ScienceHero Award for Melanie Brinkmann Honoured for knowledge transfer during the Corona pandemic
On 11 June 2022, virologist Professor Melanie Brinkmann was awarded the ScienceHero Prize. With this award, the Konferenz Biologischer Fachbereiche (Conference of Biological Faculties) recognises people and organisations that stand for good teaching and creative research. The prize was awarded at the plenary session of the Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Fakultätentag (Mathematics and Natural Sciences Faculty Association), which took place in Braunschweig this time.
Melanie Brinkmann is a professor at the Institute of Genetics at Technische Universität Braunschweig and heads the research group “Viral Immune Modulation” at the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI). Among other things, she has researched the spread of SARS-CoV-2 via aerosols. The ScienceHero award honours above all her role in knowledge communication and transfer during the Corona pandemic.
“She is doing what a scientist should do: Going public with knowledge, advising the government, conscientiously, neutrally and factually. Professor Brinkmann has done this brilliantly. Our decision to award her the prize was therefore, simply put, inevitable: she is our Science Hero,” says Professor Robert Hänsch, advisory board member of the Konferenz Biologischer Fachbereiche (KBF) and deputy speaker of the Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Fakultätentag (MNFT) in his laudation.
About the person
Melanie Brinkmann studied biology in Göttingen, London and Berlin, and completed her doctorate under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Thomas F. Schulz at the Institute of Virology at Hannover Medical School/University of Hannover. She then went to the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research in Cambridge, USA, as a postdoctoral researcher with a DFG research fellowship in the laboratory of Prof. Dr. Hidde L. Ploegh. There she spent four and a half years researching the innate immune response, which plays an essential role in the recognition of viral infections. In 2010, she took over as head of the junior research group “Viral Immune Modulation” at the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research in Braunschweig.
Since 2018, she has been a professor at the Institute of Genetics at TU Braunschweig in the research focus “Infection and Therapeutics” and conducts research on the interaction between viruses and the immune system. Professor Brinkmann is deputy chair of the German government’s Expert Council, a member of the advisory board of the Leibniz Institute of Experimental Virology (LIV) in Hamburg and a member of the advisory board of the German Society of Virology (GfV).
About the prize
The Konferenz Biologischer Fachbereiche has been awarding the prize since 2015 to individuals and organisations who have highlighted or solved problems in the field of biological sciences through good teaching and creative research. Previous award winners were Prof. Axel Brennicke (University of Ulm) for his “Ansichten eines Profs” (Views of a Professor) in the Laborjournal, Prof. Reinhard Paulsen (KIT) for his commitment to the founding of the KBF and the Entomologische Verein Krefeld (Entomological Association Krefeld), which produced a highly regarded study on insect mortality.
About KBF and MNFT
The conferences of the departments are dedicated to inter-university communication in the respective departments. The biological faculties and departments of German universities organise themselves for this purpose in the Konferenz Biologischer Fachbereiche (KBF). The KBF advises the Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Fakultätentag (MNFT), the umbrella organisation of all natural science departments, and the German Rectors’ Conference (HRK) on subject-specific matters. At the MNFT plenary session on 11 June 2022, Prof. Robert Hänsch from TU Braunschweig was elected speaker as of 1 October 2022.