Melanie Schnell to receive 2020 B.H. Wiik Prize

Professor Melanie Schnell has been awarded the Bjørn H. Wiik Prize 2020.

Professor Melanie Schnell has been awarded the Bjørn H. Wiik Prize 2020 (Photo: DESY/G. Born)

Melanie Schnell is to be awarded the 2020 Bjørn H. Wiik Prize. The professor of physical chemistry will receive this prestigious science prize, awarded by the research centre DESY, for her pioneering work in molecular microwave spectroscopy and for her leading role in setting up the Centre for Molecular Water Science (CMWS) at DESY. The award will be presented to her during DESY’s Science Day, on 2 December 2020.

Melanie Schnell is a professor at Kiel University (CAU) and the head of the “Spectroscopy of Molecular Processes” research group within DESY’s Photon Science division. She is one of the international frontrunners in the field of molecular spectroscopy and has moved this field forward decisively by developing a special experimental method, known as microwave three-wave mixing (M3WM), which is based on the method of rotational spectroscopy. The technique is capable of distinguishing between so-called chiral molecules, which exist in two mirror-symmetrical forms but normally look identical spectroscopically.

Melanie Schnell has applied the method of rotational spectroscopy to various scientific problems. One focus of her work is the investigation of the ways in which water interacts with other molecules. This work is enormously relevant to the Centre for Molecular Water Science (CMWS), which is to be set up at DESY. Melanie Schnell is one of the leaders drawing up the research concept for the CMWS; she is involved in co-ordinating the overall project and particularly in preparing the first research projects to be carried out at the future research centre.

“Both as a scientist and as a research manager, Melanie Schnell has rendered visionary services to DESY in developing new experimental fields,” explains Jörg Roßbach, Chairman of the Bjørn H. Wiik Prize Committee and emeritus holder of the Bjørn Wiik Professorship at the University of Hamburg.

“I am extremely pleased to be receiving this prize. I would like to explicitly include all the members of my group in this award; they have contributed significantly to the excellent research achievements,” says Melanie Schnell. “Unfortunately, I was not able to meet Bjørn Wiik myself. But talking to people at DESY who worked with him, they speak of Bjørn Wiik with tremendous warmth and enthusiasm, and this motivates me in particular to use this prize to maintain and uphold something of Bjørn Wiik’s spirit here at DESY, allowing it to live on.”

The Bjørn H. Wiik Prize is endowed with 3000 euros and is DESY’s most prestigious science prize. It has been awarded since 2000, in memory of the Chairman of DESY’s Board of Directors, who died in 1999. The prize is awarded intermittently to scientists who have made outstanding contributions to the DESY research programme or who have contributed to technical developments that particularly advance DESY’s projects.


(from DESY News)