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Communicator Awards Granted to Berlin Researchers

The social ecologist and fishery expert Prof. Dr. Robert Arlinghaus is awarded the Communicator Award 2020, and the virologist Prof. Dr. Christian Drosten is honored with a unique distinction

News from Apr 20, 2020

Prof. Dr. Robert Arlinghaus of the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and the Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB) is being honored with the Communicator Award 2020 for Science Communication for his versatile contributions to his field. In addition, a special prize for outstanding communication during the coronavirus pandemic will be awarded this year to Prof. Dr. Christian Drosten, Director of the Institute of Virology at Charité –Universitätsmedizin Berlin. The 50,000-euro Communicator Award from the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the Stifterverband (Donors’ Association for the Promotion of Sciences and Humanities in Germany) is the most prestigious national award in the field of science communication. It is also granted in the same amount as a special prize.

Prof. Dr. Robert Arlinghaus, a professor of integrative fishery management at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and head of a working group at the Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries, managed to connect a seemingly niche topic like fishing with the socially relevant issues of sustainability, environmental protection and the responsible handling of nature. The fishery expert seems to not only be concerned with communicating research results but also with promoting design and decision-making skills to his large range of target groups, which include anglers and fishery managers as well as nature conservationists, water consumers, political decision-makers and the general public.

The executives of the DFG and the Donors’ Association have emphasised that Prof. Dr. Christian Drosten, the director of the Institute of Virology at Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, exemplifies now more than any other scientist the crucial role that science plays during the COVID-19 pandemic. Within a very short period of time, the virologist has managed to make the public perceive science as the most reliable point of orientation in terms of crisis management. He has shown people in a clear, transparent and factual manner what science can prove, how it works and what uncertainties may exist. At the same time, however, he also corrects theses that have not been scientifically proven, communicates the limits of his own knowledge and repeatedly points out that science also involves constantly gauging these limits and revising ideas we take for granted.

The “Communicator Award – Science Award of the Donors' Association” has been awarded ever since year 2000, and is considered the most important of its kind in Germany. This year, the DFG and the Donors’ Association are targeting researchers who are particularly creative in their modes of science communication, those who are exploring new, even daring avenues and those who are reaching out to their target groups in an appropriate and effective way. The recognition helps encourage researchers and scholars to pay attention to the social element of their research and contribute their knowledge to public debates and opinion-forming processes and decisions. The prize money is intended to aid the award-winners in their efforts and to enable work on new projects.