2016 Humboldt Alumni Award for Innovative Networking Initiatives

This year marks the eighth time the Humboldt Foundation has singled out innovative network ideas of Humboldt Alumni for a Humboldt Alumni Award with the aim of fostering academic and cultural ties between Germany and the Alumni's home countries and strengthening their collaboration in the respective regions. One of the awards is specifically meant to support and promote initiatives for networking female researchers. It is intended to strengthen the career paths of female scientists and scholars on a long-term basis and encourage more female researchers to take part in the Humboldt Foundation's support programmes.

Each award comes with up to €25,000 and is funded by the German Foreign Office. The Humboldt Alumni Awards were presented to this year's winners on 6 July 2016 at the Humboldt Foundation’s Annual Meeting in Berlin.

The 2016 Humboldt Alumni Awards went to initiatives of Humboldtians from Argentina, Australia, Great Britain and Russia:


In the framework of her networking initiative Museum Networks: People, Itineraries, and Collections (1770-1920), the anthropologist, social historian, and historian of ideas Irina Podgorny will establish a museum network in which the participants will focus on archaeological and ethnographic collections of the eighteenth and nineteenth century. It is envisioned that female Humboldtians from Argentina, Uruguay and Mexico and numerous female scholars from Germany, Latin America, the USA and Europe will team up in this network. Together with the members of this network Irina Podgorny will develop, amongst other things, a Global Natural History Trade Database.

Irina Podgorny
Photo: Adriana Miranda

Professor Dr Dr Irina Podgorny
gained her doctorate at the Universidad Nacional de La Plata in Argentina in 1994. She conducted research as a Humboldt Research Fellow at the Humboldt Universität Berlin from 2002 to 2003. Since 1995 she has been working at the CONICET (National Scientific and Technical Research Council) and since 2001 at the Historical Museum Archive, which is part of the Faculty for Natural Science and Museology at the Universidad Nacional de La Plata in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Irina Podgorny received the Humboldt Foundation's Georg Forster Research Award in 2013 and collaborated with the Institute for Latin American Studies of the Freie Universität Berlin until March 2016.


With his initiative Comparative Institutional Law Network: Strengthening Links between Europe, Southeast Asia, and Oceania, the constitutional law expert Bertus De Villiers wants to build a network of legal experts from Australia, Indonesia, and Germany with the aim of establishing legal dialogue on constitutional law amongst industrialised and developing countries. He intends to organise network meetings in each of the countries involved where practical and current constitutional law topics will be discussed. These meetings also offer an opportunity to pursue a dialogue with the judiciary, parliament, research institutes, and universities.

Bertus De Villiers
Photo: private

Professor Dr Bertus De Villiers
completed his doctorate in Public Law at the University of Johannesburg in 1989. He conducted research at the Institute of Public Law at the University of Bonn and the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law in Heidelberg as a fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation from 1994 to 1995. The Humboldt Research Fellow Bertus De Villiers has been a member of the State Administrative Tribunal of Western Australia since 2005 and conducts research in the Faculty of Law at the University of Western Australia and the Law Faculty of Curtin University in Perth.

In her networking initiative Crossing Borders in the Insular Middle Ages: Humboldt Alumni Network the English studies researcher Victoria Ellen Flood brings together young as well as established researchers from several European countries who study the literature and languages of mediaeval Britain, Ireland, and Iceland. The aim of the networking activities is a pilot project that will produce a digital map containing information on the movement and translation of scientific and historical texts between the 13th and 16th centuries.

Victoria Ellen Flood
Photo: Humboldt Foun-
dation/David Ausser-

Dr Victoria Ellen Flood
received her doctorate in Mediaeval Studies from the University of York, Great Britain, in 2013. She subsequently spent a research stay at the University of Marburg as a Humboldt Research Fellow from 2014 to 2015. Victoria Flood has been teaching and conducting research in the Department of English Studies at Durham University in the United Kingdom since 2015 and will be teaching Medieval and Early Modern Literature at the University of Birmingham starting September 2016.

Through her networking initiative Networking and mobility of excellent women scientists in science, engineering, and technology, the oceanographer Irina Didenkulova wants to actively support women who pursue a career in science. Together with female Humboldtians and others she aims to promote the mobility of women researchers in the natural sciences and engineering and, thus, to drive international research collaborations.

Irina Didenkulova
Photo: private

Dr habil. Irina Didenkulova
gained a doctorate in Fluid Mechanics at the Nizhny Novgorod State University, Russian Federation, in 2006 and a doctorate in Civil Engineering at Tallinn Technical University, Estonia, in 2008. She obtained her professorial qualifications (habilitation) in Oceanography from the Shirshov Institute of Oceanography in Moscow, Russian Federation, in 2013. She conducted research through a Humboldt Research Fellowship at the Center for Marine Environmental Sciences at the University of Bremen at the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research in Kiel from 2012 to 2014. The Humboldt Research Fellow Irina Didenkulova currently works at the Marine Systems Institute at Tallinn University of Technology in Estonia and at Nizhny Novgorod State Technical University in the Russian Federation.