Number of the Month: 4 Top researchers

What do a computer scientist, an ecologist, a Jewish studies scholar and an Islamic studies scholar have in common? At first sight, not much. But in the present case, four researchers from these disciplines will be sharing a new academic and research location: Germany. They have been selected as the 2016 Alexander von Humboldt Professorship Award Winners. Germany’s best-endowed international research award is worth up to five million euros for each of the winners. The award’s long-term aim is to bring leading international researchers of all disciplines, who have hitherto been working in other countries, to Germany to pursue forward-looking research at universities here. Each of the award winners was nominated by a German university. If they accept the award, that’s the place they’ll be moving to in 2016. The award is conferred by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

The four award winners at a glance:

  • Professor Sariel Har-Peled is one of the world’s leading experts in the field of computational geometry. He is looking for answers to the question of how to solve geometrical problems – with short computation times and low memory capacities. The Israeli-American computer scientist addresses both basic research and application problems and has been instrumental in modernising his discipline. He is currently pursuing research in the United States. Professor Sariel Har-Peled was nominated for the Humboldt Professorship by Saarland University.
  • Professor Tiffany Knight is engaged in research on so-called invasion processes, in which biological species invade new habitats. She studies, for example, the impact of such invasions on the original biodiversity of the invaded habitats. Some of the internationally renowned American ecologist’s work is seen as a breakthrough in biodiversity research. She is currently pursuing research in the United States. Professor Tiffany Knight was nominated for the Humboldt Professorship by Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg .
  • Professor Katrin Kogman-Appel is considered a world authority on Jewish art history of the Middle Ages. The Austrian-born Jewish studies scholar understands art history in terms of cultural history and always relates both to aspects of social and religious history. She is currently pursuing research in Israel. Professor Katrin Kogman-Appel was nominated for the Humboldt Professorship by the University of Münster .
  • Professor Judith Pfeiffer has an international reputation as a leading expert on the history of the Mongols from the 13th to the 16th centuries and on the intellectual history of the Mongolian Empire in the Islamic East. The German-born Islamic studies scholar is currently pursuing research in the United Kingdom. Professor Judith Pfeiffer was nominated for the Humboldt Professorship by the University of Bonn.

The four top researchers will now be entering into appointment negotiations with the German universities that nominated them for the award. Winners who accept the Humboldt Professorship will receive the award in May 2016.