Together with the Landesbausparkasse Südwest (home loans and savings bank), the foundation Stiftung “Umwelt und Wohnen an der Universität Konstanz” presents an annual science award. This Environment Award is presented to scientists and academics at the University of Konstanz who carry out successful research projects on the topic of environment with a special focus on habitation, living, and society.
The Environment Award for the year 2017 has been awarded. Details about the 2018 award will be published on this page in due course.
Environment Award - previous winners
Environment Award 2017
The 2017 environment Award went to two winners.
Dr Svenja Wilking (Department of Physics) was honoured for her doctoral project on the hydrogen model of the boron-oxygen regeneration. In it, she examined the influence that the influx of hydrogen during the production of silicon wafers has on the efficacy of a solar panel. Her model makes it possible to stabilise the panels’ efficacy at a high level, thereby making a significant contribution to increasing the overall efficacy of solar panels.
In his Habilitation project entitled “Rubber and the Coming of the Synthetic Age, c. 1900-1950”, Dr Moritz von Brescius (Department of History) deals with the rubber industry in Germany, Great Britain and the US. He traces the cultural and global-historical implications of synthetic agents in the first half of the twentieth century, his research results suggesting an alternative start date for the synthetic age.
Environment Award 2016
In 2016, the research award, which is endowed with 10,000 euros, went to two researchers. Julia Gehring from the Department of Chemistry at the University of Konstanz was recognised for her doctoral thesis on periodic mesoporous organosilicate nanoparticles and their application as biocide materials, which aims towards the creation a coating material with antibacterial properties.
Also recognised was a doctoral thesis from the Department of History and Sociology: Thomas Wöhler examined the influence that living environment and neighbours exert upon the social integration of migrants. His dissertation is entitled “Soziale Beziehungen von Migranten: Zum Verhältnis von individueller Wahl und strukturellen Möglichkeiten” (the social relations of migrants: on the relationship between individual choice and structural opportunities).
Environment Award 2015
In his doctoral thesis, Philipp Roesle investigates the challenging question of how a catalyser works that is able to generate useful high-order building blocks from plant oils which can be used, for instance, to create bio-based and biologically degradable plastics. Other than traditional procedures, this catalyser is able to make loss-free use of the entire fatty acid chain. Roesle was able, for the first time, to uncover the principles behind such a practically applicable isomerisation functionalisation.
Environment Award 2014
Dr María Moreno-Villanueva
María Moreno-Villanueva has been a researcher in the University of Konstanz’s molecular toxicology research group since 2010, researching repair mechanisms for damaged genes and especially changes that occur in the DNA of the mentally ill. She also researches the role that DNA repair plays in ageing processes. During a four-year interdisciplinary study, she analysed DNA damage to the peripheral mononuclear blood cells (PBMCs) of patients suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) both before and after psychotherapy. Her research results showed for the first time that damage to a patient’s DNA can be completely reversed using psychotherapy. María Moreno-Villanueva’s research thus makes an important contribution to helping researchers better understand the consequences of traumatic stress at the molecular level. This, in turn, drives the development of new diagnostics and therapy strategies to treat post-traumatic stress disorders. The award also recognises María Moreno-Villanueva’s outstanding academic achievements with regard to animal protection.
Environment Award 2013
Dr Thilo Jungkind
Dr Thilo Jungkind, a specialist in the fields of history and economics and business education, was awarded the Environment Award of the Stiftung “Umwelt und Wohnen an der Universität Konstanz” for his research on the German chemical industry’s environmental risk behaviour. The award is worth 10,000 euros. In his doctoral thesis, Jungkind documents and examines the risk behaviour and action models used by chemical companies of the early Federal Republic against the backdrop of changing social values.
Environment Award 2012
Dr Simeon Schudy
In his research, Simeon Schudy examined the environmentally-friendly behaviour of house owners, investigating the reasons that prompt house owners to invest in energy efficiency as well as the factors that influence energy consumption within one’s own four walls. In a comprehensive empirical study of a total of 630 Swiss house owners, Schudy combined the methods of experimental economic research with classic surveys to obtain objective standards by which to measure the investors’ propensity for risk-taking, patience and generosity as well as their awareness of environmental issues. His research results indicate that the house owners’ decision to spend money on renovation works is mainly influenced by their propensity for risk-taking, patience and ecological awareness: “House owners willing to take risks are more likely to invest money in renovation works, while more patient house owners were found to attach more value to energy efficiency, thereby reducing their fuel and energy bills. A house owner's generosity does not play a particularly important role when it comes to renovation works or energy consumption”, explains Simeon Schudy.
