Coming to Change

Great flexibility, exemplary freedom of research and, last but not least, a vast amount of money: since 2008, the Humboldt Professorship has been attracting top international researchers to Germany.

published in But the stars from abroad do not only help German universities to score in science. They are also expected to be a breath of fresh air and change the system. Reviewers have now examined whether the Professorship is achieving its goals. At the start, says , all the public attention ...  more

Knowledge Transfer in Modern History

Robots, cuneiform, bioinformatics, museums and aesthetics research – the Humboldt Professorship knows no disciplinary boundaries, only intriguing ideas and questions. To mark the occasion of the tenth anniversary of Germany's most valuable research award, KOSMOS spoke with several of the award winners about their experiences. In this report, we talk with the literary scholar Elisabeth Décultot.

If you want to trace the history of knowledge transfer in the aesthetics of the 18th century, as Elisabeth Décultot does, you need old books – and they exert a particular fascination on the literary scholar. At the Interdisciplinary Centre for European Enlightenment Studies in Halle and in ...  more

We Need Fearless Universities

If you manage to acquire a five-million-euro professorship for your university, you get upheaval and envy into the bargain. This was a concern that was raised ten years ago when the first Humboldt Professorships were awarded. Things have changed.

A conversation with Enno Aufderheide, Secretary General of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, on recruiting research luminaries and the benefits they bring German universities.  more

Intelligent Robots

To mark the occasion of the tenth anniversary of Germany's most valuable research award, KOSMOS spoke with several of the award winners about their experiences. In this report, we talk with the computer scientist Oliver Brock.

To build robots that can deal with everyday tasks and situations just as well and as efficiently as people can – that is Oliver Brock’s mission. He is not so much interested in the routine of certain activities, but rather, in how robots manage in dynamic situations and unstructured ...  more

There’s Still Room at the Top

Prominent female researchers are rare, amongst Humboldt Professors, too. What academia and the Foundation can do about it.

The IBM Research Centre in Zurich likes to showcase the successful physicist, Heike Riel. When TU München raised the possibility of a Humboldt Professorship a year ago, alarm bells rang in Zurich. They made her an IBM Research Fellow, the highest accolade the company grants. For five years, the ...  more

The Museum of the Future

To mark the occasion of the tenth anniversary of Germany's most valuable research award, KOSMOS spoke with several of the award winners about their experiences. In this report, we talk with the ethnologist Sharon Macdonald.

“Museums are extremely important for our societies because that is where people decide which things will play a role in the future,” says Sharon Macdonald in response to a question about her scientific interests. The British ethnologist investigates the criteria and decision- making processes ...  more

Heading for the Big Leagues

Worldwide competition to attract the best researchers is fierce. German universities are increasingly joining the fray – and succeeding in recruiting vast numbers of top academics.

It was about a year ago that Hannes Leitgeb faced his big decision. Leitgeb, now 39, had been conducting research as a philosopher and mathematician in Bristol, UK, for five years; then his two children reached school age. “To be honest, we weren’t really sure about the school system in ...  more

Commentary

When I think of Germany...

Reflections of an American scientist living in Göttingen

When I think of Germany I think of a place where it is still fun to do science! No kidding. Germany is a fun place, especially when it comes to Science. This hit me like a brick recently at the end of a hard week of work, Freitag Feierabend! I’m sitting in a nice Göttingen student Kneipe with ...  more

Interview

“We Have to Explain What Makes a German Administration Tick”

KOSMOS: The interim evaluation of five years of the Humboldt Professorship is largely positive. But it does identify some critical areas which will need to be addressed in the 2015 evaluation. What are you concerned about? AUFDERHEIDE: One genuine concern is the low proportion of women, even ...  more

The Anxiety Tamer

Jürgen Margraf developed a therapy for panic attacks that works incredibly fast. Now a Humboldt Professor at Ruhr-Universität Bochum, the psychologist is investigating how people stay mentally healthy.

There are occasions when even anxiety researchers get anxious. Jürgen Margraf has experienced many such moments, and remembers one in particular. “It was my first dive in the sea,” relates the Professor of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, sitting in his office on campus at ...  more

An Offer You Can’t Refuse (Almost)

Thanks to the Humboldt Professorship, Germany has enticing things to offer international research luminaries. A review of the first five years.

“Germany’s Nobel Prizes awarded,” announced the Süddeutsche Zeitung on its front page when the Alexander von Humboldt Professorships were granted for the first time some five years ago. Germany’s Nobel Prizes? The comparison is both apposite and completely off the mark. On the one hand, ...  more