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26 November 2003

Prof. Dr. Michael Grunze Awarded Max Planck Research Prize 2003

Rector Prof. Dr. Peter Hommelhoff congratulated the recipient and emphasised his cardinal role in the internationalisation of top-level research in Heidelberg

Prof. Dr. Michael Grunze

On 26 November 2003, Prof. Dr. Michael Grunze of Heidelberg University's Institute of Physical Chemistry was presented with the Max Planck Research Prize for International Cooperation 2003 in Berlin. Rector Prof. Dr. Peter Hommelhoff congratulated the recipient and emphasised the cardinal role he has played in the internationalisation of top-level research in Heidelberg: "Since the beginning of his academic career, Professor Grunze has been instrumental in establishing cooperative ventures with a large number of scientists from abroad." The Max Planck Society and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation have awarded the Max Planck Research Prizes for 2003 to a total of 12 scholars and scientists from a wide variety of disciplines. The awards are endowed with EUR 125,000 apiece and provide a flexible framework for joint projects by highly qualified researchers from Germany and elsewhere.

Of especial note is Prof. Grunze's present cooperation with Prof. Kreuzer of Dalhousie University (Canada). This intensive collaboration has so far produced 13 first-class publications and various research projects run jointly by he Canadian university and the University of Heidelberg and funded by the Volkswagen Foundation, the Federal Research Ministry and the United States Office of Naval Research. The work of the two professors concentrates essentially on protein resistance in polymer surfaces. The specific expertise of Professor Grunze lies on the experimental side, that of Professor Kreuzer on the theoretical side. As such they complement one another ideally.

This research area is of major importance for the biotechnological industry and has received great acclaim at the international level. The new insights it has produced on the adhesion properties of surfaces and molecular behaviour at various interfaces have been incorporated into a number of lecture series at universities all over the world. At present, research in the two groups focuses on the development of a holographic microscopy technology for use in biophysics. All these endeavours have led to a flourishing exchange of associated scientists and a number of mutual visits by these two outstanding researchers.

In 1999 Prof. Grunze was accorded the status of J. G. McGregor Distinguished Scientist of Dalhousie University. Both scientists are doing their best to establish cooperation between their universities and the Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor (Maine), where a new department of biophysics is taking shape. Hommelhoff: "The establishment of this collaboration will be a major asset for the University of Heidelberg in the next 10 years. In the ongoing development of this transatlantic cooperation between Professors Grunze and Kreuzer, the Max Planck Research Prize will greatly facilitate their scientific endeavours."

From 1984 to 1988, Michael Grunze was a professor at the University of Maine at Orono. Here he was quickly successful in founding and building up the Laboratory for Surface Science and Technology, which enjoys a high international reputation. In 1987 he was appointed professor of applied physical chemistry at the University of Heidelberg.

For several years Prof. Grunze has maintained a very intensive and successful collaboration with Professor Pertsin of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow. Their cooperation has produced 12 publications in international journals and a number of projects funded by the German Research Council.

In 2001 he was invited by Professor De Gennes (Nobel Prize for Physics 1991) to spend two months as a visiting professor at the Collège de France. At present Professor Grunze is attempting to establish official cooperation between the University of Heidelberg and the University of Taipeh (Taiwan). To this end he spent several weeks teaching students in Taiwan in 2002.

A significant part of his research activity is located at major international research institutions, which gives him access to synchrotron and neutron sources. This has led to a number of research sojourns, both for himself and his co-workers, in Los Alamos (USA), Grenoble (France), Lund (Sweden) and Hsinchu (Taiwan). He is chairman of the advisory council for synchrotron radiation at the Berlin Electron Storage Ring Company for Synchrotron Radiation (BESSY) and a member of the Committee on Research with Synchrotron Radiation, which has been extremely successful in its efforts to establish and encourage research cooperation projects in Europe.

(We will be happy to provide a photo and a CV of Professor Grunze upon request.)

Please address any inquiries to
Dr. Michael Schwarz
Press Officer of the University of Heidelberg
phone: 06221/542310, fax: 54317

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