German researcher Ruth Lohwasser has been awarded the first prize in the DSM Science & Technology Awards (South) 2012. An international judging committee, chaired by Dr. Manfred Eggersdorfer, Senior Vice-President Nutrition Science & Advocacy at DSM Nutritional Products, selected Ruth Lohwasser, who obtained her doctorate from Bayreuth University in Germany, for her PhD research in the field of applied functional polymers. Dr. Lohwasser has succeeded in paving the way for novel synthetic strategies and material concepts for the controlled synthesis of semiconducting polymers and block copolymers for organic photovoltaics. Photovoltaics is one of the top technological contenders for providing long-term solutions for sustainable energy production. This winning research will lead to a significant alternative to the current silicon based technology. As the winner of the first prize, Dr. Lohwasser will receive a cash prize of €10,000.
This year, two second prizes (€5,000 each) were awarded: to Michael Karbiener of the University of Technology Graz (Austria), for his PhD research in the field of medical biotechnology in relation to obesity; and to Bill Morandi of ETH Zurich (Switzerland), for his PhD research on the development of novel synthetic methods using in situ generated diazo compounds.The other nine finalists will each receive a cash prize of €1,250.
The winners were announced at a dedicated event held at Grand Hotel Victoria-Jungfrau in Interlaken (Switzerland) on June 19. Commenting on the awards, Dr. Krijn Rietveld, Senior Vice-President Innovation at DSM Nutritional Products, said: “Through our Science & Technology Awards, we recognize the importance of new developments in science, which are essential for the breakthrough innovations that are needed to help address the world's greatest challenges.”
The DSM Science & Technology Awards ‘South’ form part of the DSM Bright Science Awards Program. They are granted for outstanding PhD research by doctoral students from Switzerland, which is the home base of DSM Nutritional Products, and the neighboring regions of Austria, France and Southern Germany.
This year’s event also included special commemoration of the 100 year anniversary of the discovery of vitamins by Polish biochemist, Casimir Funk. Dr. Manfred Eggersdorfer, Senior Vice-President Nutrition Science & Advocacy at DSM Nutritional Products commented: “2012 marks 100 years of vitamins, and DSM is proud to be part of that story. As we can see from some of the research carried out by the promising young scientists here today, the story of the vital role of nutrition is far from over, and we are very excited about the future of nutrition science.”
Judging committee’s report
In its report, the judging committee commended the high quality of the work of all the finalists. About its selection of Dr. Lohwasser as first-prize winner, the committee said that her special achievement is that she has analyzed each of the essential requirements that must be met in tailoring polymers to be used in the production of flexible, efficient, durable and inexpensive solar foils. “Dr. Lohwasser has followed this analysis with the required synthetic work to develop suitable polymers to be used in the production of these foils. Her work represents a fine contribution in this direction.”
Winners of the 1st and 2nd prizes
First prize: Ruth Lohwasser, who conducted her research at the Department of Macromolecular Chemistry of the University of Bayreuth (Germany) under the supervision of Professor Mukundan Thelakkat. Thesis title: ‘Semiconducting Polymers for Organic Photovoltaics’.
Second prize (two winners):
Michael Karbiener, who conducted his research at the Institute for Genomics and Bioinformatics, RNA Biology Group, Graz University of Technology (Austria), under the supervision of Professor Marcel Scheideler. Thesis title: ‘In search of alternative therapeutic approaches against obesity – microRNAs as novel regulators of human fat cell development’.
Bill Morandi, who conducted his research at the Laboratory of Organic Chemistry, ETH Zurich (Switzerland), under the supervision of Professor Erick Carreira. Thesis title: ‘Taming Reactive Intermediates Using Extreme Catalysis’.
Jonathan P. Brand,Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne, EPFL Lausanne (Switzerland). Supervisor: Prof. J. Waser. PhD thesis title: ‘The Other Side of Alkyne Synthesis: Direct Alkynylation of Electron-Rich Aromatics’
Anne-Caroline Chany, Organic Chemistry Department, University of Haute-Alsace (France). Supervisor: Prof. N. Blanchard. PhD thesis title: ‘First Structure Activity Relationship of mycolactones, toxins of Buruli ulcer’
Anne-Laure Fameau, National Institute of Agricultural Research (France). Supervisor: Prof. J.-P. Douliez. PhD thesis title: ‘Fatty acids: green surfactants with original foaming and interfacial properties’
Katarzyna Gorska, Institut de Science et d’Ingénierie Supramoléculaires, University of Strasbourg (France). Supervisor: Prof. N. Winssinger. PhD thesis title: ‘Emerging functions from nucleic acid programmed self-assemblies’
Victoria Klang, Department of Pharmaceutical Technology & Biopharmaceutics, University of Vienna (Austria). Supervisor: Prof. C. Valenta. PhD thesis title: ‘Dermal Drug Delivery: Eudermic Carriers with Biodegradable Surfactants and New Concepts for in Vitro Skin Penetration Studies’
Christian A. Kuttruff, Department of Chemistry, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (Germany). Supervisor: Prof. D. Trauner. PhD thesis title: ‘From natural products to neurons’
Christopher Rose, Institute of Organic Chemistry, University of Regensburg (Germany). Supervisor: Dr. K. Zeitler. PhD thesis title: ‘New Organocatalytic Methods for C-C and C-O Bond Formation’
Jörg Schrittwieser, Department of Chemistry, Organic & Bioorganic Chemistry, University of Graz (Austria). Supervisor: Prof. W. Kroutil. PhD thesis title: ‘Chemo-Enzymatic Asymmetric Approaches to Benzylisoquinoline and Berbine Alkaloids’
Georgios A. Sotiriou, Department of Mechanical and Process Engineering, ETH Zurich (Switzerland). Supervisor: Prof. S. E. Pratsinis. PhD thesis title: ‘Understanding the toxicity of nanosilver for synthesis of biocompatible plasmonic-superparamagnetic nanocomposites’
Two parallel awards schemes
The DSM Science & Technology Awards are part of the DSM Bright Science Awards Program. They are awarded for outstanding PhD research conducted by doctoral students from two European regions: the North region comprising the Netherlands, Belgium and Northern Germany and the South region comprising Switzerland, Austria, France and Southern Germany. Over the years, they have gained a high reputation in academic circles and the contest is a major event on the international calendar.