Bodies and Committees


CAIS was founded in November 2016 as an independent research center. Its shareholders are Ruhr University Bochum, the University of Duisburg-Essen, Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf, the University of Münster and the Grimme Institute (Marl). CAIS is funded by the Ministry of Culture and Science of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia.

Ruhr University Bochum is the home of the Horst Görtz Institute for IT Security (HGI) which administrates the DFG research training group New Challenges for Cryptography in Ubiquitous Computing (Ubi-Crypt) and the interdisciplinary NRW graduate school SecHuman on the topic of Security for People in Cyberspace. The Mercator Research Group Spaces of Anthropological Knowledge (MRG) performs interdisciplinary work on anthropological topics, with a focus on the cultural significance of digital media and the internet. The Institute for Intellectual Property, Data Protection and IT (IGEDI) at the Faculty of Law contributes legal expertise to the field of internet research.

At the University of Duisburg-Essen, the study of the social consequences of digitalization plays a major role in several institutions and programs. Particularly important are the Learning Lab in the field of educational research, the DFG Research Training Group “User-Centered Social Media” in the field of computer science and psychology, the participation in the NRW Digital Society funding line, the political science-computer linguistic development project PolMine as well as the Research Training Group “Die Arbeit und ihre Subjekte” (The Work and its Subjects) funded by the Hans Böckler Foundation.

The interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary emphasis on internet research at Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf rests on three main pillars: the NRW PhD program on Online Participation, the DFG research group on Political Communication in the Online World, and the Düsseldorf Institute for Internet and Democracy (DIID). In addition, Düsseldorf University houses the Düsseldorf Institute for Competition Economics (DICE), which is already a leading European academic center for competitive economics issues and focuses on the economic consequences of digitalization.

The University of Münster houses the Institute for Information, Telecommunication and Media Law (ITM), the center for Urban, Regional Innovation and Internet (URII) at the Institute of Political Science, the DFG research training group on Trust and Communication in a Digitalized World and the European Research Center for Information Systems (ERCIS) in the area of internet research. The ITM focuses on legal questions relating to the use and design of the internet, the media, and communication. In addition, the ITM also includes a research unit on Law in the German Research Network (DFN).

The Grimme Institute, known for the Grimme Prize for quality television and the Grimme Online Award for online content, is one of the most renowned research and service institutions that focuses on issues of media quality, media education and media communication. The Institute’s core competences are observing, analyzing and evaluating media content and media developments, opening up new possibilities for media use, and transferring knowledge among citizens, politics and the media industry. The Grimme Research College, founded jointly with the University of Cologne, studies issues relating to digital communication cultures and social transformation processes.

The management is supported by the CAIS team

The Program Committee is responsible for issuing calls for applications to the programs and choosing the applicants to be accepted.

The committee judges the submitted applications on the following criteria:

  • compliance relevance to the CAIS research agenda
  • scientific excellence and relevance of the project
  • innovation
  • transdisciplinary and interdisciplinary focus
  • specialized profile and competences of the applicants. If necessary, external reviewers are consulted to provide their expertise.
  • With the goal of creating a good balance between the programs and research disciplines on the one hand and the available capacity on the other, the committee then decides on the applications.

The members of the Program Committee are:

Ralf Benzmüller founded G DATA SecurityLabs in 2004. There, he was responsible for developing efficient analytical processes and integrating proactive technologies to protect against current malware threats. Innovative solutions were developed in several scientific research projects to identify and fight attacks on botnets, websites and smartphones. In his current position, he is responsible for coordinating partnerships and research activities. In addition to his work at G DATA SecurityLabs, Ralf Benzmüller is also the author of numerous specialized articles about online threats. He is also a Lecturer at the International School of IT Security (is-ist) and a member of various industry associations and organizations that focus on cyber-security and fighting cybercrime.

Professor Dr. Bernd Blöbaum is a Professor of Communication Studies at the University of Münster. He is the Spokesperson for the interdisciplinary DFG research training group Trust and Communication in a Digitalized World. His research focuses on why trust is being eroded in social areas such as the media, and how it can be restored. Some of his other research areas are scientific communication and the reception of (digital) media. In 2013 he was a Fellow at Oxford University (Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism) and in 2015 he was a Fellow at the Alfried Krupp at Krupp Wissenschaftskolleg in Greifswald, Germany. Bernd Blöbaum chairs the Rector’s Committee for Junior Researchers at the University of Münster.

