Leibniz Prizewinners 2004

December 11, 2003

This release is also available in German.

The Joint Committee of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) today named the prizewinners of the DFG's Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Programme for 2004. The most valuable research prize in Germany will go to eleven scientists and academics, two women and nine men. The 1.55 million euro prize funds research work over a five-year period and can be used flexibly by prizewinners, depending on their specific requirements.

The programme, set up in 1985, aims to improve the working conditions for outstanding researchers, to extend their research opportunities, to relieve them of administrative work and to make it easier for them to employ particularly qualified young researchers. Scientists and academics from all research areas can be nominated for the award. The DFG Nominations Committee considers the many suggestions which it receives for the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize and above all selects researchers who can be expected to particularly advance their scientific achievement with this additional funding. This year's prizewinners again include a number of younger researchers.

Today's decision brings the total number of prizes awarded under the Leibniz Programme to 218. Of these, 47 come from the humanities, 61 from the life sciences, 78 from the natural sciences and 32 from engineering. Of the 148 nominations received for 2004, the following eleven researchers won the Leibniz Prize:

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Frank Allgöwer (41), Control Engineering, University of Stuttgart (1.55 million euros)
Frank Allgöwer is a specialist in nonlinear system and control theory. His work focuses on the control of technical systems, which are highly complex and dynamic today, such as energy supply networks, the Internet and transport systems. He develops methods to analyse and influence them. His work has made significant contributions to advances in this field over the last decade. One example is nonlinear predictive control. This makes it possible to predict future behaviour following interventions in the system, much like a chess player who is always thinking several moves ahead. This approach was the first to combine theoretical stringency with practical applicability, which means the process is now used in industrial practice, for example in the chemical industry and in biotechnology. Professor Allgöwer also led the way in determining the significance of nonlinearity. The approach he developed is now generally accepted as the standard method. He was offered a professorship at Berkeley and the ETH Zurich while completing his doctorate at the University of Stuttgart. He accepted a position in Zurich as an assistant professor in 1996 before taking over a C4 professorship there in 1999. He received further inquiries from Duisburg and from his alma mater in Stuttgart. He has been the head of the Institute for Systems Theory of Technical Processes (Institut für Systemtheorie technischer Prozesse) at Stuttgart since 1999.

Prof. Dr. Gabriele Brandstetter (49), Theatre Studies, Free University Berlin (1.55 million euros)
Gabriele Brandstetter is seen as one of the most innovative research figures in German cultural studies. Trained as a philologist and German studies specialist, she is known and internationally recognised as a pioneer in dance studies and was decisively involved in establishing this field as a university discipline. Her interdisciplinary orientation is evident in the 100 and more articles which she has written and which bring together and compare the worlds of theatre, music, art and literature; and it can also be seen in her research projects and in the exhibitions, conferences and dance festivals which she has organised. Professor Brandstetter is one of the leading figures to advocate an approach to cultural studies which transcends disciplinary borders. She is also a recognised authority in international gender research. Visiting professorships have taken her to Princeton, New York, Lisbon, Tokyo, São Paulo and Melbourne. Gabriele Brandstetter read German, history, politics and theatre studies at Erlangen, Regensburg, Vienna and Munich and completed her studies at the University of Munich in 1983 with a thesis on the lyric poetry of Clemens Brentano. She subsequently taught and researched at the University of Bayreuth until 1993. Following her habilitation in the same year, she took a position at the University of Giessen before accepting a professorship at the University of Basel four years later. She then moved from there to the Institute for Theatre Studies at the Free University Berlin.

Prof. Dr. Thomas Carell (37), Organic Chemistry, University of Munich (1.55 million euros)
Thomas Carell is the youngest recipient of the 2004 Leibniz Prize. Trained as an organic chemist, he came into contact with porphyrin rings, which play an important role in biology, at an early age. Three promising new directions are already evident in his studies today: His work on DNA repair has great potential in the field of cancer treatment, while his research into electron transport is central to photonics. Professor Carell is also using his expertise to produce and incorporate special nucleotide sequences into DNA, another field with massive potential. Carell embodies the ideal of a modern preparative chemist. His approach is highly interdisciplinary and ranges from synthesis via biology all the way through to medicine.

