For the first time ever, all Humboldt Professorships go to women

The first award winners for 2015 announced: The Humboldt Professorship goes to women researchers from France and the USA.

Women are gaining ground when competing for Germany’s best-endowed research award, the Alexander von Humboldt Professorship. Of the ten nominees taking part in the first selection round for the 2015 award winners, only women were chosen.

The literary scholar Elisabeth Décultot from France, the cell biologist Kathrin Plath and the plant geneticist Marja Timmermans, both from the USA, will now enter into appointment negotiations with the German universities that nominated them. The aim of the Humboldt Professorship is to induce internationally leading researchers in all fields who have conducted their research abroad to date to switch to a German university. The individuals selected for the Humboldt Professorship which the Humboldt Foundation awards and Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research finances each receive up to five million EUR in funding for the first five years of their research work in Germany: An offer that has already persuaded 40 researchers, mainly from the USA but also from countries such as Canada, Japan and Sweden, to come to Germany.

The question whether the professors selected for 2015 will come to Germany will now be decided by the upcoming appointment negotiations. Should they accept the Humboldt Professorship, these researchers will be presented the award in a special ceremony next spring. A total of ten top scientists from the USA, Switzerland, Great Britain, Denmark and France were nominated for the award. Of these four women and six men, the following were chosen:

  • Elisabeth Décultot (46), a literary scholar at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Paris, France, was nominated for a Humboldt Professorship by the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg.
  • Kathrin Plath (43) is a cell biologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, USA, and will prospectively come to Technische Universität Dresden with the Humboldt Professorship.
  • Marja Timmermans (49) is a plant geneticist at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Cold Spring, USA, and was proposed by Tübingen University.