Sofja Kovalevskaja Award 2002 - Award Winners (K-R)
Judith H. Klein-Seetharaman
born in 1971; (USA/Germany), Research Field: Biological Chemistry and Biophysics
Host Institutes: Fachbereich Chemie, Universität Frankfurt/Main and Institut für Biologische Informationsverarbeitung, Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH
Judith H. Klein-Seetharaman studied at Cologne University and gained her doctorate from M.I.T. in Cambridge, Massachusetts (USA), in 2000. She has been a visiting researcher at the Cologne University, at the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research in Cologne, and at Imperial College London (Great Britain). She has been a postdoctoral associate at M.I.T. and at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (USA). Dr Klein-Seetharaman has won a number of awards for her work.
Research Project: Proteins – Wrinkled Workers in the Cell Membrane
Dr Klein-Seetharaman studies the mapping between sequence, structure, dynamics and function of proteins. She is particularly interested in membrane receptor proteins because they are involved in many vital cellular processes. Her methods are interdisciplinary. They include computational analysis of protein sequences and biophysical characterization of purified proteins. One example is the membrane protein rhodopsin. Dr Klein-Seetharaman is studying it by spectroscopic methods and thus unravels the structural differences between dark-adapted and light-activated rhodopsin. These studies contribute to the development of new methods for the investigation of folding and conformational changes in proteins. Furthermore, Dr Klein-Seetharaman has developed novel approaches to the teaching of biomedical concepts and processes.
Future biomedical problem solving is beyond traditional means because of the existing challenges in cross-disciplinary communication and utilization of vast quantities of available biomedical data. Dr Klein-Seetharaman's research group wants to build a virtual Problem Solving Environment (PSE) that combines advanced computer graphics, computer vision, artificial intelligence technologies and creative instruction technologies. In this PSE, crossdisciplinary education will be on-demand, entertaining and interactive. Towards this longterm goal, the group has developed a game-based PSE, where users can explore complex biological interactions with navigation, role-play, and networked collaboration. The prototype has been implemented on PC and tested in a preschool environment where users have little knowledge in biology. The experiment shows that the game greatly inspired users both in concept learning and entertainment suggesting that the game-based PSE helps users to learn bio-system dynamics and multiple object interactions.
born in 1965; (Switzerland), Research Field: Molecular Genetics
Host Institute: Institut für Biochemie, Medizinische Fakultät, Universität Köln
Manuel Koch studied at Basel University (Switzerland), where he received his doctorate in 1995. Since 1996 he has been conducting research in the Cutaneous Biology Research Center at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts (USA).
Research Project: Networks of Proteins between Cells
This biochemist studies the function of proteins of the extracellular matrix. These molecules are secreted by cells and form a network between cells, which provides tissue and organs with the necessary stability and elasticity. In addition to their structural function the proteins are needed for a large number of different developmental processes. For example one of the newly discovered proteins belongs to a group of proteins which are decisive for connecting up the nervous system.
During his research work in the United States Dr Koch identified and partly characterized several new proteins with the help of genetic databases. His future research work at the University of Cologne will focus on further investigation of these proteins. In addition to their biochemical characterization, the role of these proteins with regard to human diseases will also be investigated. The results of this research may not only be applied to diagnostic medicine but may also be useful for tissue regeneration.
born in 1969; (Russian Federation), Research Field: Theoretical Solid-State Physics
Host Institute: Institut für Theoretische Festkörperphysik, Universität Karlsruhe
Yuriy Makhlin studied at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (Russian Federation), and gained his doctorate in 1995 at the Landau Institute of Theoretical Physics in Moscow. Since then he has been a scientific assistant at the Landau Institute and at the University of Illinois, Urbana (USA), and as a Humboldt Research Fellow at Karlsruhe University in 1997/98.
Research Project: Set of the Smallest of All Particles
As a solid-state physicist, Dr Makhlin researches into the way quanta migrate and how they can be measured. His field of work here is at the intersection of quantum information processing and nano-technology, and the project is devoted to development of quantum computers based on superconducting nanoelectronics. In particular, Dr Makhlin's system of coupling various quantum bits has won him international acclaim. Prior to this, Dr Makhlin was doing research into superliquids and vortex motion.
born in 1969; (USA/Italy), Research Field: Geometry
Host Institute: Max-Planck-Institut für Mathematik, Bonn
Matilde Marcolli studied at the Universities of Milan (Italy) and Chicago, Illinois (USA), gaining her doctorate at Chicago, Illinois (USA) in 1997. She then worked at various institutes of learning and research, including M.I.T. in Cambridge, Massachusetts (USA), and currently has a research position as a Professor at the Max Planck Institute of Mathematics in Bonn.
