Humboldt Fellows at Kiel University 2023

The mission of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation is to support highly qualified researchers individually and to establish a network of excellence for future leaders in science-related fields. The resulting Humboldt Network connects high-performing elites worldwide with each other and with Germany, promoting the internationalization of German science and research as well as German foreign cultural and educational policies beyond scientific cooperation.

Kiel University (CAU) is a member of this network and provides a place in Kiel for visiting researchers from around the globe. The current Humboldt Foundation fellows at Kiel University will be presented below on an ongoing basis.

Lubrication in biology and mechanics

Professor Carmine Putignano's research focuses on applied mechanics and, in particular, tribology (friction theory). He deals with the scientific description of friction, the wear and the required lubrication of interacting surfaces. His new project, for which he has been awarded a Humboldt Fellowship for experienced researchers, is based in biology. The interdisciplinary project focuses on joint lubrication in insects and will be implemented in the Functional Morphology and Biomechanics group at the Zoological Institute of Kiel University. "We want to evaluate and ultimately predict the mechanics that regulate friction and wear in insects’ joints," the Italian scientist explains. The lubricant that reduces wear and friction in insects while ensuring the loading capability is a mystery from a technical perspective. The project aims to answer the question: "How is it possible to guarantee low friction and wear to a tiny joint that is completely open to external environment and contamination?" says Professor Stanislav N. Gorb, the leader of the research group at Kiel University.

Dr. Carmine Putignano is Humboldt Senior Fellow at Kiel University and Associate Professor in Applied Mechanics at Polytechnic University of Bari, Italy. He has been recipient of a Marie Curie Intra European fellowship at Imperial College London, UK, and a Fulbright scholarship at University of Delaware, USA.


Photo of Carmine Putignano with blurry blue background.
© privat

Prof. Dr Carmine Putignano.

Regulation of marine sustainability

Portrait photo of Violeta Radovich.
© Andrés Luaces Rudyj

Prof. Dr Violeta Radovich.

Professor Violeta Radovich joined Kiel University in April to conduct research on legal issues related to renewable energy generation on the high seas. “The objectives are to study the environmental regulation and governance of renewable energy platforms on the high seas, analyze the similarities with and synergies from the regime of deep seabed mining in the Area and provide recommendations for improvement of regulation,” the professor of marine environmental law from Argentina explains, emphasizing: ”I will benefit to interact with different researchers of Kiel Marine Sciences at Kiel University and other research ocean institutions or initiatives.” Her host Professor Nele Matz-Lück is delighted about the reinforcement in her team: “It is a special pleasure that Violeta Radovich's research has brought one of the prestigious Climate Change Fellowships to the Walther Schücking Institute. Her research makes an important contribution to the governance of the global transformation of energy production. The law of the sea and its relation to climate change is a focus of the working group, to which the project contributes in an excellent way.”

Dr. Violeta Radovich is Climate International Protection Fellow of the Alexander-von-Humboldt Foundation at Kiel University and associate researcher at CONICET (Argentine Council of Scientific and Technical Research), and at UBA (Universidad de Buenos Aires) as well as Professor of Marine environmental law at UNDEF (Universidad Nacional de la Defensa), Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Pure mathematics in geometry and analysis

Professor Gaven Martin from New Zealand is among the most respected scientists in the field of pure mathematics. In October, he received the Humboldt Research Award for his research in the fields of geometric analysis, complex analysis and geometry, among others. Professor Walter Bergweiler of the Mathematics Department at Kiel University nominated his colleague for the award and will work with him for several months. "Gaven Martin has achieved groundbreaking results in geometry and analysis on very different topics. Accordingly, he is also considered one of the leading international researchers in these fields," Bergweiler emphasizes. During Professor Martin's research stay in Kiel, they intend to initiate a program together to study the geometry of moduli spaces using a novel dynamical approach. “These spaces essentially classify the shapes and geometry of surfaces as they undergo elastic deformations, and the underlying geometry of the regions these surfaces bound. We hope that this new approach will simplify many known facts which are currently exceptionally difficult to establish,” Gaven Martin explains.