Thomas Carell studied chemistry at Münster and completed his doctorate at the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research (Max-Planck-Institut für medizinische Forschung) in Heidelberg. After a postdoctoral period at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 1993 to 1995, he gained his habilitation at the ETH Zurich in 1998. He has held a C4 professorship at Marburg since the beginning of 2000. He recently accepted an appointment to the University of Munich.

Prof. Dr. Karl Christoph Klauer (42), Social and Cognitive Psychology, University of Bonn (1.55 million euros)
In awarding the prize to Karl Christoph Klauer, the DFG has distinguished a psychologist who developed new techniques and methods for performing tests, capturing data and carrying out analyses in various research areas. His integrative approach was most clearly illustrated by his work on propositional conclusions. This involves the so-called "response bias" which comes into play when people draw conclusions. This means that people are more prepared to accept a false argument if the end result corresponds with their ideas and that they will often regard a completely correct argument as false if the result does not fit in with their knowledge and conceptions. Professor Klauer developed new ways to explain such phenomena. Some of his works have set standards in the relevant research areas. This is what makes him a much sought-after cooperation partner all around the world. Karl Christoph Klauer studied mathematics and psychology at Aachen, Oxford and Hamburg. After a total of five years, he graduated in both subjects. Three years later, he completed his doctorate at Hamburg, before gaining his habilitation in psychology at the Free University Berlin four years later. In 1994, he took on a professorship in psychology at Heidelberg, which he left two years later to take on a chair in Bonn. He did not take up calls to Cardiff and Vienna.

Prof. Dr. Hannah Monyer (46), Neurobiology, University of Heidelberg (1.55 million euros) The molecular principle of synchronous and oscillatory network activity is Hannah Monyer's central research area. This means she studies how associated nerve cells temporarily adjust to each other to ensure that coherent, meaningful images of the outside world are produced in the brain. Her research focuses include the detection of molecular mechanisms and the activity-related development of brain structures. To prove the presence of neuronal activity, she introduced a genetic process which makes specific nerve cells emit a fluorescent protein. Her work stands out particularly with its integrative approach in which the latest molecular biology techniques are combined with systematic physiological approaches.

Born in Romania, Professor Monyer is currently head of the Clinical Neurobiology Department (Abteilung für Klinische Neurobiologie) at the University of Heidelberg. She also studied medicine there and gained her doctorate on a medical history topic. Positions at Mannheim and Lübeck were followed by a move to Stanford before she returned to Heidelberg and did research at the Centre for Molecular Biology (Zentrum für Molekulare Biologie) in Heidelberg. After gaining her habilitation in biochemistry in December 1993, she set up her own research group within the scope of a Schilling professorship.

Prof. Dr. Nikolaus Pfanner (47), Biochemistry / Molecular Cell Biology, University of Freiburg/Breisgau (775,000 euros) and Prof. Dr. Jürgen Soll (50), Molecular Cell Biology in Plants, University of Munich (775,000 euros)
Nikolaus Pfanner and Jürgen Soll have made numerous important contributions to our understanding of protein import into the divisions of cells in higher-level organisms. Professor Pfanner discovered a large number of the components required for the protein transport mechanism in mitochondria, so-called "cellular power stations", explained their function and developed comprehensive ideas on the mechanisms of protein transport. His results are to be found in cell biology textbooks.

Professor Soll and his research group leads the way in national and international research on protein imports in chloroplasts. The two scientists complement each other's work excellently and are leading figures in the highly-competitive, future-oriented field of molecular cell biology.

Nikolaus Pfanner studied medicine at Munich and completed his doctorate in 1985. After postdoctoral positions at Munich and Princeton, he took up a professorship at Freiburg in 1992 and is currently head of the Institute for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Jürgen Soll completed his studies in biochemistry with a doctorate from Hannover in 1981. He worked at the University of California in Berkeley and at the University of Munich's Botanic Institute before accepting professorships in Saarbrücken and Kiel and finally returning to Munich, where he holds the chair for the biochemistry and physiology of plants.

