Distinctions for Research: Prizes and Awards for Jülich Scientists

Prizes and Awards for Jülich Scientists

Prof. Peter Grünberg received the Nobel Prize in 2007. © The Nobel Foundation 2007 Photo: Hans Mehlin

In the world of science, there is a great variety of different prizes and awards for scientific merits and achievements. The most renowned and certainly the best known of them is the Nobel Prize, which is conferred in Stockholm every year. In 2007, Jülich scientist Peter Grünberg was jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics with the French scientist Albert Fert for the discovery of giant magnetoresistance (also referred to as the GMR effect) – a great honour both for the scientist himself and Forschungszentrum Jülich.

Recent honors and awards

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Due to their sheer range and number, we cannot list all of the science prizes and awards received by researchers at Forschungszentrum Jülich for their contributions to science and society since Forschungszentrum Jülich was established.

International prizes and awards

Nobel Prize in Physics

2007 to Prof. Peter Grünberg jointly with Prof. Albert Fert for the discovery of the giant magnetoresistance effect (GMR effect) that paved the way for the miniaturization of hard disks

Kavli Prize in Nanoscience

2020 to Prof. Knut Urban jointly with Prof. Harald Rose (Ulm University), Prof. Maximilian Haider (CEOS GmbH, Heidelberg), and Prof. Ondrej Krivanek (Nion Company, Seattle/USA). The prize honours the four scientists’ work in the development of electron microscopy, which allows researchers today to display and examine materials with atomic resolution. The prize worth $ 1 Million has been awarded every two years since 2008 for outstanding research in the disciplines of astrophysics, nanoscience, and neuroscience by the Kavli Foundation together with the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters and the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research.

Wolf Prize in Physics (Israel)

2007 to Prof. Peter Grünberg

The world-famous Wolf Prize, which is awarded in Israel, was presented to Jülich physicist Prof. Peter Grünberg by the then president of Israel during a ceremony in the Knesset. He shared the prize in the physics category, which is worth around € 100,000, with Prof. Albert Fert from Université Paris-Sud.

2011 to Prof. Knut Urban, Maximilian Haider from CEOS GmbH (Heidelberg), and Harald Rose from the Technical University of Darmstadt for a breakthrough in electron microscopy (€ 100,000)

Japan Prize

2007 to Prof. Peter Grünberg and Albert Fert (worth approx. € 350,000)

Honda Prize

2008 to Dr. Maximilian Haider (Heidelberg), Prof. Harald Rose (Darmstadt), and Prof. Knut Urban (Forschungszentrum Jülich) for the development of aberration correction for transmission electron microscopes, which made it possible to study materials in an atomic resolution on a picometre level. The prize of the Japanese Honda Foundation is endowed with around € 70,000.

BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award

2014 in the Basic Sciences category to Prof. Maximilian Haider from CEOS GmbH (Heidelberg), Prof. Harald Rose, senior professor at Ulm University, and Prof. Knut Urban from Forschungszentrum Jülich for pioneering research in electron microscopy. The award is worth € 400,000.

Von Hippel Award

2006 to Prof. Knut Urban for his research on the development and application of electron microscopy and pioneering discoveries in the area of the defect physics of quasicrystals and high-temperature semiconductors. The award worth $ 10,000 is the highest honour conferred by the Materials Research Society (MRS). It is awarded annually. Awardees are admitted to MRS as honorary members.

Hatsujiro Hashimoto Medal of the International Federation of Societies for Microscopy

2014 to the Jülich scientist Prof. Chunlin Jia

The award honouring outstanding contributions to applications of microscopy and related methods in physics and materials science is named after Hatsujiro Hashimoto, the pioneer of microscopy research. Jia’s work at the Peter Grünberg Institute and Ernst Ruska-Centre for Microscopy and Spectroscopy with Electrons focuses on investigating electroceramics using state-of-the-art electron microscopy. The scientist is developing new methods for the optimal use of the aberration-corrected transmission electron microscopes used for this purpose.

Lise Meitner Prize from the European Physical Society

2016 to Prof. Ulf-G. Meißner, director at the Jülich Nuclear Physics Institute and the Institute for Advanced Simulation, to honour him for his work on the effective field theory in hadron and nuclear physics. The Lise Meitner Prize is the highest European accolade in the fields of applied, experimental, and theoretical nuclear physics. It is awarded every two years, includes a medal, and is endowed with € 5,000.

Royal Society of Chemistry Faraday Medal

2019 to Prof. Martin Winter

The Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC), one of the most important chemists’ associations in the world, awards the medal each year to outstanding electrochemists working outside the UK and Ireland. The medal was first awarded in 1977.

Volta Medal Award

2020 to Prof. Martin Winter

Prof. Martin Winter was awarded the Alessandro Volta Medal for his groundbreaking research in electrochemistry. The Electrochemical Society (ECS) awards the distinction every two years for outstanding research in this field.

