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Press Release No. 31 | 10 July 2009
DFG Awards Bernd Rendel Prizes for 2009

The sixth conferral of the prize on outstanding young geoscientists

The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) is honouring four young researchers from the field of geosciences with the Bernd Rendel Prize 2009. The spectrum of research in which the prize-winners are involved ranges from improved methods in meteorite research to the analysis of massive bodies of ice, and from biogeochemical metabolic cycles to new discoveries in the safety of permanent nuclear waste disposal. Through their research, the four young researchers have made important and original contributions to basic geological research early in their scientific careers. 

Each recipient of the Bernd Rendel prize receives 2000 euros in prize money. This is intended to enable young researchers who have received their degrees but who have not, at the time of application, achieved their doctorates, to take part in international congresses and conferences. Young researchers are awarded Bernd Rendel Prizes for outstanding diploma dissertations, current theses or other research projects. 

The prizes will be awarded on 5 October 2009 at the Annual Meeting of the Geologische Vereinigung [Geological Association] in Göttingen. This year’s prize-winners are: 

Geologist and Mineralogist Christoph Burkhardt (28), ETH Zurich

Christoph Burkhardt receives the Bernd Rendel prize for his outstanding performance in the study of both mineralogy and geology, which he completed at the University of Cologne with two diploma dissertations assessed as “excellent”. His mineralogical diploma dissertation, for example, facilitates the improved dating of the oldest stone components of the solar system. Also recognised was his consistent pursuit of an international academic career, in the course of which Burkhardt has achieved internationally-recognised, published results at an early age. Since 2008, Burkhardt has been working on his doctorate on the isotopic composition of molybdenum in chondritic meteorites, currently an extremely hot topic in meteorite research, at the ETH Zurich. 

Physicist Reinhard Drews (28), Alfred Wegener Institute, Bremerhaven

During his physics studies, Reinhard Drews received multiple renowned prizes for young researchers. Having completed his degree extremely successfully at the University of Bremen, he is now working towards his doctorate in geosciences at the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Bremerhaven. His work there is directly related to glacier and climate impact research and is, in this current age of global climate change, of high political and social relevance. The young researcher is using an electromagnetic reflection process to investigate how ice dynamics and atmospheres affect the internal structures and physical size of large bodies of ice. 

Geoecologist Tobias Goldhammer (29), University of Bremen

Tobias Goldhammer completed his geoecology studies at the University of Bayreuth and is currently working towards his doctorate at the University of Bremen. His research focuses particularly on global biogeochemical circuits and on investigating their effects on nutrient and carbon dynamics in terrestrial and marine ecosystems. Goldhammer is searching for clues in the earth’s history which can be used for the development of future environmental scenarios. He is currently working towards his doctorate at the Center for Marine Environmental Sciences (MARUM) and the Department of Geosciences at the University of Bremen, and is carrying out intensive research into aspects of the phosphorus cycle in marine sediments. In addition to taking part in several marine expeditions, Goldhammer is also actively involved in educational policy at the University of Bremen. 

Geoecologist Frank Heberling (31), Karlsruhe Research Center:

Early on in his career, Frank Heberling made an important contribution to the safety aspects involved in the permanent storage of nuclear fuel through his diploma dissertation, for which he successfully studied the incorporation of the short-lived radioactive element neptunium into calcite. In doing so, Heberling, a geoecologist, resolved a geochemically and mineralogically complex issue in an interdisciplinary manner. He is currently working towards his doctorate at the Institute for Nuclear Waste Disposal at the Karlsruhe Research Center and at the University of Karlsruhe. The aim of his experiments is to clarify the molecular processes at the calcite water interface that lead to the incorporation of pentavalent neptunium from aqueous solutions into the calcite structure. 

The Bernd Rendel Prize has been awarded since 2002. It was established by the family of geology student Bernd Rendel who died prematurely. His relatives set up a foundation in his name to fund the prize annually.

Further Information

Further information on the Bernd Rendel Prize, as well as on this year’s prize-winners, can be found on the Internet at:

Contact persons at the DFG Head Office:

Dr. Annett Uhmann, Physics, Mathematics and Geosciences Department, Tel. +49 228 885-2012.