Lower Saxony Science Prize for Professor Franziska Neumann and Antonia Schultz Recognised for outstanding commitment to research and volunteering
On the evening of 22 November, the Lower Saxony Science Prize (Wissenschaftspreis Niedersachsen) was awarded by Science Minister Falko Mohrs to 18 personalities from the state’s universities. Technische Universität Braunschweig is once again represented – with Professor Franziska Neumann and student Antonia Schultz. The prize is endowed with a total of 109,000 euros.
Award winner Franziska Neumann
In the category ‘Early Career Researcher’, Junior Professor Franziska Neumann received the €20,000 prize. Neumann impressed the Scientific Committee with her original and versatile approach to the history of knowledge of urban space in a multifaceted and interdisciplinary way. “With her work, she clearly demonstrates how research into the early modern period can be integrated into a university characterised by technology and the natural sciences,” said the citation for the special award. The state also praised Neumann’s experimental teaching methods, which she uses to interest students in the early modern period.
“Franziska Neumann is a young researcher at TU Braunschweig who has shown impressive commitment to research into the early modern period that goes far beyond the boundaries of her discipline,” says Professor Angela Ittel, President of TU Braunschweig. “She not only contributes to a fruitful interdisciplinary dialogue, but also underlines the high relevance of the humanities at a technical university. We are delighted that our scientist has been honoured with this prestigious award and congratulate Franziska Neumann from the bottom of our hearts”.
Franziska Neumann studied history, art history and philosophy at TU Dresden, where she completed her doctorate in 2019 with a thesis on early modern mining in Sachsen. During her work as a research assistant in Rostock and a Joint Junior Research Fellowship at University College London, she published several papers on the history of knowledge in urban space. Since August 2021, she has been teaching and researching as Junior Professor of Early Modern History with a focus on “Urban Cultures of Knowledge in Comparative Perspective” at TU Braunschweig. Her junior professorship is part of Tenure Track, a nationwide programme for the promotion of junior researchers.
Neumann’s area of research, early modern history, covers the period between 1500 and 1800. “My current research project is about the history of waste in the early modern city. Due to the variety of aspects and themes associated with waste, the topic is suitable for gaining insights into the everyday dynamics of coexistence in the early modern city.”
Neumann’s day-to-day research also involves close collaboration with scientists from other disciplines. Together with geophysicist Professor Matthias Bücker and hydrologist Professor Ilhan Özgen, she is currently investigating the Gaußbergpark in Braunschweig, which was used as a dumping ground for municipal waste in the 18th century.
“Together, we are investigating what information the earth provides as a soil archive about the past, present and possibly also the future.” For Neumann, the award also recognises her interdisciplinary approach: “It’s a nice affirmation – both for my own research and for my efforts to achieve this kind of collaboration.”
Award winner Antonia Schultz
Antonia Schultz, a Master’s student at TU Braunschweig, was honoured in the “Students” category. The psychology student specialising in work and organisational psychology received the science prize for her academic achievements and her outstanding voluntary work. In recognition of her efforts, Antonia Schultz received a prize money of €3,500.
“The award not only recognises Antonia Schultz’s remarkable academic achievements. It also gives well-deserved recognition to her extraordinary volunteer work far beyond local borders. The fact that she is using her perspective on work and organisational psychology from her studies to give new impetus to social change is extremely valuable. At the same time, Antonia Schultz is an example of how students can profitably apply what they have learned in their everyday lives,” says President Professor Ittel.
After a year of voluntary service in Windhoek, Namibia, Antonia Schultz started a bachelor’s degree in psychology in 2018. During her studies, she supported the “VeränderungsMacher*in” qualification programme for three years. Due to current developments such as digitalisation, automation and demographic change, many small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are facing high change pressure and a need for further training. “As part of the project, the participating specialists were able to acquire skills to initiate and implement internal changes in their own working environment,” says Schultz, who also used the topic as the basis for her bachelor’s thesis. Schultz completed her bachelor’s degree in September 2022 and began a master’s degree in psychology in Braunschweig. To broaden her industrial psychology perspective with evidence-based business knowledge, she also enrolled in a master’s programme in international business at Loughborough University in the UK for the 2023/24 academic year.
She also uses her professional expertise to improve work processes in various voluntary roles. During the Covid-19 pandemic, for example, she helped the Braunschweig food bank set up an emergency food bank: “Within a very short time, we were able to recruit almost 170 new short-term helpers and integrate them into our work processes. This was so successful that the Braunschweig food bank was able to stay open for almost the entire time”.
Schultz is currently involved with enactus Braunschweig e.V., a student initiative in the field of social and sustainable entrepreneurship. She supports the upcycling project “neuerDings”, which makes fanny packs from old, broken festival tents and sells them as festival merchandise. “We want to draw attention to how much waste is produced at festivals – and show how supposed waste can be reused instead of using additional resources”.
Since 2018, she has also been an education ambassador for the German National Academic Foundation (Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes e.V.). She informs pupils and students about the possibilities of state scholarships to make a fair, interdisciplinary education more accessible.
About the prize
The Lower Saxony Science Prize has been awarded in four different categories since 2007. The award winners are nominated by the universities in Lower Saxony and selected by the Scientific Commission of Lower Saxony. TU Braunschweig has been represented by several winners, most recently Mandy Hoffmann (2022), Professor Arno Kwade and the student initiative MethodAid (2021) and Professor Stefanie Kroker and Michael Perk (2020).