Environmental- / Biophysics

The Environmental Biophysics group at the University Salzburg is strongly interdisciplinary oriented. Initially the group started with radon research in 1972 with appointing the professorship of physics at the newly founded faculty of Natural Sciences. The physics group carried out research on radon measurement techniques, radiation biology and the development of a deposition model of radon decay products in the human lung, which opened a valuable connection to aerosol physics.
After the catastrophic reactor accident in Chernobyl, the research field was situationally expanded towards environmental radioactivity and radioecology, as know-how and instrumentation were already available in the laboratory.
Currently, the interdisciplinary team can be divided into two research groups:

  • Environmental radioactivity, radon research and aerosol physics and Biophotonics

The group is working on the behaviour of radionuclides in the biosphere and long-term transfer and enrichment processes. A major contribution to these activities is a close cooperation with the provincial government of Salzburg to run the Radiological Measurement Laboratory of Salzburg (RMLS). The RMLS fulfils a wide spectrum of duties such as radioactivity measurements of environmental samples, training of experts, maintenance of operational readiness for a radiological emergency and implementation of national and international research projects on safety aspects and environmental radioactivity.
We are also interested on the behaviour of radon and radon decay products in the lung tissue and on the skin. The group has expertise on the measurement, modelling and dosimetry of aerosols.

The common denominator of the different research topics studied by the aerosol biophysics group in recent years is the development of computational models for the deposition of inhaled aerosols in the human lung. These aerosols cover a wide range of solid particles and droplets, including radioactive aerosols, such as radon progeny, traffic-related and industrial aerosols, such as car emissions, therapeutic aerosols, such as asthma sprays, and environmental and mainstream tobacco aerosols, such as combustible and electronic cigarettes. The primary objective of all these simulations is the determination of the resulting deposition patterns to be related to site-specific health effects in the lungs, primarily bronchial carcinomas.  

Almost a century ago the study of non-ionizing electromagnetic emissions from biological samples was acknowledged for the first time.  Yet it took another half a century to systematically study this phenomenon with appropriate detection devices such as the photo-multiplier-tube (PMT) technology. As a result of an international meeting on bio- communication in 2007, a small sub-group within the RMLS initiated a range-extension to encompass the non-ionizing part of the electromagnetic spectrum.  In 2010, these efforts gained further momentum with the presentation of the technological approach.  Three years later it was successfully implemented within the framework of EU-FP7 to target biophotonic emissions as a result of airborne nano-particle interaction. This range-extension into the spectral range below UV enables us not only to investigate ultra-weak emission from living samples but at the same time provide us with powerful tools to study biophysical properties in living matter and how these affect biochemistry in the living system.     

  • The Laboratory of Photodynamic Inactivation of Microorganisms (PDI-PLUS)

The global rise of microorganisms resistant to treatment with conventional antibiotics poses a threat to humans. If not tackled immediately antibiotic resistance will have killed 300 million people by 2050. Therefore, the rapid development of new antimicrobial approaches is urged by health agencies such as the WHO. Photodynamic Inactivation (PDI) combines two per se harmless components: in a first treatment step, a light sensitive substance (the photosensitizer) is applied to the infected area and rapidly accumulates in microorganisms. After very short incubation the photosensitizer is activated with visible light. This induces the formation of reactive oxygen molecules that kill the microorganisms irrespective of their susceptibility to conventional antibiotics. Due to the very unspecific method of action, the development of resistance of microorganisms against PDI is very unlikely.
Since 2010, the Laboratory of Photodynamic Inactivation (PDI-PLUS) focuses on research on this antimicrobial approach with the claim to mature the procedure for application in human medicine, food safety and plant protection. Our lab has gained world-wide acknowledgement for its expertise in using natural substances (some of which are approved as food additives) as photosensitizers.  

