Gutenberg Research College welcomes new fellows and bestows the Gutenberg Research Award 2014

Awards given to economist Ernst Fehr and cultural sociologist Michèle Lamont


During an evening ceremony held at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, the Gutenberg Research College (GRC) presented the Gutenberg Research Award 2014 and welcomed its new fellows. "The Gutenberg Research College has proven to be one of the most valuable tools for raising the university's academic profile," said Matthias Neubert, GRC Director and head of the Theoretical High Energy Physics work group at JGU. "Our annual ceremony aims to celebrate the renowned scholars who have become GRC fellows and to honor internationally outstanding researchers." Since 2012, the GRC has bestowed the Gutenberg Research Award annually to distinguished academics who have decisively shaped their fields of research and whose studies have influenced neighboring disciplines as well. This year's awards, which come with EUR 10,000 in prize money, went to Professor Ernst Fehr, an economist at the University of Zurich, and Professor Michèle Lamont, a cultural sociologist at Harvard University.

Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz established the Gutenberg Research College in 2007 to highlight the university's academic strengths and to promote promising new research fields. Its main instrument is the granting of fellowships to excellent researchers from all disciplines. This year, the GRC welcomed four new fellows.

The linguist and translation scholar Silvia Hansen-Schirra engages in research on a number of topics, such as corpus linguistics, specialized communication, computer-aided translation as well as translation process and comprehensibility studies. She was the first translation scholar who integrated deep annotation and text processing in empirical and descriptive translation research and was among the first researchers to combine corpus-based analyses with cognitive experiments. In the upcoming years, she is planning to intensify the linkage of translation research with computer- and psycholinguistics in order to gain further knowledge on the cognitive foundations of translation.

Isaac Kalimi is an internationally acclaimed scholar in the field of the Hebrew Bible and the Old Testament and will contribute significantly to research at JGU's faculties of Catholic and Protestant Theology. After holding academic posts at various high-ranking institutions for the study of religion in Israel, the U.S., and Europe, he most recently worked at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Chicago. His scholarship focuses on the era of the Second Temple, which was built in Jerusalem after the Babylonian Exile. During this period, decisive cultural turns were taken with respect to the emerging of a literal tradition giving way to the Bible and for the creation of Judaism. Kalimi has focused his work on the interpretation of the books of Chronicles, which are part of the canon for both the Jewish and Christian faiths.

Philosopher Thomas Metzinger takes an innovative interdisciplinary approach to the investigation of classic philosophical questions of human consciousness and the self. As adjunct fellow at the Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies (FIAS) and co-founder of the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness, he established a remarkable cooperation with researchers from different areas of neuroscience. Internationally, he is seen as a pioneer in the field of philosophy of mind. As GRC fellow, Metzinger will concentrate on enhancing the interdisciplinary link between analytical philosophy and empirical neuroscience.

With Jairo Sinova, the Gutenberg Research College welcomes one of the leading theoretical physicists in the field of spintronics among its fellows. He moved from Texas A&M University in College Station to Mainz University in January 2014 and has been given numerous awards and honors for both his research discoveries and his commitment to teaching. His theoretical prediction and experimental demonstration of the existence of the intrinsic Spin Hall Effect are regarded as milestones in semiconductor physics. As Alexander von Humboldt Professor, he will help set up the Humboldt Center for Emergent Spin Phenomena (H-CESP) and will be involved in activities at the Graduate School "Materials Science in Mainz" (MAINZ) and the new Center for Innovative and Emerging Materials (CINEMA).

This year's winners of the Gutenberg Research Award, Professor Ernst Fehr and Professor Michèle Lamont, are among the internationally most eminent academics in their respective fields. Fehr, Professor of Microeconomics and Experimental Economic Research at the University of Zurich, is one of the most respected economists in the world. He looks at how factors such as fairness and solidarity, but also hormonal, genetic, and neuronal factors impact on people's economic decision-making, thus demonstrating the shortcomings of the classical view of viewing economic decision makers as fully rational and egoistic people whose only motivation lies in maximizing profits. Michèle Lamont, Professor of Sociology, European Studies, African and African American Studies at Harvard University, uses cultural comparisons to investigate the influence of social hierarchies, concepts of morality as well as the self-identification of social groups. Her work crosses disciplinary boundaries and has produced trailblazing research which is currently generating new approaches to the subject of cultural sociology.