Honour for Eva-Maria Neher

Honour for Eva-Maria Neher

The biochemist and former president of the GDNÄ received the University Medal for her services to the University of Göttingen 

Professor Eva-Maria Neher, founder and long-standing director of the XLAB – Göttingen Experimental Laboratory for Young People, was honoured for her special commitment at the University of Göttingen’s 2023 Academic Year Celebration.  She received the University Medal Aureus Gottingensis for her services to the promotion of young scientists and equal opportunities. The biochemist was President of the GDNÄ in 2015 and 2016. 

In her laudatory speech, University Vice President Dr Valérie Schüller particularly highlighted the founding of the XLAB in 2000. With its “hands-on science” concept, the experimental laboratory had inspired numerous young people, young adults and teachers in Göttingen to take an interest in science. “Even 23 years later, we are still convinced of this concept and are proud that the XLAB has now become a permanent fixture within our university structure,” said Schüller. 

Eva-Maria Neher headed the XLAB until 2018 and has since been Chairwoman of the XLAB Foundation for the Promotion of Natural Sciences, which she founded. The XLAB Science Festival, which has been held in Göttingen since 2004, is also based on her initiative.

Bei der Akademischen Jahresfeier in der Aula der Universität Göttingen: Professorin Eva-Maria Neher mit Universitätsvizepräsidentin Dr. Valérie Schüller (rechts). © Universität Göttingen/Peter Heller

© Universität Göttingen/Peter Heller

At the Annual Academic Celebration in the Göttingen University auditorium: Professor Eva-Maria Neher with University Vice President Dr Valérie Schüller (right).

The meeting centre and guest house, for which Eva-Maria Neher has been campaigning for years, is now also taking shape. The ensemble with communal areas and offices as well as two residential towers is intended to make it easier for young people from different countries to get to know each other and make contacts. The topping-out ceremony was held on 24 November 2023 and the opening is planned for the end of 2024. Valérie Schüller: “The guest house will be further proof that Göttingen is not only a place of science, but also one that stands for a welcoming culture, hospitality and internationality.”

Eva-Maria Neher is a “determined project leader and manager who leads things to success with great ambition and tight organisation”, said the laudator. The honouree has shaped, held together and promoted many important things in and for Göttingen. This makes her one of the personalities whom the University would like to thank with the Aureus Gottingensis medal.

Professorin Eva-Maria Neher mit der Universitätsmedaille Aureus Gottingensis. © Universität Göttingen/Peter Heller

© Universität Göttingen/Peter Heller

Professor Eva-Maria Neher with the University Medal Aureus Gottingensis

About the person

As GDNÄ President in 2015 and 2016, Professor Eva-Maria Neher organised the conference in Greifswald on the topic of “Natural Sciences and Medicine”. She gave decisive impetus to the GDNÄ’s student programme and is still involved in the committees of the Society of Natural Scientists today. The biochemist from Mülheim an der Ruhr became internationally recognised as the founder of the XLAB, the Göttingen experimental laboratory for young people.

From 1969 to 1973, Neher studied biochemistry, organic chemistry and microbiology at the Georg August University in Göttingen. She graduated in 1974 and obtained her doctorate in 1977, after which she worked as a research assistant at renowned research institutes in Göttingen.

Following a family break, the mother of five led experimental courses in chemistry and biology at the Freie Waldorfschule Göttingen in the 1990s and developed the first concepts for the XLAB. In 2009, she became an honorary professor at the Faculty of Chemistry at the University of Göttingen.

Eva-Maria Neher has received numerous honours for her commitment to science and society, including the Lower Saxony Order of Merit, the Lower Saxony State Prize and the Cross of Merit 1st Class of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Weitere Informationen:

The GDNÄ congratulates AI pioneer Professor Wahlster on his induction into the Hall of Fame of German Research

The GDNÄ congratulates AI pioneer Professor Wahlster on his induction into the Hall of Fame of German Research

Computer scientist Professor Wolfgang Wahlster, was inducted into the Hall of Fame of German Research on 12 October at the New Institute in Hamburg. The Society of German Natural Scientists and Physicians (GDNÄ) congratulates its former President and long-time Board member on this high honour. Since its foundation in 2009, only 30 personalities, including nine Nobel Prize winners, have been appointed to the Hall of Fame. With their lifetime achievements, they have made an outstanding contribution to the further development of research and strengthened Germany as a business location in international competition.