Dr. Isabelle Borucki is head of the junior research group “DIPART – Digitale Parteienforschung. Parteien im digitalen Wandel” (Digital Party Research. Political Parties and Digital Transformation) at the NRW School of Governance, which is located at the Institute of Political Science at University Duisburg-Essen. She is spokesperson of the working group Politics and Communication at the German Political Science Association (GPSA) and of the Standing Group Internet and Politics at the European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR). Her main research interests are Party Research, Comparative Government Theory and Political Communication (esp. digitalization and New Media).

Dr. Frauke Gerlach is the Director and CEO of Grimme-Institut – Gesellschaft für Medien, Bildung und Kultur mbH as well as the Managing Director of the Grimme Research College at the University of Cologne. Her specializations include Constitutional and Media Law. Her research interests lie in the field of interdisciplinary (Law and Political Science as well as System Theory) approaches to control theories in the context of complex multi-level systems and Media Governance. Her transdisciplinary work relates to practical solutions at the interfaces between digital media, research, politics and society.

Professor Dr. Thorsten Holz heads the Chair for Systems Security at the University of Bochum (Horst Görtz Institute for IT Security). His research focuses on the applied aspects of secure IT systems, specializing in system-oriented IT security. His work concentrates on issues such as the automatic analysis of malware, internet-wide monitoring of current attack trends, and developing defensive measures. Thorsten Holz received the DFG’s Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prize in 2011 and an ERC Starting Grant in 2015.

Dr. Katharina Kinder-Kurlanda is a Senior Researcher who leads the Data Linking & Data Security team as well as the Secure Data Center at GESIS Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences in Cologne, where she works on (social media) data sharing and secure data access options, among other things. She studied Cultural Anthropology and Computer Science, and teaches at the Institute for Web Science and Technologies at the University of Koblenz – Landau. Her main research interests are the epistemology of big data & social media research, algorithms, internet research ethics, privacy, data protection, data security and the Internet of Things in organizations. She is a member of the Ethics Committee of the Association of Internet Researchers (AoIR).

Professor Dr. Christiane Eilders is a Professor of Communication and Media Studies at the Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf. She is a member of the scientific advisory board of the Federal Agency for Civic Education and co-editor of the journal ‘Publizistik’.

Professor Dr. Jens Schröter has led the Chair of Media Culture Science at the Institute for Language, Media and Music Science at the University of Bonn since 2015. From 2008 to 2012 he was the head of the Locating Media graduate school, and since 2012 he has been the researcher responsible for submitting proposals for the DFG research training group Locating Media. From 2010 to 2014 he was the head of the DFG research project The Television Series as a Reflection and Projection of Change. Schröter performs research on the theory and history of digital media, theory and history of photography, intermediality, three-dimensional images, media theory in dialogue with value criticism, audio media and auditory culture as well as television series.

Angela Freimuth – Vice-president of the Landtag of North Rhine-Westphalia, Free Democratic Party (FDP),

Dr. Harald Gapski – Head of Research at the Grimme Institute (Marl),

Prof. Dr. Manfred Hauswirth – Executive Director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Open Communication Systems FOKUS;  Director at the Weizenbaum Institute; Technische Universität Berlin, chair of “Open Distributed Systems”,

Dr. Dirk Hecker – KI.NRW; Deputy Director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Intelligent Analysis and Information Systems IAIS,

Carla Hustedt – Bertelsmann Stiftung, Project Manager “Ethics of Algorithms”,

Prof. Dr. Nicole Krämer – Professor of “Social Psychology – Media and Communication” at the University of Duisburg-Essen,

Prof. Dr. Martin Mauve – Professor of Computer Networks and Communication Systems at Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf and Dean of the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences,

Prof. Dr. Barbara Pfetsch – Freie Universität Berlin, Department of Political and Social Sciences; Principal Investigator Weizenbaum Institut,

Prof. Dr. Nikol Rummel – Professor of Pedagogical Psychology in the Institute of Education at Ruhr Uni­ver­si­ty Bo­chum,

Prof. Dr. Ulrike Röttger – Professor of Public Relations in the Institute of Communication Science at the University of Münster,

Oliver Suchy – German Trade Union Confederation, Head of Department “Digitale Arbeitswelten”,

Prof. Dr. Christof Wolf – President of GESIS Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences and Professor of Sociology at the University of Mannheim.


Kordula Attermeyer – Head of Unit „Digitale Gesellschaft, Medienkompetenz“ of the State Chancellery of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia

Dr. Martin Goch – Chancellor of the Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf

Thorsten Menne – Group Leader “Forschungsförderung, Forschungspolitik” and Deputy Head of the Research Department at the Ministry of Culture and Science of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia

Dr. Christina Reinhardt – Chancellor of the Ruhr University Bochum

Prof. Dr. Monika Stoll – Prorector for Research at the University of Münster