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Leibniz Prizes for AcademiaNet Members

Four professors from our network receive award for 2014

17. 12. 2013 | The Leibniz Prize is the most important research award in Germany, with a sum total of 25 million Euros. Congratulations to Brigitte Röder, Nicole Dubilier, Artemis Alexiadou and Irmgard Sinning!
This year, eleven distinguished researchers have been chosen by the German Research Foundation DFG, four women and seven men - and all four women are members of the AcademiaNet network! Nine prize recipients will get the full prize money of 2,5 million Euros, two researchers will divide this sum in equal shares. The recipients can use this research funding for up to seven years. The awards will be formally presented on March 12, 2014 in Berlin.

Prof. Nicole Dubilier
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Prof. Nicole Dubilier
Nicole Dubilier is head of the symbiosis research group at the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, MPI, and professor for microbial symbiosis at the University of Bremen. In her research, she focuses on the symbioses between the bacteria and mussels that inhabit the surroundings of volcanic springs in the depths of the ocean. Nicole Dubilier explains her work: "The discovery 35 years ago of the singular communities of mussels, worms and shrimps living around hydrothermal vents and so-called 'black smokers' on the ocean floor created a sensation. Back then, we thought it wasn't possible for such diverse ecosystems to exist so far away from the light of the sun. We now know it is the symbioses between bacteria and animals that form the basis for such communities. The bacteria produce biomass from the energy-rich chemical compounds like the hydrogen sulfide and methane that issue from the deep-sea vents." With the new funding, she will continue her groundbreaking research on marine symbioses.

Prof. Brigitte Röder
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Prof. Brigitte Röder
Brigitte Röder is professor for biological psychology and neuropsychology at Hamburg University. She and her research group study the neural plasticity of sensory and cognitive functions, in the healthy adult population as well as in persons who suffer from sensory deprivation, i.e. blind and deaf individuals. The main research questions are: How does the brain adapt to sudden deprivation? And can this plasticity be "trained"? Since the brain's capacity to adapt to new demands changes during the lifespan, all training studies need to include different age groups. Neuro-cognitive functions can be measured with a combination of behavioral and electrophysiological measures like EEG, imaging techniques like fMRI and gaze direction measures. Results of developmental cognitive neuroscience - when and how can humans learn - are relevant in various contexts, and they can help to design effective rehabilitation programmes for people with developmental disorders, sensory deprivation or brain injury.

Prof. Artemis Alexiadou
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Prof. Artemis Alexiadou
Artemis Alexiadou is a world-renowned linguist and professor for theoretical and English linguistics at the University of Stuttgart. One of her main research areas is modern grammatical theory, particularly models for linguistic structures, and she has defined key methodological standards for these models. Another research area of hers is the relationship between the properties of nouns and verbs. By identifying parallel structures in verbal and nominal phrases, she has made an important contribution to the ongoing development of models for human language comprehension. Furthermore, she has collected extensive empirical knowledge about the syntax of a large number of languages. Prof. Alexiadou also works on projects in the fields of historical linguistics, language acquisition, with a special emphasis on bilingual individuals, as well as speech and language pathology.

Prof. Irmgard Sinning
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Prof. Irmgard Sinning
Irmgard Sinning is professor for biochemistry at the Heidelberg University Biochemistry Center. She studies the molecular protein transport processes within the cell. Her goal is to understand the molecular mechanisms of key cellular processes at the atomic level. To achieve this, her research group focuses on molecular machines involved in protein targeting, insertion and membrane translocation. Membrane proteins comprise more than 25 percent of the cellular proteome, and their function depends on insertion into the correct target membrane. Crucial for this process is the signal recognition particle SRP. This SRP system is regulated by a unique set of GTP binding proteins which communicate with an RNA to coordinate protein synthesis at the ribosome with membrane insertion by the translocon. Sinning's research group studies model systems from all three domains of life to understand the target machines from an evolutionary perspective. They use advanced X-ray crystallography techniques as their key method – together with established biochemical methods.   (© DFG, AcademiaNet)

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