She is doubtlessly on the career ladder stormed far up. Five years ago, the jurors Claudia Kemfert and ten other junior researchers under the age of 40 had joined the "Elf der Wissenschaft" - read in bild der wissenschaft 7/2006 ("The Dream Team of Research"). Kemfert heads the Energy, Transport and Environment department at the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) in Berlin and is a professor at the Hertie School of Governance. "We simulate the international energy and electricity markets, " explains the economist. "For example, we examine how energy policy affects the climate."
With the results of her analyzes, the 42-year-old is often present in the media. Their opinion is in demand, and those who are seen again and again on TV screens, will inevitably become a star of his guild. Excluded from the public, the economist does a no less exciting job: she advises politicians on issues of energy policy and climate change - for example, EU Commission President Manuel Barroso. Besides, she has written two books. "My career has gone as I have never dared to dream, " says Kemfert.
Did the inclusion in the Dream Team of Research in 2006 contribute a little bit to that? "It has brought much to be included in the eleven of science, " she says. To turn his back on science was never an option for Kemfert: "Although I had some offers from the economy, my drive comes from the thirst for knowledge. I am very fortunate enough to be able to do research on the topic that drives me. "
Florian Mayer, 41: The food chemist works - as five years ago - at the Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics in Holzkirchen. He is now head of department of construction chemicals, he spurs 35 employees to peak performance. One of his research papers, which went through the press a lot, clarified the question: Why does tomato juice sound so much better in the air than on the ground? "The lower air pressure in the passenger cabin of an aircraft makes food taste different. The taste profile of tomato juice shifts, "explains Mayer. "It is perceived as less musty and earthy, but more fruity and rounder." Display
Andreas Lendlein, 42, has also remained loyal to his old research facility - the Helmholtz Center Geesthacht. There, the family man still heads the Teltow location of the Institute of Polymer Research. In addition to his professorship at the University of Potsdam, the chemist has been an honorary professor at the Free University of Berlin for three years. But that's not all: together with colleagues from the Charité, Lendlein founded the Berlin-Brandenburg Center for Regenerative Therapies.
Immanuel Bloch has also paved the way for the first league: the 38-year-old professor of physics has headed the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics in Munich for two years, together with four other directors. He also has a chair at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität. He declined offers from Stanford and Harvard. Not for personal reasons - he could have imagined going to America. He gave the prestigious US universities a basket just because the research conditions in Germany are so excellent.
Oliver Schultz-Wittmann, on the other hand, made the leap across the pond out of conviction. The solar researcher opted for a path that became an adventure. After eight successful years at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE in Freiburg, where he led a group of 25 scientists, the newly-married scientists moved to California. It attracted the attractive offer of a start-up company. But the expectations cherished at that time did not come true for him, confesses the today 36-year-old.
He left the company and initially stayed afloat with solar consultancy in Silicon Valley. However, the adventurous spirit did not leave him: In 2009 he founded the start-up company TetraSun with four friends. "So I am now in the boardroom, " smiles the physicist. The company's goal: to improve crystalline silicon solar cells at a low price. The first hurdle has taken the newly developed manufacturing process - the scientists have shown that it works in principle. "To have a chance in the market, we need mass production. In 12 to 18 months could be the production, "hopes Schultz-Wittmann. "However, the price pressure is very high. Market entry is more difficult than it was three years ago. "
Kirsten Zickfeld also feels at home on the Pacific coast of North America. Already five years ago, the climate researcher lived with husband and daughter in Canada. Since autumn 2010 she has been researching as a professor at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver. Among other things, it addresses the question of how much carbon dioxide can we emit in order to achieve a specific climate goal? The fact that the 39-year-old stayed in Canada was not planned - it "came together", says the nature-loving researcher. And also: In the Canadian tenure track system - time contracts with fixed career commitments in the case of probation - you will be forwarded automatically.
In Germany, this is often more difficult - that had Robert Arlinghaus, 40, learn. The fishery researcher has been a junior professor at the Humboldt University Berlin since 2006 and also heads a junior research group at the Leibniz Institute for Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB). From 2012 he will receive a permanent position at the IGB. However, this was not a self-runner: "It was quite difficult to negotiate a permanent job. In addition to high publication activity and other scientific achievements such as third-party funding, some offers from abroad have helped in the negotiations, "he reveals.
At the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (IIT) Igor Gornyi is fighting a similar battle: in the past five years, the physicist has been funding his research group for a scholarship, which has now expired. "It's still not clear if I'll get a permanent job at KIT, " says the 38-year-old. Offers from other countries already existed. But the researcher refused: "The research conditions here are perfect, and my family feels comfortable in Karlsruhe."
Frank Lyko, 40, has already landed one of the coveted permanent positions - at the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ). The biology professor has also been teaching at the University of Heidelberg for five years. He often does not have enough time for practical work in the laboratory. "I did not want to get my hands dirty, " he confesses. Therefore, he has created small practice islands: For example, he spent four weeks apprenticing to a beekeeper and later explored the differences in the genes of worker and queen bees.
A break also pays off to Ina Bornkessel-Schlesewsky now and then. That spring, she moved her job to Australia for two months. Since 2005, the young scientist, who grew up in Tasmania, led a junior research group in neuro-typology at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig. In 2009, she was appointed to a professorship at the Philipps-Universität Marburg. At the age of only 29 she would have been one of the youngest professors in Germany, if not the youngest ever. The leap from young talent to a professorship is very hard, you need stamina, "says Bornkessel. The 31-year old also looks forward to having her a professorship in Marburg for family reasons: "My husband works in Mainz so I can finally commute during the day." Stamina proves it here as well: for a stretch she needs two hours by train.
But what exactly does a researcher do in neuro-typology? "We are investigating how different languages are processed in the brain, " explains Bornkessel. "For example, we have found that the German shows a similar pattern of processing in the brain as the Chinese and the Turkish." In 2009, she received the Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prize of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation) for her results ( DFG), which is endowed with the sum of 16, 000 euros.
Volker Springel, 40, also boasts impressive awards. In 2009, he received the Klung Wilhelmy Weberbank Prize in Physics as the provisional highlight. With 100, 000 euros, he received the highest honor for scientists under 40 in Germany. In the newly established Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies, the physics professor is dedicated to his simulations, which describe the development of the universe from 300, 000 years after the Big Bang to the present day. He completes the "Elf of Science". And demonstrates as convincingly as his colleagues: The dream team of research makes its way.
janine van Ackeren is a freelance science journalist in Duisburg. The PhD biophysicist portrayed the Dream Team in issue 7/2006.