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Merkel presents Humboldt Research Awards

In 2019 the scientific world celebrated the 250th birthday of Alexander von Humboldt. Federal Chancellor Merkel officially opened the annual meeting of the Humboldt Foundation in Berlin today. It is a meeting of several hundred "Humboldtians” – international researchers visiting German universities and supported by the Humboldt Foundation. 

Federal Chancellor Merkel with winners of the Humboldt Foundation alumni awards. Distinguished for innovative network ideas: Federal Chancellor Merkel with winners of the Humboldt Foundation alumni awards. Photo: Bundesregierung/Bergmann

From Brazil, China, the USA, Nigeria or Italy, Mexico or Nepal or elsewhere, the scientists currently carrying out research projects at German universities with a Humboldt scholarship come from more than 80 countries.

Concentrated scientific competence

The Humboldt family honour their namesake with their "concentrated scientific competence,” said Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel, praising the dedication of the foundation. The primary purpose of the foundation's annual meeting is to promote exchange and the creation of networks between researchers. 

In the opening celebration, alumni awards were presented for the eleventh time. The foundation uses these awards to highlight innovative network ideas by Humboldtians abroad. Federal Chancellor Merkel handed awards to a total of seven winners. These awards include prize money of up to €25,000.

Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859) was a nature researcher and research traveller, and also a universal genius, cosmopolitan, scholar and patron. His lengthy Latin American journey from 1799 to 1804 was celebrated as the second scientific discovery of South America. Several natural science disciplines regard Humboldt as their founder. His late work, the five volume "Cosmos: A Sketch of the Physical Description of the Universe", is still unique today in its comprehensive approach.

Promoting academic and cultural links

The distinguished research projects focus on various themes, ranging from technology transfer via issues of equality through to the conservation of biodiversity. The award winners come from Japan, South Africa, Cuba, Russia and the USA. The aim of the awards is to promote academic and cultural links between Germany and the homelands of Humboldt alumni and to reinforce their cooperation in the particular regions. 

The objective of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation is to promote science and research as well as intercultural understanding. It is funded by the Federal Government – in particular, by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the Federal Foreign Office. In 2017 around 96 per cent of spending required to fulfil the foundation mission was covered by grants from the Federal Government as well as the European Union. 

Invitation to Schloss Bellevue

The Federal President has also invited the Humboldtians to visit Schloss Bellevue during their two-day annual meeting. Ahead of this visit, Federal President Steinmeier is to present the Philipp Franz von Siebold Award to Japanese political scientist Masahiro Noguchi for special services to German-Japanese exchange. Also included in the programme for the meeting are presentations, laboratory visits and campus tours at the Berlin-Adlershof Technology Park.

Jun 26, 2019