Front row (from left): Professor Anna-Katharina Hornidge, Natalie Prinz, Dr. Jann Lasse Grönemeyer, Professor Hildegard Westphal, Back row (from left) : Professor Andreas Breiter, Reiner Stoll, Dr. Rita Kellner-Stoll, Professor Bernd Scholz-Reiter, Fritz Habekuß, Michael Wolff | Photo: Felix Clebowski (University of Bremen, ZMT)

20.04.2018 | On Thursday, 19 April 2018, the CAMPUS AWARD: Research for a Sustainable Future was awarded to two young researchers from Bremen. The award in the master’s thesis category went to Natalie Prinz from a joint study programme of the Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research (ZMT) and the University of Bremen, while Jann Lasse Grönemeyer was honoured by the University of Bremen for his dissertation.

The CAMPUS PRIZE honours outstanding final theses by young scientists at the University of Bremen who dedicate themselves thematically to the sustainable use of resources, the protection of the environment, the climate and the oceans. The prize, endowed with 3,000 euros, is awarded annually by the KELLNER & STOLL Foundation for Climate and Environment, the Leibniz Centre for Marine Tropical Research (ZMT), the University of Bremen and the Alumni Association of the University of Bremen.

At a festive event at the University of Bremen, the jury honoured the final theses of marine biologist Natalie Prinz and microbiologist Jann Lasse Grönemeyer before an audience of around one hundred invited guests.



Natalie Prinz, M.Sc., is a graduate of the ISATEC (International Studies of Aquatic Tropical Ecology), a master's programme offered jointly by the University of Bremen and ZMT. As part of her master’s thesis, which was supervised at ZMT, she conducted research on the Cook Islands in the South Pacific. A large part of the local population there lives from tourism; especially diving and snorkelling is popular with travellers. On snorkel tours, organisers and tourists try to attract as many fish as possible with bread feeding. Natalie Prinz investigated for the first time the ecological impact of additional feeding on coral reef fish in the Aitutaki Lagoon. In her study, she also focused on social components. Prinz interviewed tourists and organisers in the Cook Islands to find out whether bread feeding improved the experience of snorkelling for participants or whether there may have been a discrepancy in the perception of both groups.

"It is not only the empirical parts of the study that deserve special mention, but also the strong local communication and the involvement of various stakeholders, which is unusual for a master's thesis,” the jury wrote in explanation of its decision.

In his laudatory address, Reiner Stoll of the Bremen KELLNER & STOLL FOUNDATION FOR CLIMATE AND ENVIRONMENT emphasized the continuing commitment of the award winner: "Natalie Prinz has not stopped working on her question with the completion of her master’s thesis, but has maintained contact with local authorities and the various interest groups in order to present her results. In this way, she has been able to obtain the commitment that these will be included in the management plan for the lagoon.“

The award winner in the dissertation category, Dr. Jann Lasse Grönemeyer, received his doctorate in microbiology from the University of Bremen. His doctoral thesis was devoted to bacteria associated with crops and their importance for sustainable agriculture in the Okavango region. Agricultural yields in Africa's arid sub-Saharan regions are declining steadily. Arable soils lose the nitrogen necessary for plant growth due to overexploitation.

Grönemeyer investigated so-called rhizobia, which can convert atmospheric nitrogen into a form usable by plants. In symbiosis with legumes such as beans, these bacteria can cover the entire nitrogen need of the host plant. Using DNA analyses, he identified 20 different species of rhizobia in the region and investigated their properties in field experiments. From particularly efficient strains, the young scientist developed an inoculant adapted to local environmental conditions – comparable to a kind of inoculant that increases symbiosis and thus nitrogen production. This inoculant is mixed with the plant seeds shortly before sowing and can be used as a cost-effective and environmentally friendly alternative to mineral fertilizers. In his studies, Grönemeyer worked closely with para-ecologists and small farmers in the Okavango region.

“Grönemeyer’s dissertation is impressive due to its local relevance,” the jury stated. “It dispenses with the approach promoted by external organisations, which is still widespread in today's development cooperation, and instead relies very successfully on the knowledge and competence of the local population.”

In her laudatory address, Professor Anna-Katharina Hornidge (Head of the Department of Social Sciences at the ZMT and Professor of Social Sciences in the Marine Tropics at the University of Bremen) said: “Jann Lasse Grönemeyer cooperated with local people on an equal footing and developed scientifically sound and socially embedded approaches based on the locally available knowledge. This approach of conducting research inspired by and feeding back into local practices is essential if research is to contribute to the sustainable further development of the existing agricultural production system.”

The CAMPUS PRIZE: Research for a sustainable future was awarded for the second time in 2018. The nominations for the prize came from a wide variety of departments at the University of Bremen – from production technology to social and legal sciences to marine biology –  and thus reflected the diversity of sustainability research on campus.

In his welcoming speech, Professor Bernd Scholz-Reiter said: "The CAMPUS PRIZE has achieved visibility both within and beyond the University of Bremen. We see this not only in the increased number of very good nominations. The CAMPUS PRIZE draws the attention of the public to outstanding young scientists and gives weight and attention to research into sustainability and marine science."

"The submitted works make it clear that the challenge of sustainability is a task that must be mastered across disciplines and seen in a global context," emphasised Professor Hildegard Westphal, Scientific Director of the ZMT and Professor of Tropical Geology at the University of Bremen.

In the run-up to the award ceremony, a jury evaluated the submitted works according to the criteria of the CAMPUS AWARD and selected the winners. The jury members were Dr. Rita Kellner-Stoll and Reiner Stoll from the  KELLNER & STOLL FOUNDATION, ZMT Director Prof. Dr. Hildegard Westphal, Prof. Dr. Anna-Katharina Hornidge, Head of the Department of Social Sciences at the ZMT, Prof. Dr. Andreas Breiter, Vice Rector for Research, Young Academics and Transfer at the University of Bremen, and Prof. Dr. Justus Notholt, Professor for Remote Sensing from the University of Bremen, Michael Wolff, Deputy Chairman of the Alumni Association of the University of Bremen and Fritz Habekuß, editor for the "Wissen" section of the ZEIT weekly newspaper.

About the CAMPUS AWARD: Research for a Sustainable Future

The CAMPUS AWARD: Research for a Sustainable Future draws the attention of the public to outstanding young scientists whose special approaches, methods and findings as well as their practical relevance and stakeholder involvement have resulted in an outstanding research thesis in the field of sustainability. The prize, endowed with 3,000 euros, is awarded by the KELLNER & STOLL FOUNDATION FOR CLIMATE AND ENVIRONMENT, the Leibniz Centre for Marine Tropical Research (ZMT), the University of Bremen and the Alumni Association of the University of Bremen. The Bremen companies ADLER Solar, REETEC and ecolo - Agency for Ecology and Communication support the CAMPUS PRIZE.

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