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Press Release No. 30 | 26 July 2022
DFG awards Bernd Rendel Prize 2022 in recognition of early-career success in the geosciences

Mariel Dirscherl and Nicolas Bourgon to receive award at the annual meeting of the German Geological Society in Cologne in mid-September

Two researchers are to receive the Bernd Rendel Prize 2022 from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) for conducting promising and original geoscientific research at an early stage of their career: Mariel Dirscherl, a doctoral candidate at the German Aerospace Center and the University of Würzburg, and Nicolas Bourgon, a doctoral candidate at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig and the University of Mainz, were selected by a jury made up of members of the DFG’s 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 at the annual conference of the German Geological Society, which will take place from 11 to 15 September 2022 in Karlsruhe.

Mariel Dirscherl is working on supraglacial lakes – lakes that form below the Antarctic continental ice sheet due to melting processes and have a key role to play in ice dynamics, in particular the progressive loss of ice mass and resulting rise in sea level. To this end, she uses data from remote sensing satellites and machine learning methods, as well as modelling based on ice and rock mechanics and on atmospheric physics. The jury was impressed by Dirscherl’s skilful work at the interface between two fields, namely remote sensing and cryosphere research, as well as her high-ranking publications in both communities. As part of her doctoral project, she has also already published five papers as first author in internationally peer-reviewed journals. Dirscherl aims to use the prize money to take part in a conference and an accompanying excursion lasting several days to glaciated regions in Iceland.

Nicolas Bourgon is working as a doctoral student on a joint project at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig and the University of Mainz. As part of his research, he has developed a method to determine the proportion of plant and animal food in tropical ecosystems of the late Pleistocene by determining Zn isotopes in the tooth enamel of mammals and humans. The results of this project are groundbreaking and have been published in high-ranking journals such as PNAS, Journal of Human Evolution and PLOS ONE. Bourgon was first author of two of these articles and co-author of six others. His work establishes a vital link between archaeology and the geosciences. He intends to use the prize money for visits to conferences and research trips.

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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