# Top prize for young scientist

Dr. Daniele Oriti receives Sofja Kovalevskaja Prize worth € 1.41 million

Dr. Daniele Oriti has been granted a Sofja Kovalevskaja Award by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. Oriti will use the prize money of almost 1.41 million EUR to set up a research group at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute, AEI) from December 2008 and conduct research to gain new insights into the early days of the universe.

Daniele Oriti will work in particular with Hermann Nicolai's “Quantum Gravity and Unified Theories” division and the research group “Loop Quantum Gravity” led by Prof. Dr. Thomas Thiemann. Daniele Oriti is the second Kovalevskaja Prize winner to come to the AEI - after Yanbei Chen in 2004.

“I am excited about the prospect of researching at the AEI. From previous visits to the institute, I know that the AEI offers a fantastic environment for quantum gravity and gravitational physics in general,” Oriti comments on his award.

The award ceremony will take place in Berlin on November 25.

**Daniele Oriti's research work will focus on the following:**

*The Quantization of Relativity: New Insights into the Early Days of the Universe*

General relativity and quantum theory are pillars of modern physics. One explains the motion of the planets in the solar system and the development of the universe, the other the behaviour of matter on the microscopic scale. What causes physicists headaches: The two theories do not fit together. But to describe the inner workings of black holes or the beginning of the universe, both Einstein's geometric model of gravity and quantum laws must be applied. For decades, researchers have therefore been searching for a theory of quantum gravity that reconciles both approaches. One possibility for this is loop quantum gravity, which could possibly take the place of the Big Bang and describe a universe that first collapses and then expands again. Daniele Oriti explores this theory by applying methods from Einstein's field theory to so-called spin foam models. His work in this field could take the theory of quantum gravity a step further - and thus provide answers to fundamental questions about the origin of our universe.

**Daniele Oriti, **born in Italy in 1976, studied physics at the University of Rome and mathematics at the University of Cambridge, UK, where he received his doctorate in 2003. In Cambridge, he did research at the Institute of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics until 2006, when he moved to the Spinoza Institute of the University of Utrecht, Netherlands.

**The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation's Sofja Kovalevskaja Award**

With the Sofja Kovalevskaja Award, sponsored by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation honours the top scientific achievements of particularly promising junior researchers from abroad and enables them to establish independent junior research groups at research institutions in Germany. Largely unencumbered by administrative constraints, the award winners should be able to concentrate on their high-ranking and innovative research of their own choice in Germany, thus strengthening the internationalisation of research in Germany.