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Professors Sarah Köster and Hannah Markwig receive 2010 Helene Lange Award

Female researchers in biophysics and tropical geometrics honoured

On Friday, October 22, 2010, two junior professors of the University of Göttingen were honoured with the 2010 Helene Lange Award for junior scientists. The physicist Prof. Dr. Sarah Köster was awarded the main prize endowed with € 10,000. For two years, she has been leading the junior research group “Nanoscale Imaging of Cellular Dynamics“ at the Courant Research Centre for “Nano-Spectroscopy and X-ray Imaging“. The mathematician Prof. Dr. Hannah Markwig was awarded one of the two second prizes, each endowed with € 2,000. Since June 2008, she has been leading the junior research group “Tropical Algebraic Geometry” at the Courant Research Centre for “Higher Order Structures in Mathematics”. The Courant Research Centres at Göttingen University receive funds within the Excellence Initiative. The EWE Foundation’s award ceremony was held in Oldenburg, Germany.

The junior research group around Prof. Köster researches the mechanics and dynamics of cells and proteins. With the help of tailor-made measuring cells and high-resolution microscopy, the researchers examine, for example, how cells move or how they change shape within a very short space of time. From the results of their basic research, they hope to gain insights into biomedical and other applications.

Prof. Dr. Sarah Köster und Prof. Dr. Hannah Markwig

Sarah Köster, born in 1979, studied physics at the University of Ulm, Germany. Her doctoral thesis, which she completed at the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization in Göttingen, won awards from the Faculty of Physics at Göttingen University and from the Max Planck Society in 2007. In October 2008, after two years of research at Harvard University, she came to the University of Göttingen where she was appointed junior professor. As part of her research, Prof. Köster cooperates with scientists of the Department of Transfusion Medicine of Göttingen University’s Medical School, the Institutes for X-Ray- and Biophysics and the Max Planck Institutes in Göttingen. In addition, she contributes to the collaborative research centre “Nanoscale Photonic Imaging“ and currently supervises six doctoral candidates.

The junior research group around Prof. Markwig does research in the field of tropical geometry. This is a new type of algebraic geometry that enables complicated computations in areas like physics. Another area of application is biomathematics, where this method is used, for example, to examine the differentiation of species over the course of evolution with the help of model computations.

Hannah Markwig, born in 1980, studied mathematics, physics und philosophy in Kaiserslautern, Germany, and the University of California at Berkeley, USA. After earning her doctoral degree at the Technical University in Kaiserslautern in 2006, she worked as a post-doc and assistant professor at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, USA. Since June 2008, she has been a junior professor at the University of Göttingen. Earlier this year, she was already honoured for her scientific achievements, receiving the 2010 Heinz Maier Leibnitz Award from the German Research Foundation (DFG).

The Helene Lange Award is awarded annually by the EWE Foundation in cooperation with the University of Oldenburg. It is awarded to junior scientists in the fields of mathematics, computer sciences, natural or technical sciences – the so-called “MINT“ subjects. This year, the foundation will award three prizes altogether.