17 November 2011, No. 36/2011

EUR 250,000 award for researchers in the humanities and social sciences presented for the first time

Anneliese Maier Research Award goes to seven researchers.

The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation is awarding the very first Anneliese Maier Research Award to seven humanities scholars and social scientists. The new collaboration award is designed to promote the internationalisation of the humanities and social sciences in Germany and is to be awarded annually to outstanding researchers from abroad who are active in one of the relevant fields. The award amount of EUR 250,000 can be used to finance research collaboration with specialist colleagues in Germany for a period of five years. Researchers are nominated by collaborative partners at German universities and research institutions.

The seven award winners (three women, four men) were chosen from a total of 90 nominees from 20 countries. The majority of nominated candidates were from the USA (36), UK (8), Canada (7) and Italy (5). Due to the high number of excellent nominations, more than the five awards envisaged were made available as an exception:

Katharina Boele-Woelki (55) from the Netherlands is one of Europe's leading researchers on international and comparative family law. She is to work with colleagues at the University of Bonn to advance research in Germany in this field, which is highly relevant to numerous practical issues.

James Conant (53) from the USA is one of the most important representatives of American contemporary philosophy and will work not just with colleagues from his own discipline at the University of Potsdam but also with historians, philologists and cultural scientists.

The American philosopher Shaun Gallagher (63) is a leading academic at the frontier of philosophy, cognitive science and neuroscience. He will collaborate with the Ruhr-Universität Bochum and the colleagues of the newly established Center for Mind, Brain and Cognitive Evolution.

Medievalist Patrick Geary (63) from the USA will work with colleagues at Heidelberg University. The collaboration with the internationally acclaimed historian is also to involve groups of junior researchers and to enrich historical research in Germany by exploring innovative topics such as ‘Genetics and history, opportunities and risks of a new research field’.

The American social psychologist Michele Gelfand (43) is one of the most productive and innovative researchers in the area of comparative Cultural- and Conflict Research. She will work closely with an interdisciplinary team of colleagues at Jacobs University Bremen.

Australian linguist Nicholas Evans (55) is one of the world’s most influential linguists and the leading expert in the field of unresearched and endangered languages, especially Australian languages. He will team with colleagues at the University of Cologne to explore the coevolution of culture and language, among other things. Evans previously worked as a Humboldt Research Fellow in Cologne from 1997 to 1998..

Anthropologist Birgit Meyer (51) from the Netherlands is a leading international expert on the modern anthropology of religion with a focus on Africa. She was nominated by the Zentrum Moderner Orient in Berlin (research institute devoted to an interdisciplinary and comparative study of the Middle East, Africa, Central Asia and Southeast Asia from a historical perspective) and will research the interplay between religion and everyday life in conjunction with colleagues there, comparing Muslim and Christian perspectives.

The awards are funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research and named after the philosopher and historian of science Anneliese Maier (1905 in Tübingen, Germany – 1971 in Rome, Italy). Her international biography was unusual for the time and her academic traditions. Maier conducted research on the emergence of modern scientific thought from the 14th to 18th centuries, particularly in the natural sciences.

The awards ceremony will take place in autumn 2012. Nominations for the three awards expected to be granted next year must be submitted by 30 April 2012.

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 25,000 Humboldtians from all disciplines in more than 130 countries worldwide – including 48 Nobel Prize winners.

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