International scholarships and grants

ERC Advanced Grant

2021 Prof. Ulf-G. Meißner, Institute for Advanced Simulation (IAS)

Prof. Peter Wasserscheid, Helmholtz-Institute Erlangen-Nürnberg for Renewable Energy (IEK-11)
Dr. Martin Schultz, Jülich Supercomputing Centre

2016 Prof. Hans Ströher, Nuclear Physics Institute (IKP)

2012 Prof. Rafal Dunin-Borkowski, Ernst Ruska-Centre for Microscopy and Spectroscopy with Electrons (ER-C)

2010 Prof. Hans Ströher, Nuclear Physics Institute (IKP)

ERC Consolidator Grant

2023 Dr. Guillaume Lobet, Institute of Bio- and Geosciences (IBG)

2021 Prof. Nick Wierckx, Institute of Bio- and Geosciences (IBG)

2016 Prof. Wolfgang Hoyer, Institute of Biological Information processing (IBI)

Prof. Dr. Samir Lounis, Peter Grünberg Institute
Prof. Hendrik Fuchs, Institute of Energy and Climate Research (IEK)

ERC Synergy Grant

Prof. Karl Mayrhofer, Institute of Energy and Climate Research (IEK)
Prof. Carsten Sachse, Ernst Ruska-Centre for Microscopy and Spectroscopy with Electrons (ER-C)

2022 Prof. Stefan Tautz, Institute of Energy and Climate Research (IEK)

Prof. Stefan Blügel, Institute for Advanced Simulation/ Peter Grünberg Institut
Prof. Rafal Dunin-Borkowski, Ernst Ruska-Centre/Peter Grünberg Institute

ERC Starting Grant

Dr. Georgios Gkatzelis, Institute of Energy and Climate Research (IEK)
Dr. Heidi Heinrichs, Institute of Energy and Climate Research (IEK)

Dr. Jenna Poonoosamy, Institute of Energy and Climate Research (IEK)
Prof. Michael Saliba, Institute of Energy and Climate Research (IEK)

2019 Prof. Benedikt Sabass, Institut of Complex Systems

2017 Prof. Julia Frunzke und Prof. Dörthe Rother und Dr. Christian Wagner, Institute of Bio- and Geosciences (IBG)

2014 Prof. Pitter Huesgen und Prof. Jan Marienhagen, Institute of Bio- and Geosciences (IBG)

2012 Prof. Paul Kögerler, Peter Grünberg Institute

Polymer Physics Prize of the American Physical Society (APS)

2011 Prof. Dr Kurt Kremer, former Jülich solid-state researcher together with Gary S. Grest from Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque.

International Ernst Ruska Prize

2005 to Dr. Andreas Thust from Forschungszentrum Jülich and Dr. Wim Coene from Philips Research Laboratories in Eindhoven

The two physicists doubled the useful resolution of electron microscopes using computer-based analysis tools and can thus generate an extremely sharp image of the sample.

International innovation prizes

European Inventor Award

2006 to Prof. Peter Grünberg

The European Patent Office and the European Commission honoured Professor Peter Grünberg with the European Inventor of the Year Award. In doing so, they recognized his discovery of giant magnetoresistance (GMR) in 1988. The GMR effect brought about the breakthrough that enabled gigabyte hard disks.

Other awards

French National Order of the Legion of Honour

2003 to Prof. Dr. Joachim Treusch, then Chairman of the Board of Directors of Forschungszentrum Jülich

Prof. Treusch was named a Knight (Chevalier) of the Legion of Honour in recognition of his merits in promoting French–German cooperation in research.

Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques

2012 to Sybille Krummacher for her commitment to furthering German–French scientific exchange

Gay-Lussac Humboldt Prize

2010 to physicist Prof. Claus M. Schneider for his scientific work and his achievements in promoting French–German scientific cooperation. The award, which includes prize money of € 25,000, is presented annually by the French Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.

John Dalton Medal (European Geosciences Union)

2016 to Prof. Harry Verrecken for his pioneering research in the field of hydrology. The medal is awarded annually by the European Geosciences Union (EGU).

Henry N. Wagner, Jr., Image of the Year award (Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging)

2016 to Dr. Gérard Nisal Bischof for his research on tracers for diagnozing Alzheimer’s disease

International awards for early-career scientists

Nicholas Metropolis Award from the American Physical Society (APS)

2011 to Dr. Dmitry Fedosov of the Jülich Institute of Complex Systems for his doctoral thesis on computer modelling of soft matter and blood flow. The prize from the American Physical Society (APS) recognizes outstanding doctoral theses in the area of computational physics and is awarded annually. The award is endowed with $ 1,500.

Max Auwärter Award

2012 to Dr. Giuseppe Mercurio (PGI-3) for his doctoral thesis. The prize awarded by the Austrian Physical Society is worth € 10,000.

