Research prizes

Thuringian Research Award trophy Image: TMWWDG
Thuringian Research Award trophy Image: TMWWDG

Teams from Sociology and Nutritional Sciences awarded 2021 Thuringian Research Prizes

Each year, the Free State of Thuringia rewards excellent research achievements with the Thuringian Research Prize. This year, no fewer than two teams from Friedrich Schiller University Jena have been honoured, as Thuringia’s Science Minister, Wolfgang Tiefensee, announced today (14 April). In the "Basic Research" category, sociologists Prof. Klaus Dörre (University of Jena), Prof. Hartmut Rosa (University of Jena and University of Erfurt) and Prof. Stefan Lessenich (LMU Munich) received the award for their work on post-growth societies. The prize in the "Applied Research" category was shared this year: one half went to the project team of the Competence Cluster for Nutrition and Cardiovascular Health (nutriCARD), led by Prof. Stefan Lorkowski (University of Jena), Prof. Gabriele Stangl (University of Halle-Wittenberg) and Prof. Peggy Braun (Leipzig University). The other half of the prize in this category was awarded to a team from the Bauhaus University Weimar.

The end of growth - prize for basic research

The prize for basic research, worth 25,000 euros, recognises the work of the Centre for Advanced Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences "Landnahme, Acceleration, Activation: Dynamics and (De)stabilisation of modern growth societies". In their research, the sociologists have examined the structural compulsions for growth in modern societies and uncovered the social mechanisms of "always more and never enough".

The researchers’ diagnosis is that the world is in the grip of an economic and environmental ’pincer crisis’: economic growth as we know it from the past is no longer possible without dire ecological consequences. On the contrary, climate protection and the conservation of natural resources require a departure from previous concepts of economics and transport.

"The compulsion for rapid growth is reaching its limits on a planet with finite resources. Growth, combined with growing inequality and climate-damaging emissions, is exacerbating the epoch-making crisis of capitalism and no longer provides the solution," says Prof. Klaus Dörre.

Dörre, Professor for the Sociology of Work, Industry and Economy at the University of Jena, accepted the prize on behalf of the whole research team. He emphasises that the current coronavirus pandemic is hampering efforts to overcome the economic and environmental crisis. However, it does show more clearly the underlying mechanisms: the fact that Germany actually achieved its climate goals in 2020 was due solely to the lockdown, rather than being the result of a successful strategy. "The example shows that the transformation of our societies has already begun. If we do not actively shape the change ourselves and set course towards democratic post-growth societies, we run the risk of the train derailing. The coronavirus pandemic will then be followed by further severe crises and catastrophes."

Even after the conclusion of the Centre for Advanced Studies’ research, the sociologists want to help prevent such cataclysmic developmental errors. The Thuringian Research Prize is at the same time recognition and motivation for this, says Dörre.

In the "Basic Research" category, the sociologists (from left) Hartmut Rosa (University of Jena and University of Erfurt), Klaus Dörre (University of Jena) and Stefan Lessenich (LMU Munich) received the Thuringian Research Award 2021 for their work on post-growth societies. Image: Anne Günther (University of Jena)

A healthy diet, a healthy population - prize for applied research

One of the two Applied Research prizes - each worth 12,500 euros - went to The research consortium has set itself the ambitious aim of making comprehensive and sustainable improvements to the population’s eating habits. More than 40 scientists from the three participating universities are working on this, together with more than 80 additional non-university partners.

Cardiovascular diseases are the most common cause of death worldwide, with more than four million people in Europe dying each year from the consequences. Between one-third and half of all premature deaths in Europe could be prevented through a balanced diet. These are some of the alarming findings of nutriCARD. "Today, we are well aware of the health benefits of certain foods and the damaging potential of others," says Prof. Stefan Lorkowski. "The challenge is to translate these findings from basic research into food combinations and nutritional concepts, and to communicate them to consumers in a way that is understandable and suitable for everyday use," says Lorkowski, Professor for Nutritional Biochemistry and Physiology at the University of Jena. This meets exactly the idee of nutriCARD. "The long-term aim is to establish a jointly funded Central German Centre for Nutrition and Health that provides strategies for a more balanced diet for the entire population in all phases of life," explains Lorkowski. He thanked the State of Thuringia on behalf of all prize winners and considers the prize as a stimulus for continuing the research and development work of nutriCARD with great commitment.

The Thuringian Research Award 2021 in the ’’Applied Research" category went to the team of the Competence Cluster for Nutrition and Cardiovascular Health (nutriCARD). From right: Dr Claudia Wiacek (University of Leipzig), Dr Christine Dawcyznski (University of Jena), Stefan Lorkowksi (Cluster spokesperson, University of Jena), Gabriele Stangl (University of Halle-Wittenberg), Peggy Braun (University of Leipzig). Furthermore, Dr Toni Meier (University of Halle-Wittenberg) and Dr Tobias D. Höhn (University of Leipzig) are members of the award-winning team. Image: Anne Günther (University of Jena)

Pioneering research for greater sustainability

Together with the successful Jena research teams, University President Prof. Walter Rosenthal is delighted with the awards. "The fact that two out of three research prizes have gone to the University of Jena this year is proof of our university’s research strength and the efficiency of its research partnerships," says Rosenthal. In addition, the topics of the prizewinning projects are pioneering, far beyond the site of the research. "They deal with questions of sustainability in all areas of our lives. These are the big questions of the future. Our scientists are making a major contribution towards answering them."

Due to the continuing coronavirus pandemic, the awards ceremony took place online. You can find photographs and the video of the presentation of the research prizes by Thuringia’s State Minister of Economy, Science, and the Digital Society, Wolfgang Tiefensee, on: and