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Honors for Physicists at Freie Universität Berlin

Hertha Sponer Prize and Robert Wichard Pohl Prize for Katharina Franke and Volkhard Nordmeier

№ 357/2011 from Nov 18, 2011

The physicists Katharina Franke and Volkhard Nordmeier have been selected for awards from the German Physical Society. Professor Katharina Franke will be awarded the 2012 Hertha Sponer Prize in the amount of 3,000 euros for her pioneering work on the interplay of magnetic molecules with superconductors on the nano- and mesoscopic scale. Professor Volkhard Nordmeier will receive 5,000 euros along with the 2012 Robert Wichard Pohl Prize for his highly visible research on education in the field of modern physics and for his exceptional and long-standing commitment to educating teachers. The award ceremony will take place in March 2012 during the annual meeting of the German Physical Society in Berlin. The German Physical Society is one of the world’s largest associations for physicists.

Katharina Franke and her team explore electronic and magnetic properties of molecules on surfaces using scanning tunneling microscopy. Their findings provide a basis for future applications in molecular electronics and spintronics. A key role is played by electronic and magnetic properties at the contact point between molecular and metallic electrodes. Their work provides very promising starting points for the targeted regulation of different quantum states.

Katharina Franke, born in 1977, first studied physics in Kiel and got her degree from Pennsylvania State University. She was awarded her doctorate at Freie Universität Berlin in 2003. Following a postdoctoral position in Lausanne, she was appointed a junior professor at the Department of Physics, Freie Universität Berlin, in 2009. The Herta Sponer Prize is awarded annually to a young woman researcher for outstanding scientific work in physics. It is intended primarily to encourage young women to pursue careers in physics. It includes 3,000 euros.

With extraordinary commitment over the past 20 years, Volkhard Nordmeier has performed special services in the area of physics education in schools and universities, as declared by the selecting board. His diverse research and development work pertaining to both the subject-specific aspect of physics education as well as teaching-learning research in general are well-known and highly valued throughout Germany and also internationally. Media such as software applications or experiments that he develops in his group deserve special mention, but Nordmeier is also being recognized for his commitment to public relations and training for teachers, for example through a training network in the context of the German Physical Society.

Volkhard Nordmeier, born in 1964, studied physics, mathematics, and computer science in Osnabrück. After obtaining his doctorate in 1998 in Essen, he worked at the universities of Münster and Bochum as well as Technische Universität Berlin. Since 2005 he has been teaching and conducting research at the Department of Physics, Freie Universität Berlin. The Robert Wichard Pohl Prize is awarded for exceptional contributions to physics that also benefit other scientific disciplines and engineering. Further, it takes into account outstanding achievements in the dissemination of scientific knowledge, in teaching, and in physics education. The prize includes 5,000 euros.

Further Information

Prof. Dr. Robert Bittl, Department of Physics, Freie Universität Berlin, Tel.: +49 (0)30 / 838-56049, Email: