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Press Release No. 36 | 26 August 2021
Early Achievements in the Geosciences: DFG Awards Bernd Rendel Prize 2021

Simon Rosanka and Jan Schönig to receive prize at the annual meeting of the German Geological Society in Karlsruhe at the end of September

Two researchers will receive the Bernd Rendel Prize 2021 awarded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) for conducting promising and original geoscientific research at the beginning of their careers: Simon Rosanka, a doctoral student at the University of Cologne and Forschungszentrum Jülich, and Jan Schönig, a doctoral student at the University of Göttingen, were selected by a jury made up of members of the DFG review boards in the geosciences. The prizewinners will each receive €2,000 from the Bernd Rendel Foundation, which is administered by the Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft, an association dedicated to the promotion of the humanities and sciences in Germany. The prize money is intended to enable them to pursue academic activities such as attending international congresses and conferences. The prize will be awarded during the annual conference of the German Geological Society from 19 to 23 September 2021 in Karlsruhe.

The previous year’s prizewinners will also be honoured on this occasion, since the 2020 award ceremony had to be postponed due to the pandemic: these were Anja Allabar, former doctoral student at the University of Tübingen, now working at the University of Göttingen, and Milad Asgarimehr, former doctoral student at the Technical University of Berlin and the German Research Centre for Geosciences Potsdam (GFZ) and still employed at the GFZ.

Simon Rosanka impressed the jury with his research achievements and the breadth of his work. Since October 2017, he has been working on his doctorate at the University of Cologne in conjunction with Forschungszentrum Jülich on “A Comprehensive Assessment of the Influence of Oxygenated Volatile Organic Compounds on the Atmospheric Composition”. In his doctoral thesis, Rosanka was able to quantify the contribution of clouds as a sink for tropospheric ozone, thereby making a significant contribution to ensuring that organic acids in the troposphere are no longer underestimated. Also noteworthy is his work establishing the link between the reduction of ozone in the lower stratosphere and the aromatic compounds formed during moorland fires in Indonesia. Rosanka has already published nine papers in recognised journals, five of these as first author. He intends to use the prize money to undertake an extended stay at the NOAA Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory in Princeton.

Jan Schönig of the Geoscience Center at Göttingen University already published eight articles in excellent international journals towards the end of his dissertation, six of them as first author. The jury confirmed the particular originality of his research. Schönig developed a new methodological approach to solving a fundamental question of geoscience – regarding the beginning of today’s plate tectonic processes in the Earth’s history. For the first time, he focused on sedimentary archives by detecting tiny mineral inclusions that are only formed under ultra-high pressure conditions when one Earth plate moves underneath another – called subduction. In this way, Schönig has significantly increased the chance of detecting subduction processes in the Earth’s older history, since the indicator minerals in the stable carrier minerals reach the Earth’s surface in a protected state, ensuring that signals are stored in sediments. Schönig was able to demonstrate the potential of this new method based on examples in from Norway, the Ore Mountains and Papua New Guinea. He intends to use the prize money to attend a meeting of the American Geophysical Union.

The DFG has awarded the Bernd Rendel Prize every year since 2002 to graduates in the geosciences who have not yet completed their doctorate, enabling them to pursue academic activities such as attending international congresses and conferences. The prize money is administered by the Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft. Bernd Rendel was a geology student who died at a young age; the foundation named after him was established in his memory by his family.

Further Information

For further information about the Bernd Rendel Prize and previous prizewinners, see:

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