External and internal awards for UFZ scientists

Here you can read about the UFZ award winners and their outstanding achievements in research, knowledge and technology transfer.

Whittaker Distinguished Ecologist Award

„The Whittaker Distinguished Ecologist award recognizes an ecologist with an earned doctorate and an outstanding record of contributions in ecology who is not a U.S. citizen and who resides outside the United States. The 2023 recipient of this award is biologist and physicist Volker Grimm, whose research has transformed our understanding of fundamental ecological principles and has made ecological modeling more coherent and efficient.“ © ESA (Ecological Society of America) Awardees of 2023, posted by Public Affairs on April 12, 2023

Prof. Dr Volker Grimm has been a scientist in the Department of Ecological Modelling at the UFZ since 1992.

Carl C. Smith Graduate Student Award

The work of Sebastian Gutsfeld was honoured at the Society of Toxicology Meeting 2023 in Nashville (USA) in March. He received the award for his research on molecular mechanisms. He also received the Toshio Narahashi Trainee Conference Endowment Award. This award is given to applicants whose research has an impact on the field of neurotoxicology.

Sebastian Gutsfeld is a doctoral student in the Department of Bioanalytical Ecotoxicology at the UFZ.

Outstanding Achievements in Environmental Science & Technology Award 2023

The award is presented annually by the journal of "Environmental Science & Technology" and recognises outstanding research achievements. It is endowed with 1,000 US dollars.
The 2023 award winners are environmental toxicologist Prof. Dr. Beate Escher from the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) and environmental chemist Prof. Dr. Urs von Gunten from the Swiss water research institute Eawag.

Beate Escher was honoured for her scientific achievements in uncovering the hazards posed by chemical mixtures to aquatic ecosystems and integrating impact-oriented approaches to chemical assessment - work that ranges from basic to applied research. 

Beate Escher heads the Department of Cell Toxicology at the UFZ in Leipzig, is Professor of Environmental Toxicology at the Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen and Private Lecturer at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology ETH in Zurich (Switzerland) as well as Honorary Professor at the University of Queensland and Griffith University, Australia. She was appointed to the German Science Council by Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier in 2018.

Horst Wiehe Award
The Horst Wiehe Award is given for an outstanding dissertation in the field of ecology. At the GfÖ annual conference in November 2022, the award was presented to Dr. Julia Osterman (Department of Landscape Ecology) for her dissertation "The ecology of crop pollination and its integration into farm management to ensure sustainable and stable crop yields.

Leipzig Energy and Environment Foundation
In recognition of an excellent scientific achievement, Dr.-Ing. Matthias Jordan (Department of Bioenergy) received the award for the promotion of young scientists from the Leipzig Energy and Environment Foundation in the Energy and Environment category for his dissertation "The future role of bioenergy in the German heat sector: Insights from an energy system analysis". The award ceremony took place in November 2022 on the occasion of the 15th expert meeting of the Netzwerk Energie & Umwelt e.V.
Learn more

Emil Ramann Medal
In September 2022, Prof. Dr. Hans-Jörg Vogel (Head of the Department of Soil Systems Science) was awarded the Emil Ramann Medal at the annual conference of the German Soil Science Society (DBG). He received the award for his significant achievements in the field of soil research and excellent publications in national and international journals.
Learn more

Schwoerbel-Benndorf Young Scientist Award
Cornelius Schwenk (Department of Lake Research) was honoured with the 1st place Young Scientist Award of the German Limnology Society (DGL) at its annual conference in September 2022. He received the award for his Master's thesis "Why are noble gases missing in the deep waters of Lake Kivu? A quantitative analysis of temperature effects against outgassing".

IQ Innovation Award Leipzig
In June 2022, the RWInnoTec team was given the IQ Innovation Award Leipzig and 2nd place in the Energy/Environment/Solar Economy Cluster of the IQ Innovation Award Central Germany. The company RWInnoTec, which was spun off from UFZ and HTWK Leipzig in 2021, uses radio waves to heat asphalt quickly and in an environmentally friendly way.
Learn more

Arne Richter Award
In May 2022, Dr. Jakob Zscheischler (Department of Computational Hydrosystems) received the Arne Richter Award at the annual meeting of the European Geosciences Union (EGU). He was honoured for his fundamental work of international standing in which he defines and develops models for the identification and risk assessment of combined weather events in a changing climate.
Learn more

Konrad Bögel Award
The Konrad Bögel Young Researcher Award for Veterinary Epidemiology and Veterinary Public Health is sponsored by the Förderverein für angewandte Epidemiologie und Ökologie e.V. (FEP). In 2022, it was awarded to Dr. Jonas Brock (Department of Ecological Modelling) for his dissertation "Decision support using advanced modelling concepts in Epidemiology: enhancing future bovine herpesvirus type 1 eradication in Ireland".

