On 31 January 2002 the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation awarded the Sofia Kovalevskaya Prize to 29 promising young scholars and scientists from 13 different countries. One of the recipients, Krzysztof Oplustil of the University of Cracow, will be pursuing his research activities at the University of Heidelberg. The 500,000 marks that come with the award will be sufficient to cover staff and material costs for a research sojourn of more than three years at Heidelberg's Institute of German and European Company and Economic Law.
"The University of Heidelberg is fortunate to be able to welcome this remarkable young research talent," said Heidelberg University Rector Prof. Dr. Peter Hommelhoff. Heidelberg's latest law research acquisition is no stranger to Prof. Hommelhoff, who supervised Oplustil's doctoral dissertation on the protection for creditors afforded by German and Polish law. With young colleagues in Heidelberg the Kovalevskaya laureate will be devoting his efforts to the recently founded "European Company". Says Oplustil: "In terms of eventual accession to the European Union, it is vital for us in Poland to know the European legal system and establish interfaces with its Polish counterpart."
Sofia Kovalevskaya also began her career in Heidelberg
Mathematician Sofia Kovalevskaya (1850-1891) also began her academic career in Heidelberg. Born in Moscow in 1851, she came to Heidelberg at the age of 19. Initially barred from study like all other women at the time, she was finally permitted to attend lectures unofficially. A few years later she was offered the chair of mathematics at the University of Stockholm, thus becoming one of the first women in Europe to aspire to a university professorship.
Humboldt Foundation: "Most ambitious project ever"
For the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the new Sofia Kovalevskaya Prize is "the most ambitious project in German history to attract the cream of young international scholars and scientists to Germany." The award is financed by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Together with the Wolfgang Paul Awards (November 2001) with three recipients, Heidelberg heads the list of German universities the new prize is designed to promote the internationalisation of top-flight research. The funds stem from the Federal Government's "Investing in the Future" programme.
The Humboldt Foundation sees this time-restricted scheme as a unique opportunity to encourage research and internationalise scholarly and scientific endeavour at German institutions of higher education. The Sofia Kovalevskaya Prize is to be awarded once and once only. "Cooperation with these highly gifted young researchers could be a real shot in the arm for Germany's academic landscape," said Professor Wolfgang Frühwald, President of the Humboldt Foundation. "By committing outstanding young scholars and scientists at the start of their careers to collaborative ventures with German colleagues," Frühwald continued, "we can ensure that our own young researchers will have long-term benefits from a working association with these internationally much sought-after research talents." So the investment is just as productive for the German host institutions as for the recipients themselves.
Please address any inquiries to:
Dr. Christoph Teichmann
Institut für deutsches und europäisches Gesellschafts- und Wirtschaftsrecht
phone: 06221/547725, fax: 547614
Dr. Michael Schwarz
Press Officer of the University of Heidelberg
phone: 06221/542310, fax: 54317