21 December 2015, No. 26/2015

Awards for researchers from developing and transition countries

The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation grants Georg Forster Research Awards, each valued at €60,000

One woman researcher and seven male colleagues will receive this year’s Georg Forster Research Awards, granted by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. The award targets researchers from developing and transition countries who have earned international recognition for their research work and also seek to solve development-related issues. The award winners are invited to spend time in Germany establishing and building collaboration with colleagues here.

Valued at €60,000 each, the Georg Forster Research Awards are financed by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. For this round of research awards, the ministry provided funding for three additional awards for climate-related research because climate protection is currently one of the main areas of focus for the ministry's work. The awards will be presented to the winners during the symposium being held for Humboldt Foundation research award winners in Bamberg in March 2016.

The eight award winners and their host institutions in Germany:

Georg Forster Research Awards for climate-related research

  • Monier M. Abd El-Ghani (59) is a professor at the University of Cairo and is considered to be one of the leading experts on Egyptian vegetation, particularly on vegetation in oases, coastal regions and cultivated landscapes. His research findings provide the foundation for the development of systems for monitoring the effects of climate change and for monitoring adaptation measures, such as the establishment of vegetation that requires less water. Abd El-Ghani will conduct research at the Department of Ecology of Technische Universität Berlin in Germany.
  • Ethno-sociologist David Barkin (73) is Professor of Economics at the Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana in Mexico City. In his work, he investigates the link between economic and ecological development and delves into the sustainable use of resources. Besides his research work, he is also active in Mexico as a mediator between the local population and the government in matters involving resource management. In Germany, Barkin will work with colleagues at the Institute of Agricultural and Horticultural Sciences of the Humboldt Universität zu Berlin.
  • Britaldo Silveira Soares Filho (57) is head of the Department of Cartography at the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, Brazil. He has developed innovative methods in the field of geography and cartography which make it possible to precisely predict how tropical rainforests – such as in the Amazon basin – will develop. Based on these models, the government of Brazil has implemented a variety of protective measures and is planning more for the future. For his research in Germany, Soares Filho will work at the Center for Development Research at the University of Bonn.

Georg Forster Research Awards

  • The physiologist Robson Augusto Souza dos Santos (63) from the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, Brazil, specializes in cardiovascular research. His discoveries of new angiotensin peptides which have an enormous influence on the development of diseases such as hypertension are internationally recognized. For Santos, the clinical application of his research is important: cardiovascular and metabolic diseases that are caused by unhealthy lifestyles are increasing dramatically in transition countries like Brazil. Santos will use his Georg Forster Research Award to deepen his collaboration with the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in Berlin.
  • Religious studies scholar Ezra Chitando (46), professor at the University of Zimbabwe in Harare, Zimbabwe, is an advocate of active religious studies with a high level of practical applicability. He has made important contributions to development issues with his innovative work which deals with, for example, HIV and gender images. In Germany, he is planning collaborations with colleagues from the Department of New Testament Studies at the University of Bamberg.
  • Physicist Ado Jorio (43), a professor at the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, will work with colleagues at Freie Universität Berlin. His research revolves around Raman spectroscopy of carbon nanotubes. As the leading Brazilian scientist in this field he is setting new directions for international research with a process he has developed. He is also highly respected for the work he does as a teacher and for his influence as a role model for young Brazilian researchers. 
  • The sociolinguist Elvira Narvaja de Arnoux (68), Professor of Semiology at the University of Buenos Aires in Argentina, is a leading Latin American humanities scholar. She developed the Argentine discourse analysis and conducts research on the role language plays in the birth of states. She is one of the most active intermediaries between South America, North America and Europe and between research and the general public. In Germany, Narvaja de Arnoux will be working together with colleagues at the Department of Romance Studies at Leibniz Universität Hannover. Her team will also include junior Argentine scholars
  • The youngest Georg Forster Research Award winner to date, Hung Nguyen-Xuan (39) from Vietnam, is already regarded as an outstanding researcher in Numerical Mechanics. His work on the Smooth Finite Element Method (SFEM) and the Isogeometric Analysis (IGA), two computational methods for solid mechanics, is used internationally. During his time at the Department for General Mechanics at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum, he will strengthen the existing exchange with his home university, the Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology (HUTECH).

The Humboldt Foundation is currently accepting nominations for the next round of the Georg Forster Research Award. The closing date is 15 January 2016.

This research award is named after the naturalist, travel writer and journalist Georg Forster (1754-1794), a friend of Alexander von Humboldt.

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 27,000 Humboldtians from all disciplines in more than 140 countries worldwide – including 52 Nobel Prize winners.


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