18 December 2013, No. 32/2013

Georg Forster Research Award: Three researchers from transition and developing countries receive the award, valued at 60,000 EUR

The current call for nominations is open until 15 May 2014.

For the second time, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation has granted the Georg Forster Research Award: to a female researcher from Argentina and to two male researchers from Cuba and Turkey in recognition of their entire academic life’s work. With their research records the award winners have achieved international visibility, and their work is expected to help solve development-related issues. They are now invited to come to Germany to establish and develop collaborations with colleagues here.

In his subject, plant nutrition and physiology, Ismail Cakmak (54) from Turkey combines fundamental research with applications. The results of his research on plant nutrition for improving agricultural production have received international recognition. After studying in Turkey and taking a doctorate at the University of Hohenheim (1988), Ismail Cakmak was awarded a post-doctoral Georg Forster Research Fellowship which took him to Hannover, Hohenheim and elsewhere. Since 2000, he has been a professor at Sabanci University in Istanbul. He will now conduct research together with colleagues in the Department of Crop Sciences at Göttingen University.

Irina Podgorny (50) from Argentina is an anthropologist, social historian, and historian of ideas who has established her particular field, the history of science, as an autonomous discipline in Latin America. She regards Latin America’s history of archaeology and palaeontology as a common history with Europe and has decisively shaped scholarly debate on the theme of selfhood and otherness in Latin America. Irina Podgorny will cooperate with colleagues from the Institute for Latin American Studies at Freie Universität Berlin and generate ideas in the current debate on the position of Latin America vis-à-vis the West.

Through his research, Luis Velazquez-Perez (50) from Cuba has made seminal contributions to our knowledge of a group of diseases which medicine has barely addressed so far: spinocerebellar ataxias (SCAs) are hereditary neurological disorders which only occur sporadically across the world. In Cuba, however, SCAs are often locally widespread. Educated in his own country, neurophysiological human geneticist Velazquez-Perez has contributed to diagnosing the disorder and proving the fact that it spread around the globe, and how it did so. Medicine at home and abroad is now benefitting from his internationally acknowledged research which is a model for fighting diseases neglected by mainstream medicine. Luis Velazquez-Perez will use the award to cooperate with colleagues in the Institute of Molecular Neurogenetics at Frankfurt University Hospital.

Funding for the award is provided by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Nominations for the new call may be submitted to the Humboldt Foundation until 15 May 2014.

The Humboldt Foundation responds to the special problems facing developing and emerging countries by providing through its Georg Forster Programme as well as the Georg Forster Research Fellowship (HERMES). Academics from developing and transition countries with above-average qualifications, who completed their doctorates within the previous 12 years, are eligible to apply for a Georg Forster Research Fellowship. They must submit a proposal for a research project of relevance to development that they wish to conduct over a period of 6 to 24 months with an academic host of their own choice at a research institution in Germany. The fellowship amount is currently up to 3,150 EUR per month plus additional benefits such as family allowances, a lump-sum for travel expenses, a subsidy towards a pension plan and a language fellowship. At present, up to 90 fellowships can be granted annually. In the last few years, approximately a third of the applications were approved.

The Georg Forster Research Award is named after the naturalist, travel writer and journalist Georg Forster (1754-1794), a friend of Alexander von Humboldt.

The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation

Every year, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation enables more than 2,000 researchers from all over the world to spend time researching in Germany. The Foundation maintains a network of well over 26,000 Humboldtians from all disciplines in more than 130 countries worldwide – including 50 Nobel Laureates.

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