UFZ Awards (Selection)

Technology Transfer Award
The team around Steffi Hunger and Dr. Andreas Aurich was honoured for developing a sustainable, yeast-based production process for isocitric acid.

Knowledge Transfer Award
Dr. Marie Vandewalle was given the award because her activities have successfully contributed to the transfer of knowledge about biodiversity and ecosystem services to national and European decision-makers according to their needs.

Communication Award
Prof. Dr. Annika Jahnke
receives the award for her outstanding communication of research dealing with the effects of microplastics in the environment.

Nachwuchspreis für Angewandte Forschung
Dr. Husain Najafi receives the award for his outstanding scientific achievements in the field of hydrological event prediction.

Albert Bürklin Award
The award of the Wissenschaftliche Gesellschaft Freiburg was presented to Prof. Dr. Sina Leipold (Head of the Department of Environmental Politics) in November 2021 at a ceremony for her outstanding research on the problems of transforming the current economic system in Europe towards a resource-conserving circular economy.

Heinz Sielmann Honorary Award
Im November 2021 verlieh die Heinz Sielmann Stiftung den gleichnamigen Naturschutzpreis an Prof. Dr. Josef Settele (member of the World Biodiversity Council and Head of the Department of Conservation Biology and Social-Ecological Systems). He was honoured for his commitment to the conservation of biological diversity.

Schwoerbel-Benndorf Young Scientist Award
Alessandra Iannino (Department of River Ecology) was awarded the second prize of the German Limnology Society (DGL) at its annual conference in September 2021. She received the award for her dissertation "Effects of phosphorus enrichment on the control of stream periphyton".

Honorary Environmental Award of the Foundation for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Climate Protection of the State of Saxony-Anhalt
From the hands of Saxony-Anhalt's Environment Minister Prof. Dr. Claudia Dalbert, Dr. Stefan Klotz, Head of the thematic area "Ecosystems of the Future" at the UFZ received the award in July 2021. The "Honory Environmental Award" recognises the many years of honorary commitment of individuals or teams.
Learn more

BiodivERsA Preis für Exzellenz und Impact
In the TALE Project (Towards multifunctional agricultural landscapes in Europe) coordinated by the UFZ, researchers across Europe investigated potential conflicts and possible synergies between agricultural services and the conservation of biodiversity. For the results of this work, the team led by Prof. Dr. Martin Volk (Department of Computational Landscape Ecology) was given the BiodivERsA award in spring 2021. The video award honours achievements of BiodivERsA-funded projects that have produced excellent science with concrete impacts for policy and society.
Learn more

Fritz Scheffer Award
The German Soil Science Society (DBG) honours young scientists with the Fritz Scheffer Award for their outstanding scientific achievements. In 2021, Dr. Maik Lucas (Department of Soil System Science) was presented with the award.

UFZ Awards (selection)

Technology Transfer Award
Dr. Markus Kraus, Maria Kraus, Dr. Frank Holzer, Christian Hoyer, Dr. Ulf Roland, Dr. Ulf Trommler were awarded the 2021 UFZ Technology Transfer Award for the development of diverse, innovative applications of radio wave technology. These were systematically developed until they were ready for the market, thus laying the foundation for the founding of a company, the RWInnoTec GmbH.

Knowledge Transfer Award
Dr. Karsten Rinke
was awarded the 2021 UFZ Knowledge Transfer Award for transferring science-based solution approaches into water management practice. To an outstanding degree, he has succeeded in developing scientific results in the field of lake research at the UFZ into a respected consulting and expert hub within the community of dam operators.

Communication Award
Prof. Dr. Reimund Schwarze was awarded the 2021 UFZ Communication Award. The award recognises his excellent communication of research results and processes in international climate policy. Fact-based, credible and comprehensible, he has been using a wide range of communication channels for more than 10 years and works trustfully with journalists.

Young Scientists Award for Applied Research
Dr. María Felipe-Lucia is awarded the 2021 UFZ Young Scientists Award for Applied Research for her excellent research on the socio-ecological transformation of agro-ecosystems. The award recognises her excellent networking with a wide range of interest groups and her outstanding publication record.

Dr. David Leuthold is also awarded the 2021 UFZ Young Scientist Award for Applied Research for developing an innovative method in the field of ecotoxicology. This involves a zebrafish embryo-based test system for chemicals that can be used to infer neurodegenerative diseases.

Digital Leader Award

The Helmholtz project "DIGITAL EARTH - Towards SMART Monitoring and Integrated Data Exploration of the Earth System" is a central joint project of 8 Helmholtz centres in the Earth and Environment programme. The aim of Digital Earth is to improve data-driven research through new approaches from computer science and data science so that interdisciplinary questions about the Earth System can be investigated in an integrative way.
DIGITAL EARTH at the UFZ is led by Prof. Dr. Peter Dietrich, Department of Monitoring and Exploration Technologies. He and the Hydroinformatics group at the Department of Environmental Engineering around Dr. Thomas Kalbacher are significantly involved in Digital Earth with their developments on Smart Monitoring Design and Digital Exploration Framework.
Since 2016, the Digital Leader Award has been presented to innovative projects that drive the digital transformation across industries. This year, there were 83 applications with 24 finalists in five categories.

Schwoerbel-Benndorf Young Scientist Award

Valerie Wentzky (Department of Lake Research) was honoured with the 2nd place Young Scientist Award at the annual conference of the German Limnology Society (DGL) in September 2020. She received the award for her thesis "Function instead of taxonomy: A new look at succession patterns and long-term dynamics".

BUND Research Award

The Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz Deutschland (BUND) grants the award for outstanding achievements in research for sustainable development in nature conservation. In October 2020, Thilo Wellmann (Department of Landscape Ecology) was among the award winners with his Master's thesis "Modelling the distribution of 44 urban bird species using Earth observation based plant trait indicators and machine learning".

Prize for the Best Plant Science Master Thesis

Johanna Wiedener, a student at the University of Leipzig, has been awarded the prize of the German Society for Plant Sciences (DBG) for the best master's thesis in plant science. The master's thesis "Investigation of a mixed species cultivation concept for a continuous photosynthesis-driven hydrogen production" was written at the UFZ Department of Solar Materials in the group of PD Dr. Stephan Klähn.
Click here for more information!

UFZ Awards
Technology Transfer Award

Dr. Anett Georgi, Silke Woszidlo und Dr.-Ing. Robert Köhler (Department of Environmental Engineering / TUCHEM) for their research and development work on the realisation of customised methods for wastewater treatment using zeolites and colloidal activated carbon

Knowledge Transfer Award

Dr. Silke Beck, Dr. Julian Rode, Dr. Heidi Wittmer (Department of Environmental Politics / UPOL), Prof. Dr. Ralf Seppelt, Dr. Michael Beckmann, Dr. Matthias Schröter-Vinke (Department of Computational Landscape Ecology / CLE), Prof. Dr. Aletta Bonn (Department of Ecosystem Services / ESS), Prof. Dr. Josef Settele (Department of Community Ecology / BZF; since 1 November 2020 head of the department of Conservation Biology / NSF), Susanne Hufe, Susan Walter, Benjamin Haerdle und Doris Wolst (Press and Public Relations) for their transfer activities and contributions to policy advice on a global scale as part of IPBES (The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services)

Communication Award
Prof. Dr. Josef Settele (Department of Community Ecology / BZF; since 1 November 2020 head of the Department of Conservation Biology / NSF) for his authentic and clear communication of research results, especially on the decline in insect populations, the importance of biodiversity and the consequences of land use

Leipzig Science Award (links to German website)

The City of Leipzig, the University of Leipzig and the Saxon Academy of Sciences in Leipzig award this prize usually every two years for work that meets the highest scientific standards and consolidates Leipzig's reputation as a city of science with a nationally and internationally important research and educational landscape. In April, Prof. Klaus-Dieter Kopinke, Head of the Department of Environmental Engineering, received the award in the Old City Hall of Leipzig.

Ulrich Babel Award of the German Soil Science Society

The German Soil Science Society (DBG) awards the Ulrich Babel Prize every two years to young scientists for an outstanding dissertation or publication in the field of German soil science. Dr. Steffen Schlüter (Department of Soil System Science) was awarded the prize during the annual meeting of the German Soil Science Society, which took place in August in Bern, Switzerland.