The President of the Society of German Natural Scientists and Physicians, Professor Heribert Hofer, warmly congratulates Professor Wolfgang Wahlster on his induction into the Hall of Fame of German Research. “We are very pleased about this high honour for Wolfgang Wahlster, who was President of the GDNÄ in 2017 and 2018.” Hofer echoes the words of Professor Margret Wintermantel, who described Wolfgang Wahlster in her laudation as a scientist who saw and strengthened the connection between computer science and human sciences, especially to psychology and linguistics, at a very early stage. “His understanding of human-computer interaction has opened up new perspectives and shaped our thinking about the many benefits of AI,” said the laudator at the ceremony in Hamburg.

“The appointment to the Hall of Fame is a great honour and I thank the initiators, the jury and the laudator very much for this great recognition of my scientific work over the last 45 years,” said Wolfgang Wahlster, founding director and long-time CEO of the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI). He added: “Especially in today’s world, it is important that in the topic that has fascinated me as a researcher for decades, machine language processing, such an honour underlines the importance of deep understanding capabilities for speech dialogue systems. Human-technology interaction should reach a level where humans and machines not only work hand in hand, but can also conduct dialogues at eye level. AI will increasingly flow into decision-making processes. These decisions must be able to be questioned and explained reliably and comprehensibly by computers in dialogue.”

A GDNÄ president has already received this honour once: biochemist and science manager Professor Ernst-Ludwig Winnacker – who headed the GDNÄ in 1999 and 2000 – has been a member of the German Research Hall of Fame since 2017.

Wahlster © GDNÄE

© GDNÄ

Professor Wolfgang Wahlster

Zur Person

Wolfgang Wahlster is the only German to have been honoured on the Wall of Fame in the Heinz Nixdorf MuseumsForum as a pioneer of the digital world in the field of artificial intelligence since 2004. The decisive factor was his work on the “Verbmobil” interpreting system. Wahlster is a member of the Royal Swedish Nobel Academy in Stockholm, the German National Academy Leopoldina, the Academy of Sciences and Literature in Mainz, the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences, the German Academy of Science and Engineering and the Czech Academy of Science and Engineering. For his research achievements, he has been awarded the German Future Prize, the Cross of Merit First Class and the Grand Cross of Merit by the Federal President. Among the other awards are five honorary doctorates from universities in Darmstadt, Linköping, Maastricht, Prague and Oldenburg. He is a Fellow of the AAAI, EurAI and GI and served as president-elect of the three largest global and European AI associations (IJCAII, EurAI and ACL) as well as the German Society of Natural Scientists and Physicians (GDNÄ). Wolfgang Wahlster has been an honorary citizen of his native city of Saarbrücken since 2019, a recipient of the Saarland Order of Merit and a Saarland Ambassador.

Commemorative plaque 200 years GDNÄ unveiled at the founding site in Leipzig

Commemorative plaque 200 years GDNÄ unveiled at the founding site in Leipzig

In 1822, the physician Lorenz Oken founded the Society of German Naturalists and Physicians (GDNÄ) in Grimmaische Straße in Leipzig. The plaque commemorating the founding and celebrating the 200th anniversary in the Congress Hall at Leipzig Zoo was unveiled today at the site of the founding by GDNÄ President Heribert Hofer together with the Managing Director of the Anniversary Assembly, Zoo Director Jörg Junhold, and GDNÄ Secretary General Michael Dröscher.
Die Plakette zeigt Lorenz Oken, den Gründer der GDNÄ, und einen Auszug aus der Gründungsurkunde.

The plaque shows Lorenz Oken, the founder of the GDNÄ, and an excerpt from the founding document.

