Leibniz Prize 2007 for Guinevere Kauffmann

On December 7, 2006, the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft announced that Dr. Guinevere Kauffmann from the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics receives the Leibniz Prize 2007. This highest German prize for supporting research awards Dr. Kauffmann for her work on the connection between the evolution of galaxies and their central supermassive black holes.

The winners of the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz-Program of the German Science Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG) have been selected. The panel responsible for the selection has chosen two women and eight men for this highest endowed German award for supporting research. The new awards come with 2.5 million Euros (1.55 million Euros used to be awarded in the past), which the recipients can use in a flexible manner for their research over the next seven years (the duration previously was five years).

Guinevere Kauffmann investigates the evolution of galaxies using extensive observations of the sky. She has demonstrated how dark matter structures can serve as a skeleton framework to reconstruct an evolutionary model for the galaxy population as a whole. Her work shows how this evolutionary model can be included in computer simulations of the cosmic structure. Furthermore, she was the first to consider the growth of supermassive black holes in such models, allowing studies of the connection between the growth of black holes and their host galaxies. She demonstrated that one can obtain realistic stellar masses for almost all galaxies using her approach. Her publications show that the galaxy population can be divided into two almost entirely distinct classes; for small stellar masses galaxies are usually disky, diffuse, gas-rich and star-forming, whereas higher stellar-mass galaxies are generally elliptical, concentrated and gas-poor with very little star formation.

Guinevere Kauffmann completed her studies at the University of Kapstadt with a Masters of Science in Astronomy and received a PhD in Astrophysics from the University of Cambridge in 1993. After that she worked at the Max-Planck-Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics before switching to the Max-Planck-Institute for Astrophysics in 1996. She is Research Group Leader there since 2003.