Sofja Kovalevskaja Award 2002 - Award Winners (A-H)
Tiziana Boffa Ballaran
born in 1967; (Italy), Research Field: Chemistry and Physics of Minerals
Host Institute: Bayerisches Geoinstitut, Universität Bayreuth
Tiziana Boffa Ballaran studied at the University of Milan (Italy) and Pavia (Italy) and received her doctorate at the University of Pavia in 1997. Since then she has been a scientific assistant at the universities of Cambridge (Great Britain), and Bayreuth.
Research Project: Tailor-Made Crystals
As a physical chemist specializing in minerals, Dr Ballaran investigates the way in which the structure of minerals changes as a function of pressure, temperature and composition. Minerals are regarded as examples of complex materials which display a remarkable diversity in structure and in chemical and physical properties. Study of their high-pressure, high-temperature behaviour and of their structure-property relationships can provide critical information on the properties and dynamic behaviour of the Earth. Dr Ballaran is currently planning to investigate the nature of local distortions which arise in a crystal structure when atoms with one size and charge are replaced by other atoms with different size and charge and the influence of the elastic interactions created by such distortions on cation ordering and phase transformations. Insights into these interactions on a various length scale can be obtained combining infrared spectroscopy and X-ray diffraction methods.
born in 1968; (France), Research Field: Physiology
Host Institute: Institut für Kardiovaskuläre Physiologie, Universität Frankfurt am Main
Anne Bouloumié studied at the Université Paul Sabatier in Toulouse (France) and received her doctorate there in 1994. She was an academic collaborator at the university hospital of Frankfurt University (Frankfurt/Main) and most recently at the Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Medicale (INSERM) in Toulouse.
Research Project: Therapeutic Approaches in the Treatment of Obesity
The research area of biologist Dr Anne Bouloumié concerns the processes involved in the growth of the human adipose tissue. Adipose tissue (or the fat mass) constitutes an essential body energy store. However, excessive body fat mass found in severely overweight people (obesity) lead to the development of pathologies such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cancer and abnormal reproductive capacities. Since obesity is considered as a world-wide epidemic by the World Health Organization (WHO, Geneva, 1998), it is necessary to understand the mechanisms underlying the fat mass development better. It is well established that the growth of a tissue (normal or tumoral) requires the concomitant development of its blood vessels (neovascularization). The present project is based on the hypothesis that neovascularization is also required for adipose tissue growth.
The research will be performed on the cells which constitute the stroma-vascular fraction of the human fat mass. It will define and characterise how and under what kind of stimulation the cells can grow and produce new blood vessels and whether the appearance of new blood vessels is necessary for the development of the fat mass. Such a project will help to determine whether reducing neovascularization might be a new therapeutic target to treat obesity.
born in 1961; (USA/Belgium), Research Field: Theory of Science
Host Institute: Zentrum Philosophie und Wissenschaftstheorie, Universität Konstanz
Luc Bovens studied at the Catholic University Leuven (Belgium) and received his doctorate in 1990 at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis (USA). Since then he has been conducting research in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Boulder in Colorado (USA). From 1998 till 1999 he was supported by a Research Fellowship of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.
Research Project: Computer Philosophy
Professor Bovens applies techniques in probability theory and probabilistic modeling to solve questions of philosophical import. His interdisciplinary research group 'Philosophy, Probability, and Modeling' deals, among others, with the following questions:
- on the intersection of epistemology and philosophy of science: What can be learned about causation from probabilistic correlations? Can the process of scientific-theory testing and the choice between competing theories be adequately represented by means of probabilistic models?
- on the intersection of logic and computer science: What factors determine whether we are justified in believing information from unreliable sources and how can this decision process be modeled probabilistically? How can the process of rational argumentation be represented in a mathematical format and implemented in computer software? Can probabilities be used to weigh arguments and counter arguments in decision-making?
- on the intersection of political philosophy and rational choice theory: Do we value democracy because it yields fair decisions or because it yields decisions that are more likely to be correct? How can different modes of representation of the nations in a Federal Assembly affect the welfare distribution in the federation? Can probabilistic simulations help in deciding this question?
Professor Bovens has brought the editorial home of the international journal Economics and Philosophy to the University of Konstanz. Together with the University of Bayreuth, the editors of the journal are investigating the possibility of organizing a prize in Philosophy of Economics. Professor Bovens' research group work together closely with the department of philosophy in the London School of economics. They have brought forward a range of publications, including two books. They have organized a conference, a work shop and a Summer School in the framework of the project. Two more international workshops are planned for this year.
born in 1964; (France), Research Field: Astrophysics
Host Institutes: Max-Planck-Institut für Astrophysik, Garching, and Institut für Astronomie und Astrophysik, Universität München
Stephane Charlot studied at the University of Paris 7 (France), where he gained his doctorate in 1992. He has been a scientific assistant at the University of California, Berkeley, California (USA), at the Kitt Peak National Observatory, Tucson, Arizona (USA), and at the Space Telescope Institute, Baltimore, Maryland (USA). Since 1995 he has been Chargé de Recherche at the Institut d’Astrophysique de Paris. In 1998 he won the Bronze Medal of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS).
