© Erik Frank, Sebastian Frank, Markus Breig (KIT)
7. February 2024
New winners of the Hector Research Career Devel­op­ment Awards

The Hector Fellow Academy honors outstand­ing young scien­tists on their way to a professorship

The three new winners of the Hector Research Career Devel­op­ment Award have been announced: psychol­o­gist Sebas­t­ian Frank, biolo­gist Erik T. Frank and engineer Jingyuan Xu will receive the award, with which the Hector Fellow Academy (HFA) is support­ing the research careers of promis­ing scien­tists in the post-doctoral phase for the fourth time. On January 28, 2024, the jury published the names of the winners in Heidelberg.

“The prize is a great honor for me and motiva­tion to continue pursu­ing my research on learn­ing and neuro­plas­tic­ity in children,” explains award winner Sebas­t­ian Frank. He is an Emmy Noether research group leader at the Insti­tute of Psychol­ogy at the Univer­sity of Regens­burg. His research focuses on gaining a better under­stand­ing of the biolog­i­cal mecha­nisms under­ly­ing human learn­ing and neuro­plas­tic­ity. He is partic­u­larly inter­ested in the question of how these mecha­nisms change across the lifespan.

Award winner Erik T. Frank, biolo­gist and Emmy Noether research group leader at the Univer­sity of Würzburg, is working on a completely differ­ent research topic. He is an expert in behav­ioral ecology and evolu­tion and researches how animals treat their injuries. To this end, he studies a wide range of animals, from ants that apply antimi­cro­bials to their wounds to fight infec­tions to chimpanzees that apply crushed flies to open wounds. Erik T. Frank is honored and grate­ful to receive the Hector Research Career Devel­op­ment Award: “This award will allow my group to further explore the evolu­tion of social wound care behav­iors in animals by letting us study how ants that live in a mutual­is­tic relation­ship with acacia trees heal the wounds of their host plant when its injured.”

Hector RCD Awardee Jingyuan Xu is the head of CZS Nexus research group on “zero-emission and eco-friendly heating and cooling technolo­gies at the Insti­tute of Microstruc­ture Technol­ogy at Karlsruhe Insti­tute of Technol­ogy (KIT). Her research inter­ests lie in the field of sustain­able energy technolo­gies for cooling, heating or power gener­a­tion using renew­able energies such as solar energy or waste heat. With the aim of reduc­ing green­house gas emissions and mitigat­ing the effects of climate change for the future, the young engineer is driving forward the devel­op­ment of high-perfor­mance, CO₂-neutral elastocaloric cooling devices.

The Hector RCD Award is aimed at partic­u­larly talented young researchers from the natural and engineer­ing sciences, medicine or psychol­ogy who have already sharp­ened their scien­tific profile and taken their first career step. With the award­ing of the new awardees, forteen Hector RCD Awardees are currently members of the Hector Fellow Academy.