Dr. Gaven J. Martin is professor of Mathematics at Massey University, Auckland, New Zealand and the Director of the New Zealand Mathematics Research Institute. He received numerous awards and honors for his work, most recently the prestigious Humboldt Research Award.

Portrait photo of Gaven J. Martin.
© Massey University

Dr Gaven J. Martin.

Nanomaterials inspired by biology

Photo with two people in front of a green wall holding a certificate in front of them.
© Humboldt Foundation/Claus Riegel

Prof. Dr Nicola Pugno (r.) received the award from Prof. Dr Robert Schlögl, President of the Humboldt Foundation.

"Dr. Pugno is widely recognized as a leading scientist on mechanics of materials. He is one of the most prestigious and most relevant researches in the fields of bionics, nanomechanics and bio-inspired materials", says Professor Rainer Adelung, materials scientist at Kiel University, who nominated his Italian colleague for the Humboldt Research Award. Nicola Pugno, who studied mechanical engineering, theoretical physics, mechanics as well as biology, received this award. This is linked to a research stay at Kiel University. In collaboration with Adelung, who leads the Functional Nanomaterials group, the Humboldt Award winner will work on the world's lightest structural materials, such as aerographite, on which they have already achieved significant results. "I am very pleased that we can further intensify our collaboration on this class of materials with multifunctional applications,” says Pugno.

Nicola Pugno is professor of Solid and Structural Mechanics at the University of Trento, Italy, Professor of Materials Science at the Queen Mary University of London (part-time), England, and Visiting Professor at the University of Oxford, England. The leading scientist on mechanics of materials received a Humboldt Research Award in 2022 and will spend several months in 2023 conducting research at Kiel University.

Legal framework for autonomous shipping

Dr Richard W.W. Xing conducts research on the regulation of autonomous shipping. „I would like to clarify environmental concerns of the maritime autonomous surface ships (MASS) under multilevel regulations including the German and EU law. New risks for navigating the MASS may, but not exclusively, arise from software bugs and cyber-attacks, IT problems, pirates, or from accidents. These risks have created new challenges for shipping regulation,” explains the lawyer from China. A fellowship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation enables him to spend two years researching at the Walther Schücking Institute for International Law at Kiel University. Since February, he is a visiting scholar in the group of Professor Nele Matz-Lück, expert in the law of the sea. "His research is not only relevant for the working group at the institute, but also for the interdisciplinary priority research area Kiel Marine Science," emphasizes the marine law expert. According to Matz-Lück, "a legal framework is needed to minimize risks to the marine environment resulting from the new technology and to protect the ocean from pollution by autonomously navigating ships."

Dr Richard W.W. Xing is a Humboldt Research Fellow at Kiel University and Associate Professor at Xiamen University. He was a postdoctoral Fellow at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

Portrait of Richard W. W. Xing
© privat

Dr Richard W. W. Xing

Quick testing for antibiotic resistance

© Jürgen Haacks, Uni Kiel

Dr Elham Ghazizadeh wants to design biosensors to detect antimicrobial-resistant pathogens. The DNA-sensors are to be based on new types of fibres produced by what is known as electrospinning. This allows the desired electrochemical properties to be configured. “Until now, time-consuming and costly techniques have been used to detect pathogens that are resistant to antimicrobial drugs such as antibiotics. I want to use smart biocompatible nanomaterials to design a testing device that can be used in hospitals and practices without any special prior knowledge”, Ghazizadeh explains. Thanks to a fellowship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, she can now realise her project at the Department of Materials Science. In February, she joined the working group Bioinspired Materials and Biosensor Technologies. “Elham is a molecular biologist by training yet very fascinated with biosensor technologies and medical diagnostics. This is why I supported her for her dream project, during which she is keen to deepen in biosensors and learn new research topics,” explained Professor Zeynep Altintas, head of the Biomaterials Working Group.

Dr. Elham Ghazizadeh. Since February 2023: Humboldt Research Fellow at Kiel University. 2020: Doctoral degree in Medical Biotechnology at Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Iran.

Edited by: Kerstin Nees


Press contact:
Press, Press, Communication and Marketing Services
Department for Press, Digital and Science Communication