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European Research Council supports outstanding young researchers at Universit├Ąt Heidelberg

Press Release No. 188/2010
17 August 2010
ERC Starting Grants for Physicist Stephanie Hansmann-Menzemer and Chemist Oliver Trapp

Two up-and-coming researchers at Heidelberg University have each been awarded a highly endowed 5-year research grant from the European Research Council (ERC). Prof. Dr. Oliver Trapp (chemistry) and Prof. Dr. Stephanie Hansmann-Menzemer (physics) are each receiving an ERC Starting Grant. Prof. Trapp’s grant of approximately 1.45 million euros will be used to support his research in the field of chemical catalysis. The ERC grant to Prof. Hansmann-Menzemer of approx. 1.052 million euros will aid her ongoing work in particle physics.


Prof. Dr. Oliver Trapp

Oliver Trapp (born 1973) studied chemistry at Tübingen University, where he received his doctorate in 2001. After a post-doctoral research sojourn at Stanford University in California (USA), he assumed the leadership of an Emmy Noether Junior Research Group at the Max Planck Institute for Carbon Research in 2004 with support from the German Research Foundation (DFG). He was appointed a professor at the Institute of Organic Chemistry at Heidelberg University in 2008.  He completed his habilitation at Ruhr University Bochum in 2009. Among his distinctions, he was selected by the DRG for the Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prize (2008).


Prof. Dr. Trapp is researching the development of innovative methods for the efficient screening of catalysts and the clarification of related mechanisms at the molecular level. He has succeeded in developing a new process that combines traditional chemical analysis with modern information technology. The process, known as multiplexing gas chromatography, is also of particular importance outside of catalyst research, i.e. for the analysis of complex mixtures. His current work on “Self-Amplifying Stereodynamic Catalysts in Enantioselective Catalysis AMPCAT”, which the ERC Starting Grant will support, focuses on the design and study of new types of stereodynamic catalysts that specifically adapt to the desired target molecules and catalyse their formation with a high degree of selectivity. 


Prof. Dr. Stephanie Hansmann-Menzemer

Stephanie Hansmann-Menzemer (born 1975) completed her undergraduate work in mathematics and physics at the Karlsruhe Technical University and the Université Joseph Fourier in Grenoble (France). In 2003 she earned her doctorate in Karlsruhe for her thesis in the field of experimental particle physics. She was a visiting scholar at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge (USA) until 2005. She then did postdoctoral research at the Universidad de Cantabria in Spain and in 2006 became head of a DFG-supported Emmy Noether Junior Research Group at Heidelberg University. Stephanie Hansmann-Menzemer was appointed a professor at the Physikalische Insitut of Heidelberg University in 2009.


The Heidelberg scientist is among those doing research using the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Geneva. She is working on the LHCb experiment built on the particle accelerator of the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), where scientists are trying to uncover why the universe is made up predominantly of matter instead of anti-matter. They are taking precise measurements of beauty hadrons. These are particles that contain the second heaviest quark in existence, known as the beauty quark. Prof. Hansmann-Menzemer’s research on “Measurement of CP violation in the Bs system at LHCb” will now be supported with funds from the ERC Starting Grant.  Of particular interest is the measurement of asymmetries that result when Bs particles change into their corresponding antiparticles. Evidence of this asymmetry would be the first indication of the existence of the new particles in the LHC, which until now has been only theorized and not definitively confirmed through experimentation.


ERC Starting Grants afford young talented researchers the opportunity to distinguish themselves as innovative, independent scientists. The objective is to provide a structure for transitioning to an outstanding independent research team. Funding is awarded based on the scientific excellence of the young researchers and the innovative potential of their research ideas.


Note to editorial staff:
Digital photos of both scientists are available from the press office.

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