Helmholtz Doctoral Prize in Research Field: Earth and Environment

Dr. Annegret Grimm-Seyfarth (Department of Conservation Research) was presented with the Helmholtz Doctoral Award. In her dissertation she investigated the effects of climate change at the level of individuals, populations and communities using reptiles in Australia. She has published her findings extensively and highly ranked in nine publications and presented them beyond the scientific community (e.g. in the TV show 3sat Nano). The Helmholtz Doctoral Award is presented annually and includes a financial award of 5,000 EUR as well as a monthly stipend of 2,000 EUR for travel and accommodation expenses for a research stay of up to six months at an international research institution.

Biogas Innovation Award of German Agriculture (links to German website)

This year's 10,000 euro Science Award was given to Maria Braune from the DBFZ and Dr. Heike Sträuber (Department of Environmental Microbiology) from the UFZ for their joint development of a process for the production of the fatty acids capric and caprylic acid from regional biomass. The development was part of the BMBF-funded project "From biogas plant to biorefinery – combined production of medium-chain fatty acids and biogas" and is intended to enable the expansion of the product range of biogas plants.

Research and Innovations Award in Water Science of the Sultanate of Oman

Shamsa bint Masoud Al Saadi from the Centre for Environmental Biotechnology achieved third place in the Research and Innovation Awards in Water Sciences of the Sultanate of Oman. This prize is awarded by the Science Council of Oman and is endowed with 6,000 euros.

UFZ Awards
Research Award

Prof. Rolf Altenburger (Department of Bioanalytical Ecotoxicology) and the UFZ team of the EU project SOLUTIONS, coordinated by PD Dr. Werner Brack, for their outstanding achievements in the research of the toxicological effects of chemical mixtures, the further development and synthesis of the findings in European cooperation and the derivation of recommendations for action for different stakeholders

Technology Transfer Award
Dr. Susanne Dunker (Department of Physiological Diversity) for the research and development work on high-throughput analysis of ecological samples with imaging flow cytometry

Knowledge Transfer Award

Dr. Christiane Schulz-Zunkel (Department of Conservation Biology), Dr. Mario Brauns (Department of River Ecology), Mathias Scholz (Department of Conservation Biology) and Prof. Markus Weitere (Department of River Ecology) for their excellent transfer activities in the "Wilde Mulde" project to solve current challenges in river and floodplain management in Central Europe

Communication Award
Dr. Andreas Marx (Department of Computational Hydrosystems) for his outstanding, credible and comprehensible communication on the causes and effects of climate change, in particular on the drought of 2018 and 2019 and on the statements of the UFZ Drought Monitor

KlarText Award in Science Communications of the Klaus Tschira Foundation (links to German website)

Dr. Anja Worrich, Department of Environmental Microbiology, and Dr. Martin Schrön, Department of Computational Hydrosystems, were awarded in the field of biology resp. geosciences for presenting the topics of their dissertations in German texts in an exemplary manner so they are easy to understand by the layperson.

International Journal of Molecular Science 2018 Best Paper Award

The award is presented annually by the editors of the International Journal of Molecular Science for the most outstanding articles. In November, a consortium of authors led by Dr. Regina Stoltenburg (Department of Soil Ecology) and Dr. Beate Strehlitz (Centre for Environmental Biotechnology) received an award for the publication "Development of An Impedimetric Aptasensor for the Detection of Staphylococcus aureus" [Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2017, 18(11), 2484; doi:10.3390/ijms18112484].

Frederick Buttel International Award for Distinguished Scholarship in Environmental Sociology

Prof. Matthias Groß (Department of Urban and Environmental Sociology) received the award from the International Sociological Association (ISA) at the World Congress of Sociology in Toronto in July. The Buttel Award is presented every four years to a scientist who has published internationally important contributions to research into the relationship between environment and society over the past four years.

UFZ Awards

Research Award
Dr. Martin Drechsler
, Dr. Karin Johst (Department of Ecological Modelling) & Prof. Frank Wätzold (Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus-Senftenberg) for the development of ecological-economic modelling

Technology Transfer Award
Dr. Katrin Mackenzie
(Department of Environmental Engineering) for research and development work of Carbo-Iron as in situ agent for environmentally friendly groundwater remediation

Knowledge Transfer Award
Dr. Hans-Hermann Thulke
& Dr. Martin Lange (Department of Ecological Modelling)  for years of model-based policy advice in crisis situations that are caused by the spread of animal diseases and pose risks for humans, the environment and the economy

Communication Award
Dr. Christian Schmidt
(Department of Hydrogeology) for his commitment and the large national and international media echo he caused for his work on the topic "Plastic transport through rivers into the sea"