Indologist Axel Michaels, director of the Cluster of Excellence "Asia and Europe in a Global Context" and researcher at the South Asia Institute (SAI) of Heidelberg University, will receive the Lautenschläger Research Prize endowed with 250,000 euros. The honour is bestowed on an "internationally recognised research personality who is the embodiment of outstanding achievement in research," explains Dr. h.c. Manfred Lautenschläger, the award’s sponsor and honorary senator of Heidelberg University. The award ceremony for the most highly endowed research prize from a private sponsor in Germany will be held on 4 December 2015. The keynote address will be given by Heidelberg alumnus Hans-Dieter Hermann, who is the sports psychologist for the German national soccer team.
Alex Michaels has been a professor of Classical Indology at the SAI since 1996, where he heads the Department of Cultural and Religious History of South Asia. From 2002 to 2013, Prof. Michaels served as spokesperson for the "Ritual Dynamics" Collaborative Research Centre, which he was instrumental in shaping. The researcher has been a member of the directorate of the cluster of excellence since 2007, and is acting director of the Heidelberg Centre for Transcultural Studies (HCTS) founded at Ruperto Carola in 2013. He also directs the "Documents on the History of Religion and Law of Premodern Nepal" research unit of the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences and Humanities. In his work on the cultural and religious history of South Asia, Axel Michaels combines text studies and ethnographic research in a unique way, and thus established a new area of research known as "Ethno-Indology".
The Lautenschläger Research Prize is awarded every two years for special accomplishments in leading-edge research. The distinction is intended to honour scientists from Heidelberg University as well as other national and international researchers with special ties to Ruperto Carola through scientific cooperation. Entrepreneur Manfred Lautenschläger established the award in 2001 to foster active researchers in the discovery process. An interdisciplinary board of internationally networked scientists selects the potential prize recipients, who can be nominated for the Lautenschläger Research Prize from any discipline.
Heidelberg University President Bernard Eitel will open the Lautenschläger award ceremony. In his keynote, Prof. Hermann, who earned his doctorate at Heidelberg University and worked as a research assistant at the Institute of Sports and Sports Sciences, will speak on the topic "What Researchers Can Learn from Athletes". The current prize winner as well as the 2013 recipient, virologist Ralf Bartenschlager, will address questions from journalist and author Jan-Martin Wiarda. The round table will also include Madeleine Herren-Oesch, who nominated Prof. Michaels for the award. She is Director of the Institute for European Global Studies at the University of Basel and formerly a researcher at Heidelberg. Award sponsor Manfred Lautenschläger will present the award and address the audience.
The Lautenschläger Research Prize of Heidelberg University will be awarded on Friday, 4 December 2015, in the Great Hall of the Old University. The ceremony will begin at 4pm.