Overview of all Copernicus Award winners

2024: Prof. Dr. Joachim Wambsganß und Prof. Dr. Andrzej Udalski

The eight-member jury recognised Joachim Wambsganß and Andrzej Udalski for more than two decades of cross-border collaboration and their joint accomplishments in the search for and characterisation of exoplanets. The two researchers have been working together on this subject since 2003. Their research cooperation combines theoretical and analytical knowledge of the microlensing effect with the technical possibilities offered by the Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment (OGLE), which can be used to observe stars over extended periods of time. 

Through their research work in collaborative international groups the two scientists succeeded for the first time in discovering a particularly low-mass planet outside our solar system that is “only” around five times heavier than the Earth. They also discovered that almost every star in the Milky Way is orbited by a planet. According to the jury, Wambsganß and Udalski have made a significant contribution to the exploration and understanding of planetary systems. Their findings have appeared in numerous publications, including the science journal Nature. They have attracted worldwide attention, both within the field of astrophysics and beyond. 

Joachim Wambsganß

Joachim Wambsganß studied astronomy and physics in Heidelberg and Munich, obtaining his doctorate in Munich. Postdoctoral positions in the US were followed by research activities at the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics in Garching near Munich and the Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP). Finally, Wambsganß was appointed to Heidelberg University where he is still a professor at the Centre for Astronomy of Heidelberg University (ZAH). Through his research he has developed effective theories and models on the use and effect of microlenses, earning him a global reputation in astrophysics and numerous awards, also in the field of science communication.

Andrzej Udalski 

Andrzej Udalski completed his studies and obtained his doctorate in Warsaw, did postdoctoral research in Canada and was subsequently appointed professor at the Institute of Astronomy at the University of Warsaw. He is regarded as a pioneer of astronomical observation using the microlensing effect. His greatest achievements include the establishment, expansion and further development of the OGLE astronomical observation project, for which he has received international awards. Among other distinctions, he has been awarded the Karl Schwarzschild Medal of the German Astronomical Society (AG), the FNP Prize, the most distinguished Polish science prize, and the Tycho Brahe Medal of the European Astronomical Society (EAS). Udalski is also a member of the Polish Academy of Sciences (PAN) and the US National Academy of Sciences (NAS). 

2022: Prof. Dr. Sascha Feuchert and Prof. Dr. Krystyna Radziszewska

The jury, appointed jointly by the DFG and FNP, singled out Feuchert and Radziszewska for the award in appreciation of their in-depth collaboration in the field of Holocaust studies. In the jury’s view, their research into literary testimonies from the Jewish ghetto in Łódź/Litzmannstadt – the second largest in Poland under the Nazi occupation – has made a significant contribution to the reconstruction of day-to-day life and Jewish culture in the ghetto. The jury especially commended the five-volume edition of the so-called “Ghetto Chronicle” produced in cooperation with other colleagues, as well as the “Encyclopaedia” of the ghetto.

Sascha Feuchert and Krystyna Radziszewska have been working together since the 1990s. Over the years, a wide-ranging international network of researchers from various disciplines has developed around the high-profile scholarly collaboration between the two award winners. Their universities have each established research centres of international reputation in the field of Holocaust studies. Feuchert and Radziszewska made their findings about Jewish life in the ghetto known to the general public in a German-language radio programme and also used their work as a basis for developing teaching material for use in schools.

Prof. Dr. Krystyna Radziszewska

Krystyna Radziszewska initially studied German language and literature and then philosophy at the University of Łódź, after which she worked as a German teacher before returning to the university as a lecturer in German. Radziszewska obtained her doctorate at Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań and has been Professor of German Studies at the University in Łódź since 1995. In 2016, she was a guest lecturer at the University of Hannover. Radziszewska is a member of the Commission for the History of Germans in Poland and has received several distinctions from the city of Łódź.

Prof. Dr. Sascha Feuchert

After training as a journalist, Sascha Feuchert studied German, English and educational science at the University of Gießen. As part of his studies and his further academic career at the Institute for German Studies at the University of Gießen, a semester abroad and a stay as a guest lecturer took him to Łódź and Szczecin in Poland. Since 2008, Feuchert has been Director of the Holocaust Literature Unit at the University of Gießen, and since 2017 Professor of Modern German Literature with a focus on Holocaust literature and its didactics at the same university. He has received several awards for teaching and literature as well as distinctions from the University of Łódź.