Wim Nieuwpoort Award

Kristel Michielsen, Hans De Raedt, and Fengping Jin (Jülich Supercomputing Centre)

Biotrans Junior Award

2019 to Prof. Dr. Dörte Rother, Institute of Bio- and Geosciences – Biotechnology (IBG-1)

German prizes and awards

Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany

2022 to Prof. Katrin Amunts

2018 to Prof. Martin Winter

2002 to Prof. Heiner Müller-Krumbhaar

1997 to Prof. Joachim Treusch

Erwin Schrödinger Prize of the Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft (and the Helmholtz Association)

2013 to the Jülich ecosystem researcher Prof. Nicolas Brüggemann and four members of a German–Chinese research group

In a long-term project, the team headed by Prof. Dr. Klaus Butterbach-Bahl from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) found that cattle farming in steppe and prairie sites reduces nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions. Researchers had previously assumed the opposite.

2009 to Dr. Martin Bram, Dr. Hans-Peter Buchkremer, and Prof. Dr. Detlev Stöver from what was then Jülich’s Institute of Energy Research and Dr. Thomas Imwinkelried from the Swiss company Synthes

They shared the Schrödinger Prize of the Helmholtz Association and Stifterverband for the development of an innovative material for spinal implants.

2005 to brain researcher Prof. Peter Tass (Forschungszentrum Jülich) and Prof. Volker Sturm (University of Cologne) for a brain pacemaker for the treatment of neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s

2002 to Dr. Jürgen Allgaier, Prof. Dr. Gerhard Gompper, Prof. Dr. Dieter Richter (all from what was then the Institute of Solid State Research at Forschungszentrum Jülich) and to Dr. Thomas Sottmann and Prof. Dr. Reinhard Strey from the Institute of Physical Chemistry at the University of Cologne for outstanding interdisciplinary research

The prize endowed with € 50,000 is awarded annually by Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft for outstanding interdisciplinary research at the Helmholtz centres.

Arfvedson Schlenk Prize from the German Chemical Society

2019 to Prof. Martin Winter for his outstanding scientific achievements in the field of lithium chemistry. The German Chemical Society (GDCh) awards this distinction every two years.

Walter Hälg Prize

2009 to Prof. Dieter Richter for his research on the dynamics of polymers and biological macromolecules. Every two years, the European Neutron Scattering Association (ENSA) awards the prize to European scientists for pioneering research in the field of neutron scattering. The prize is endowed with a total of about € 6,600.

Karl Heinz Beckurts Prize

2006 to a team of three scientists including Prof. Knut Urban from Forschungszentrum Jülich, who received the award in recognition of their significant contribution to the sophistication of electron microscopes. Their efforts made it possible to show materials and substances in atomic resolution.

Science prize of the German Dyslexia and Dyscalculia Association (BVL)

2011 to PD Dr. Stefan Heim from the Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine (INM) together with Dr. Marion Grande from University Hospital Aachen

Niels A. Lassen Award of the German Society for Clinical Neurophysiology and Functional Imaging (DGKN)

Dr. Christian Grefkes, Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine (INM)

Research prize of the Association for General and Applied Microbiology (VAAM)

2016 to Prof. Julia Frunzke to honour her outstanding work in the field of microbiology. The Jülich biotechnologist’s research is based on natural systems consisting of bacteria, which are directly used for the purposes of control, regulation, and optimization in biotechnological industry. The prize is worth € 10,000. VAAM represents about 3,500 microbiologically oriented scientists from research and industry.

Du Bois-Reymond Prize from the German Physiological Society (DPG)

2016 to Dr. Jan-Philipp Machtens from the Institute of Complex Systems – Cellular Biophysics

The early-career medical scientist was awarded the prize endowed with € 2,500 in recognition of his research into a special class of glutamate transporters – excitatory amino acid transporters (EAATs) – that are crucial for understanding processes in the central nervous system.

Braunschweig Research Prize

2016 to Prof. Martin Winter

The head of the Helmholtz Institute Münster (HI MS) and director at the Institute of Energy and Climate Research (IEK) was awarded the prize worth € 30,000 in recognition of his research in the field of battery technology and materials research. The Braunschweig Research Prize honours outstanding interdisciplinary research results in the fields of engineering and life sciences as well as cultural studies.

German scholarships and grants

Alexander von Humboldt Professorship

2016 to Prof. Wolf Frommer

Prof. Frommer is a biologist who performs particularly outstanding work in the fields of plant biology and human medicine. His research is focused on the role that transport proteins play in the metabolism of plants, especially in the processes regulating the intake and distribution of nutrients. In April 2017, he made the switch from Stanford (USA) to Germany. Within the framework of his Humboldt Professorship, he conducts his research at CEPLAS, the excellence cluster of Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf (HHU), and at the Collaborative Research Centre (CRC) 1208 on biological membranes of the Cologne-based Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research (MPIPZ). He also plans to work closely with Jülich’s Institute of Bio- and Geosciences – Plant Sciences (IBG-2). The professorship is being financed to the tune of € 5 million.

2010 to Prof. David DiVincenzo

Prof. David DiVincenzo is a leading international expert in the field of quantum information. Scientists in this field make use of quantum physics effects on the atomic scale to develop novel methods of information processing and to develop quantum computers in future. The Alexander von Humboldt Professorship is worth € 3.5 million, which makes it the highest endowed international research prize in Germany. In 2011, DiVincenzo came to Jülich and Aachen, having accepted the newly established JARA professorship. He became head of the newly founded Institute of Theoretical Quantum Information at RWTH Aachen University while simultaneously taking up the position of director at Theoretical Nanoelectronics (PGI-2/IAS-3) at Forschungszentrum Jülich. The prize money provided by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation was invested in setting up two research groups with additional positions for doctoral researchers and postdocs in both institutes.

