The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation gives out Research Fellowships and Research Awards for excellent individual achievements. “Humboldtians” are free to choose where or with which cooperation partner to pursue their projects. Every Humboldt research sojourn therefore also makes a statement about the subject areas in which the chosen research facility is so optimally and internationally networked that it wins the international competition for attracting the best minds.
A favored host university
Over the past 15 years, nearly 200 Humboldt Scientists have chosen a research sojourn at the University of Stuttgart. They came because they valued an infrastructure that ranks among the best in the world, because of the outstanding linkages with facilities outside the University as well as an intensive, inspiring climate for discussion.
The Humboldt rankings for many years already have shown the University of Stuttgart to be an especially attractive research institution favored by international guest researchers. Hence, in the 2014 rankings, Stuttgart achieved the 7th place in engineering sciences. But, for the international research elite, there are many other attractive research fields besides engineering, ranging from many natural science disciplines to atomic physics, building technology, energy research and optics to literature and philosophy.
Prof. Hidenori Takagi is the first scientist from Asia to be awarded one of the prestigious Humboldt Professorships. Thanks to the joint effort by the Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research and the University of Stuttgart it was possible to attract this exceptional researcher to Stuttgart.
Prof. Hidenori Takagi is one of the world’s outstanding and internationally best-networked researcher for modern solid state research and material science. Since April 2013, the University of Tokyo professor and director of the Magnetic Materials Laboratory at Japan’s RIKEN Advanced Science Institute, is director at Stuttgart’s Max Planck Institute (MPI) for solid state research.
This exceptional scientists, born in Tokyo in 1961, already attracted attention as a Master’s student, when he produced an artificial high temperature copper oxide super conductor with electrons as charge carriers – a breakthrough that cast doubt on many theoretical concepts adhered to before that.
To this day, Takagi’s contributions in the field of high temperature super conduction, the correlated materials, and magnetic oxide connectors are regarded as innovative and remarkable. The same applies to his capabilities for synthesizing novel connectors for which a key topic is the search for new quantum materials. “I want to observe something that no one else has yet seen: materials with new kinds of properties,” is how he describes his vision.
At the University of Stuttgart as well as at MPI, Takagi reinforces the strategic focus of solid state research, drives the “classic” semiconductor and metals research in a new direction toward “advanced materials” and helps to enhance interdisciplinary research. Coming to Stuttgart was easy for him, says Takagi. For one thing, MPI and the University have a worldwide reputation as centers for solid state research with excellent conditions for staff members. “In addition, here I can work on a broader research area that would have been the case in the USA.”
Prof. Pedro Ponte was awarded the prestigious Humboldt Research Award and was a guest in 1995 of Prof. Miehe at the Institute of Applied Mechanics (Civil Engineering). It was already the US citizen’s second guest sojourn at the University of Stuttgart. The engineering scientist and mathematician develops mathematical models to describe the physical behavior of complex intelligent materials. Here he focuses in particular on non-conducting elastic composite materials that can be activated magnetically. His models are intended to help study these materials and to learn if they exhibit special microstructures. The results of his research can, among other uses, find application in the development of synthetic muscles activated by electromagnetic fields.
Ponte, who teaches at the University of Pennsylvania, chose Stuttgart for the outstanding reputation that the Institute for Mechanics in Civil Engineering enjoys. He recounts how very helpful Christian Miehe’s research group was with his search for housing for his family of four. “For my daughters being here is a great adventure,” says Ponte.
Stuttgart is also ideal for him, says Ponte, who has been a guest professor in Cambridge, Paris, and Madrid, among others, because of the ease of working with his peers in Europe. Moreover, the American regards the support that research receives in Europe as “very impressive.”
The University of Stuttgart’s Prof. Frank Allgöwer in the Institute for Systems Theory and Automatic Control hosted Mathematician and Humboldt Fellow Dr. Victoria Grushkovskaya in 2015 . The native of Kiev in the Ukraine occupies herself with non-linear control systems. Her research project is titled “Control and stabilization of non-linear regulatory systems in critical cases based on polynomial approximations.” While a difficult title for laypersons, it essentially involves numerical simulations with the computer. In one application field for these simulations, Dr. Grushkovkaya works with motion models for nonholonomic systems. These systems can only move backwards and forwards but not sideways. However, her motion models maneuver these systems so adroitly backwards and forwards that lateral movement becomes possible. In industry, this is useful, for example, for developing mobile robots or vehicles.
For the young mathematician working with the engineers on the Allgöwer team therefore held special interest: “It allowed me to discover actual, real-world problems.” She also had more practical reasons for her choice of location, for at the Institute there are many exciting seminars and other meetings that interest her, because of the chance to meet many international researchers her host invites to them. “It is a great opportunity for collaborating with engineers and discussing results with them.”
Dr. Juliana Perez, Humboldt Fellow from Brazil, was the guest of Prof. Sandra Richter in the Institute of Literatures in 2015. In her research paper titled “Literature as form of awareness: studies on literary self-reflection in the 19th and 20th centuries” she took on twelve German-language author from that epoch, ranging from Heinrich von Kleist to Theodor Storm, Paul Celan and Ingeborg Bachmann among others. She also investigated the question what relationship these authors established between literature and cognition.
At the University of Stuttgart, Juliana Perez found an extraordinarily good work climate and interesting discussion partners: “People like to collaborate and the discussions are intensive and a way to stimulate research.” Also, the German Literature Archive at Marbach and the Wuerttemberg State Library turned out to be invaluable resources for her. She could dive deeply into her subject and conversations helped her organize her work ever more clearly. “It makes a completion of my work, which is comparable to a German habilitation within the next three or four years feasible.”
Juliana Perez teaches German literature at the University of Sao Paulo. She specializes in Romanticism, literature of the 20th and 21st centuries, as well as poetry and esthetics. She first came to Germany in 1997 on a DAAD Fellowship; she subsequently spent two years in Aachen at RWTH Aachen University working on her PhD. She will return once more to the University of Stuttgart in 2017.
Are you interested in a research stay at the University of Stuttgart? To make you feel right at home quickly and so can concentrate fully on your research without having to hurdle bureaucratic obstacles, the University has set up a Welcome Center for international scholars as part of its internationalization strategy. This is where we will support you from planning your stay to adding you to our alumni contact roster at the completion of your project.
More information on the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.