Passionate about chemistry: Young researchers honored with Ernst Haage prizes

November 12, 2021
Mülheim MPI invited to hybrid award ceremony and symposium
The Ernst Haage Awardees 2020:
f.l.t.r: Christian Kahl, Roberta Properzi, Patricia Malkowski (training supervisor MPI CEC), Nico Tchorz, Frank Neese (director MPI für Kohlenforschung), Akash Kaithal, Petra Wedemann (former training supervisor), Crispin Lichtenberg, Walter Leitner (director MPI CEC)

A stroll through the periodic table with a stop at the underestimated chemical element bismuth marked the start of the Ernst Haage Symposium, which was held as a hybrid event on November 5, 2021 with the 2020 and 2021 award winners. Dr. Crispin Lichtenberg, who works as an independent group leader at the University of Würzburg, spoke as the 2020 National Laureate about his research on molecular bismuth components and received the Ernst Haage prize from the hands of Frank Neese and Walter Leitner.

As event moderator, Leitner had previously commemorated the founder of the prizes: Ernst Haage was head of precision mechanics and workshops at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute für Kohlenforschung until 1932. He then left the institute and founded a successful company in Mülheim an der Ruhr specializing in the construction of apparatus for research and science. Even though the Ernst Haage Apparatebau and laboratory facilities no longer exist today, the Ernst Haage Foundation, established by a donation from his daughter, Ursula Bonnen, has been supporting young scientists* in chemistry since 2006.

Roberta Properzi received the KOFO Doctoral Prize 2020 from Nobel Laureate Ben List

Dr. Roberta Properzi received the KOFO-Doctoral Prize 2020 from her supervisor Ben List (left) and Walter Leitner (right)

Dr. Roberta Properzi received the 2020 Doctoral Prize for her research related to the non-classical carbocations and the development of highly enantioselective catalytic addition reactions to the 2-norbornyl cation from the hands of recent Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, Ben List. List held a sparkling laudatio for his Italian researcher and was delighted to present her with the award during the symposium.

Dr. Akash Kaithal from Walter Leitner's group at MPI CEC was also awarded the Ernst Haage Prize for Doctoral Students 2020 for his dissertation entitled "Ruthenium (II) Manganese (I) Catalyzed Organic Transformations via Hydrogen Transfer Reactions".

2021 award-winners and further lecture highlights in the afternoon

The lecture by Dr. Max Martin Hansmann, Junior Professor at the Faculty of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at TU Dortmund University and winner of the Ernst Haage National Prize 2021 met with great interest. His talk, "From Polarized Olefins to Room Temperature Stable Diazoalkenes" inspired the audience to ask him numerous questions about his research. Hansmann received the award from the hands of Professor Manuel Alcarazo of the University of Göttingen, with whom he had conducted research as a Feodor Lynen Return Fellow. Alcarazo was happy to give the laudatio that brought him back to the Kohlenforschung, where he himself had worked as an independent group leader until 2015.

Finally, Dr. Rebeca Gómez Castillo received the 2021 Doctoral Prize. After an introduction by her former supervisor Professor Serena DeBeer from the MPI for Chemical Energy Conversion, Gómez Castillo spoke about advanced X-ray spectroscopic techniques. The young scientist graduated with top marks and is now a postdoctoral researcher at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne.

Trainees of the institutes were also honored

Not only first-class junior researchers but also apprentices were honored with a Ernst Haage Prize. The criteria: outstanding performance during the training, commitment and dedication. Nominated by their training supervisors and elected by the Foundation‘s Board of Trustees were Nico Tchorz (2020), Paul Grote (2021) as well as Nina Bäumer (2021) and Christian Kahl (2020). They were also able to celebrate the award afterwards with their parents, who were invited.

An incentive for a career in Chemistry

The Ernst Haage Prizes for Chemistry are an incentive for the doctoral winners in their young scientific careers. For the national award winners, they testify already proven scientific excellence in a later career stage. And for the trainees at the institutes, they are proof that working in science is not only fun, but that special commitment and good performance are also particularly rewarded.

Detailed information on the award winners can be found in our press release from November, 11 2021 (German only).

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