German Research Foundation’s Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize

2014 to Prof. Rainer Waser (announced on 5 December 2013)

Prof. Rainer Waser is a director at Forschungszentrum Jülich’s Peter Grünberg Institute – Electronic Materials (PGI-7) and director at RWTH Aachen University’s Institute of Materials in Electrical Engineering II (IWE II). His research priority for some years now has been on studying and developing electronic components for future computers – redox-based resistive memory cells (ReRAMs). The memory cells have a continuously variable electrical resistance. The stored information is therefore retained even when no current is flowing. At the same time, ReRAM memory elements can be switched a thousand times faster and require a thousand times less energy than the elements of today’s flash memories. The Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize is the most prestigious research prize in Germany. The prize is worth € 2.5 million and is awarded annually by DFG.

Sofja Kovalevskaja Award of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation

2012 to Dr. Dmitry A. Fedosov

The Russian mathematician developed a simulation method to describe and predict blood flow under various conditions. With the prize money of about € 1.3 million over a period of five years, Fedosov will establish his own group to conduct research on the difference in blood circulation in healthy tissue and in tumours. The Sofja Kovalevskaja Award is one of the most highly endowed German science prizes. It is intended to enable promising early-career scientists from abroad to forge a career in Germany.

German innovation awards

German Future Prize Prize of the Federal President for Technology and Innovation

1998 to Prof. Peter Grünberg for the discovery of the GMR effect. Together with Albert Fert from Université de Paris Sud, Grünberg is considered to be the founder of the future technology of spintronics. The prize is endowed with € 250,000 and has been awarded annually since 1997.

2002 to Prof. Maria-Regina Kula and Dr. Martina Pohl for the development of biological catalysts. The scientists come from the Institute of Molecular Enzyme Technology (IMET), which is part of Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf but located on the campus of Forschungszentrum Jülich. The two scientists were the first women to receive the prize.

German Innovation Award for Medicine

2011 to Prof. Peter Tass

The Jülich scientist received the award from the Herbert Worch Foundation, together with prize money worth € 100,000, for his development of acoustic Coordinated Reset (CR®) neuromodulation for the treatment of chronic tonal tinnitus.

Steel Innovation Prize

2012 to Forschungszentrum Jülich and ThyssenKrupp VDM for the new material Crofer® 22 H in the category of steel in research and development for new processing methods

Forschungszentrum Jülich and ThyssenKrupp VDM have been cooperating on high-temperature materials for interconnectors since 2001. The internationally renowned prize is awarded every three years to particularly innovative projects developed in the past five years by companies and institutions or in collaborations between science and industry.

AC² Prize from GründerRegion Aachen

2015 to Vitali Weißbecker and Andreas Schulze Lohoff from the Institute of Energy and Climate Research – Electrochemical Process Engineering (IEK-14). They were awarded first prize for the most promising concept for a start-up project in the field of fuel cell research. The prize also comes with € 10,000 of seed funding.

2011 second prize to Phenospex, a spin-off company from Forschungszentrum Jülich. The new enterprise developed a system for the analysis of plant growth. The PlantEye scanner performs fully automatic three-dimensional measurements of large plant populations to provide information on leaf area and plant height, for example. The results can be directly compared with plant and environmental parameters, for example to ensure more efficient dosing of synthetic active ingredients in horticultural production or as an aid to the development of novel pesticides and seeds. The launch of the company was funded by the Helmholtz Enterprise Fund.

2007 first and third prize to two Jülich scientists: First prize worth € 10,000 went to the start-up EMISENS. The founders – married couple Dr. Norbert and Sarka Klein – are targeting the market for safety technology at airports with a method developed at and patented by Forschungszentrum Jülich for the contactless identification of liquids. The novel procedure makes it possible to test within fractions of a second whether liquids carried by passengers are harmless drinks or components for liquid explosives. Third prize endowed with € 5,000 went to Thomas Krings from SEMIKON GmbH Jülich. The company is a spin-off of Forschungszentrum Jülich and is involved in the customer-specific development and fabrication of semiconductor detectors and detector systems for the identification of ionizing radiation.

NRW Innovation Award

2018 to Dr. Bugra Turan in the category for early-career scientists. The scientist developed a concept for large-scale artificial photosynthesis to convert solar energy directly into the energy carrier hydrogen. Previously, this method had only been applicable on a very small scale. According to the press release of North Rhine-Westphalia’s Ministry of Economic Affairs, Innovation, Digitalization, and Energy, the compact, cost-efficient system developed by Turan together with Jan-Philipp Becker allows photoelectrochemical water splitting to be scaled as required, which will make it possible to apply the process soon. The prize is endowed with € 50,000.

