12 May 2015, No. 10/2015

Humboldt Professorships bring international research stars to Germany

Research Minister Wanka and Humboldt Foundation President Schwarz confer Alexander von Humboldt Professorships.

Five top researchers (four women and one man) from abroad were awarded Alexander von Humboldt Professorships Tuesday evening in Berlin. Germany’s Research Minister Johanna Wanka and the President of the Humboldt Foundation, Helmut Schwarz, presented Germany’s best-endowed research award to Elisabeth Décultot, Harald Helfgott, Sharon Macdonald, Karen Radner and Marja Timmermans during a special ceremony held in Berlin. The award winners were nominated by German universities and will soon be conducting research in Halle, Göttingen, Berlin, Munich and Tübingen. Each award is endowed with five million euros for individuals conducting experimental research and 3.5 million euros for researchers working in theoretical fields.

“Universities throughout Germany – and not just in the conurbations Munich and Berlin – can obviously compete with the world’s best addresses for researchers”, said the President of the Humboldt Foundation, Helmut Schwarz. “And they are increasingly successful in recruiting excellent female researchers for Humboldt Professorships”, he stressed, noting that credit for this must go, first and foremost, to Germany’s universities. “When making their nominations for the award, universities are – gratifyingly – increasingly taking top researchers into consideration – with success, as today’s award ceremony shows”, said Schwarz. “We can only encourage our universities to continue to do so.”

“With our Humboldt Professorships, we provide freedom for outstanding research work and high-profile impetus for innovative university concepts”, said Federal Research Minister Johanna Wanka. “This year the award winners impressively demonstrate how diverse excellent research is – from Classical and Ancient Studies all the way to Molecular Genetics. They will enrich our research landscape. For top international researchers Germany is an excellent place for conducting research.”

Every year the Humboldt Foundation awards the Alexander von Humboldt Professorship to up to ten internationally leading researchers from all disciplines who work in other countries. In addition to the candidates’ outstanding academic and research qualifications, the concepts designed by the universities to offer the researchers and their teams longer-term prospects in Germany are deciding factors in the evaluation of the applications. The Humboldt Professorship is financed by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

The award winners at a glance:

  • Elisabeth Décultot, Literature, will switch from the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique Paris to Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg.
  • Harald Helfgott, Pure Mathematics, will come to the University of Göttingen from the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique Paris.
  • Sharon Macdonald, Cultural Anthropology / Museology, will switch from the University of York, Great Britain, to the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, the Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz (Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation) and the Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin.
  • Karen Radner, Classical and Ancient Studies, will come to Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München from University College London.
  • Marja Timmermans, Molecular Genetics, will come to the University of Tübingen from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, USA.

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 26,000 Humboldtians from all disciplines in more than 140 countries worldwide – including 51 Nobel Laureates.


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