Among the ten recipients of this year’s Leibniz Prizes, awarded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), were computer scientist Prof Elisabeth André, climate scientist Prof Veronika Eyring and palaeoanthropologist Prof Katherina Harvati-Papatheodorou. Each will receive €2.5 million for research funding, which they can spend however they like.
Prof André, who is based at the University of Augsburg, was awarded the prize for pioneering the field of conversational emotional agents in artificial intelligence. Her work has centred on human-machine interactions, such as verbal and non-verbal communication, pain recognition and trust. Social Signal Interpretation (SSI), an open-source framework that her team developed, is now used globally to allow computers to recognise and react competently to human emotion.
Prof Eyring from the University of Bremen has received the prize for her work on improvement of climate predictions through modelling. Prof Eyring is a key figure within the development of the Earth System Model Evaluation Tool that compares climate models in order to remove uncertainty and make stronger predictions about Earth’s future climate. She has also been contributing to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports since 2004.
And finally Prof Harvati-Papatheodorou from the University of Tübingen was awarded the prize for her many ground-breaking contributions to our understanding of human evolution. She specialises in the application of 3D morphometry and other virtual anthropological methods combined with traditional field work. Highlights from her research include the demonstration of the sophisticated behaviour among Neanderthals and the discovery that Homo Sapiens arrived in Europe almost 150 thousand years earlier than previously thought.
Due to the coronavirus crisis, the Leibniz Prizes 2021 will be awarded at a virtual ceremony on March 15th. (© AcademiaNet)