Awards for researchers from transition and developing countries

The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation grants Georg Forster Research Awards, each valued at €60,000. The closing date for nominations in the next round of the Georg Forster Research Award is 15 January 2015.

Two women researchers and six male colleagues will receive this year’s Georg Forster Research Awards, granted by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. The award targets research personalities from transition and developing countries whose research to date has earned them international visibility whilst seeking to help solve development-related issues. The award winners are invited to spend time in Germany establishing and building collaborations with colleagues here. Valued at €60,000 each, the research awards are financed by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. Here are the eight award winners and their host institutions in Germany:

Jorge José Casal (55), a professor in the School of Agriculture at the University of Buenos Aires in Argentina, is a world leader in his field. He specialises in investigating the physiology of light perception in plants. His ecophysiological work has a practical application, increasing agricultural yields amongst crop plants competing for the limited resource of light. In Germany, Casal will work together with colleagues in the Faculty of Biology at the University of Freiburg.

The psychologist, Erhabor S. Idemudia (48) from Nigeria, concerns himself with the clinical/psychological problems of so-called vulnerable populations, such as refugees, prisoners, people infected with HIV and the mentally ill. With his interdisciplinary, intercultural and application-related approach he makes significant contributions to fields like trauma therapy and AIDS prevention. Idemudia is a professor at North West University in Mahikeng, South Africa. In Germany, he will work in Bremen at Jacobs University and Bremen International Graduate School of Social Sciences (BIGSSS), cooperating, amongst others, with the Anneliese Maier Research Award winner Michele J. Gelfand.

Through his work, Igor Komarov (50), plays an important role in advancing the development of organic synthesis chemistry. The Ukrainian currently conducts research on the synthesis of non-natural amino acids and photo-switchable cyclic peptides at the National University of Kyiv. When exposed to light the biological effect of these peptides can be switched on and off – a property which has great potential for the development of new cancer drugs, for example. Komarov will use the Georg Forster Research Award to expand his collaboration with Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT).

The molecular biologist, Francine Ntoumi (53) from the Université Marien Ngouabi in Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo, is one of Africa’s pioneers in the area of infection research. A parasitologist by training, she has played a central role in the fight against malaria and been responsible for establishing independent malaria research in Africa. For her scientific achievements as well as for her engagement in improving research structures in Africa, she received the African Union Award for the best female scientist in 2012. The Georg Forster Research Award will allow her to extend her cooperation with the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen.

Oğuz Okay (58) from Turkey conducts research in polymer chemistry, typically combining fundamental research with applications in materials science and technology. He has, for example, developed macroporous organogels which help to remove oil spill in the oceans. A professor of physical chemistry at Istanbul Technical University, Okay will cooperate with specialist colleagues at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin für Materialien und Energie (HZB).

The historian, Scarlett O’Phelan Godoy (62) from Peru, has shaped our understanding of the colonial era in her country. In particular, she has illuminated the role of the indigenous population in rebelling against the colonial rulers in the 18th century. Furthermore, she has produced seminal work on Peru’s path to independence in the 19th century. O’Phelan Godoy is a professor at The Pontifical Catholic University of Peru in Lima and will use her Georg Forster Research Award to cooperate with colleagues in the Department of History at Universität Hamburg.

The Brazilian, Paolo De Mattos Pimenta (60), is considered a pioneer of computational mechanics, working in strongly practice-related fields. He has developed methods of numerical analysis for numerous engineering projects in Brazil, including the construction of the Brasilia National Stadium for the 2014 World Cup. De Mattos Pimenta, who holds a professorship at the University of São Paulo, aims to strengthen long-term cooperation with the Institute of Mechanics at the University of Duisburg-Essen.

Jadambaa Temuujin (46) from Mongolia has an international reputation for his research on inorganic materials. He is especially interested in the production of geopolymers based on raw materials and recycled materials which are fundamental to the development of new, eco-friendly materials. Jadambaa Temuujin conducts his research at the Mongolian Academy of Sciences; in Germany he will work together with colleagues in the Institute for Mineralogy at Leibniz Universität Hannover.

The Humboldt Foundation is currently accepting nominations for the next round of the Georg Forster Research Award. The closing date is 15 January 2015. The programme is named after the naturalist, travel writer and journalist Georg Forster (1754-1794), a friend of Alexander von Humboldt.


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