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Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prizes 2011: Recognition and incentive for early career researchers

This release is available in German.

The new prizewinners of the most important award for early career researchers in Germany have been chosen. The selection committee appointed by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) and the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research have selected two young female and four young male researchers for the Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prize 2011. The prizes go to:

Dr. Swantje Bargmann, engineering sciences, Technical University of Dortmund

Dr. Markus Friedrich, modern history, University of Frankfurt/Main

Dr. Christian Hackenberger, chemistry, Free University of Berlin

Dr. Thorsten Holz, computer science, Ruhr University of Bochum

Dr. Moritz Kerz, mathematics, University of Duisburg-Essen

Dr. Henrike Manuwald, literature, University of Freiburg

For the 2011 prize, a total of 145 candidates from all research areas were nominated more than ever in the history of the award. "This shows both how many outstanding early career researchers there are at German universities and how attractive the Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prize is," said the chair of the selection committee, DFG Vice President Professor Dorothea Wagner, after the decision.

Of those nominated, 22 were put on the short list, from which the current prize recipients were finally chosen. "What is remarkable is also their young age," Wagner added. "Four of them are under or have just turned 30 and have thus acquired an outstanding qualification and a substantial independent research profile at a very young age," said the DFG Vice President, referring to the most important criteria for the prize. Furthermore, all prizewinners already hold prominent positions in research and academic teaching, whether as junior professors, research assistants or heads of their own independent junior research groups, which are part of the DFG's Emmy Noether Programme.

The 2011 Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prizes will be awarded on 9 May at 2 pm at the Magnus-Haus in Berlin.

Detailed information on this year's prize recipients:

Dr. Swantje Bargmann (30), engineering sciences, Technical University of Dortmund

The Dortmund junior professor Swantje Bargmann is being awarded the Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prize as a most versatile early career researcher in engineering sciences who is conducting research in three challenging fields. In particular her work on the modelling of crystal plasticity is considered highly innovative and is of great importance for developing new materials. Bargmann has also set new trends by developing a method for the anisotropic modelling of polar ice. In continuation of her thesis, she conducts research into thermoelasticity. Characteristic of Bargmann's research is her interdisciplinary cooperation with engineers, mathematicians, physicists and materials scientists and her international orientation, which is reflected by numerous research visits and joint projects with peers in Japan, South Korea, South Africa, Sweden and the United States.

Dr. Markus Friedrich (36), modern history, University of Frankfurt/Main

The modern historian Markus Friedrich is characterised by a high degree of interdisciplinary openness, a strong methodological awareness and a keen sense of future-oriented topics. Already in his doctoral thesis on the "Helmstedter Hofmannstreit", Friedrich, who is currently working as a research assistant at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University of Frankfurt, presented fundamental work on Lutheranism and late humanism as well as the relationship between theology and philosophy in the early modern period. His habilitation dissertation on the exercise of power and the administrative and communicative practices in Jesuit orders proved to be equally insightful. In these and many other publications, Friedrich masterfully combines intellectual history with analyses of social history.

Dr. Christian Hackenberger (34), chemistry, Free University of Berlin

Christian Hackenberger is one of the most promising German early career researchers in the field of bioorganic chemistry. In particular with his work on chemical methods of development, he quickly established an international reputation. The so-called "Staudinger Phospihtligation" method he developed facilitates the systematic linking of proteins with organic substances, which is one of the biggest problems in biological chemistry. Hackenberger's research is of great importance in many areas of the life sciences and has a high application potential, since proteins often also need to be modified for medical applications. For his publications in leading international journals, the chemist has already won several awards. Currently, Hackenberger heads his own working group at the Free University of Berlin as part of the DFG's Emmy Noether Programme.

Dr. Thorsten Holz (29), computer science, Ruhr University of Bochum

The computer scientist Thorsten Holz has gained international renown in the field of IT security and data protection, especially for his work on virtual security threats and the development of defence mechanisms. His novel research approaches are combined with a high proficiency in the technical details of malware. On this basis, the dedicated junior professor at the Ruhr University of Bochum has developed methods that have already found their way into widespread use. Currently, Holz is engaged in the de-anonymisation of internet users as a result of their membership in social networks a topic with which he is also attracting attention beyond the scientific community.

Dr. Moritz Kerz (27), mathematics, University of Duisburg-Essen

In the field of algebraic number theory and algebraic geometry, Moritz Kerz was able to achieve outstanding results and prove important hypotheses at an early age. In his doctorate thesis, the mathematician brought various lines of development based on mathematical greats of the 20th century to a conclusion including Alexander Grothendieck and his vision of "motivic cohomology" and John Milnor with his work on "K-theory." Only one year after his doctorate, Moritz Kerz set up his own Emmy Noether independent junior research group at the University of Duisburg-Essen. Already, the early career researcher is considered a "mathematician of the highest rank" who is shaping research on an international level in a central field of theoretical mathematics.

Dr. Henrike Manuwald (30), literature, University of Freiburg

At just 30 years, Henrike Manuwald is already an internationally recognised and leading mediator between literature and art history in medieval studies. With her comprehensive approach and precise analyses, the junior professor at the Albert Ludwigs University of Freiburg has managed to create a new picture of 13th century medieval literature and the society it portrayed. Manuwald is characterised in particular by her ability to address current issues such as mediality or visualisation mechanisms in medieval constellations. In addition to addressing questions about the relationship between text and images in medieval manuscripts, she recently started investigating the topic of literature and legal history.

The Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prize has been awarded annually since 1977. According to the DFG, the prize is both a form of recognition and motivation to continue the pursuit of a scientific career. As such, the prize enjoys a high reputation: In a survey of the magazine "bild der wissenschaft", the leading research institutions chose the Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prize as the third most important scientific award in Germany after the DFG's Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize and the Deutscher Zufkunftspreis of the Federal President. The prize is endowed with 16,000 euros and is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

This year, the patron of the prize, Professor Heinz Maier-Leibnitz, would have celebrated his 100th birthday. The physicist and former DFG President was born on 28 March 1911. During his term as the President of the DFG between 1974 and 1979, the prize, which is named in his honour, was called into being and awarded for the first time. In honour of the scientist and science manager, who passed away in 2000, a celebration is being held on 28 March at the Technical University of Munich at which, amongst others, the DFG President Professor Matthias Kleiner will give a speech.


Contact: Marco Finetti
Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft

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