Image: Francesca Ferlaino

[2013-10-22] Francesca Ferlaino has been awarded an Alexander von Humboldt Professorship. Worth up to five million Euro, it is the most highly valued German research award. With the Humboldt Professorships, Germany aims to attract internationally leading researchers to work at Germany's universities.

Today the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation has announced that physicist Francesca Ferlaino from the Institute of Experimental Physics, University of Innsbruck, has been chosen as one of the next Alexander von Humboldt Professors. She is the first female scientist at an Austrian university to receive the most highly valued international German research award. She was nominated by the University of Ulm. The other Humboldt Professorships have been awarded to an environmental economist from Switzerland as well as three physicists and a mathematician from the USA.
“I am greatly honored by this award,” says Francesca Ferlaino. “I am extremely grateful for the outstanding support I have received from the University of Innsbruck and the IQOQI in the last few years. I have encountered ideal conditions for conducting science at the highest international level.”

Ideal research environment

The physicist was born in Naples, Italy, in 1977. She studied physics at the University of Naples and at the International School of Advanced Studies (ISAS) in Trieste. Ferlaino earned a PhD at the University of Florence and the local European Laboratory for Non-Linear Spectroscopy (LENS). In 2006 she was visiting scientist with the research group of Wittgenstein awardee Rudolf Grimm in Innsbruck. Here, at the University of Innsbruck and the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information (IQOQI) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW), she encountered an ideal research environment, which offers both experimental and theoretical working groups. In 2007 she received a Lise-Meitner grant from the Austrian Science Fund FWF. Since 2009 Francesca Ferlaino has been working at the Institute for Experimental Physics in Innsbruck and in 2012 she became full Professor of Atom Physics at the University of Innsbruck. The physicist has received the most highly renowned awards for junior scientists in Austria (START-Preis 2009) and in Europe (ERC Starting Grant 2010). Francesca Ferlaino is the mother of two children.

Excitement over international award

“We are very excited about this award,” says Rector Tilmann Märk. “It again underlines the distinguished position of physics research in Innsbruck. Young scientists like Francesca Ferlaino encounter an environment where they can develop optimally and gain international reputation. This makes the University of Innsbruck attractive for researchers worldwide and emphasizes our role as a leading research university in Austria.”
The Alexander von Humboldt Professorship, worth five million Euro, is the most highly endowed international award for research in Germany. The award is granted by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and financed by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research through the International Research Fund for Germany. The Humboldt Professorship recognizes internationally leading academics of all disciplines from abroad. It enables award winners to carry out long-term and ground-breaking research at universities and research institutions in Germany.
However, no decision has been made whether Francesca Ferlaino will follow the job offer made by the University of Ulm, which is connected to the Humboldt Professorship. “It will depend on many details. At the moment I am just very happy about this award,” says the physicists who is overwhelmed by her success. Rector Märk is optimistic for Innsbruck: “Of course, we would like to keep Francesca Ferlaino in Innsbruck and we will talk with her about it.”

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