Press release

Sofja Kovalevskaja Awards to be presented in Berlin on 20 November

No. 22/2019

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Presse, Kommunikation und Marketing
Tel.: +49 228 833-144
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Seven international researchers to receive awards valued at up to €1.65 million each. The young researchers will conduct research in Bochum, Duisburg-Essen, Heidelberg, Köln, Konstanz, Münster and Regensburg in the coming years.


The Kovalevskaja Award Winners Doris Hellerschmied, Tonni Grube Andersen, Joshua P. Barham, Angelo Di Bernardo, Ottaviano Ruesch, Paola Pinilla and Jan De Graaf (top left to bottom right) will receive the award on 20 November in Berlin.

A total of seven young international researchers from abroad will receive the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation’s Sofja Kovalevskaja Award, each of which comes with up to €1.65 million in funding. Parliamentary State Secretary at the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research Michael Meister and Hans-Christian Pape, President of the Humboldt Foundation, will present the awards at a special ceremony being held in Berlin at 7 pm on 20 November.

With this award money, the seven researchers (two women and five men) can conduct research free from administrative constraints at a German university or research institute of their choice for a period of up to five years and develop their own research group for this at their host institute. The Sofja Kovalevskaja Award is one of Germany’s best-endowed research awards. It is financed by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. With this award, the young researchers receive risk capital during an extremely early phase in their careers to conduct innovative projects and, in the process, are given the opportunity to work independently and bear responsibility.

Notice to the press:
During the day of 20 November a working meeting will be held which will also be attended by this year’s award winners and their hosts. Specialist topics will be discussed and experience shared with regard to Germany as a location for research work. Journalists are welcome to attend. We will be happy to arrange interviews.

Time and date: Wednesday, 20 November 2019, 9:30 am - 4:30 pm
Venue: Hotel INNSiDE by Meliá Berlin Mitte (Chausseestraße 33, 10115 Berlin)

Award ceremony:
Time and date: 
Wednesday, 20 November 2019, 7 pm
Venue: Atrium, Deutsche Bank, Charlottenstraße 37-38, 10117 Berlin

Please send an e-mail including a copy of your valid press ID by 12 noon, Tuesday, 19 November 2019 to presse[at]

On-site press contacts: Nina Hafeneger and Lisa Purzitza (Phone: 0160-97287564)

The award winners are:

  • Tonni Grube Andersen, cell and developmental biology of plants, from the University of Lausanne, Switzerland, will conduct research at the Max Planck Institute of Plant Breeding Research, Cologne.
  • Joshua Philip Barham, organic molecular chemistry/electrochemistry, from the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), Tsukuba, Japan, will conduct research at the University of Regensburg.
  • Jan De Graaf, recent and modern history, from the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, will conduct research at the Ruhr University Bochum.
  • Angelo Di Bernardo, experimental condensed matter physics, from the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom, will conduct research at the University of Constance, AG Mesoscopic Systems.
  • Doris Hellerschmied, biochemistry, from Yale University, New Haven, USA, will conduct research at the University of Duisburg-Essen.
  • Paola Pinilla, Astrophysics, from the University of Arizona in Tuscon, USA, will conduct research at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg. (award winner 2018)
  • Ottaviano Ruesch, geology, from the ESA in Noordwijk, The Netherlands, will conduct research at the University of Münster.


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 30,000 Humboldtians from all disciplines in more than 140 countries worldwide – including 55 Nobel Prize winners.

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