Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prizes 2014

This year's recipients of the most important prize for early career researchers in Germany have been announced. The selection committee, appointed by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) and the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), has chosen ten researchers, three women and seven men, to receive the 2014 Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prizes. They will each be presented with the prize of 20,000 euros on 12 May in Berlin.

Prof. Dr. Eric Bodden, Computer Science

The computer scientist Eric Bodden conducts research in the field of secure software engineering and deals with the question of how software can be engineered with specific security features even during the development process. Bodden's work within the Emmy Noether Group "Provably Secure Program Executions through Declaratively Defined Dynamic Program Analyses", funded since 2012, is also in this area. Bodden is currently working predominantly on the security of mobile apps. His focus in this research is on smartphones with an Android operating system.

Dr. Wim Decock, Legal History

The core research area of the Belgian-born legal historian Wim Decock lies in the epoch of the early modern period of the 16th to 17th century. Decock devotes his studies primarily to the theologians and lawyers of the late scholastic period. The importance of the late scholastic period in the development of modern European legal systems has been repeatedly addressed during recent centuries – however Decock has now compiled a comprehensive reference work for the first time. In this work he emphasises the special importance of the Catholic theologians of the era for modern contract law.

Dr. Dorothee Dormann, Biochemistry

Since her postdoctoral research at the University of Munich, the scientific focus of biochemist Dorothee Dormann has been on investigating the molecular and cellular causes of neurodegenerative diseases. The Emmy Noether independent junior research group, which she has headed since 2013, is looking into the transport processes and pathomechanisms of RNA-binding proteins in neurodegenerative disorders. The results could make a significant contribution to the development of therapy concepts in the long term.

Prof. Dr. Nico Eisenhauer, Biology/Ecology

In his research work Nico Eisenhauer deals with the fundamental question of how global change impacts on biodiversity and the functions of ecosystems. In doing so, he analyses the consequences of rising carbon dioxide concentrations, higher temperatures and nitrogen deposits, more frequent droughts and the establishment of non-native species. In his previous work, Nico Eisenhauer has been able to significantly expand our understanding of the interaction of plants and soil life and the complex interactions in microbial communities of the soil.

Prof Dr. Bent Gebert, Literary Studies

The work of literary scholar Bent Gebert is dedicated to the research of myths – and thus at the same time to the topic of the cultures of knowledge and overall research of knowledge that extends into the most diverse traditions of discourse. Bent Gebert has significantly advanced research on medieval myths with his research into myths as a form of knowledge. Using subtle text observations, he shows that the growing knowledge claims of late-medieval narrative have poetological, that is poetic consequences. Gebert is currently involved with the reconstruction of the "cultural logic" of competition within medieval literature.

Dr. Silvia Gruhn, Neurobiology/Mathematics

Silvia Gruhn creates a link between applied mathematics and experimental biology. She is working both on modelling the haemodynamic – the blood flow in blood vessels – within the human brain, as well as on the control of complex behaviour, namely the running movements of insects. She has been investigating the latter since 2009, as the head of an independent junior research group within the Emmy Noether Programme. Silvia Gruhn makes use of all the relevant parameters of the biological organism in her simulations, including the cellular properties of neurons and even the biomechanical properties of muscles and their different compositions.

Dr.-Ing. Daniel Meyer, Production Processing

Studies of the effects of production processes on surface properties can help to produce higher-performance components and improve production processes used to date. Daniel Meyer's research is precisely within this area between natural scientific mechanisms and engineering science-based issues. The biologist’s multidisciplinary approach combined with complex experimental verification has created new ways of changing the properties of materials while preserving resources. The "kryogene Walzen" he published for the first time is just one of the possible implementations of his theoretical principles.

Dr. Laura Na Liu, Nanosciences

Laura Na Liu is undertaking research in the rapidly developing field of nanophotonics, within which scientists are attempting to control and make use of light beyond the laws of diffraction. In particular her work on plasmonic sensor designs and plasmonic nanolines is of lasting importance, as is her ongoing development in the preparation techniques of nanostructures. Currently the nanoscientist's core research area is in DNA nanotechnology and biomolecular applications. Once again here she demonstrates her skills in developing innovative production approaches for nano-optic applications.

Dr. Marc D. Walter, Inorganic Molecular Chemistry

The chemist Marc D. Walter is working with the whole range of metallic elements, from alkaline-earth metals to actinides. His focus is on experimental, theoretical and spectroscopic work to characterise dia- and paramagnetic organometallic compounds. Walter has been studying the synthesis and characterisation of semi-sandwich complexes of iron in Braunschweig since 2010 within an Emmy Noether Group. The findings gained here are of great importance for the expansion of the systematics and for the deeper understanding of classical organometallic chemistry.

Dr. Sönke Zaehle, Biogeochemistry

In his research, biogeochemist Sönke Zaehle integrates nitrogen dynamics into global vegetation models. These models represent an important basis for initial estimates about the limiting effect of nitrogen on the growth of the land biomass and its impact on the carbon cycle. They can also be used to better understand changes influenced by climate change. Zaehle's research work is also important with regard to safeguarding food and the role of nitrogen in agricultural systems, which form the globally largest form of land use in terms of area.