press release, 04. February 2016

Top-level Scientist to boost Biodiversity Research: Tiffany Knight appointed as Professor

From February 1, the US American biodiversity scientist Prof. Dr. Tiffany Knight will conduct her research at Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) and at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ). The certificate for the joint appointment of MLU and UFZ was recently presented to Prof. Knight by Dr. Udo Straeter, rector of MLU. Prof. Knight is already the third MLU professor with an Alexander-von-Humboldt professorship, Germany's best funded international research award. The Humboldt Foundation will fund Tiffany Knight's professorship at MLU for five years with a total of 5 million Euro. Additionally, the scientist was chosen for the Helmholtz Recruitment Initiative and is a member of the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Leipzig-Jena.

Prof. Dr. Tiffany Knight Photo: UFZ / André Künzelmann
Prof. Dr. Tiffany Knight
Photo: UFZ / André Künzelmann

Tiffany Knight is one of the internationally most renowned scientists in the field of invasive species and biodiversity synthesis, which requires large quantities of data. Her research addresses, in particular, interactions between plants, microorganisms, pollinators and herbivores, thereby including various methodical and theoretic approaches, for example from population biology and evolutionary research.

At MLU she will hold the professorship of Spatial Interaction Ecology and at the same time be a member the UFZ department of Community Ecology. "I look forward to my position in Germany. This is a great honour", says Knight. "I am very excited about my three future work places: iDiv is one of the top research centres in biodiversity in general. This is the place where some of the world’s leading projects are implemented. The work of the UFZ combines research and practical application. It is fascinating how solutions for the society are developed on the basis of environmental research. The University of Halle has a long-standing research tradition in the field of plant ecology. I am working with historical data from Halle myself and am trying to gain new insights for the present."

In her last position, Tiffany Knight was Associate Professor at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri (USA), working as a visiting scientist at iDiv for the last months. A characteristic feature of her research is that interactions are analysed in different ecosystems and at multiple temporal scales. Great interest was attracted by her work on the impact of invasive species on native biodiversity. Her assessments, that included a large number of species and various ecosystems, contributed to a global understanding of the rarity of species and are considered a milestone in biodiversity science.

Further information

UFZ press office

Susanne Hufe
Phone: +49 341 235-1630

In the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), scientists conduct research into the causes and consequences of far-reaching environmental changes. Their areas of study cover water resources, ecosystems of the future, environmental technologies and biotechnologies, the effects of chemicals in the environment, modelling and social-scientific issues. The UFZ employs more than 1,100 staff at its sites in Leipzig, Halle and Magdeburg. It is funded by the Federal Government, Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt.

The Helmholtz Association contributes to solving major challenges facing society, science and the economy with top scientific achievements in six research fields: Energy; Earth and Environment; Health; Key Technologies; Matter; and Aeronautics, Space and Transport. With some 39,000 employees in 19 research centres, the Helmholtz Association is Germany’s largest scientific organisation.
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