Von Kaven Award Goes to Mathematician Lisa Sauermann

Prof. Dr. Lisa Sauermann

Prof. Dr. Lisa Sauermann

© Barbara Frommann/ Uni Bonn

Professor Dr. Lisa Sauermann from Bonn has received this year’s von Kaven Award from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) in recognition of her research achievements in the field of extremal combinatorics. The award goes to mathematicians who conduct research under the DFG’s Heisenberg or Emmy Noether Programmes. Endowed with €10,000, this year’s award will be presented on 17 November in connection with the Gauss Lectureship of the German Mathematical Society (Deutsche Mathematiker-Vereinigung, DMV) in Berlin. The laudatory speech will be given by mathematician Professor Dr. Katrin Tent, a member of the DFG Senate.

Lisa Sauermann’s field of research, combinatorics, is a sub-discipline of mathematics that deals with “discrete” structures, i.e. finite sets or points in spaces. Among other things, Sauermann focuses on so-called extremal combinatorics. This term is used to describe questions that address the maximum or minimum possible number of combinatorial objects under certain conditions. In connection with many such questions, methods from probability theory known as probabilistic combinatorics have a key role to play. Lisa Sauermann also uses techniques from algebraic geometry and differential topology in her research. As one of her most impressive results, the jury particularly highlighted a result on growth rates of certain classes of graphs.

“I find it highly satisfying to make progress on old and new combinatorial research problems by combining methods from different mathematical fields,” says the prize winner. “This sometimes results in further developments or new combinations of methods, and these can then be helpful in solving other problems, too.”

The von Kaven Award generally goes to mathematicians involved in the DFG’s Heisenberg and Emmy Noether programmes in recognition of outstanding achievements. The recipient is selected by the DFG’s mathematics review board. The prize money comes from a foundation established in 2004 by mathematician Herbert von Kaven together with the DFG. Von Kaven was primarily interested in the fundamentals of mathematics, to which he was committed to promoting throughout his life. He died in 2009 at the age of 101.


Having already won international maths olympiads when still at school, Lisa Sauermann studied mathematics at the University of Bonn from 2011 to 2014. After completing her bachelor’s degree, she moved to Stanford University in the USA, where she obtained her doctorate in 2019. This was followed by research activity at Stanford University and at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. For the past two years, she was an assistant professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge.

Since August of this year, Lisa Sauermann has been a professor at the University of Bonn, where she accepted a Hausdorff Chair at the Cluster of Excellence Hausdorff Center for Mathematics. She receives funding under the DFG’s Heisenberg Programme. She has already won numerous awards for her research, including the 2020 Richard Rado Prize from the Discrete Mathematics Section of the German Mathematical Society in 2020 and the European Prize in Combinatorics for researchers under the age of 35 in 2021.

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