Double success

Marietta Auer and Iain Couzin are awarded the Leibniz Prize 2022 of the German Research Foundation DFG

Marietta Auer is director at the Max Planck Institute for Legal History and Theory in Frankfurt and the Justus-Liebig-University in Gießen. Behaviourial biologist Iain Couzin conducts research at the Max Planck Institute for Animal Behaviour and the University of Konstanz. The Leibniz Prize, Germany's Germany's highest academic honour, is endowed with 2.5 million euros each and is awarded to up to ten scientists each year.

Marietta Auer has contributed to a comprehensive understanding of private law in relation to public law in terms of legal philosophy. Her doctoral thesis and her habilitation thesis are already considered groundbreaking works in legal theory: in the former, Auer shows the fundamental tensions between individual freedom and collectivist concern for the weaker

In her habilitation, she elaborates a philosophy of private law in modernity, in which law - especially the right to property - is seen as fundamental to the constitution of social relations and the modern self. In doing so, she opened up a new perspective on the relationship between private law on the one hand, which is supposed to guarantee the freedom of the individual, and public law on the other, which is supposed to create social order.

The 'Couzin Model'

Iain Couzin's work in the field of behavioural biology has led to a fundamentally new understanding of collective behaviour. Early on, the behavioural biologist combined state-of-the-art techniques ranging from the automated recording of movement patterns to machine learning algorithms and computer-based models. In this way, he succeeded in identifying the rules according to which collective behaviour, for example of flocks of insects, fish or birds, is made possible.

For example, he was able to prove that a few rules of behaviour for each group member can predict the movement of the whole group. It has not only entered biology as the "Couzin model", but also influences the understanding of decision-making and group structures in physics, robotics and social sciences far beyond. In addition to scientific awards, he has received several prizes for his commitment to science communication.

About the Leibniz Prize

The Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize has been awarded annually by the DFG since 1986. Up to ten prizes can be awarded each year, each with a prize sum of 2.5 million euros. With the ten prizes for 2022, a total of 398 Leibniz Prizes have been awarded so far. Of these, 127 went to the natural sciences, 115 to the life sciences, 95 to the humanities and social sciences and 61 to the engineering sciences.  A total of 425 nominees have received the prize so far, including 358 male and 67 female scientists.

Two female and eight male Leibniz Prize winners have also received the Nobel Prize after the award, all of them Max Planck scientists: Hartmut Michel (Chemistry, 1988), Erwin Neher and Bert Sakmann (both Medicine, 1991), Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard (Medicine, 1995), Theodor W. Hänsch (Physics, 2005), Gerhard Ertl (Chemistry, 2007), Stefan W. Hell (Chemistry, 2014), Emmanuelle Charpentier (Chemistry, 2020) and Reinhard Genzel (Physics, 2020) as well as Benjamin List (Chemistry) in 2021.

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