On 18 September 1822, the Society of German Naturalists and Physicians was founded by free-thinking personalities at the invitation of the naturalist and physician Lorenz Oken (1779 to 1851). The first meeting was held in Grimmaische Straße in Leipzig. Today, at this very spot, the President of the GDNÄ, Professor Heribert Hofer, together with the Executive Director of the Jubilee Conference, Zoo Director Professor Jörg Junhold and GDNÄ Secretary General Professor Michael Dröscher, presented a commemorative plaque to the public.

 “With this plaque, we commemorate the founding of our society and the outstanding personality Lorenz Oken, who, in the time of restoration and repression at the beginning of the 19th century, had the courage and the creative will to invite a free assembly for exchange among scientists to get to know and appreciate each other and united to bring the sciences forward,” said Professor Heribert Hofer. “The plaque is at the same time a reminder of the big anniversary celebration with 800 participants in the Congress Hall at the Zoo in September 2022,” said the host of the anniversary assembly, Professor Jörg Junhold. General Secretary Professor Michael Dröscher thanked the owner of the building for permission to place the plaque at the founding site, corner of Reichstraße Grimmaische Straße.

Im Zentrum Leipzigs wird jetzt der GDNÄ-Gründung im Jahr 1822 gedacht © Ulmer/Zoo Leipzig

© Ulmer/Zoo Leipzig

The foundation of the GDNÄ is now commemorated in the centre of Leipzig: GDNÄ President Professor Heribert Hofer, Secretary General Professor Michael Dröscher and the Managing Director of the Jubilee Conference, Zoo Director Professor Jörg Junhold (from left to right) at the inauguration of the commemorative plaque in Grimmaische Straße, corner of Reichsstraße.

Mai Thi Nguyen-Kim honoured with Lorenz Oken Medal

AWARDED

Mai Thi Nguyen-Kim honoured with Lorenz Oken Medal

The Gesellschaft Deutscher Naturforscher und Ärzte (GDNÄ) has awarded Mai Thi Nguyen-Kim the Lorenz-Oken Medal for her extraordinary achievements in communicating science – also to target groups that otherwise have little access to science. As a science journalist, television presenter, chemist, author and YouTuber, Nguyen-Kim reaches millions of people. The award was presented at the Science Communication Forum on 5 October 2022 in Hannover.
Mai Thi Nguyen-Kim © David Ausserhofer/Wissenschaft im Dialog

© David Ausserhofer/Wissenschaft im Dialog

Medal and certificate: The award winner with GDNÄ President Martin Lohse (left) and GDNÄ Treasurer and Secretary General Professor Michael Dröscher.
Communicating science requires new approaches, especially in times of disinformation and fake news. With her formats in social media, television and radio, Dr Mai Thi Nguyen Kim addresses young people in particular, as well as target groups that previously had no access to well-founded information from science. As a chemist with a doctorate, she communicates research topics in a highly competent and broadly effective manner and reaches more than 1.4 million subscribers with her YouTube channel maiLab. Nguyen-Kim makes a significant contribution to the opinion-forming process in society and is thus in the tradition of Lorenz Oken, who founded the Society of German Naturalists and Physicians in 1822 to promote friendly exchange between naturalists and physicians and between science and society.

Connected via video: Mai Thi Nguyen-Kim at the 2022 Festival Assembly in Leipzig.

The President of the GDNÄ, Professor Martin Lohse, said in Hanover: “With her successful commitment to communication between science and young people in particular, Mai Thi Nguyen-Kim is a worthy recipient of the Lorenz Oken Medal.” The honour took place during the Forum on Science Communication on 5 October in Hanover. The laudation was held by the President of the University of Göttingen, Professor Metin Tolan. The award winner responded with a keynote speech on the importance of social media in science communication.
Nobelpreisträger Paul J. Crutzen

© David Ausserhofer/Wissenschaft im Dialog

The laudatory speech was given by Professor Metin Tolan, physicist, President of the University of Göttingen and Communicator Award winner.