Research Project: Geometry between Particle Physics and Number Theory
Dr Marcolli’s main field is the combination of mathematics and theoretical physics, and she is chiefly interested in gauge theories and non-commutative geometry, hyperbolic geometry, and arithmetic. She devotes herself to the development of gauge theories in mirror-image symmetries and the fractional quantum-Hall effect.
Krzysztof Piotr Oplustil
born in 1974; (Poland), Research Field: European Law
Host Institute: Institut für deutsches und europäisches Gesellschafts- und Wirtschaftsrecht, Universität Heidelberg
Krzysztof Piotr Oplustil studied at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow (Poland). In 2000 he received his doctorate at the Heidelberg University where he has been a member of the faculty in Law and Administration as a scientific assistant.
Research Project: The "Societas Europea" Will Replace the Limited Company, Ltd
The "Societas Europaea" (SE) is a supranational corporate structure for companies working throughout Europe. However, the SE-directive only provides the legal framework for founding and running European companies and hardly contains any regulations of its own. In this, jurisprudence is also facing new tasks. On the one hand, it has to support national legislation, while on the other, guaranteeing a genuinely European character. Dr Oplustil's working group is dealing with the areas in which the SE has to be treated differently from national companies. It is investigating all the questions relevant to founding and running a European public limited company to determine whether they can be definitively regulated in the directive or whether they can or must be complemented by national legislation. When the researchers have determined where the responsibility for regulation lies, they will make concrete regulatory proposals to the national legislators. Over and above this, they are establishing general basic principles in European corporate law which will help to interpret the directive and close up any legal loopholes. In this context, the so-called evaluative comparison of laws, which Dr Oplustil is investigating using German and Polish company and money market law, is of particular significance. Research into the common features and differences in European legal systems will contribute to avoiding friction in the practical operation of the company later on.
On 11/12 November 2002 Dr Oplustil organized an international conference in Heidelberg. Academics and lawyers from 13 countries laid the foundation stone for lasting collaboration on the project "European Corporate Law". Authors from 14 countries are involved in a book project on developing legislation on the European public limited company. On top of this, a draft for a German implementing act on a European public limited company, which was published by the Federal Ministry of Justice at the beginning of 2003, was drawn up with the assistance of members of the research group.
born in 1968; (Korea), Research Field: Physical Chemistry
Host Institute: Institut für Physikalische Chemie, Universität Göttingen
Kawon Oum studied at the Yonsei University in Seoul (Korea) and received her doctorate from Oxford University (Great Britain) in 1996. Since then she has been conducting research at the University of California, Irvine, California (USA), and as a Humboldt Research Fellow at the Institute for Physical Chemistry at Göttingen University.
Research Project: Ecological Solvents of Water and CO2
The physical chemist Dr Kawon Oum focuses her research on elucidating the reaction kinetics of large organic radicals in supercritical fluids. Because of the importance of supercritical CO2 and supercritical water fluids as a promising alternative for hazardous organic solvents in many industrial processes, the detailed knowledge of the elementary reaction kinetics occurring in the supercritical fluid environment is required. She has investigated several radical recombination reactions in the gas to liquid transition range in order to understand the complicated behavior of their pressure and temperature dependend rate constants. In the current project, she utilizes a variety of optical spectroscopic techniques to learn in detail about the microscopic interactions between radicals and solvent molecules in supercritical media: how and to what extent solvent molecules attach to the reacting species and influence their electronic structure.
Jane Elizabeth Parker
born in 1960; (Great Britain), Research Field: Molecular Genetics
Host Institute: Abteilung Molekulare Pflanzengenetik, Max-Planck-Institut für Züchtungsforschung, Köln
Jane Elizabeth Parker studied at the University of Bradford (Great Britain) and received her doctorate in 1987 at the University of Wales, Swansea (Great Britain). She worked at the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research in Cologne and at the Sainsbury Laboratory of the John Innes Center in Norwich (Great Britain).
Research Project: Immune Systems in Plants
Dr Parker has spent several years researching mechanisms by which plants recognize and defend themselves against microoganisms that cause disease. As in animals, plants can respond to attack by pathogens by triggering local and systemic defence pathways. This is an important means of natural disease control. Precisely how the plant activates these vital processes is, however, not clearly understood. Dr Parker has used a combination of genetics and molecular biology to isolate genes that are important regulators of plant defence in a model plant called Arabidopsis. With these genes in hand, and with access to plant genome databases and modern molecular genetic technologies, she can now explore the functions of their corresponding proteins in Arabidopsis as well as a range of other plant species. This will allow us to dissect plant signaling processes and gain important insights to how plants avoid disease.
born in 1966; (Russian Federation), Research Field: Theoretical Physics
Host Institute: Institut für Theoretische Physik 2, Universität Bochum
Maxim Polyakov studied at St. Petersburg State University (Russian Federation), where he received his doctorate in 1993. Most recently he has been working concurrently at the Petersburg Nuclear Physics Institute at the Russian Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg, Gatchina (Russian Federation) and at the Institute for Theoretical Physics II at the Ruhr University in Bochum, where he was supported by a Humboldt Research Fellowship in 1998.