For further information, please visit www.uni-salzburg.at/pd  

  • News
    The lecture series "Politics, History and Culture: Austria in the 20th and 21st Centuries" will be available again during Winter Semester 2018/19 with an exciting program.
    The kick-off of the new career development program, Karriere_Mentoring III, of the Universities of Salzburg, Linz and Krems, which took place in Gmunden on 13 September, was extremely well received.
    A team led by the Salzburg-based young researcher, Therese Wohlschlager, has developed an approach that allows biopharmaceuticals to be characterized more easily and faster than before, and subsequently, can be produced more cheaply.
    Information Event "Unifinanzierung NEU (Fokus Lehre) und Zielvereinbarungsprozess" will be held Tuesday, 16 October, 2018, from 15:00 to 17:00, Thomas Bernhard Hörsaal in the Unipark.
    On Friday, 7 September, 2018, in Berlin, the project "Making Art, Making Media, Making Change!", by Elke Zobl (Associate Professor of Science & Art), received the European Youth Culture Award (EYCA) in the category of "Science and Research”.
    Exhibition opening and conversation with Jian Haake (Kiel). Date: Thursday, 4 October at 18:30. Location: Room for Art at KunstQuartier, Bergstraße 12a. Exhibition Duration: From 5 October until 9 November, 2018. www.w-k.sbg.ac.at/de/kunstpolemik-polemikkunst/aktuelles
    The University Library Salzburg (Main Library and Faculty Library for Law) opens the door to the public and offers a diverse program.
    Political education has been a general teaching principle in Austria since 1978, that is, an educational and developmental task, which is the responsibility of the teachers of all school subjects and grades. The lecture series will show ways in which democracy education can work in different subjects, so that student teachers and educators have different perspectives on the same fundamental challenge.
    Conference in cooperation with the International Robert Musil Society in the KunstQuartier (W & K-Atelier, 1st floor, Bergstr. 12a) // FRAMEWORK PROGRAMM: Thursday, 4 October. VERNISSAGE in the KunstQuartier at 18:30 // Friday, 5 October. BOOK PRESENTATION at 19:30 in the Stefan-Zweig-Centre Edmundsburg // www.w-k.sbg.ac.at/de/kunstpolemik-polemikkunst.
    On the occasion of the Long Night of the Museums 2018, the Casting Collection of the University of Salzburg will be open to the public.
    Putting Successful Models Into Perspective in Europe, 26 – 28 September, 2018, Schloss Rif, University of Salzburg. For students there are discounted day tickets!
    Important dates and information about registering for courses at the Language Center in the Winter Semester 2018/19.
    Brothers Leopold (6 years) and Ferdinand (4 years) explained to their friends: "We go to UNI during the holidays" and were right. They had places in the fully booked summer care program of the University’s Kinderbüro.
    The Leopold Kohr Academy has organized two events, one in September and another in October, 2018. Together with the University of Salzburg, the institution runs the Kohr Archive.
    On Saturday, 22 September, 2018, at 11:00, the Botanical Garden will be displaying the images of the artist, Karin Wimmeder. Only in fair weather. Alternative date: Saturday, 29 September, 2018, 11:00. Musically accompanied by the rhythm group "Schlagartig.org".
    From Hortus Medicus to Pharma Research. An exhibition of the Association of Botanical Gardens 2018.
    On 6 December, 2018, the University of Salzburg will host the WTZ Training Days on the theme of communication, dissemination and distribution in H2020 projects.
  • Veranstaltungen
  • 25.09.18 Welcome Day/Orientierungstag für Erstsemestrige
    26.09.18 Orientierungstag für Erstsemestrige
    26.09.18 Symposium: Prävention der Adipositas im Vorschulalter
    26.09.18 subnetTALK: Postdigitales Design (Vortragssprache DE)
    27.09.18 Symposium: Prävention der Adipositas im Vorschulalter
    27.09.18 Orientierungstag für Erstsemestrige
    28.09.18 Symposium: Prävention der Adipositas im Vorschulalter
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