2020: Prof. Dr. Sebastian Faust und Prof. Dr. Stefan Dziembowski

Professor Dr. Sebastian Faust, TU Darmstadt, and Professor Dr. Stefan Dziembowski, University of Warsaw, have been selected to receive the 2020 Copernicus Award from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) and the Foundation for Polish Science (FNP, Fundacja na rzecz Nauki Polskiej) for their services to German-Polish research collaboration. The jury appointed by the DFG and the FNP chose the two researchers for their outstanding cooperation in theoretical cryptography and IT security. Their joint research on the mathematical foundations of encryption techniques has significantly contributed towards making the use of information technologies and the associated data transfer process more secure against attack and more efficient at the same time. The vital contribution of their work, in the jury's view, lies in the way they bring different security models together.

Faust and Dziembowski have been collaborating for approximately ten years, since they first met at a specialist conference. This long-standing partnership has resulted in a large number of publications. One key area of their joint research is the development and analysis of countermeasures to protect against side-channel attacks, which use the power consumption of a smart card, for example, to attack IT security systems.

Prof. Dr. Sebastian Faust

Sebastian Faust is a professor at TU Darmstadt, where he heads the department of Applied Cryptography. After earning his doctorate at KU Leuven in Belgium, Faust conducted postdoctoral research at Aarhus University in Denmark, followed by a Marie Curie fellowship at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland. He then returned to Germany to take up a post as assistant professor at the University of Bochum. It was here, as the leader of an Emmy Noether independent junior research group, that he began a research project on "Cryptography Beyond the Black Box Model". His main research interests are cryptography and IT security.

Prof. Dr. Stefan Dziembowski

Stefan Dziembowski is a professor at the University of Warsaw, where he leads the Cryptography and Blockchain Technologies working group. He earned his doctorate from Aarhus University in Denmark. He subsequently conducted postdoctoral research at ETH Zurich, the Italian National Research Council in Pisa and the Sapienza University of Rome, before moving to the University of Warsaw in 2010. Dziembowski has held a number of fellowships, including the generous Starting Grant and an Advanced Grant from the European Research Council (ERC) and a Welcome Grant and Team Grant from the Foundation for Polish Science. Stefan Dziembowski's research interests are cryptography, blockchain technology and smart contracts.

2018: Prof. Dr. Stefan Anker and Prof. Dr. Piotr Ponikowski

Prof. Dr. Stefan Anker from the Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin and Prof. Dr. Piotr Ponikowski from Wrocław Medical University have been chosen to receive the 2018 Copernicus Award from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) and the Fundacja na rzecz Nauki Polskiej (FNP, Foundation for Polish Science) for their services to German-Polish research collaboration. The jury appointed jointly by the DFG and the FNP selected the two researchers for their long-standing and distinguished collaboration in heart failure research. Their contributions are considered to have led to a better understanding of the pathophysiology of heart failure as well as new treatment strategies for the disease. The €200,000 Copernicus Award will be presented on 25 October 2018 in Berlin by the presidents of the DFG and the FNP, Prof. Dr. Peter Strohschneider and Prof. Dr. Maciej Żylicz.

Anker and Ponikowski have been collaborating for over 20 years since they first became acquainted during a research visit at Imperial College London. Their partnership has resulted in many highly regarded joint publications and their results have provided the basis for numerous other German-Polish research projects.

Prof. Dr. Stefan Anker

Since 2017, Stefan Anker has been Professor of Tissue Homeostasis in Cardiology and Metabolism at the Berlin-Brandenburg Center for Regenerative Therapies, an institute of the Charité. He studied medicine in the Faculty of Medicine (Charité) at the Humboldt University of Berlin, where he also earned his doctorate. He then worked as a Clinical Research Fellow at Imperial College London. Back in Germany, he held professorships at the Charité Berlin and Göttingen University Hospital. Anker is member of the German Centre for Cardiovascular Research (DZHK) and Vice-President of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC). His core research areas include the mechanisms of tissue metabolism in chronic heart disease and cardio-oncological questions in patients with advanced cancers.

Prof. Dr. Piotr Ponikowski

Piotr Ponikowski is Professor of Cardiology at Wrocław Medical University, where since 2016 he has also served as Vice-Rector for Research. He is also the President of the Polish Cardiac Society. He studied medicine and earned his doctorate in Wrocław and has researched at Karolinska University Hospital in Sweden and Imperial College and Royal Brompton Hospital in London. His research interests include heart failure, coronary heart disease and cardiac arrhythmia.

2016: Prof. Dr. Agnieszka Chacińska and Prof. Dr. Peter Rehling

For their services to German-Polish research cooperation, Professor Dr. Agnieszka Chacińska, International Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology in Warsaw, and Professor Dr. Peter Rehling, University of Göttingen, have been chosen to receive the Copernicus Award 2016, presented by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) and the Foundation for Polish Science (FNP). The jury representing the DFG and FNP selected the two researchers for their "pioneering work" in the field of molecular cell biology. Their research, said the joint jury, has generated new basic knowledge of the targeted transport of proteins inside cells. Their work on the mechanism that allows proteins to be transported into the mitochondria, a type of organelle, has had a profound impact on our understanding of the biogenesis of mitochondria. The Copernicus Award of 200,000 euros will be presented on 7 June 2016 in Warsaw by the presidents of the DFG and the FNP, Professor Dr. Peter Strohschneider and Professor Dr. Maciej Żylicz.