Prof. Dr. Klaus Pfeffer (41), Infection Immunology, University of Düsseldorf (1.55 million euros)
Klaus Pfeffer is among the leading national and international researchers in molecular biology-oriented infection immunology. His work focuses on how the immune system responds after infection with bacterial pathogens. He has made a significant contribution to explaining the biological function of various immune substances in the body (cytokines). He was also involved in developing the method of gene targeting, which led to a fundamental understanding of the immune system. Building on this work, he made important contributions to resolving the problem of organ rejection after transplants. Professor Pfeffer's work is a textbook example of how basic research can lead to a better understanding of infections and new treatments. After gaining his doctorate at the University of Ulm, Klaus Pfeffer took up a post as an assistant at the Technical University of Munich, followed by two years at the Ontario Cancer Institute in Toronto. From 1994 to 1997 he worked as a group leader at the Technical University of Munich, where he gained his habilitation in 1996. In 1997, he accepted a C3 professorship, and since 2002 he has been the director of the Institute for Medical Microbiology at the University of Düsseldorf.

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Dierk Raabe (38), Materials Science, Max Planck Institute for Iron Research, Düsseldorf (1.55 million euros)
At an early age Dierk Raabe already had a decisive influence on modern materials science. His work deals with the relationship between the microstructure and the properties of metallic materials. His basic research is positioned at the borders between materials science, physics and mathematics and is of great technical relevance to industrial production processes and other applications. His particular scientific excellence is demonstrated by the fact that the development of simulation methods based on material physical properties which he initiated has now matured into the new discipline of "Computational Materials Science" and is developing rapidly all around the world. His latest work on the mechanics of interfaces and surfaces is of outstanding significance to the new field of nanomaterials.

Dierk Raabe studied metallurgy and metal physics at Aachen. After gaining his doctorate and habilitation, he went to Carnegie Mellon University as a Visiting Scientist in 1997, from where he was appointed as a Scientific Member and Director of the Max Planck Institute for Iron Research (Max-Planck-Institut für Eisenforschung) in Düsseldorf in 1999.

Prof. Dr. Konrad Samwer (51), Solid State Physics, University of Göttingen (1.55 million euros)
Konrad Samwer stands out through the range of work which he performs in the field of solid state physics. His scientific activities focus on high-temperature superconductivity, on the so-called Kondo effect, on disorder phenomena and on magnetism. All his works contain contributions with distinctly materials science oriented aspects. His works on the physics of glass merit particular mention. The discovery of colossal magnetic resistance in manganate layer structures was groundbreaking and opened up a new international research field. The original work from 1993 has already been quoted more than 1600 times. Besides the significance of the effect in basic research, particular mention also needs to be made of its potential applications, such as in the field of sensor technology. Konrad Samwer's life as a researcher centres around Göttingen. He studied physics there and in Bonn, gained his doctorate with distinction at Göttingen in 1981, followed by his habilitation in 1987. A ten-year period as a C4 professor in experimental physics at Augsburg was followed by his return to Göttingen for a similar professorship in 1999. He has worked on several long-term projects at the California Institute of Technology.

Prof. Dr. Manfred Strecker (48), Geosciences, University of Potsdam (1.55 million euros)
In the field of geosciences, Manfred Strecker is one of the pioneers in studying how tectonics, climate and surface processes interact. His achievements include fundamental findings on "Global Change", where he used methods taken from structural geology, physical geography and palaeontology. His work deals with topics such as neotectonics, the geology and geomorphology of interference zones, the development of stress fields in orogenes and rift zones, plus catastrophic mass movements and seismic hazards, climate signals in marine sediments, the deformation of Central Asia, the development of the Andes or the rift basins in Africa. His outstanding success is primarily based on his ability to identify the very latest and relevant geoscientific questions and to address these using cross-disciplinary, high-precision field and lab methods.

Manfred Strecker studied biology, geography and geology at Göttingen and Cornell University. After gaining his doctorate in the United States in 1987, he took on a position as a university assistant at the Geological Institute in Karlsruhe, where he gained his habilitation four years later. He went to Stanford University with a Heisenberg fellowship before being appointed to a C4 professorship in geology at the University of Potsdam in 1995.

The President of the DFG, Professor Ernst-Ludwig Winnacker, will award the prizes for the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Programme 2004 at an official ceremony to be held at the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences in Berlin on 25 February 2004.
Note to editors: Further information on the prizewinners for 2004, including CVs and details of their core research areas, can be requested from the Press and PR Department at the DFG as from 15 January 2004.

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft

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