TransformativeScienceResearch Prize

In 2017, the "Transformative Science" research prize has been offered for the first time by the Wuppertal Institute and the Zempelin Foundation in the Donors' Association for the Promotion of Humanities and Sciences in Germany (Stifterverband). Now the prize is awarded for the fifth time.

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. The Wuppertal Institute awards 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".

Announcement 2021

The research prize focused on individuals and research teams whose scientific work or individual projects have influenced processes of social change and whose outstanding transformative research can be expected to continue in the future. In 2021, the call will focus on contributions in the field of transformative innovations. The central characteristic of transformative innovations is that they have a particularly high potential to advance the overall process of a major transformation to sustainability. They can take the form of innovative new technologies, processes, services, organisational structures and institutions, actor networks, political frameworks or even value systems of different actors. The prize money is to be used to create scope and resources for the implementation of project ideas in the field of transformative research. Researchers from universities and non-university research institutions are eligible to apply. An independent jury will select the winner or the winning team.

About the 2020 winner

The "Transformative Science" Research Award 2020 in the amount of 25,000 euros is awarded to Dr. Jana Zscheischler, who convinced the jury with her impressive transdisciplinary and transformative profile, her academic successes and her theoretically sound research, which she implements methodically and practically. She has worked continuously, consistently and in a very critical manner on the borderline between observation/analysis and action in the field of transdisciplinary methodology and has published on this subject. Her work on future potentials in sustainable land management is particularly noteworthy.
Jana Zscheischler: "I am really very pleased about this award. I will probably use the prize money to support a transdisciplinary process for the socially responsible use of digital data in agriculture".

Jana Zscheischler
Dr. Jana Zscheischler, project manager at the Leibniz-Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF) e. V., wins the research award "Transformative Science" 2020, endowed with 25,000 Euros. Photo: Katharina Richter/ZALF

The scientist from the Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF) e. V. is co-head of the BMBF-funded junior research group "BioKum – Cumultative effects of bio-economic strategies for a more sustainable agriculture". They investigate bioeconomic strategies for a more sustainable agriculture, develop solutions and innovations and take into account the complex interrelationships, opportunities and conflicts of bioeconomic transformation processes on the way to more sustainable land use.

The scientist studied communication sciences (M.A.) at the Technical University of Berlin and environmental protection (M.Sc.) at the University of Rostock. She completed her doctorate on "Transdisciplinary Research in the Field of Land Use Science" at the Albrecht Daniel Thaer Institute for Agricultural and Horticultural Sciences at the Humboldt University of Berlin with summa cum laude and is currently working on her habilitation on "Innovations for Sustainable Land Management". As spokesperson for the Early Career Scientists in Future Earth, she is also committed to the structural strengthening of transformative sustainability research at the academic level.

Monofunctional agricultural landscape with a large water requirement
The photo shows a monofunctional agricultural landscape characterised by intensive pasture farming with a large water requirement, which is irrigated by machines. Photo: Jana Zscheischler/ZALF
The seven jury members
  • Prof. Dr. Claudia Hornberg
    University of Bielefeld, Faculty of Health Sciences; Environment and Health
  • Prof. Dr. Heike Köckler
    Hochschule für Gesundheit (University of Applied Sciences), Dean of the Department of Community Health, Professor for Social Environment and Health
  • Prof. Dr. Jasmin Mantilla-Contreras
    University of Hildesheim, Institute of Biology and Chemistry; Ecology and Environmental Education
  • Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Marquardt
    Chairman of the Board of Directors of Forschungszentrum Jülich Research Centre
  • Dr. Volker Meyer-Guckel
    Donors' Association for the Promotion of Humanities and Sciences in Germany (Stifterverband), Deputy Secretary-General and member of the executive board, Head of Programmes and Funding
  • Prof. Dr. Roland Scholz Danube
    University Krems, Chief Senior Scientist and visiting professor in the Department for Knowledge and Communication Management
  • Dr. Steffi Ober
    Initiator and Head of the Civil Society Platform "Forschungswende"
About the research prize

The "Transformative Science" research prize is aimed at all forms of research that inspire society, promote social change and thereby engage the civil society. Transdisciplinary research design plays an important role in this process. The award-winners receive 25,000 euros in prize money. This money goes to support the winners in implementing their project ideas in the field of transformative science. In addition to the prize money, the winning team receives a sculpture that has been forged from the steel rails of the Wuppertal suspension railway – the Schwebebahn – built in 1898.

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