Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Award
Scientists and scholars from abroad, internationally renowned in their field, who completed their doctorates less than 18 years ago and who in future are expected to continue producing cutting-edge achievements which will have a seminal influence on their discipline beyond their immediate field of work, are eligible to be nominated for a Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Award.
Award winners are honoured for their outstanding research record and invited to spend a period of up to one year cooperating on a long-term research project with specialist colleagues at a research institution in Germany. The stay may be divided up into blocks.
The Humboldt Foundation grants about 20 Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Awards annually.
Nominations may be submitted by established academics in Germany. Nominations may also be initiated by award winners of the Humboldt Foundation working abroad, provided that the nomination is made jointly with a colleague working in Germany. Direct applications are not accepted. The award is valued at €45,000.
Other important details
- The nominee must be recognised internationally as an outstanding researcher in his/her field (e.g. awards, positive responses to publications, etc.).
- Expectation that the nominee will continue to produce cutting-edge achievements which will have a seminal influence on the discipline.
- Doctorate completed less than 18 years ago.
- Detailed expert opinion by an academic working at a research institution in Germany who would like to invite the nominee to spend time researching in Germany.
- Two expert reviews by important international and one from German collaborative partners and/or academics.
- The Humboldt Foundation assumes that candidates will abide by the Rules of Good Scientific Practice during the application and sponsorship periods.
Nominations may be sent via postal service to the following address at any time:
Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, Selection Department,
Jean-Paul-Str. 12, 53173 Bonn, Germany
Selection Committee meetings are held twice a year – currently at the beginning of spring and in early autumn. Please bear in mind that processing the nomination normally takes up to six months. Therefore, nominations should be submitted well before the Selection Committee Meeting targeted.
It is the nominator's responsibility to ensure that he or she has submitted all the necessary documents. Nominations not submitted as a single entity will take longer to process. The documents required in addition to the nomination documents, i.e. the confidential statements by the expert reviewers, can be submitted to the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation directly, at the same time as the nomination. Subsequently, independent peer reviewers assess the nominations.
An independent Selection Committee composed of academics from all disciplines makes the final decision on the nominations received. The competition between nominations is international and there are no quotas for countries or disciplines. The Selection Committee makes its decision solely on the basis of the nominees' academic qualifications.
Nominees will be notified about the Selection Committee's decision immediately after the meeting.
To make a nomination, please only use the nomination documents which can be downloaded here.
One of our hallmarks is the degree of support we try to provide for every single guest researcher. This is why we offer you extra benefits in addition to the award amount: from invitations to events to language courses.
Once a Humboldtian, always a Humboldtian: Even after your initial research stay has come to an end, we shall still maintain close contact with you. Our alumni sponsorship is flexible and designed to support every Humboldtian’s particular path in life and development as well as collaborations between individuals.
This programme is financed by the:
For how many years after his or her doctorate can a candidate be nominated?
What determines the date of a doctorate?
Which date is valid if the nominee has several doctorates?
Will you take into consideration the time devoted to bringing up children?
Who is entitled to nominate a candidate?
Is there an age limit for nominees?
Can academics from any academic discipline be nominated for a research award?
Is an academic eligible to be nominated for a research award if he or she has already received an award from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation?
Academics who have already received a (research) award from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation are not eligible for another nomination.
All Alexander von Humboldt Foundation alumni are eligible for alumni sponsorship measures. If you are unsure whether alumni sponsorship or a nomination would be more appropriate, please contact us at info(at)avh.de.
May I nominate a candidate who has already stayed or is currently staying in Germany?
Can a German national be nominated?
Can I nominate an academic who does not hold a doctorate?
Are roughly the same number of awards granted to men and women? Is priority given to either a male or female nominee if both candidates are considered to be equally qualified and suitable?
What is the sum of the award?
How is the award amount paid? Does the nominee need a German bank account for this purpose?
For the payment of further instalments, award winners are asked to open an account at a bank of their choice as soon as possible after arriving in Germany, and to provide the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation with their account number, bank address and bank code.
The research award is granted in recognition of the academic achievements and the personality of the award winner and may only be claimed by the award winner personally. Similarly, payment of the award amount may also only be made to the award winner personally and exclusively. Claims to the award may not be transferred.
Is the award amount subject to taxation?
However, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation would like to point out that according to German tax law, awards are not usually subject to income tax in Germany if they are primarily granted in recognition of the award winner's lifetime achievement or entire academic work, personality, convictions, or function as a role-model. This is precisely the intention of the Humboldt Foundation in granting the research awards which honour the entire life's work of award winners in their capacity as internationally outstanding researchers.
Tax law in the award winners’ home countries or countries of residence may contain special regulations on the taxation of awards. If in doubt, a tax accountant in the award winner's own country should be consulted.
Can nominations be submitted by email?
Will you confirm receipt of my nomination?
Who should provide expert reviews for my nomination and how many expert reviews are required?
Should expert reviews be sent directly to the Humboldt Foundation or enclosed with the nomination?
Can I submit more than three expert reviews?
What happens if expert reviews are submitted before the Humboldt Foundation receives the nomination?
Is there a required format for the list of publications?
What will happen to the nomination documents, e.g. the expert reviews, after the selection procedure has been completed? Will they be destroyed or archived, and will they be treated confidentially?
Are there deadlines for submitting nominations?
When does the Selection Committee meet?
Will you sponsor participation in German language courses?
Who will review my nomination?
Who will decide on my nomination?
Who is on the Selection Committee?
Please refer to the following link for a list of Selection Committee members for the conferral of Alexander von Humboldt Foundation research awards:
Will the nominee be notified about his or her nomination?
How high is the success rate?
What are the most important selection criteria?
Will the nominee be notified of the outcome of the selection procedure?
Can I re-nominate a researcher whose nomination was not successful?
Acceptance of the Award / Use and Provision of Award Funds
How soon after the selection decision can the research stay begin?
Does the nominee have to complete his or her stay in one go, or can it be divided up?
May the award winner teach at the host university during his or her stay, or is it strictly a research stay?
Will travel costs be covered?
The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation can only cover the costs of one return journey, regardless of the number of trips to and from Germany.
A lump sum towards the travel costs of marital partners and children under the age of 18 accompanying the award winner may be granted if they stay with the award winner in Germany for at least six months. Fifty per cent of the lump sum will be paid for children between the ages of two and eleven, ten per cent for children under the age of two. The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation will not cover any additional expenses for the transportation of luggage.
Do I have to file a report after completion of the research stay?
The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation also asks academic hosts in Germany to report on their experiences in their cooperation with award winners. These reports are very important and revealing for the foundation, because foreign guests often observe with a keener eye and are able to make more balanced judgements due to their greater critical distance. The reports are analysed carefully and confidentially. In addition, they can help the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation to continue improving its programmes and make them as effective as possible.