Research Project: A Star is Born
How and when did stars form in the Universe are among the many questions which Dr Charlot's projects are meant to answer. The French scientist has dedicated himself to the formation and evolution of galaxies, and in particular to the interpretation of galaxy spectra in large-scale observation projects. His starting-off point is the vast mass of data material that has been collected by a very wide variety of international organisations. To interpret this material, Dr Charlot developed a new modelling approach, which he has named the "Advanced Stellar Population Synthesis".
Dr Charlot plans to return to France, but he definitely will maintain very close links with the MPA Garching, in particular in the framework of research training networks funded by the European Commission.
born in 1965; (Switzerland/Germany), Research Field: Spectroskopy
Host Institute: Institut für Angewandte Photophysik, Technische Universität Dresden
Volker Deckert studied at Würzburg University, where he received his doctorate in 1994. He worked at the Kanagawa Academy of Science and Technology (KAST) in Kawasaki (Japan) and at the University of Tokyo (Japan). Most recently, Deckert conducted research in the Laboratory for Organic Chemistry at the ETH Zurich (Switzerland).
Research Project: Magnifying Glasses Made of Light
In the last few years, it has become impossible to ignore the trend towards smaller and smaller structures. Both in telecommunications and computing technology as well as in biology and medicine it has become essential to produce or to understand ever smaller structures. In his research Dr Deckert is trying to obtain information on the exact composition of materials using optical procedures similar to microscopy. What is special and new is the possibility to gain information with visible light which would otherwise only be accessible using electron microscopes. It is achieved with sources of light which are so small that traditional ray optics are not able to describe their special properties. In this way it is possible, for example, to carry out an examination of living organisms without causing damage. The potential of this method in relation to physics, chemistry, and biology is concomitantly diverse. In the long term, it might be possible, for instance, to use this method for directly sequencing a single DNS strand.
born in 1963; (France/Italy), Research Field: History of Philosophy
Host Institute: Institut für Englische Philologie, Universität München
Paulo D'Iorio studied at the Luigi Boccherini Conservatoire in Lucca (Italy) and at the University of Pisa. He received his doctorate at the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa in 1994. He subsequently worked as a scientific assistant at the University of Pisa and, in 1997/98, as a Humboldt Research Fellow at the Technical and Humboldt Universities in Berlin. Since 1998 he has held a research position at the Institut des Textes et Manuscrits Modernes of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS/ENS) in Paris.
Research Project: HyperNietzsche Lives in Cyberspace
Dr D'Iorio's research combines the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche with scholarly editing and the new media. The objective of his project, HyperNietzsche, is to create an infrastructure for collective work in the humanities. It will enable scholars to access primary sources (texts and manuscripts) via Internet, publish essays in secondary literature, and network them directly with the primary sources. On top of this, Dr D'Iorio is developing a system of evaluating contributions (peer review) on the Internet and is working on a study of copyright and copyleft in the era of electronic communication.
HyperNietzsche is already able to manage manuscript zones, facsimiles, transcriptions, and essays and comprises more than 10 000 digital manuscript pages of Nietzsche, of which roughly 700 are already online. In order to publish scholarly contributions on the Internet, Dr D'Iorio has drawn up a licence model and, in cooperation with the Foundation Weimarer Klassik, made it possible to access facsimiles of Nietzsche's hand-written manuscripts freely. During the current year Dr D'Iorio will submit a proposal for a European Project on Hyper Learning. It applies the structure of HyperNietzsche to other authors and disciplines and thus pushes ahead the development of a complex research infrastructure for the Internet. The partners in the project include the Swedish Academy of Science, the universities of Bergen, Craiova, Dublin, Frankfurt, Leicester, Pisa, Plovdiv, the CNRS Paris, MSH and INRIA, as well as UNESCO.
born in 1968; (USA/Germany), Research Field: Medical Biochemistry
Host Institute: Abteilung für Innere Medizin, Medizinische Klinik und Poliklinik 2, Universität Gießen
Oliver Eickelberg studied at the medical faculties of the universities of Lübeck, Vienna (Austria) and Basel (Switzerland). He obtained his doctorate in medicine at Basel University in 1997. Eickelberg worked as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Research Department of Basel University and went to Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut (USA) in 1998 under the Alexander von Humboldt Feodor Lynen Fellowship Programme. Most recently, Eickelberg conducted research at the Department of Pathology at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut (USA).
Research Project: Strategy for the Treatment of Fibrotic Diseases
Dr Eickelberg examines mechanisms leading to fibrotic diseases, particularly in the lungs. Such diseases eventually lead to organic failure and either do not respond to treatment or do so only inadequately. He deals in detail with the effect of a specific signal molecule – Transforming Growth Factor (TGF)-ß – which contributes substantially to the occurrence of diseases with a fibrotic component. While Dr Eickelberg has been able to identify essential mechanisms in the signal transduction chain of TGF-ß, his current research consists mainly in the identification of substances and mechanisms which may constitute efficient strategies in the treatment of fibrotic diseases.
born in 1971; (Russian Federation), Research Field: Physical Electrical Engineering
Host Institutes: Institut für Hochfrequenztechnik, Technische Universität Darmstadt and Fakultät für Elektrotechnik und Informationstechnik, Technische Universität Chemnitz
Michael Feiginov studied at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (Russian Federation), and gained his doctorate at the Institute of Radio Engineering and Electronics (IRE) of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS). For this work he was awarded the Russian State Fellowship for young scientists. He is now a senior researcher at the IRE of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow.
Research Project: From Space Research to Medicine
Dr Feiginov works in physics of high-frequency semiconductor devices. Previously, electro-magnetic radiation in the tera-Hertz range was mainly the object of space research, but applications have recently started to emerge for it in medicine and other fields. With his project, Dr Feiginov is planning to study the existing tera-Hertz radiation sources and to develop new ones. He pays particular attention to so-called photonic bandgap structures which possibly can be used to measure the properties of materials, particularly biological ones and that of biological cells. The promising sources that Dr Feiginov is looking at are the tunnel semiconductor structures (resonant tunneling diodes and tunnel Schottky contacts with 2D channels) and so-called photomixers.
It has been predicted that the tunnel Schottky contacts with 2D channels designed in a special way can have a negative differential conductance. A number of interesting effects are expected in such kind of structures and some applications can be foreseen. The research group is heading now to an experimental demonstration of the effects.
born in 1969; (USA/Germany), Research Field: Medical Biochemistry
Host Institute: Forschungsgruppe Molekulare Medizin, Experimentelle Gentherapie und Lipidstoffwechsel, Max-Delbrück-Centrum für Molekulare Medizin, Berlin
Michael Gotthardt studied at Heidelberg University and Humboldt University Berlin, where he received his doctorate in 1997. He conducted research at the Southwestern Medical Center of the University of Texas at Dallas, Texas (USA), and most recently has been working in the Department of Veterinary and Comparative Anatomy, Pharmacology, and Physiology (VCAPP) at Washington State University in Pullman, Washington (USA).
Research Project: Protein Framework of the Heart and the Skeletal Muscles
Titin is the largest protein in the human body and forms an elastic framework in the heart and skeletal muscles. Due to its molecular structure titin can expand like a spring and therefore enables the effective functioning of muscle cells. Patients with a changed titin develop heart conditions associated with a limited cardiac pumping function. Due to its large size titin is not easy to modify. Dr Gotthardt has developed mouse models for modification of titin in the live organism and its structural as well as functional analysis. These titin-deficient animals are the basis for development of medicamentous, cellular and genetic therapies for heart and muscle weakness. Dr Gotthardt will study the function of titin in the detection and transmission of mechanical signals (stretching of muscles) at the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in Berlin-Buch. The results of his research group will help to understand the development and progress of congenital muscle and heart diseases and to develop new treatment strategies.
born in 1974; (USA/Germany), Research Field: Macromolecular Chemistry
Host Institute: Institut für Chemie / Organische Chemie, Freie Universität Berlin
Stefan Hecht studied at Humboldt University Berlin and received his doctorate at the University of California, Berkeley, California (USA), in 2001.
Research Project: Molecular Set for the Nanofactory
Dr Hecht is fascinated with investigating chemical processes at the scale of individual molecules. He is interested in the rational design of molecular building blocks that serve as components of a nanosize construction kit for the generation of well-defined very small features. In his research program, Hecht and his group are synthesizing large polymers that are folded and locked into discrete helical tubes of controlled dimension and functionality. Further manipulation involves state-of-the-art physical tools to spatially arrange the synthesized nanoobjects and to specifically induce local chemical reactivity thereby creating nanosized patterns. This bottom-up approach to nanofabrication is expected to ultimately lead to a variety of future applications ranging from circuitry for tomorrow's computers and high-density data storage devices to ultrasensitive detectors. In addition, this research could provide new fundamental insight into the world of chemistry.
born in 1966; (Switzerland), Research Field: Laser und Optoelectronics
Host Institute: Abteilung Optoelektronik, Universität Ulm
Daniel Hofstetter studied Physics at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich (Switzerland). During his PhD thesis, he worked at the Paul Scherrer Institute in Zurich. In 1996, he earned a doctoral degree from the University of Neuchâtel (Switzerland). As a post-doctoral fellow, Dr Hofstetter spent two years at the XEROX Palo Alto Research Center in California (USA), and later joined the University of Neuchâtel. In 1997, his dissertation was awarded the prize of the Swiss Physics Society.
Research Project: Surfing on a Ray of Light
Lasers for telecommunications, printing, and environmental sensing are amongst the products that Dr Hofstetter intends to develop in his project. This Swiss scientist is concentrating particularly on the development of "Wide Bandgap Semiconductor Devices". These can either be configured as interband semiconductor lasers that work in the violet wavelength range or as intersubband devices emitting near or mid-infrared laser radiation. Whereas the violet lasers are particularly interesting for optical data storage and laser printing, the near-infrared lasers are especially important for telecommunications. The mid-infrared wavelength range,finally, is used for applications in environmental sensing, process control, or the analysis of biological liquids.