December 4, 2015

Austrian Academy of Sciences honors IST Austria professors

Sylvia Cremer is recipient of the Elisabeth Lutz-Prize • Jiří Friml awarded with Erwin Schrödinger-Prize

Evolutionary biologist Sylvia Cremer is awarded with the Elisabeth Lutz-Prize by the Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW) for her research. The IST Austria professor investigates the evolutionary immunology of ant societies and their individual and collective anti-pathogen defenses. Colonies of social insects run a high risk of disease transmission due to the crowded living conditions. Epidemics however occur extremely rarely in colonies of social insects as they have developed collective anti-pathogen defenses. Investigations into diverse aspects of this “social immunity” provide insights into disease management and epidemiology in societies.

Professor Sylvia Cremer is heading a research group at IST Austria since 2010. She is a member of the Young Academy of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, and was a member of the Young Academy of the Leopoldina and the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences. She received an ERC Starting Grant in 2009 for her research on social immunity. In 2013, she was awarded with the Walther Arndt-Prize by the German Zoological Society.

The Elisabeth Lutz-Prize, endowed with EUR 15’000, is granted for basic research in the natural sciences, with particular regard to interdisciplinarity.

IST Austria professor Jiří Friml receives the Erwin Schrödinger-Prize of the ÖAW. The cell biologist examines the adaptive development of plants. Whereas animals typically react with a behavioral response to changes in the environment, plants have acquired highly adaptive development strategies that tailor their phenotype to the environment. Many of these unique developmental events are mediated by auxin, a plant hormone that provides positional and directional information for adaptive plant development. Friml’s research provided fundamental insights into mechanisms governing plant development. They also show how signals from the environment are integrated and translated into changes in plant development. Many of his discoveries are also relevant for agricultural applications.

Professor Friml has been at IST Austria since 2012. He is a member of the Young Academy of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO), and is American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Fellow. He was awarded with the Körber European Science Award in 2010, and with the EMBO Gold Medal in 2012. He received an ERC Starting Grant in 2011 for his research on polarity and subcellular dynamics in plants.

The Erwin Schrödinger-Prize, endowed with EUR 15‘000, is awarded to preeminent scientific achievements in the fields represented in the section mathematics and natural sciences of the ÖAW.

Both prizes will be awarded at a festive ceremony on December 11, 2015, at the Austrian Academy of Sciences.

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