The German Research Foundation recognizes Bonnie J. Murphy and Giulio Malavolta with the Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prize
The Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prize is widely regarded as Germany's most prestigious award for researchers in the early stages of their careers. This year marks a significant change as the recipients will receive 200,000 euros each in prize money, compared to the previous amount of 20,000 euros. Recipients can use the increased prize money for a duration of up to three years to support their ongoing research endeavours.
During her time as a postdoctoral researcher, Bonnie J. Murphy from the Max Planck Institute of Biophysics in Frankfurt/Main, achieved a remarkable feat by elucidating the structure of the mitochondrial enzyme ATP synthase using cryo-electron microscopy. ATP synthase is a transmembrane protein of significant importance for cellular energy balance, and thus plays a crucial role in numerous processes within organisms.
Together with her research group, Bonnie J. Murphy also made significant strides in elucidating additional molecular structures. They successfully determined the structure of a large enzyme complex responsible for converting CO2 into methane, as well as the structure of an enzyme involved in hydrogen production. "Both works are not least significant from the point of view of society since they provide insights for the biotechnological production of chemical energy storage systems and for tackling climate change, “ according to the statement of the DFG.
Giulio Malavolta conducts research in cryptography at the Max Planck Institute for Security and Privacy in Bochum. His focus lies on two main areas. Firstly, he investigates how security and privacy can be maintained in techniques utilized in blockchains and cryptocurrencies. Secondly, he is actively involved in developing encryption techniques that enable computation on encrypted data, as well as digital signatures that can withstand potential attacks from quantum computers. Finally, Malavolta is working on digital signatures that can also withstand attacks with quantum computers. The jury was impressed by his ability to bridge the gap between theoretical research and practical applications in these domains.
About the Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prize
A total of 171 researchers from all disciplines were nominated for this year's award. The selection was made by the responsible committee, headed by biochemist Peter H. Seeberger, who serves as the Vice President of the DFG.
The awards ceremony will take place in Berlin on October 16, 2023.