Chemist receives most important German prize for junior researchers

Fabian Dielmann © © Andreas Endermann

Fabian Dielmann © © Andreas Endermann

For his outstanding research in the field of inorganic molecular chemistry, Münster University chemist Dr. Fabian Dielmann receives a Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prize, worth 20,000 euros, from the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). The prize is seen as the most important award for the promotion of junior researchers in Germany. This year it is being presented to ten researchers. The awards ceremony will take place on 28 May in Berlin.

“It’s a wonderful feeling to see that my research is something that fascinates not only me, but others as well,” says Fabian Dielmann. “The prize is a token of recognition.” Together with his research group, junior researcher Fabian Dielmann develops molecular systems which are able to activate inert molecules, thus facilitating their subsequent chemical conversion. The focus of research activity in this case is on catalytic processes. Examples of such inert molecules include the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and sulphur hexafluoride. Converting these gases would have the objective not only of opening up new applications in synthetic chemistry, but also of reducing the quantities of the gases released into the atmosphere. After the sulphur hexafluoride had been successfully activated, fluorinating agents were obtained which could, among other things, be important in the production of medicines.

“Fabian Dielmann has not only succeeded in bridging the gap between academic research and practical application,” the jury explains, “but has also risen above the paradigms and hypotheses which are customary in his disciplines - such as the activation of sulphur hexafluoride with the nucleophilic phosphanes which Dielmann has developed. His research work, which has been published in relevant international journals, has attracted worldwide attention.”

Fabian Dielmann is a candidate for a professorship at the Institute of Inorganic and Analytical Chemistry at the University of Münster and heads an “Emmy Noether” junior researcher group funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG). He studied chemistry at the University of Regensburg, where he held a scholarship from the German Academic Scholarship Foundation (Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes), and graduated there in 2006. After that, in cooperation with Ohio State University (USA) and the Université de Rennes (France) and with a PhD scholarship from the German Academic Scholarship Foundation, he completed his doctorate at the University of Regensburg with a dissertation on supramolecular chemistry with phosphorus-rich complexes. After a period as a postdoc at the University of California Riverside and the University of California San Diego, with a Feoder Lynen scholarship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, Dielmann moved to the University of Münster in 2013 for his habilitation.

The Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prize has been awarded annually since 1977 to outstanding researchers who are still at an early stage in their academic careers and do not as yet have a tenured professorship. The prize not only provides recognition for the recipient - it is also intended to motivate him or her to continue with their academic career. A total of 129 researchers from all disciplines were proposed for this year’s awards.