Photo: Florian Schrötter

Quantum physicist Francesca Ferlaino has been awarded the Grete Rehor National Award, presented for the first time this year, for her contribution to gender equality in the still male-dominated field of quantum physics and for the “Atom*innen” project she initiated. The national prize of 5,000 euros is awarded by the Austrian Federal Ministry for Women, Family, Integration and Media.

Experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino is one of the most accomplished scientists in Austria. Her research on the properties of quantum matter regularly attracts international attention. As a woman, she was a pioneer in her field and a role model for future generations of female physicists. With the “Atom*innen” project she initiated, Francesca Ferlaino wants to create a common space for female scientists in physics in which women can network and support each other and which aims to make female role models more visible. As the first female scientific director at the Institute of Quantum Optics and Quantum Information (IQOQI), Francesca Ferlaino has been instrumental in creating a position for gender equality at the academy institute. The award ceremony took place on November 20, 2023 in Vienna.

Heinz Faßmann, President of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, expressed his congratulations to the prizewinner: "I have come to know Francesca Ferlaino as an excellent quantum physicist who is a role model for young, aspiring female scientists and always provides a supportive environment. She is also keen to act as a science communicator. She brings the complex subject of quantum physics closer to schoolchildren and the media. Winning this prize is highly deserved. The Austrian Academy of Sciences is delighted to have such an excellent and committed colleague in its ranks. I warmly congratulate Francesca Ferlaino on this success and wish her all the best for her upcoming endeavors!"

About the award

Grete Rehor (1910-1987) was Austria's first female government minister. She held the office of Federal Minister for Social Welfare Administration from 1966 to 1970. She was particularly committed to improving the situation of working women, especially working mothers. Grete Rehor worked across party lines and political attitudes and led the way as a pioneer in the Austrian political landscape. In the genesis of the Ministry of Women's Affairs, she is of particular importance due to the establishment of a women's and family department in the Ministry of Social Welfare at her time.

About the laureate

Francesca Ferlaino, born in 1977, began her study in physics at the University Federico II of Naples, where she received her master in 1998. In 2004, she received her doctoral degree from the University of Florence and LENS. She joined Innsbruck in 2007 as post-doc and Lise-Meitner fellow to work in the group of Rudolf Grimm. In 2014, Ferlaino was appointed Professor at the University of Innsbruck and Scientific Director at the Institute of Quantum Optics and Quantum Information (IQOQI) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences.