Dossier: Sofja Kovalevskaja Award

Top-flight award for outstanding research talents

The Sofja Kovalevskaja Award is one of the most valuable academic awards in Germany and allows the recipients to carry out research work under unique conditions: They may spend five years working on a research project at a university of their own choice in Germany and build up their own working groups – independently and largely untroubled by administrative constraints. The award amount may total up to €1.65 million per award winner.

The objective is to integrate internationally sought-after research talents into collaborations with academics in Germany right at the beginning of their highly-promising careers, profiting both the research location and especially junior researchers in Germany. The signal being given is that risk capital is available for young academics in Germany, too.

Scientists and scholars of all disciplines from abroad who have completed their doctorates within the last six years are eligible to apply. The award, which is granted for outstanding talent and a creative approach to research, is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

The award is named after the Russian mathematician, Sofja Kovalevskaja, who was born in 1850. She completed a doctorate at Göttingen University with a dissertation on “The theory of partial differential equations” in 1874 and was appointed to a full professorship in mathematics at Stockholm University in 1889.

The Sofja Kovalevskaja Award was granted for the first time in January 2002 to 29 junior researchers from abroad, the youngest of whom was just 27 years old. At the time, the award was financed with a budget of €25 million by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research in the context of the Federal Government’s Investment in the Future Programme (ZIP) from profits gained from auctioning UMTS licences. Prior to being granted the award, the 29 award winners had been working at institutes in 13 countries. Eight of those honoured originally came from Germany.

Aydan Bulut-Karslioglu, 2018 Sofja Kovalevskaja Award Winner

Laura Leal-Taixé, 2017 Sofja Kovalevskaja Award Winner

Fritz Renner, 2018 Sofja Kovalevskaja Award Winner


Kristina G├╝roff
Nina Hafeneger
Press, Communications
and Marketing
Tel.: +49 228 833-450
Fax: +49 228 833-441

Georg Scholl
Head of
Press, Communications and Marketing
Tel.: +49 228 833-258
Fax: +49 228 833-441

Further information

Supported by