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Press Release No. 36 | 5 September 2022
Von Kaven Honorary Award for Mathematician Gandalf Lechner

DFG honours work on quantum field theories and operator algebras / Award ceremony at the annual meeting of the German Mathematical Society on 12 September in Berlin

The 2022 von Kaven Award of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) goes to Heisenberg Professor Dr. Gandalf Lechner, Erlangen, for his achievements in the mathematical formulation of relativistic quantum systems. The €10,000 DFG award will be presented on 12 September at the annual meeting of the German Mathematical Society (DMV) in Berlin. The laudatory speech will be given by former DMV President Christian Bär, who is a current member of the DFG’s Review Board for Mathematics.

Gandalf Lechner’s research is at the interface between mathematics and physics and seeks to develop a mathematically rigorous description of quantum field theories (QFT). These currently form the basis of our understanding of elementary particles, therefore providing the theoretical underpinning for ex-periments with particle accelerators such as those carried out at the large-scale European research facility CERN near Geneva. Gandalf Lechner has used modern mathematical methods and tools such as non-commutative geometry and operator algebras to co-establish a new branch of QFT called “constructive algebraic quantum field theory”. His research also has links to quantum information processing. In addition, he puts his physics related intuition to productive use to solve purely mathematical problems, for example for the classification and representation theory of the infinite Zopf group.

Gandalf Lechner obtained his doctorate at the University of Göttingen in 2006; here he was also a member of the DFG-funded research project “Modular Structure and Particle Aspects of Quantum Field Theory”. He was then a guest researcher and research assistant at the Erwin Schrödinger Institute (ESI) at the University of Vienna, and at the Institute for Theoretical Physics at the University of Leipzig up until 2015. From 2015 he worked as a Lecturer and Reader at the School of Mathematics at Cardiff University in the UK, where he led the Geometry, Algebra, Mathematical Physics, Topology (GAPT) research group from 2018 to 2021. Lechner has been a Heisenberg Professor at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg since September 2021.

The von Kaven Award generally goes to mathematicians involved in the DFG’s Heisenberg and Emmy Noether programmes in recognition of outstanding achievements. The recipient is selected by the DFG’s mathematics review board. The prize money comes from a foundation established in 2004 by mathematician Herbert von Kaven together with the DFG. Von Kaven was primarily interested in the fundamentals of mathematics, to which he was committed to promoting throughout his life. He died in 2009 at the age of 101.

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