The Alfons and Gertrud Kassel Foundation awards the "Scientist of the Year" prize every second year to a scientist who, in addition to outstanding scientific achievements, is also committed to the work of young scientists. This year, FIAS Fellow Prof. Dr. Hannah Elfner receives the award, which is endowed with 25,000 euros.
The physicist became a fellow at FIAS and was appointed professor at Goethe University in 2013 - as one of the youngest female physics professors in Germany. In addition, Elfner also holds a position at the GSI Helmholtz Center for Heavy Ion Research, where she now heads the theory column. Her research focuses on the quark-gluon plasma. This state of matter existed in the early universe only microseconds after the Big Bang and therefore occupies many researchers. By accelerating lead or gold nuclei to nearly the speed of light and colliding them, particle accelerators can reach temperatures and densities that existed shortly after the Big Bang. In her work, Hannah Elfner uses mathematical models to describe and predict these processes. In 2016, she received the prestigious Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prize for Young Scientists for her work.
In addition to her outstanding research, Hannah Elfner is always very committed to young scientists; despite her young age, she has already successfully guided nearly 30 young scientists to their scientific degrees. In addition to training students and doctoral candidates, she regularly provides an insight into her research at lectures and events in public, showing quite incidentally that women can also be successful as physics professors. A point that is very close to her personal heart.
It is precisely this commitment that the Alfons and Gertrud Kassel Foundation honors with its "Scientist of the Year" award. Part of the prize money of 25,000 euros will therefore also be used to support young scientists. The award ceremony planned for early December has been postponed until spring due to the pandemic.