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Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prizes 2010

Recognition and Incentives for Top Young Researchers

104 nominations from all scientific fields were received for this year’s Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prize, with a good third of the nominees being women. Once the Nominations Committee had made a pre-selection, 50 nominees were placed on a short list, from which this year’s prizewinners were chosen.

Dr. Daniel Balzani, Mechanics

Daniel Balzani is one of the top young German researchers in the field of mechanics and has already made a name for himself in the international arena through his independent research and multifaceted contacts. In particular, his work on the development of a material model to describe the mechanical behaviour of arterial tissue is groundbreaking. His results are significant, not only for the optimisation of medical treatment methods, but also for material theory in general. Balzani currently holds the Mechanics Chair at the Institute of Mechanics and Computational Mechanics at the Leibniz University in Hanover.

Dr. Wilhelm Hofmann, Psychology

One of Germany’s most talented and creative young researchers in the field of psychology, Wilhelm Hofmann is investigating the correlation between implicit and explicit attitudes and personality traits. He is also carrying out high-level research into the impulsive and reflexive influences on self-regulating behaviour. Hofmann laid the foundations for his multifaceted research programme in his dissertation, and his outstanding empirical analyses and overview studies have lent considerable impetus to his chosen research areas.

Dr. Hannah Markwig, Mathematics

Hannah Markwig is one of the world’s leading young researchers in “tropical geometry”, a new area of algebraic geometry with connections to combinatorics and roots in Brazil. Markwig’s contributions to this emergent field are used in enumerative geometry and thus, by extension, in the mathematical formulation of modern physics concepts, such as those related to string theory, for example. Markwig has also achieved considerable progress in the computer-assisted implementation of her findings, and has assisted in the development of a software package that uses practical examples to translate objects from tropical to algebraic geometry and vice versa. Her work has facilitated the Göttingen-based junior professor’s outstanding integration into the international research community, where she is held in high regard.

Dr. Ansgar Reiners, Astrophysics

Ansgar Reiners’ new approaches to observation and analysis have considerably advanced two research areas in the field of stellar astrophysics. On the one hand, Reiners has developed a process for using spectroscopy to measure stellar differential rotation, a key factor in understanding the mechanisms of stellar dynamos. On the other, he has also developed his own process for directly measuring magnetic fields in very cold stars. In addition to these achievements, which have attracted a high level of international regard, Reiners has also made a name for himself as an academic instructor and founder of research associations, and has done so at an early age.

Dr. Sebastian Schmidt-Hofner, Ancient History

Sebastian Schmidt-Hofner is considered one of the most promising young researchers in the field of Ancient History and enjoys an excellent international reputation. As early as his dissertation, the historian's research of the late antiquity period proved seminal. In this work, he placed legal texts into a broader context, thus facilitating a more multi-layered interpretation of this important source from the Late Antiquity period. Schmidt-Hofner is currently researching regional planning in the cultures of archaic and classical Greece and is the first to systematically apply modern spatial sociology methods to the investigation of antique structures.

Dr. Christina Thiele, Chemistry

Early on, Christina Thiele proved herself a creative researcher and one who was willing to take risks. Her marked scientific independence has earned her an international profile. The head of a DFG-funded Emmy Noether independent junior research group, Thiele has used NMR spectroscopy highly successfully in a number of different areas, initially in her dissertation on metal-organic reactions, and then later in determining the configuration of small organic molecules. Christina Thiele has been able to make substantial contributions to this field, which is mastered by just a few Research Units worldwide.