2015 to the Jülich biotechnologists Dr. Stephan Binder and Dr. Georg Schaumann in the category for early-career scientists. The two young entrepreneurs were chosen for the award endowed with € 50,000 for their SenseUp sensor technology which they use to rapidly and efficiently find highly productive microorganisms that produce valuable basic building blocks for foodstuffs from renewable raw materials. The NRW Innovation Award is endowed with € 150,000. After the German Future Prize, the Federal President’s Award for Technology and Innovation, it is the highest endowed prize of its kind in Germany. It is awarded in the categories of innovation, early-career scientists, and honorary award.

Euregio Meuse-Rhine Starter Award

2011 first prize to Phenospex, a spin-off company from Forschungszentrum Jülich for the development of a system to analyse plant growth

RWE Future Award

2011 to Dr. John Kettler for the best doctoral thesis entitled “Impulse für die Energiewelt von morgen” (impetus for the energy world of tomorrow). As part of his work, Kettler performed research on nuclear waste and how it can be managed. He developed a test facility for a process that identifies toxic agents, such as lead, cadmium, or mercury, contained in waste drums filled with radioactive material. The prize is worth € 12,000.

Nicolaus August Otto Prize for Innovation of the City of Cologne

2011 to Prof. Peter Tass and the company ANM, a spin-off from Forschungszentrum Jülich, for the development of the acoustic CR® neuromodulation method for treating chronic tonal tinnitus

f-cell award – innovation prize for fuel cells

2016 to Vitali Weißbecker, Andreas Schulze Lohoff, and Klaus Wedlich from the Institute of Energy and Climate Research – Electrochemical Process Engineering (IEK-14). They impressed the jury in the “research & development” category with their PRECORS project.

2012 to Jülich fuel cell researchers, claiming second place in the “science” category. They received the prize worth € 1,000 for the development of robust direct methanol fuel cells in the kilowatt class – energy systems that are used, for example, to power an order picker, a type of electric forklift truck, which was also developed at Jülich’s Institute of Energy and Climate Research. The f-cell award worth a total of € 27,000 provided by the federal state of Baden-Württemberg, is awarded for fuel cell innovations. In 2012, it was awarded in three categories for the first time: classic, science, and start-up. The competition honours new developments in fuel cells and encourages innovations.

Regional prizes


2011 to Dr. Marc von Hobe from the Institute of Energy and Climate Research and his project management team in recognition of their work within the RECONCILE project regarding the impact of climate change on the stratosphere and the ozone layer. Svenja Schulze, the then Minister for Innovation, Science and Research of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), presented the award endowed with a total of € 90,000 in Düsseldorf. The other winners who shared the award were Prof. Sabina Jeschke from RWTH Aachen University and Prof. Christian Rehtanz from TU Dortmund. The prize was awarded for the first time in April 2011 and pays tribute to the involvement of researchers from NRW in European research programmes.

Science Prize of the North Rhine-Westphalia Science Centre and Industry-Club Düsseldorf

2004 to Dr. Henry Bosch and Dr. Tobias Repmann for energy research

One of the scientists works on new materials to improve the efficiency of conventional power plants, e.g. coal power plants. The other develops near-industrial and affordable prototypes for novel solar cells. Physicist Dr. Henry Bosch and engineer Dr. Tobias Repmann convinced the jury with doctoral projects on two very different methods of electricity generation. The two scientists, who wrote their doctoral theses at Forschungszentrum Jülich, received the 2004 Science Prize in Düsseldorf. Henry Bosch took home first prize worth € 20,000 Euro and Tobias Repmann second prize (€ 10,000).

Minerva Prize of Jülich’s Museum Association

2014 to the fusion researchers Prof. Chevalier Paul Vandenplas, Prof. Marnix van der Wiel, and Prof. Gerd Wolf

To advance fusion research, the three prize winners founded the “Trilateral Euregio Cluster” (TEC) in 1996. The three TEC partners combined their research activities at the TEXTOR fusion experiment. The scientific findings from this cooperation later contributed to large-scale international projects such as the nuclear fusion reactor ITER in Cadarache (France), currently under construction, and the Wendelstein 7-X fusion device in Greifswald.

2012 to Prof. Joachim Treusch for “his outstanding work in bringing together culture and science in the town of Jülich” (Prof. Achim Bachem, Treusch’s successor and chairman of Jülich’s Museum Association)

2008 to Prof. Peter Grünberg

The prize is awarded every two years to individuals in recognition of their work at the interface between culture, science, and industry for the town of Jülich.

Other national awards

Rudolf Diesel Medal of the German Institute for Inventions

2008 to Jülich’s Nobel Laureate Prof. Peter Grünberg

The Rudolf Diesel Medal is one of the oldest distinctions in the Federal Republic of Germany for commercially successful inventions and innovations and is awarded every two to four years. The first award ceremony took place in 1952 and was initiated by members of the German Institute for Inventions and Dr. Eugen Diesel, a son of Rudolf Diesel. The Diesel Medal has since been regarded as the highest honour for inventors whose success has contributed to the common good of society.

Honorary membership in the German Physical Society (DPG)

2011 to Prof. Peter Grünberg for his joint discovery of the GMR effect with Albert Fert

Badge of honour of the German Physical Society

2010 to Prof. Heiner Müller-Krumbhaar for his commitment to the subject of physics in schools and his long-standing work as chairman of the Dynamics and Statistical Physics division. The badge of honour was awarded for the first time in 2010.

Further education award of the German Society for Clinical Neurophysiology and Functional Imaging (DGKN)

2011 to Prof. Gereon R. Fink from the Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine

The DGKN general assembly also elected him as president of the society for the period 2011/2012.

Winners of the “365 Landmarks in the Land of Ideas” competition

2011 to Prof. Gereon R. Fink (INM) and the Max Planck Institute for Neurological Research

They received the accolade for innovative imaging techniques, which make stem cells visible in the living brain. Under the patronage of the Federal President, the competition is run by the “Germany – Land of Ideas” initiative in cooperation with Deutsche Bank.

Helmholtz professorships

Helmholtz professorships are a special honour for scientists from the Helmholtz centres. Such a professorship is awarded to the scientists for their outstanding track record and productive academic career. This new funding instrument of the Helmholtz Association enables particularly outstanding and excellent scientists to continue their research, even after their retirement, and to tap into their inquisitive minds and scientific expertise.

JARA professorships

JARA professorships were established in order to attract highly acclaimed international scientists to the Jülich–Aachen region. The JARA professorship offers institutional affiliation with a combination of full rights, obligations, and resources at both locations. It is thus much better equipped than a normal position as professor or director.

2011: Prof. David DiVincenzo

The internationally acclaimed quantum physicist, who has also been awarded an Alexander von Humboldt professorship, was the first JARA professor to have his services secured by Forschungszentrum Jülich and RWTH Aachen University. Prof. David DiVincenzo was one of the first physicists to focus on quantum information. He is considered a leading authority on quantum information processing and is a pioneer in the field of quantum computing.

JARA senior professorships

JARA senior professorships are awarded to outstanding scientists by RWTH Aachen University. With a JARA senior professorship, retired scientists are given the opportunity to continue their research both at RWTH Aachen University and at Forschungszentrum Jülich, which are partnered through the Jülich Aachen Research Alliance (JARA). Furthermore, the JARA senior professorship promotes the exchange of knowledge and cooperation between young and experienced scientists.

2012 to Prof. Knut Urban

Prof. Knut Urban was the first scientist to be honoured with a JARA senior professorship in 2012. The physicist was head of Jülich’s Institute of Microstructure Research – today part of the Peter Grünberg Institute – from 1987 to 2011 and held a chair for experimental physics at RWTH Aachen University He was also president of the German Physical Society (DPG) from 2004 to 2006.

2013 to Prof. Karl Zilles

For more than 20 years, Prof. Karl Zilles, together with Prof. Katrin Amunts (also Forschungszentrum Jülich), has been working on a three-dimensional model of the human brain that is based on thousands of microscopically thin tissue sections. His research focuses primarily on analysing the molecular principles of signal transduction in the various structural and functional units of the human brain. Within the framework of his JARA senior professorship, the former director at the Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine – Structural and Functional Organization of the Brain (INM-1) performs research at University Hospital Aachen’s Department of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics and also at Forschungszentrum Jülich.

Jülich’s award for early-career scientists: Jülich Excellence Prize

Since 2009, Forschungszentrum Jülich has been awarding Excellence Prizes worth € 5,000 each to internationally successful early-career scientists who have provided crucial stimuli to their area of research. The distinction is awarded on the basis of an excellent doctoral thesis as well as a postdoc phase of up to two years with associated scientific achievements. These achievements must be endorsed by a high-ranking committee of four internal and four external professors as well as written external expert opinions. The prize is awarded annually, usually to up to three, and in exceptional cases to up to five, young scientists.

2020: Dr. Yulia Arinicheva, Dr. Vera Deidre Jäger, and Dr. Juri Romazanov

Dr. Yulia Arinicheva worked at the Institute of Energy and Climate Research – Nuclear Waste Management and Reactor Safety (IEK-6) and completed her doctoral degree in April 2019 at RWTH Aachen University. She studied the crystal structure, microstructure, and properties of monazite ceramics as a form of nuclear waste for her doctoral thesis. Her research addressed a pressing scientific and societal challenge that has to be overcome in the coming decades – the final disposal of radioactive waste in a safe manner. Her results have had a major and significant impact on the scientific community.

Dr. Vera Jäger was a member of the Institute of Molecular Enzyme Technology (IMET). She completed her doctoral degree in June 2019 at Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf. For her doctoral thesis, she established a “toolbox” of fusion proteins and empirically analysed the properties of catalytically active inclusion bodies (CatIBs) with the aim of linking structure and function with each other. Thanks to her work, the CatIBs methodology has become a more easily accessible, straightforward approach for cost-effective à la carte production of enzyme immobilizers.

Dr. Juri Romazanov wrote his doctoral thesis at the Institute of Energy and Climate Research – Plasma Physics (IEK-4). He completed his doctoral degree at Ruhr-Universität Bochum in July 2019. As part of his doctoral thesis, he developed the three-dimensional (3D) Monte Carlo code ERO2.0 for simulating plasma wall interaction and impurity transport in fusion devices. He demonstrated the versatile possibilities the code offers with his calculations. His thesis has had an outstanding influence on the scientific community, since ERO2.0 is used by scientists all over the world.

2019: Dr. Felix Lüpke, Dr. Doreen Niether, and Dr. Peter Schüffelgen

Dr. Felix Lübke researched his doctoral thesis at the Peter Grünberg Institute – Functional Nanostructures on Surfaces (PGI-3). He completed his doctoral degree in January 2018 at RWTH Aachen University. In his doctoral thesis, he developed a scanning tunnelling potentiometry (STP) technique as the most crucial application of MP-STM, which allows for the imaging of electrical potential distribution on crystal surfaces on the atomic scale. His results have not only had a major and significant impact on the scientific community, for example in finding strong evidence for Landauer dipoles around scattering centres, but also demonstrate the sensitivity and reliability of his technique. His work is highly innovative and is seen as being extremely important to commercializing this instrument.

Dr. Doreen Niether wrote her doctoral thesis at the Institute of Complex Systems – Soft Matter (ICS-3). She completed her doctoral degree at the University of Cologne in May 2018. Her doctoral thesis addressed fundamental questions regarding biomolecules and their precursors under non-equilibrium conditions. She worked on two related topics, in which thermophoresis was the most important physical phenomenon, and cooperated with other groups. As a result, she provided crucial insights into the origin of life and biomacromolecular compound reactions.

Dr. Peter Schüffelgen worked as a member of the Peter Grünberg Institute – Semiconductor Nanoelectronics (PGI-9) during his doctoral degree, which he completed at RWTH Aachen University in August 2018. In his doctoral thesis, he invented and patented an innovative technique and novel material to demonstrate how different materials, such as topological insulators and superconductors, can be combined to form compounds of the highest quality and with virtually perfect transparency. He also created a scalable platform for robust Majorana zero modes that opens up important opportunities for future applications of topologically protected quantum information technology.

2018: Dr. David Dahmen, Dr. Barbara Gold, Dr. Nikolai Kallscheuer, and Dr. Maria Zurek

Dr. David Dahmen wrote his doctoral thesis at the Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine – Computational and Systems Neuroscience (INM-6). He completed his doctoral degree in August 2017 at RWTH Aachen University. In his doctoral thesis, he demonstrated that networks of binary units can also be described in terms of coupled Ornstein–Uhlenbeck processes beyond the average correlations across the population (i.e. beyond the “middle range threshold” where the majority of the work could actually be found in the latest scientific literature). His solution can be used as a standard reference in theoretical neuroscience for recurrent neural networks. He also made important contributions to numerical methods, software development, and connecting local field potentials with neural activity. His work led to major contributions to the establishment of a bridge between microscopic and mesoscopic brain activity.

Dr. Barbara Gold was a member of the Jülich Centre for Neutron Science – Neutron Scattering (JCNS-1) during her doctoral degree, which she completed in October 2016 at the University of Münster (WWU). She made contributions to two main fields with her doctoral thesis: supramolecular polymer system dynamics and neutron spin echo (NSE) studies of mixtures of rings and linear polymers. What sets her thesis apart is that she applies a series of different methods to study the structure and dynamics of a supramolecular system, which produces profound insights into the molecular causes of the system properties during synthesis. This work was a tour de force which made it possible to get to the bottom of the microscopic causes of the chain and association dynamics of a transient network.

Dr. Nicolai Kallscheuer worked at the Institute of Bio- and Geosciences – Biotechnology (IBG-1) and completed his doctoral degree in February 2018 at Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf. His doctoral thesis identified and characterized a new metabolic pathway in a microorganism that is capable of breaking down phenylpropanoid molecules (precursors of polyphenols) through a totally new mechanism. A second important result was the reversal of a β oxidation pathway, which allowed him to circumvent a particular enzyme (TAL) that has very low activity and to produce polyphenolic molecules from glucose in this bacterium for the first time. These results are of great significance to the food industry.

Dr. Maria Zurek conducted her research at the Nuclear Physics Institute – Experimental Hadron Dynamics (IKP-2). She completed her doctoral degree at the University of Cologne in November 2016. During her doctoral degree, Zurek conducted a highly complex experiment to measure a very rare symmetry-forbidden charge reaction. Her thesis conclusively demonstrates multiple effects that are crucial to our understanding of this reaction. This is an extremely difficult experiment that requires in-depth background knowledge, well-conceived experiments, and plenty of time over which to conduct measurements.

2017: Dr. Christoph Bäumer, Dr. Félix Urbain, and Dr. Catalin Voiniciuc

Through his research at Jülich’s Peter Grünberg Institute, Dr. Christoph Bäumer made a major contribution to a better understanding of processes in memristive devices, which are promising for the IT industry. He was able to make switching processes visible under the photoemission microscope and determinable.

