The Jülich Excellence Prize: starting point for successful careers

Since 2009, Forschungszentrum Jülich awards the annual Jülich Excellence Prize to outstanding young scientists for exceptional scientific achievements during their doctorate and early postdoc phase. The bar is high for the two-stage procedure and the assessment by an independent selection panel, and the scientific excellence of the nominees is the most important criterion for selection. A look at the more than 40 honourees shows that many have continued their careers extremely successfully, even though the career paths they have taken can look very different.

Take Prof. Dr. Thomas Kirchartz and Prof. Dr. Dörte Rother, for example, who were awarded the Excellence Prize in 2009 and 2010. Both have acquired large third-party funded projects and continued their careers at FZJ. They currently hold leading positions at Jülich institutes and have since been appointed to universities.

Others were drawn to an international scientific institution as their next career step: such as the 2018 prize winner Dr. Maria Zurek, who initially conducted research at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and later at Argonne National Laboratory in the USA. Or Dr. Yulia Skåtun, winner of the 2020 prize, who shortly afterwards was appointed as Associate Professor at the Western Norway University of Applied Sciences. Dr. Alexander van Meegen, awarded in 2023, accepted a prestigious Swartz Fellowship for a postdoctoral stay at the Center for Brain Science at Harvard University after completing his doctorate.

Other honourees took the next step in their careers in industry. For example, the 2010 prize winner Dr. Sebastian Feste initially worked at GlobalFoundries and later at Robert Bosch Semiconductor Manufacturing in the development of semiconductor components. Dr. Stephan Wirths, winner of the 2016 Excellence Prize, conducts research in the field of laser physics, first at IBM and later at ABB and Hitachi Energy in Switzerland. And Dr. Félix Urbain, winner of the 2017 prize, uses his expertise in the field of renewable energies as a senior consultant at a business and innovation consulting agency in Spain.

Dr. John Kettler, winner of the Excellence Prize in 2011, founded an innovative spin-off in the field of nuclear technology together with partners immediately after completing his doctorate, and a second company in consulting one decade later.

In short, the Excellence Prize winners are now active in a wide variety of fields and actively contribute to science transfer.


Dr. Lisa Czaja-Hasse

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Last Modified: 29.04.2024