Albert Maucher Prize in Geoscience

The Albert Maucher Prize is normally awarded every three years to early career researchers who have produced outstanding research results. The founder, geologist Albert Maucher, who died in 1981, was particularly interested in the prize being presented to researchers who adopted unconventional approaches, even if their ideas were not subsequently fully confirmed. He believed that offering prizes for early career researchers served "as both a stimulus and a source of freedom". Mr. Maucher also requested that the awarding of the prize should not be associated with any obligation and that no thanks should be expressed to him.

The criteria for the prize are excellent scientific achievements, demonstrated flexibility and originality, and postdoctoral or junior professor status (candidates must not be professors or holders of a Heisenberg fellowship). The prize money of €10,000 per recipient must also be used for scientific purposes.


2014: Dr. Kathryn E. Fitzsimmons

In her research, Fitzsimmons examines the question of how arid and loess regions have changed over the last 2.6 million years, the so-called Quaternary period. In her field research she seeks to enhance our understanding of the history of environmental change and its impact on human beings. In particular, she applies the techniques of luminescence dating. Her work has taken her to the central Australian desert dunefields, the Willandra Lakes Region UNESCO World Heritage Area and the Eurasian loess belt in Romania and Kazakhstan. The Australian-born researcher's versatility is demonstrated by the fact that she holds both a BSc in earth sciences and a diploma in German from the University of Melbourne, which she studied for in parallel. After completing her degree she obtained her doctorate from the Australian National University in Canberra, where she also worked as a postdoctoral researcher. She joined the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in 2010.

2010: Prof. Ulrike Herzschuh

As a junior professor for palaeoecology and palaeoclimatology at the Institute for Geosciences of the University of Potsdam, Professor Ulrike Herzschuh (35) studies the climate of prehistoric times. For this purpose, she researches in Asia (Tibetan high plateau, China, Mongolia and Siberia), examining fossil pollen, chironomid midges and other fossils in marine sediments to determine past climatic conditions. This is in addition to data from isotope measurements and the analysis of biomarkers in organic components of the sediments. In a further step, Herzschuh studies what the findings reveal about the global palaeoclimate. Her work focuses on the role of the permafrost on the climate of the polar regions.

The young researcher and two-time mother was recommended for the prize on account of her diverse international collaborations and her outstanding publication output. In addition, she has successfully secured funding for and completed her own projects and is committed to academic teaching and university self-administration.

Further Information


Dr. Guido Lüniger
Telephone: +49 (228) 885-2333