Together with other scientists at Jülich’s Institute of Energy and Climate Research – Photovoltaics (ESE 1), Dr. Félix Urbain developed a multistack solar cell made of silicon, which produces hydrogen directly from sunlight according to the principle of artificial photosynthesis and which can be manufactured in a relatively cost-efficient manner.

In his doctoral thesis, which he undertook at the Institute of Bio- and Geosciences, Dr. Catalin Voiniciuc investigated enzymes that are required for the synthesis of certain carbohydrates in plants. His work contributes to the industrial application of material from the cell walls of plants for sustainable biofuels.

2016: Dr. Sarah Finkeldei, Dr. Sergeii Pud, and Dr. Stephan Wirths

In her doctoral thesis, which has won several awards, Dr. Sarah Finkeldei provided new, quantitative insights contributing to the basic understanding of ceramic waste forms for nuclear waste management.

In order to better understand how nerve systems work, Dr. Sergii Pud (Institute of Complex Systems) addressed the development of a novel biosensor based on silicon nanowires in his doctoral thesis. This sensor is the first that is capable of measuring complex neuronal cell network activity.

Dr. Stephan Wirths developed a low-temperature growth process to improve the layer quality of germanium–tin alloys, making them usable for nano and laser components. As part of his doctoral project, the first germanium–tin laser was thus developed.

2015: Dr. Anja Klotzsche, Dr. Sabyasachi Dasgupta, Dr. Enno Kätelhön, and Dr. Michael Rack

While writing her doctoral thesis at the Institute of Bio- and Geosciences, Dr. Anja Klotzsche developed a new borehole radar method. Using this electromagnetic geophysical technique, images of soil properties can be produced with a higher precision than in the past.

As part of his doctoral thesis at the Jülich Institute of Complex Systems (ICS), Dr. Sabyasachi Dasgupta investigated the interactions between cell membranes and nanoparticles that occur when they are partially or fully accepted and absorbed by the membrane. This process is relevant, for example, to the efficiency of drugs or when using imaging procedures in medical diagnostics.

For his doctoral thesis, which he wrote at the Peter Grünberg Institute (PGI) and the Institute of Complex Systems (ICS), Dr. Enno Kätelhön developed and evaluated novel sensor concepts to better understand the communication pattern of neurons. This is relevant, for example, to develop hearing implants or prostheses that can be controlled directly via the patient’s nervous system.

As part of his doctoral thesis at the Institute of Energy and Climate Research (IEK), Dr. Michael Rack worked on a problem associated with nuclear fusion as an energy source: the extreme heat of the plasma needed for the fusion of atomic nuclei exposes the reactor wall to considerable loads. Rack’s doctoral thesis addressed methods to reduce these loads.

2014: Dr. Armel Ulrich Kemloh Wagoum and Dr. Benjamin Stadtmüller

For his doctoral thesis, Dr. Armel Ulrich Kemloh Wagoum worked at the Jülich Supercomputing Centre (JSC) on generating computer simulations of human navigation behaviour in pedestrian flows. He also performed very complex empirical behavioural studies.

In his doctoral thesis, Dr. Benjamin Stadtmüller (Peter Grünberg Institute) focused on investigating the principles of physical processes and materials as they appear in organic electronic components. He developed a new, effective method for investigating interfaces between metal contacts and organic layers.

2013: Dr. Giuseppe Mercurio, Dr. Felix Plöger, and Dr. Chao Zhang

Dr. Giuseppe Mercurio investigated the geometry of molecules using X-rays at Jülich’s Peter Grünberg Institute. Dr. Felix Plöger analysed transport mechanisms in the atmosphere and their effects on the global climate at Jülich’s Institute of Energy and Climate Research (IEK). Dr. Chao Zhang studied the underlying principles of proton transport on a cell membrane at the German Research School for Simulation Sciences (GRS). Proton migration plays a key role in energy production in cells.

2011: Dr. Nina Richter and Dr. John Kettler

In her doctoral thesis, biotechnologist Dr. Nina Richter identified three enzymes that catalyze chemical reactions in biotechnological processes.

Dr. John Kettler is involved in energy research. He developed a test facility for a process that identifies toxic agents, such as lead, cadmium, or mercury contained in waste drums filled with radioactive material.

2010: Dr. Dörte Gocke and Dr. Sebastian Feste

In her doctoral thesis, Dörte Gocke studied enzymes which can be used for the production of important chemical building blocks, for example as starting materials for various pharmaceuticals.

The fabrication and analysis of semiconductor devices was the topic of Sebastian Feste’s doctoral thesis. According to Prof. Schmidt, Feste succeeded in making an essential contribution to the field of silicon nanoelectronics.

2009: Dr. Julia Frunzke and Dr. Thomas Kirchartz

Julia Frunzke was honoured for her excellent research contributions to the molecular understanding of the adaptability of industrially and agriculturally relevant bacteria.

As part of his doctoral project, Thomas Kirchartz developed a new universal theory for the description of different types of solar cells, which he confirmed by means of experiments. The new models provide a basis to further optimize the efficiency of fuel cells in a targeted manner.

Last Modified: 17.05.2024