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Press Release No. 38 | 20 September 2021
All Winners of the DFG Europa Prize Successful at the European Union Contest for Young Scientists in Salamanca

One first prize and three special awards went to the young researchers / Preparation involved mentoring programme and coaching

All four winners of the Europa Prize 2021 awarded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) also received international distinctions at the European Union Contest for Young Scientists (EUCYS) 2021 in Salamanca, Spain. This year the event took place virtually from 16 to 19 September.

Marik Müller (18) from Brandenburg won one of the four first prizes worth €7,000 – and with it the title of European Champion 2021. He also received an invitation to participate in the London International Youth Science Forum (LIYSF) in summer 2022. Lukas Weghs (17) from North Rhine-Westphalia was also successful: as a special award he received the European Southern Observatory (ESO) Prize. This includes an invitation to spend one week at the headquarters of the European Southern Observatory in Garching. The two young researchers from Baden-Württemberg, Leonard Münchenbach (17) and Leo Neff (17), received the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) Prize. They can look forward to a one-week stay at the organisation’s research facility in Geneva.

The winner of the first prize, Marik Müller, submitted an impressive project in which he developed a cost-effective process based on molecular biological methods to cleave the antibiotic florfenicol – which promotes the formation of resistant germs – before it enters the environment. Florfenicol is widely used in aquaculture and agriculture.

ESO special award winner Lukas Weghs wrote an intelligent programme for a high-performance computer that helps identify the moons of exoplanets based on their brightness variations – something astronomers have not yet succeeded in doing for any of the approximately 4,000 known exoplanets.

The two CERN special award winners Leonard Münchenbach and Leo Neff carried out investigations and modelling to look into how fast differently shaped strips of paper of a certain shape and size rotate when they fall, for which they developed a formula.

Having previously won prizes in the national youth science competition Jugend forscht, the young researchers went on to present their work to an international jury. In order to help them prepare their presentations in English, the DFG provided the four Europa Prize winners with academic mentors: these were DFG-funded researchers, for example from the Emmy Noether Programme, who gave the young researchers individual support. In addition, the DFG funded coaching for the young researchers to prepare their presentations, which were once again delivered in virtual form this year.

The DFG has awarded its annual Europa Prize to winners of the national science competition Jugend forscht since 2010. In addition to prize money of €1,000, each prize winner has the opportunity to prepare specifically for the EUCYS. However, the EUCYS was cancelled in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Further Information

Media contact:

For information on the EUCYS in Salamanca, see:

For information on the DFG’s Europa Prize, see: