Leibniz Prize 2021 for Volker Springel

December 10, 2020

The German Research Foundation DFG announced today that Volker Springel, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics, will receive the most important research award in Germany: together with nine other scientists, he will receive the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize 2021 for his ground-breaking work in the field of numerical astrophysics.

Prizewinning cosmologist: Volker Springel
Projection through the Illustris simulation, which includes more physical effects than the Millennium simulation. This view is centered on the most massive cluster and shows the dark matter density overlaid with the gas velocity field.

Volker Springel developed new numerical methods that have considerably raised the standard of precision in this field of research. This has led to a breakthrough in understanding how the various structures in the cosmos emerged from an early, almost uniform universe. In his research, Springel has investigated many aspects of non-linear structure growth and, in particular, the critical role of feedback processes in the evolution of galaxies and their central black holes. In short, his work has shown that galaxy formation is a self-regulating process. Thus, many of the observed properties of galaxies are a consequence of this feedback within the current standard model on the origin of cosmic structures, the “cold dark matter” paradigm.

After completing his doctorate in astrophysics at the LMU Munich in 2000, Volker Springel went to Harvard as a postdoctoral researcher and then held various positions at the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics in Garching from 2001. He declined calls to Cambridge and Harvard in 2009, opting to accept a professorship at Heidelberg University and the Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies (HITS) as one of the founding group leaders. In 2018, he returned to the MPA in Garching as director. Springel has been awarded the Otto Hahn Medal, the Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prize and the Gruber Prize for Cosmology. He has been a member of the Leopoldina since 2016, and since 2020 foreign member of the US National Acacemy of Sciences.

The Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize is being awarded annually by the DFG since 1986. Per year, up to ten prizes can be awarded, with a maximum of €2.5 million provided per award. Including the ten prizes for 2021, a total of 388 Leibniz Prizes have been awarded up to date. Detailed information on the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Programme can be found at: www.dfg.de/leibniz-preis

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