Environment Award 2011
Professor Tim Friehe
The economics expert was awarded the prize, which is worth 10,000 euros, for his research programme “Environmental Liability Law and Technical Change”. The objective of his work is to analyse the effects of environmental liability law on the production and investment behaviour of businesses guilty of pollution. Working with Professor Alfred Endres, an economic theorist from the FernUniversität Hagen, Friehe’s research addresses both economic and legal questions. He is particularly interested in the incentives created by environmental liability law to promote the production and use of new, environmentally-friendly technologies as demanded by the public.
Environment Award 2010
Dr Jale Tosun
The junior researcher was awarded the annual prize, which is worth 10,000 euros, for her doctoral thesis, which achieved a “summa cum laude”, on “Policy and Institutional Change in Emerging Democracies. Which Factors Account for Environmental Policy Making in Eastern Europe and Latin America?”. In her thesis, Jale Tosun examines how the adoption of democratic structures and market economies in Eastern European and Latin American countries has influenced the respective countries’ environmental policies.
Environment Award 2009
Axel Herguth and Dr Stefan Schildknecht
Axel Herguth (physics) and Dr Stefan Schildknecht (biology) share the 2009 Environment Award. Axel Herguth was recognised for his work on degradation mechanisms in monocrystalline silicone solar panels, and especially for the development of a procedure for avoiding such degradation. Dr Stefan Schildknecht was honoured for his work on the identification of environmental pollutants using cell-based test systems.
Environment Award 2008
Dr Hilmar Hofmann
The LSB Environment Award 2008 went to Dr Hilmar Hofmann for his limnology research project “Surface waves and their ecological consequences”. He examined the typical properties of surface waves caused by wind and human influence and observed their influence on the shallow water zone of Lake Constance (Litoral). Since waves caused by ships differ from waves caused by wind both in their frequency and intensity, they exert a considerable influence on the Litoral ecosystem, especially with shipping traffic on Lace Constance on the rise. Dr Hofmann’s research results clearly demonstrate a close relationship between physical influences and biological conditions, which highlights the need for an environmentally-friendly use of bodies of water and delivers decisive insights into the lake’s ecosystem.
Environment Award 2007
Professor Daniel Dietrich, Bernhard Ernst, Dr Simon Wagner
The LBS Landesbausparkasse Baden-Württemberg and the Stiftung “Umwelt und Wohnen at the University of Konstanz” awarded the LBS Environment Award to the legal expert Dr Simon Wagner for his work on “Ökokonten und Flächenpools - Die rechtlichen Grundlagen, Möglichkeiten und Grenzen der Maßnahmebevorratung als Ausgleichsmethoden im Rahmen der Eingriffsregulierung im Städtebaurecht” (intervention regulation in urban planning legislation) and to the biologist Professor Daniel Dietrich and his doctoral researcher Bernhard Ernst for their work on “toxischen Substanzen, die von Blaualgen gebildet werden und deren Einfluss auf Mensch und Umwelt” (toxic substances generated by blue algae and their influence on humans and the environment).
Environment Award 2003
Ilona Kindinger, Dr Stefan Fennrich, Professor Thomas Hartung, Dr Alexander Wacker
The Environment Award 2003 went to the Konstanz research group led by Ilona Kindinger, Dr Stefan Fennrich and Professor Thomas Hartung as well as to the limnologist Dr Alexander Wacker. Kindinger, Fennrich and Hartung have developed a new test procedure for recording microbial air pollution. Alexander Wacker is recognised for his doctoral thesis on the ecology of a freshwater animal, the zebra mussel. Since its arrival at Lake Constance several decades ago, the zebra mussel has played a crucial role in maintaining the lake’s ecological equilibrium. In his thesis, Alexander Wacker was not only able to show that, contrary to established doctrine, it is not only the quantity of available food that is important, but also and especially its composition. His outstanding thesis achieved a ”summa cum laude“.
Environment Award 2002
Dr Hendrik Küpper
The LBS Environment Award 2002 was awarded to junior researcher Dr Hendrik Küpper from Professor Kroneck’s working group. He was recognised for his innovative research on plants as environmentally-friendly “devourers of heavy metal”, which can be used to decontaminate polluted soils.