Research Project: Quarks and Gluons – the Constituents of Atoms
The matter we see around us consists almost entirely of quarks which are kept together within protons, neutrons and other particles by the strong force carried by gluons. This force is so strong that almost massless quarks and massless gluon form massive nucleons. One of the important questions of the theory of strong interactions is: How nucleons, and hence all atoms around us, get their mass? Dr Polyakov's project aim is to study dynamical phenomena in strong interactions which shape our world to be what it is. He suggested theoretical methods which will allow us to study these phenomena at high energy particle accelerators in a new way. Dr Polyakov's research is intended to provide a deeper insight into the quark and gluon structure of nucleons.
Dr Polyakov's group is working now on a new classification scheme of baryons (building blocs of atomic nuclei). This scheme predicted new states which are absent in the commonly accepted quark classification scheme. Recently, experimental results from Osaka have given a first confirmation of these ideas which, if eventually confirmed, may lead to revision of concepts of the baryon physics.
Currently, the group is taking part in establishing two big projects: the 6th European network on hadronic physics, and the transregio project of the German Research Society (DFG). With active participation of the group, a new Bochum-Dortmund Graduate College has been established. In the near future, the group aims at integrating nuclear and particle physics section of Bochum University into further international and national scientific projects. One of the group's aims is also to establish interdisciplinary connections with other fields, such as solid state physics and theory of complex phenomena. A workshop on field theoretical methods in high energy and solid state physics will take place this summer.
born in 1964; (Russian Federation), Research Field: Theoretical Physics
Host Institute: Institut für Theoretische Physik, Universität Düsseldorf
Alexander Pukhov studied at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (Russian Federation), where he gained his doctorate in 1991 and was later employed as an Professor. He has been a research associate at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics in Garching since 1994, and has also worked as a visiting scientist at the universities of Turin (Italy), Osaka (Japan), and Princeton, New Jersey (USA). Since November 2001 he is a Professor at Dusseldorf University.
Research Project: Plasma as a Target
Dr Pukhov studies laser-plasma interactions at the highest intensities, which are technically available now. At these intensities, any matter is instantaneously ionized and becomes plasma with very interesting new physical properties. These laser pulses drive strong currents of relativistic electrons and generate magnetic fields of such an amplitude never observed earlier on the Earth. The similar plasma conditions may exist in the nature only in the deep space, in the vicinity of white dwarfs and pulsars. The new generation of powerful lasers allows us for the first time to observe these effects in laboratory experiments. Dr Pukhov uses complex numerical simulations on parallel computers to study the relativistic laser-plasma. His simulations provide a better understanding of the experimentally observed laser acceleration of charges particles. Dr Pukhov also investigates the possibilities for new sources of short-wave and nuclear radiation from laser-plasma. Another very important topic of his research is the new approach to the laser fusion energy, where the short pulse lasers may play the central role for the target ignition.
Dr Pukhov and his research group are planning a large Transregio DFG project on Relativistic Laser Plasma with Universities of Duesseldorf, Jena, Munich (LMU), Max-Born-Institut in Berlin and Max-Planck-Institut for Quantum Optics in Garching. Duesseldorf University will be the leading organisation in this project.
born in 1965; (Great Britain/Germany), Research Field: Botanical Physiology
Host Institute: Abteilung Molekulare Pflanzengenetik, Max-Planck-Institut für Züchtungsforschung, Köln
Tina Romeis studied at Tübingen University, gaining her doctorate in 1994. After a period of research work at the Institute of Genetics in Munich, she went to the Sainsbury Laboratory in Norwich (Great Britain) in 1997, working initially as a Post-doctoral Fellow and later in a permanent scientific position.
Research Project: When Plants Suffer – Tomatoes under Stress
Dr Romeis is investigating how plants adapt to changing environmental conditions and how they react to biotic and abiotic stress. Amongst other things, she has already investigated the initial signal reactions of plants which fight off a certain mould protein after being attacked by mould. She has developed methods of combining protein-biochemical and genetic approaches and uses them in the project. In this way Dr Romeis would like to explain which signals within the plant are involved in the stress reaction and how these signals are transduced. Hence, she has identified the so-called Calcium Dependent Protein Kinases (CDPKs): CDPKs can be controlled biochemically on several levels. On top of this, it has been possible to allocate them a function as a molecular junction in a regulatory network of abiotic and biotic stress reactions.
Dr Romeis' research group is collaborating with the MPI of Molecular Plant Physiology in Golm. Together with 17 other university research groups and the MPI for Plant Breeding Research, the group at the SFB 1976 is contributing to the topic "Posttranslational functional control of proteins". In July 2002 Dr. Romeis completed her Habilitation at the Department of Biology, University of Munich.