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.

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