two major sources of the text of the Pentateuch.


Melissa Knothe Tate
Almost all bones are surrounded by a protective sheath called the periosteum. Recent studies have shown that cells in the periosteum (periosteocytes) have the capacity to differentiate into bone tissue, allowing bone defects to heal within weeks. Together with her colleagues in Cleveland, Dr. Knothe Tate has developed ways of using periosteal tissue to accelerate the healing of bone damaged by mechanical injury, cancer surgery, infections or congenital diseases. During her stay in Munich, Knothe Tate, in collaboration with LMU researchers Professor Stefan Milz, Professor Matthias Schieker and Dr. Denitsa Docheva, intends to characterize periosteal cells from the human femur. She is particularly interested in defining the nature of their microenvironment and their responses to various physical stimuli and biochemical signals. In a second project, which will also involve researchers from Heidelberg University, the Munich team hopes to produce synthetic periosteum by culturing isolated periosteal cells under conditions that mimic their natural microenvironment and exposing the cells to the appropriate stimuli.

Melissa Knothe Tate studied Mechanical Engineering and Biology at Stanford University (USA) and the ETH Zürich (Switzerland), where she completed her doctoral studies in Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering in 1998. She was a postdoctoral fellow and Oberassistent (young faculty) at ETH Zürich and a Guest Professor at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York (USA), before she moved to Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio (USA) to take up a professorship in the Department of Biomedical and Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering in 2004.

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