Winners of the DFG Europa-Preis 2014
Six young researchers, in two separate teams, had two reasons to celebrate at this year's awards ceremony for Germany’s "Jugend forscht" competition in Künzelsau: they were not only placed first in their respective fields, but were also awarded the Europa-Preis of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation).
Adrian Huck (19), Rafael Quadbeck (17) and Daniel Heid (19) from Gegenbach in Baden-Württemberg made up one of the teams winning this twofold distinction. They received the "prize for the best interdisciplinary work" from the Federal Minister of Education and Research, Professor Dr. Johanna Wanka, for developing a new process to desulphurise biogas. They use special thiothrix sp. bacteria to break down the small but toxic quantity of hydrogen sulphide in biogas in a method that is less laborious and costly than traditional processes.
The second team, three 18-year-old school students from Hessen, Anselm Dewald, Philipp Mandler and Robin Braun, designed and programmed a six-legged moving robot which can be controlled with a smartphone. "Hexapod" is more mobile and more compact than comparable systems and can therefore be used in disaster areas and to explore collapsed buildings. Dewald, Mandler and Braun were awarded the 1st prize for technology by the Association of German Engineers for developing the robot.
The Europa-Preis was presented to the six "Jugend forscht" award winners in Künzelsau by DFG Vice President Professor Ferdi Schüth. Established by the DFG in 2010, the Europa-Preis was created to highlight the importance of international experience for a successful career in research. The winners will receive €1,000 in prize money, and the opportunity to participate in the European Union Contest for Young Scientists (EUCYS), which will be held this year at the end of September in Warsaw. In the run-up to this event, the young researchers will be tutored by mentors, who will also accompany them to Warsaw. These mentors are carefully selected by the DFG from the early career researchers which it funds, with the aim of facilitating the development of lasting networks between generations of researchers.
Winners of the DFG's Europa-Preis have frequently ranked highly at the EUCYS competition in the past and thus also qualified for other competitions such as the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Los Angeles. German competitors have done particularly well this year in this natural science competition which is the biggest in the world: Lennart Kleinwort, who is just 15 years old and recipient of the DFG's Europa-Preis last year, won one of the major Intel prizes and the first prize in the Mathematics category. 19-year-old Gabriel Salg, 2011 winner, came third in Chemistry; Daniel Pflüger, also 19 and who won the award in 2013, came third in the Physics and Astronomy category.