Professors Rehling and Chacińska have been working together for many years and have produced numerous joint publications. Their collaboration began 15 years ago at the University of Freiburg and has continued to this day.

Prof. Dr. Agnieszka Chacińska

Agnieszka Chacińska has led the Laboratory of Mitochondrial Biogenesis at the International Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology in Warsaw since 2009. It was also in the Polish capital that she obtained her biology degree and doctorate. She then worked in Germany between 2001 and 2009, first as a postdoctoral researcher and then as a group leader at the University of Freiburg. For three years she led a project within the Freiburg-based Collaborative Research Centre "Functional Specificity by Coupling and Modification of Proteins". Between 2008 and 2009 she was also an associate member of the cluster of excellence "BIOSS Centre for Biological Signalling Studies". She completed her habilitation in 2008 at the Institute of Biochemistry and Biophysics in Warsaw and in 2014 was appointed full professor by the President of Poland. She has won numerous accolades for her scientific work, most recently an award from the Polish Academy of Sciences in 2015. The aim of her research is to understand the dynamic processes involved in the formation of organelles and the biogenesis of mitochondria.

Prof. Dr. Peter Rehling

Peter Rehling has been a professor and director in the Department of Cellular Biochemistry at the University of Göttingen since 2007. His research interest is the molecular processes that allow proteins to pass through the membranes of mitochondria. He studies the ways in which multiprotein complexes on and in the membrane control these processes and how proteins transported into the cell transform themselves into multiprotein complexes. After obtaining his biology degree and then his doctorate in Bochum as part of a DFG-funded Research Training Group, he worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California in San Diego, USA, before returning to Germany to complete his habilitation in Freiburg. Here he worked as the group leader of the DFG-funded Collaborative Research Centre, "Cellular Functions of Dynamic Protein Interactions". Since 2010 Rehling has been the deputy spokesperson for the Collaborative Research Centre "Integrative Structural Biology of Dynamic Macromolecular Assemblies" and this year he was appointed spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Centre "Compartmental Gates and Contact Sites in Cells". In 2013 he also received an ERC Advanced Grant.

2014: Prof. Dr. Harald Weinfurter and Prof. Dr. Marek Żukowski

Physicists Professor Harald Weinfurter from the Ludwig Maximilians University (LMU) in Munich and Professor Marek Żukowski from the University of Gdansk have been chosen to receive the 2014 Copernicus Award from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) and the Foundation for Polish Science (FNP, Fundacja na Rzecz Nauki Polskiej) for their services to German-Polish research cooperation. The jury, which was made up of representatives from the DFG and the FNP, said that the physicists had been selected both as "outstanding individual researchers" and as “collaborating researchers" whose "joint research projects have yielded clear and important results". The Copernicus Award, with 100,000 euros in prize money, will be presented on 10 September 2014 in Berlin by the Presidents of the DFG and the FNP, Professor Peter Strohschneider and Professor Maciej Żylicz.

Prof. Dr. Harald Weinfurter

Since 1999 Professor Harald Weinfurter has held a professorship for experimental quantum optics at the LMU, where he was also vice-dean of the Physics Faculty from 2008 to 2012. Having studied physics and completed his doctorate in Vienna, he habilitated in Innsbruck. Subsequently he worked in Vienna and at the Hahn-Meitner Institute in Berlin and then returned to Innsbruck. Weinfurter's research concerns the fundamental aspects of quantum physics. His areas of interest include experimental quantum interferometry with correlated photons, quantum correlations and entangled states and quantum communication and information and their application in quantum cryptography and quantum metrology. Weinfurter has received numerous awards for his work, including the Philip Morris Prize for Research in 2003 and the Descartes Prize from the European Union in 2004. He has been a Max Planck Fellow at the Max-Planck-Institute of Quantum Optics in Garching since 2010 and is associated with Nobel Laureate Professor Theodor W. Hänsch's Department of Laser Spectroscopy.

Prof. Dr. Marek Żukowski

Professor Marek Żukowski has been professor of physics since 1998 at the University of Gdansk. Initially appointed as associate professor, he has held a chair since 2006. He was head of the Department for Quantum Optics at the Institute for Physics at the University of Gdansk from 1996 to 2005 and is now head of the Institute. He habilitated in Torun in Poland, at the Nikolaus Kopernikus University, after achieving a "Proficiency Certificate in English grade A" in Cambridge in the UK. His doctorate in Gdansk followed a course of study in both physics and mathematics.

