Award for interdisciplinary research

Viola Priesemann receives Arthur Burkhardt Prize

October 25, 2022

The Arthur Burkhard Foundation for the Advancement of Science gives its award in 2022 to Viola Priesemann from the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization (MPI-DS) and the University of Göttingen. The award, endowed with 10,000 euros, is presented annually to outstanding scientists who have made outstanding contributions to interdisciplinary research.

Viola Priesemann heads the research group "Theory of Neural Systems" at the MPI-DS since 2017. There, she and her team investigate complex networks and their organization. In particular, the dissemination of information in both living and artificial neural networks is the focus of her work.

In addition, during the Covid-19 pandemic, she developed several models of the epidemiological spread of the virus, making an important contribution to our understanding of the pandemic. Through her previous work on complex systems theory, she was able to describe the spread dynamics here using different scenarios. In this context, Viola Priesemann also became part of the German government's Expert Council to provide guidance to policy makers in taking protective measures.

Priesemann was appointed professor of Neural Systems Theory at the University of Göttingen in October 2022. She is a member of the Cluster of Excellence, in several Collaborative Research Centers and Priority Programs at the Göttingen Campus. Building on her expertise, she coordinated several statements by interdisciplinary European scientists advocating for coordinated action in pandemic response.

A combination of natural and social sciences

The Arthur Burkhard Prize honors a link between natural science and medical findings on the one hand and societal issues on the other. Laudator Theo Geisel, emeritus director at MPI-DS, comments: “In her work on modeling the epidemic spreading, Viola Priesemann is also including interrelations between the disease dynamics, opinion dynamics, human behavior and compliance, whereby she builds bridges between the natural sciences and the social sciences.”

The Arthur Burkhardt Foundation was established in 1983 for the purpose of promoting the humanities and natural sciences. In doing so, it was important to its founder to promote especially interdisciplinary science in these two fields. By building bridges of this kind, the foundation aims to give greater weight to the ethical and social responsibility of science and technology. "We are very pleased that Viola Priesemann has received this award. On behalf of the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization, I congratulate her most sincerely on this well-deserved award," says Ramin Golestanian, managing Director at MPI-DS.

This year's award ceremony took place on October 18 in Munich.

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