Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Research Awards

Four top international scientists use their prizes for a research stay at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics

June 10, 2004
Prof. Abhay Ashtekar, Pennsylvania State University/USA (Humboldt Award), Prof. Nicolai Reshetikhin, University of California (Berkeley)/USA (Humboldt Prize),  Prof. Leon Simon, Stanford University/USA (Humboldt Award), and  Prof. Soo-Jong Rey, Seoul National University, Korea (Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Prize) will spend several months this year and the following year on research visits to the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute, AEI) in Potsdam. This underlines the importance of the institute as an international centre for gravitational research. The award winners will use the time at the AEI to further develop their work on relativity research through intensive and direct collaboration with their colleagues in Potsdam.

Prof. Bernard F. Schutz (AEI): "We are very happy about this excellent opportunity to strengthen our collaborations and are pleased to welcome these world-renowned top researchers to our institute. The awards are in recognition of the outstanding scientific achievements of the award winners".

The prizewinners

For Prof. Abhay Ashtekar, an institute was created at Pennsylvania State University: The Center for Gravitational Physics and Geometry. Ashtekar made fundamental contributions to classical general relativity. In addition, his work led to the development of the so-called Loop Quantum Gravity. It is an alternative to string theory and also aims to unite quantum field theory with Einstein's theory of relativity - and thus formulate the "world formula". Ashtekar's stay at the AEI serves to further research this alternative theory. At the AEI, he will work primarily with Dr. Martin Bojowald and Prof. Hermann Nicolai

Abhay Ashtekar on his research stay at AEI:I am honored to receive one of the Humboldt Research Awards. I am looking forward to deepening my scientific collaboration with the departments of Mathematical Relativity and Quantum Gravity at the Albert Einstein Institute. These research groups are among the world leaders in my research area. Our collaboration will generate precisely the synergies that the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation would like to strengthen.

Prof. Nicolai Reshetikhin from the Mathematics Department of the University of California (Berkeley) received his training at the famous Steklov Institute in St. Petersburg. As the world's leading expert in the field of integrable systems, he has made a decisive contribution to the development of mathematical methods used to find exact solutions to non-linear equations in physics. Reshetikhin will research the application of these methods in gravitational physics and string theory at the AEI with Prof. Hermann Nicolai and at the Mathematical Institute of the Technical University Berlin with Prof. Alexander Bobenko.

Nicolai Reshetikhin on his research stay at AEI: The Humboldt Award gives me a great opportunity to do research together with my colleagues at the AEI, the Technical University and other Berlin universities. I am looking forward to this research stay and feel honored to receive the award.

As a mathematician at Stanford University, Prof. Leon Simon researches and teaches on problems in the fields of analysis and geometry. He is world-renowned for his results on geometric variation problems, especially on minimal surfaces and other optimal geometric structures. Such structures are not only important in geometry, but also in the description of physical phenomena, e.g. in the field of phase transitions and general relativity. During his research stays at the Mathematical Institute I of Freie Universität Berlin and at the AEI, Prof. Simon's methods will be applied to time-dependent curved surfaces and spaces in collaboration with Prof. Klaus Ecker (FUB) and Prof. Gerhard Huisken (AEI).

Leon Simon on his research stay at the AEI and the FUB: I am delighted and honoured to receive one of the Humboldt Research Awards. And I am looking forward to working with the research groups "Geometric Analysis" of Gerhard Huisken at the AEI and Klaus Ecker at the Freie Universität Berlin.

With Prof. Soo-Jong Rey from the National University in Seoul, a renowned string theorist is coming to the AEI. String theory is the most promising candidate for developing the so-called world formula (see Ashtekar). Soo-Jong Rey will work at the AEI together with the "String Theory" group headed by Prof. Stefan Theisen on current problems of this theory and its relationship to elementary particle physics. Rey was awarded the Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Prize for his groundbreaking contributions to string theory.

Soo-Jong Rey on his research stay at AEI: I am very pleased that my research is recognized by the award of this important prize named after Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel. It is my goal to use this invaluable opportunity to establish long-term scientific collaborations with my German colleagues.

The research awards of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation

The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation grants Humboldt Research Awards to internationally recognised foreign scientists and scholars. The award ceremony honours the award winners' scientific lifetime achievements. The award winners are also invited to carry out research projects of their own choice in Germany in cooperation with German colleagues for a period of approximately half a year to a full year. The prizes are endowed with up to 75,000 euros.

Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Prize

Every year, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation confers the Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Awards, sponsored by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. These awards are granted to young top scientists and scholars from abroad who are already recognised as outstanding specialists in their field in recognition of their research achievements to date. The award winners are also invited to carry out research projects of their own choice in Germany in cooperation with colleagues for a total period of approximately half a year to a full year. The prizes are endowed with up to 55,000 EUR.

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