2017 Humboldt Alumni Award for Innovative Networking Initiatives

For the ninth time already, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation has honoured innovative network ideas of Humboldtians designed to promote academic and cultural ties between Germany and their own countries, or strengthen cooperation in the respective countries and regions.

Each Humboldt Alumni Award comes with up to €25,000 and is funded by the German Foreign Office. The award ceremony was held on 28 June 2017 at the Humboldt Foundation’s annual meeting in Berlin.

This year’s awards go to initiatives of Humboldtians from Belarus, Canada, Greece, Nigeria and Turkey.


Handan Arkin Olğar
Photo: private

As part of her network initiative Outstanding Young Women Scientists in Natural Science and Technology: National Mentoring Platform to Support Their Merit, Handan Arkin Olğar supports and fosters young and experienced Turkish women scientists through a mentoring programme. Every year, three outstanding women researchers are honoured at network events held at various Turkish universities; these women are then individually advised and assisted by Humboldt alumni with the planning of their scientific careers. In addition, all of the attendees at these events have the opportunity to speak and network with Humboldt alumni and other experienced women scientists, and scientists from Turkey and Germany.

The Humboldt Research Fellow Handan Arkin Olğar is a professor at the Department of Physics Engineering at Ankara University.


Matthias Fritsch
Concordia University

Using his Nature Time Responsibility initiative, Matthias Fritsch aims to expand a network of researchers from China, Japan, Canada and Germany which was set up during earlier research stays in Germany. The network constellates around the theme of moral, legal and political responsibility to nature and on behalf of future generations. As part of the initiative, online conferences and webinars will be conducted and assistance provided for student and postdoc trips taken to meet with members of the network.

The Humboldt Research Fellow Matthias Fritsch is a professor at the Department of Philosophy at Concordia University in Montreal.


Sergei Levchenko
Photo: private

Sergei Levchenko aims to establish a cross-border network of experts with his Initiative on Smart Energy and Network Technologies: Humboldtians on the way to a Smart Energy World (HISEN). Members of this network will use a virtual platform to discuss and find innovative solutions towards the advancement of smart energy. In addition, the initiative will support the transfer of knowledge in the areas of modern smart technologies for energy production, energy conservation, power transmission and consumption control. Looking to the younger generation of academics, particularly in Belarus and Eastern Partnership countries, the initiative also seeks to point out a perspective for the individuals’ own academic development.

The Humboldt Research Fellow Sergei Levchenko is a professor at the Luikov Heat & Mass Transfer Institute of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus.


Aderemi Raji-Oyelade
Humboldt Foundation/
David Ausserhofer

Aderemi Raji-Oyelade will build a cross-border research network throughout Sub-Saharan Africa that will be dedicated to the development and dissemination of proverbs and “postproverbials” in African languages. As part of the initiative PACE Network: Postproverbial Africa – Building a Corpus of Wits in Texts, Media and Performance, proverbs and postproverbials of 13 local African languages will be collected in the course of interviews, focus group discussions and by the use of questionnaires. These proverbs and postproverbials, together with translations and explanatory notes, will be made available to members of the network in a database and as part of a web application. A multilingual publication is planned as well.

The Georg Forster Research Fellow Aderemi Raji-Oyelade is a professor at the Department of English at the University of Ibadan in Nigeria.


Athina Sioupi
Photo: private

As part of her German-Mediterranean Network for Linguistics (“DeMiNeS”), Athina Sioupi has established a cross-disciplinary network of academics from the philology field in order to intensify cooperation between Germany and Mediterranean countries in and outside the European Union in the area of contrastive linguistic research and instruction. A website serves participants as a forum for cross-border discussion and exchange. Plans foresee among others an international symposium at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, a summer school at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, and a lecture series as part of the Erasmus+ programme reaching out for university students in Europe.

The Humboldt Research Fellow Athina Sioupi is a professor at the School of German Language and Literature at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.