Press Release 102/2009

Five New Helmholtz Young Investigator Groups at KIT

Young Investigators Succeed in a Multi-stage Selection Process
Untersuchung der Atmosphäre am Institut für Meteorologie und Klimaforschung. An diesem Institut werden zwei Helmholtz-Nachwuchsgruppen eingerichtet.
Investigation of the atmosphere at the Institute of Meteorology and Climate Re-search. Here, two Helmholtz young investigator groups will be established. (Photo by: Markus Breig)

The Helmholtz Association will fund five new young investigator groups at KIT. With these funds, five excellent young scientists will set up and manage their own research groups at Karlsruhe. Every position of a head of a young investigator group is associated with an annual budget of at least EUR 250,000 over five years and the option of employment for unlimited duration afterwards. In total, twenty new young investigator groups will be established at centers of the Helmholtz Association. This year, most of these groups will be set up at KIT.

Now, Dr. Francesco Grilli, Dr. Corinna Hoose, Dr. Pavel Levkin, Dr. Miriam Sinnhuber, and Dr. Svetoslav Stankov will have the opportunity to conduct autonomous research at KIT and make their ideas come true. In parallel, they will lecture or offer seminars. In this way, they will qualify for a university career. The five young researchers succeeded in this year’s multi-stage selection process of young investigator groups of the Helmholtz Association. After three to four years, every group will be subjected to an interim evaluation. In case of a positive result, the group head will be offered an employment for unlimited duration (tenure track).

The working group headed by Dr. Francesco Grilli at the KIT Institute for Technical Physics (ITP) concentrates on energy technology and in particular on high-temperature superconductivity (HTC): The group “AC Loss in High-temperature Superconductors” studies AC losses in high-temperature superconductors and superconducting media. Minimization of such losses is crucial for use in future electricity supply grids.

The Helmholtz young investigator group “Aerosol Effects on Cloud Ice, Precipitation, and Climate” headed by Dr. Corinna Hoose from the Atmospheric Aerosol Research Division of the Institute of Meteorology and Climate Research (IMK-AAF) wishes to develop models for simulating the effect of aerosols – finest suspended particles – on cloud ice formation, precipitation, and the climate. The group “Solar Variability, Climate, and the Role of the Mesosphere/Lower Thermosphere” headed by Dr. Miriam Sinnhuber works at IMK’s Atmospheric Trace Gases and Remote Sounding Division. The group studies how variations of solar activity influence the climate.

At the KIT Institute of Toxicology and Genetics (ITG), the group “Functional and Stimuli-responsive Polymer Surfaces” of Dr. Pavel Levkin, in cooperation with researchers from the University of Heidelberg, concentrates on the synthesis of novel polymer-based materials with defined properties in terms of morphology, surface chemistry, and elasticity. The group studies the behavior of cells and bacterial biofilms on the surface of such materials.

Dr. Svetoslav Stankov heads the group “Interplay between Structure and Lattice Dynamics in Epitaxial Rare Earth Nanostructures” at the Institute for Synchrotron Radiation (ISS). It is aimed at developing epitaxial nanostructures with a tailored setup and stress state and at obtaining fundamental understanding of the lattice dynamics of nanostructures.

The above young investigator groups are funded by the Helmholtz Association from the central Initiative and Networking Funds and the Helmholtz centers at a 50:50 ratio. Apart from the head of the young investigator group, funding usually covers three positions for scientists and the laboratory equipment.


Being “The Research University in the Helmholtz Association”, KIT creates and imparts knowledge for the society and the environment. It is the objective to make significant contributions to the global challenges in the fields of energy, mobility, and information. For this, about 10,000 employees cooperate in a broad range of disciplines in natural sciences, engineering sciences, economics, and the humanities and social sciences. KIT prepares its 22,800 students for responsible tasks in society, industry, and science by offering research-based study programs. Innovation efforts at KIT build a bridge between important scientific findings and their application for the benefit of society, economic prosperity, and the preservation of our natural basis of life. KIT is one of the German universities of excellence.

or, 22.09.2009

Margarete Lehné
Chief Press Officer (acting)
Phone: +49 721 608-41105
Fax: +49 721 608-43658
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Press Officer
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Fax: +49 721 608-41150
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