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Bernd Rendel Prize 2010

Geoscientists Recognised for Outstanding Achievements

Four young female geoscientists have been selected by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) to receive the 2010 Bernd Rendel Prize. The researchers, who were selected from 27 nominees, have made significant and original contributions to geological basic research at early stages in their careers. The Bernd Rendel Prize features prize money of 2,000 euros and is designed to enable the recipients to take part in international conferences and conventions. The young researchers, who had earned their diplomas but not yet achieved their doctorates at the time of application, were awarded for excellence in their diploma theses, ongoing dissertation work, or other research. The prizes will be awarded on 10 October 2010 as part of the celebrations commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Geologische Vereinigung (GV) in Frankfurt am Main.

Prizewinners 2010

Juliane Hinz

Juliane Hinz’ research focuses on the reconstruction of fossil forests. For her diploma thesis, she used the latest 3-D technology to model an Upper Jurassic araucaria forest based on finds from China’s Dzungarian Basin. She modelled each individual plant in accurate detail, and used terrain data to link them together. This resulted in a highly realistic model of the forest. Her working methods, which involved combining the latest modelling methods with palaeontology, enable a more comprehensive understanding of palaeo-ecosystems. Hinz also performs research into the biomechanics of dinosaur and mammal hip joints. In mammals, the pelvis provides a stable, interconnected frame, whereas the pelvic bones of most dinosaurs are not fused. A detailed analysis is planned to clarify what this difference means for dinosaur and mammal movement.

Olga Narygina

Olga Narygina is a “commuter” between physics and mineralogy. In her doctoral thesis, the research for which was performed at the Bavarian Research Institute of Experimental Geochemistry and Geophysics, she demonstrated extraordinary skill in her investigation of the makeup of the Earth’s core through experiments involving extreme pressure and temperatures. Among other findings, her work has contributed to the discovery that the overwhelming majority of minerals in the Earth’s core remain heat- and light-transparent, despite high pressure. This means that the heat transfer of the Earth’s core to the mantle could be up to 50 percent higher than had previously been assumed. These findings form an important contribution to our understanding of the formation of what are known as thermal “super plumes” in the Earth’s mantle. Ms Narygina also uses synchrotron radiation to perform research into silicate perovskite, the main component of the lower mantle, in experiments replicating the pressure and temperature conditions found there.

Rebekka Steffen

Rebekka Steffen’s diploma thesis focused on the boundary between the Earth’s mantle and its crust. It combines measurements taken on the ground in the Tian Shan region of Central Asia and the Almaty earthquake zone in Kazakstan with satellite calculations. This enabled her to model even this inaccessible region in 3-D and to make statements about the makeup of the Earth’s crust. For her doctoral thesis, Steffen is researching the Hudson Bay, one of Canada’s most seismically active regions. There, she is investigating the interaction between the melting glaciers and the Earth’s crust. Her aim is to develop a better understanding of earthquakes. One potential use for her findings is in identifying earthquake-proof areas for the permanent storage of radioactive waste.

Claudia Wrozyna

Claudia Wrozyna is using ostracods from the Tibetan Plateau to investigate long-term environmental change, as well as more recent events from the last 8,000 years. Information about these events can be derived from the sediments found in the Nam Co Lake at the Earth’s “third pole”. The detailed examination of individual ostracods, as well as of larger groups of these life forms, enables both the reconstruction of the palaeoclimate and the makeup of ecosystems. One of Wrozyna’s aims is to determine the influence humans have had on the ecological changes in that region and the consequences of this influence for the Asian monsoon system.

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