Launch of the DFG Leibniz Lectures in Russia

(28.02.12) As part of the German-Russian Year of Science, DFG President Matthias Kleiner opened a series of lectures by Leibniz prizewinners in Russia. Sixty prominent academics and partners from universities, academy institutes and government ministries were invited to the formal opening event, which took place in the stately rotunda in the main building of Lomonosov Moscow State University (MSU). There were words of welcome from the Vice-Rector, Alexei Khokhlov, the director of the MSU Museum of Earth Science, Andrey Smurov, the chair of the Russian Foundation for Basic Research, Vladislav Panchenko, and the German Permanent Deputy Ambassador, Georg Birgelen.

Президент проф.Маттиас Клайнер

Professor Dr.-Ing. Matthias Kleiner, President of the DFG

The Leibniz Lectures, mainly organised at locations where the DFG maintains its own international offices, are designed to present themes of top-level research in Germany and highlight opportunities for bilateral cooperation. The idea of the lecture series is for Leibniz prizewinners to act as ambassadors for German research. A recent study of the publication output of prize recipients by Lucy Amez (Brussels) illustrates the high potential for international cooperation.

"The Leibniz Prize is the most important and prominent individual grant awarded by the DFG, and it remains the backbone of our research funding. It recognises outstanding researchers who are taking research and scholarship forward through their ideas, ideas that generate fresh insights," said Matthias Kleiner on the day before the award ceremony in Berlin in 2012. On the evening of 28 February, it was the DFG President himself who filled the role of Leibniz laureate in Moscow. Professor Kleiner, who is on leave from his position as director of the Institute of Forming Technology and Lightweight Construction (IUL) at the Technical University of Dortmund, received the Leibniz Prize for his research in 1997. The topic of his lecture was 'Strategic Research in Engineering – Advanced Light Metal Extrusion for Low Energy Design'.

Колонный зал

Rotunda, Lomonosov Moscow State University


To strengthen links between the two countries in the engineering sciences, Professor Kleiner was joined by subject specialists and Dr. Michael Lentze, who is responsible for fluid mechanics and microsystems at the DFG, as he visited universities and research institutes in Moscow and St. Petersburg. The delegation included the spokesperson of the DFG review board for fluid mechanics, Prof. André Thess (Technical University of Ilmenau), and Prof. Oliver Paschereit (Technical University of Berlin), who received an ERC Advanced Grant in 2009.

The DFG has been bestowing the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize since 1986. With the ten prizes for 2012, a total of 300 Leibniz Prizes have been awarded. Of these, 103 were bestowed upon researchers in the natural sciences, 87 in life sciences, 64 in humanities and social sciences, and 46 in engineering sciences. Six Leibniz recipients have gone on to win the Nobel Prize: in 1988 Hartmut Michel (chemistry), in 1991 Erwin Neher and Bert Sakmann (medicine), in 1995 Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard (medicine), in 2005 Theodor Hänsch (physics) and in 2007 Gerhard Ertl (chemistry).

In addition to the international recognition and high endowment, the Leibniz Prize is also associated with extraordinary flexibility. Prizewinners can utilise the prize money (currently as much as €2.5 million) for their own scientific work over the course of up to seven years without bureaucratic delays. In 1986, when awarding the first prize, former DFG President Hubert Markl described this flexibility as 'genuine idyllic freedom', a phrase that was subsequently adopted as the motto of the prize and the DFG's entire Leibniz programme.