For the first time, the "Transformative Science" research prize has been offered by the Wuppertal Institute and the Zempelin Foundation in the Donors' Association for the Promotion of Humanities and Sciences in Germany (Stifterverband). The winner of the "Transformative Science" research prize has now been selected: Dr. Laura Woltersdorf (Goethe University Frankfurt) impressed the jury with her integrated evaluation concept for sustainable water resource management. Her research was undertaken as part of the CuveWaters project, sponsored by the German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), which is an excellent example of the design, implementation and consolidation of a transdisciplinary research project in the area of development and aid work.
The "Transformative Science" research prize focuses on all forms of research that spark and promote social impetus and thus involve civil society. Transdisciplinary research design plays a significant role in this. The research prize is endowed with 25,000 euros. The money is awarded to prize winners for their project ideas in the field of transformative science. This year, for the first time, the Wuppertal Institute has awarded the research prize, which is funded by the Zempelin Foundation in the Donors' Association for the Promotion of Humanities and Sciences in Germany (Stifterverband). The Wuppertal Institute sees it as recognition of its achievements in this field that the Donors’ Association commissioned the Institute to coordinate the award of the Zempelin Foundation-sponsored prize for "Transformative Science".
"We are delighted that the jury chose to present the first award of the prize to Laura Woltersdorf, a scientist who was working for a long time at one of the leading institutes for transdisciplinary research and who demonstrates the potential of transformative research with a social impact in an exemplary way in her work," said Prof. Dr. Uwe Schneidewind, President of the Wuppertal Institute, in his comments on the prize.
Laura Woltersdorf’s research: a sustainable water use concept
As part of the research project, "CuveWaters", carried out at the Institute for Social-Ecological Research (ISOE), Dr. Laura Woltersdorf developed an integrated evaluation concept for sustainable water management in Namibia. "The use of non-conventional water resources, such as purified, reused municipal (waste) water and harvested rainwater, helps to utilise the water resources that are available locally in a more efficient and productive way," says Dr. Woltersdorf. With her sustainability assessment, the scientist demonstrates which technology options are ecological in areas with limited water resources, or are socially and economically beneficial for fighting poverty as well as most effective under the existing local institutional conditions and technical possibilities. In order to develop the concept, she worked closely with local stakeholders and integrated their empirical knowledge: the concept therefore made a significant contribution to decisions affecting water management in the region and enjoyed high public acceptance. Laura Woltersdorf currently works at Goethe University Frankfurt as a post-doctoral researcher in the Hydrology Research Group at the Institute of Physical Geography. At the institute, her work focuses on methods of transdisciplinary research and links between social and natural sciences.
The jury’s selection criteria
The jury attached great importance to the social relevance of the subject and to the quality and innovative character of the research design. The prize winners are expected to be role models for other researchers. The jury agreed that Laura Woltersdorf’s work was an outstanding example of a transdisciplinary research project in the context of development cooperation. The winner will use the prize money to support her transdisciplinary research: "In particular, I will use the prize money to further develop my integrative methods. I would also like to give the international research community an understanding of my results and thus extend my network", says Dr. Woltersdorf.
The seven members of the jury are:
The interplay between science and society is currently undergoing a dynamic development. In its position paper of 2015, "Grand Societal Challenges as a Topic for Science Policy", the German Council of Science and Humanities (Wissenschaftsrat) emphasised the importance of closer links between science and society. Since its foundation, the Wuppertal Institute has been committed to this kind of society-orientated science, which it implements in its research work.
Press release from the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy
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