Żukowski is a founding member of the National Quantum Information Centre of Gdansk, which was established in 2007, and since 2010 a member of the board of the National Centre for Science, a research funding organisation. He has received the Prize for Science from the Polish Ministry for Education four times and has been awarded prizes by the Rector of Gdansk University three times. Periods as a visiting professor in Beijing, China and the award in 2006 of a Wenner Gren Fellowship from Sweden, like his many years of collaboration with Professor Weinfurter, underline his position in a widely international network.

2012: Prof. Dr. Jacek Błażewicz and Prof. Dr. Erwin Pesch

Experts in business information systems Professor Erwin Pesch from Siegen and Professor Jacek Błażewicz from Poznan have been awarded the Copernicus Award by the DFG and the Foundation for Polish Science (FNP) for their achievements in German-Polish collaboration in science. The Copernicus Prize includes prize money of 100,000 euros and will be presented on 17 September 2012 in Warsaw by the Presidents of the DFG and FNP, Professor Matthias Kleiner and Professor Maciej Żylicz.

Prof. Dr. Jacek Błażewicz

Professor Jacek Błażewicz completed his studies in control engineering at the Poznan University of Technology. After gaining his degree in 1974, he earned his doctorate there in technical sciences at the Faculty for Electrotechnology. In 1980 he pursued his habilitation and, in 1987, he was promoted to the position of ordinary professor, as well as to that of acting Director of the Institute of Computer Science. He has headed this Institute’s Lab for Algorithm Design and Programming Systems since 1995. At the same time, Błażewicz served as Professor at the Faculty of Mathematics and Computers Science at the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan from 1994 to 1999 and has served as Professor at the Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry at the Polish Academy of Sciences since 1999. His scientific works comprise around 300 scientific publications and 15 monographs. In 1991, Błażewicz received the EURO Gold Medal from the European Association of Operational Research Societies, and in 2005 he became Senior Member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. The University of Siegen gave him an honorary doctorate in 2006.

Prof. Dr. Erwin Pesch

Professor Erwin Pesch studied mathematics and computer science at the Technische Universität (TU) Darmstadt, where he gained his doctorate in mathematics and carried out his habilitation in business administration. From 1989 to 1994, his career as an assistant professor took him to the School of Business and Economics at Maastricht University. From 1994 to 2001, he served as Professor in the Department of Economics at the University of Bonn. He is currently researching and teaching at the University of Siegen. His scientific work is strongly interdisciplinary in nature. His research focuses are business informatics, decision support systems and project management. Pesch also successfully advises numerous companies. Staff planning ground handling at airports, for example, use a software programme based on his algorithm. His scientific productivity and versatility are evidenced by four books, almost 120 publications, many of them in international specialist journals, and numerous DFG-funded projects.

2010: Prof. Dr. Alfred Forchel and Prof. Dr. Jan Misiewicz

For their achievements in promoting German-Polish cooperation in science, Professor Dr. Alfred Forchel from Würzburg and Professor Dr. Jan Misiewicz from Wrocław, both physicists, will receive the Copernicus Award of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) and the Foundation for Polish Science (FNP). Through their many years of joint collaboration, the two researchers have strengthened research cooperation between the two countries in a sustainable way, work that has, according to the justification for the award given by the jury of the DFG and FNP, been of particular benefit to young researchers. The Copernicus Award is worth €100,000 and will be presented on 10 May 2010 in Berlin by the presidents of the DFG and FNP, Professor Dr. Matthias Kleiner and Professor Dr. Maciej Zylicz.

Prof. Dr. Alfred Forchel

Professor Dr. Alfred Forchel has directed the University of Würzburg as president since 1 October 2009 and is the director of the Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen Research Center for Complex Material Systems. Forchel is originally from Stuttgart, where he completed his physics studies with a doctorate (1983) and earned his advance postdoctoral qualification (1988). Also in Stuttgart, he directed the university's microstructure laboratory from 1984 to 1990. He was appointed by the University of Würzburg to the chair of technical physics in 1990. Here, too, he became head of the microstructure laboratory, which was started in 1994. In addition, he co-founded the degree programme for nanostructure technology.

Prof. Dr. Jan Misiewicz

Professor Dr. Jan Misiewicz is director of the Institute for Physics at the University of Wrocław and head of the Laboratory of Semiconductor Physics, Devices and Nanotechnology. Misiewicz completed his academic training—a degree in solid-state physics with subsequent PhD and advanced postdoctoral qualifications in semiconductor physics—in Wrocław, where he was appointed professor in 1999. He has held numerous academic offices and established the Laboratory for Optical Spectroscopy.

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