Dec. 12, 2018

Lautenschläger Research Prize Awarded Posthumously to Karlheinz Meier

Heidelberg University has honoured Prof. Dr Karlheinz Meier posthumously with the 2018 Lautenschläger Research Prize. The 250,000-euro prize will go to his research group at the Kirchhoff Institute for Physics. The award ceremony for this most highly endowed research prize from a private sponsor in Germany was held on 7 December 2018. On 24 October, Professor Meier had passed away, just days after the award was announced.

Prof. Dr. Karlheinz Meier was one of the founders of the Human Brain Project, and a member of the project’s executive management board, the Directorate, during the ramp-up phase. He was also Co-chair of the Project’s scientific leadership body - the HBP Science and Infrastructure Board (SIB) - responsible for Infrastructure Operations and, ex-officio, Infrastructure Operations Director.

A tribute page with voices from throughout the HBP consortium can be found here:
The award sponsor and Honorary Senator at Ruperto Carola Dr. h.c. Manfred Lautenschläger praised Karlheinz Meier as an “internationally exceptional researcher”. “His enthusiasm for experimental physics, his curiosity for the fundamental questions of physics, and his courage to forge new technological pathways were the driving forces behind his extraordinary life in science,” states the award sponsor. “In his approach to the questions that fascinated him, the theoretical physicist always pushed the boundaries of what was known and considered technically feasible. He never balked from ruffling feathers with his ideas.” 

Karlheinz Meier was appointed a professor of experimental physics at Heidelberg University in 1992; he founded the Kirchhoff Institute for Physics in 1999. He had previously worked in the field of elementary particle physics at the German Electron Synchrotron (DESY) in Hamburg and the European research centre CERN in Geneva. In Heidelberg nearly 15 years ago, the physicist turned to a new field of endeavour – the principles of information processing in the brain and the question of how they could be applied to new types of computer architectures. To that end he developed a fundamentally new computer system, BrainScaleS. The neuromorphic BrainScaleS chip represents a physical model of its biological example, the brain, and realises its cells, connections, and communication through analogue and digital circuits using modern micro-electronics. The system was built and put into operation as part of the Human Brain Project. 

The Lautenschläger Research Prize is awarded every two years for special accomplishments in leading-edge research. The distinction is intended to honour scientists from Heidelberg University as well as other national and international researchers with special ties to Ruperto Carola through scientific cooperation. Entrepreneur Manfred Lautenschläger established the award in 2001 to foster active researchers in the discovery process. The very first junior researcher prize is being awarded in 2018 to support excellent young researchers in their personal scientific development and their research activities. An interdisciplinary board of internationally networked scientists selects the potential prize recipients, who can be nominated for the Lautenschläger Research Prize from any discipline.

Original source: Press Release Heidelberg University, 22 November 2018