Nobelpreisträger Paul J. Crutzen

© David Ausserhofer/Wissenschaft im Dialog

Award winner Mai Thi Nguyen-Kim on 5 October 2022 in Hanover.

About the person

Mai Thi Nguyen-Kim’s parents come from Vietnam. Her father is a chemist and worked at BASF. After graduating from high school, she studied chemistry at the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz and completed a research stay at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. During her studies, she was a scholarship holder of the German National Academic Foundation. In 2017, she attained her doctorate on a topic in polymer chemistry at the University of Potsdam. During her doctoral studies at RWTH Aachen University and the University of Potsdam, Nguyen-Kim spent a research year at Harvard University and the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research. 

In 2015, she launched the YouTube channel The Secret Life of Scientists to challenge stereotypes about (natural) scientists and communicate science topics to a young audience. In October 2016, her YouTube channel schönschlau went online. For a time, she hosted the channel Auf Klo and learning videos for the subjects chemistry and mathematics in the format musstewissen. Her channel schönschlau was renamed maiLab in 2018. Nguyen-Kim is a moderator in the science-in-dialogue project Die Debatte (The Debate) and is part of the Terra X Lesch & Co. team with Harald Lesch, Jasmina Neudecker and Suzanna Randall. From 2018 to 2021, she was on the presenter team of the programme Quarks

Nguyen-Kim has published two books, Funny, All Chemical! (2019) and Die kleinste gemeinsame Wirklichkeit (2021), a title that reached number one on the Spiegel bestseller list in the same month of publication.

Would you like to experience the “Forum Wissenschaftskommunikation 2022” again? A multimedia documentation with many interviews, contributions, graphic recordings, links and a podcast makes it possible.

High Award from China for Katharina Kohse-Höinghaus

High Award from China for Katharina Kohse-Höinghaus

Chinese Academy of Sciences admits chemist and GDNÄ board member as foreign member 

Katharina Kohse-Höinghaus is Senior Professor of Physical Chemistry at Bielefeld University and former President of the Combustion Institute. She represents the field of engineering sciences on the Board of Directors of the GDNÄ. On 18 November 2021, the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) announced that Katharina Kohse-Höinghaus had been elected as a new foreign member. The long-standing list of foreign members comprises only about 100 people in total. These include the physicist Klaus von Klitzing, the biochemist Hartmut Michel and the mathematician Martin Grötschel. The biologist Herbert Jäckle was elected at the same time as Kohse-Höinghaus.

blank

Prof. Dr. Katharina Kohse-Höinghaus. © Foto Norma Langohr, Universität Bielefeld

Wolfgang Wahlster is a new foreign member of the Czech Academy of Engineering Sciences

Wolfgang Wahlster is a new foreign member of the Czech Academy of Engineering Sciences

On 23 November 2021, the former president of the GDNÄ, Professor Dr. Dr. h.c. mult. Wolfgang Wahlster was accepted as a foreign member of the Czech Academy of Engineering Sciences (Cena Inženýrské akademie České republiky, EACR) in Prague.  

Professor Wolfgang Wahlster from the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) is known in the Czech Republic as a scientific pioneer in the field of Industry 4.0 and artificial intelligence. Industrial production is of great economic importance for both the Czech Republic and Germany. In both countries, industrial artificial intelligence is perceived as an innovation driver. 

For many years, Wahlster has been cooperating with Professor Vladimír Mařík in Prague, the founder of the Czech Institute of Informatics, Robotics and Cybernetics (CIIRC) at the Czech Technical University in Prague (CTU). Together, the two scientists have launched the Research and Innovation Centre on Advanced Industrial Production (RICAIP), which is funded with 50 million euros. 

The Czech Academy of Science and Engineering EACR is a partner organisation of the German Academy of Science and Engineering (acatech) and represents the Czech Republic in Euro-CASE, the European association of all academies of science and engineering.

Wahlster © GDNÄE

Former president of the GDNÄ, Professor Dr. Dr. h.c. mult. Wolfgang Wahlster. © DFKI