Münster (upm/vl)
Prof. Gustav Holzegel<address>© WWU - Victoria Liesche</address>
Prof. Gustav Holzegel
© WWU - Victoria Liesche

Mathematician Gustav Holzegel awarded a Humboldt professorship

Expert on General Theory of Relativity strengthens Münster as a centre of mathematics

A great asset for the University of Münster and its Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Science: today, the Humboldt Foundation announced that Prof. Gustav Holzegel is one of eight scientists to be appointed to an Alexander von Humboldt professorship. The research prize includes funding of 3.5 million euros for five years. Gustav Holzegel is one of the world’s leading experts on the General Theory of Relativity. At the beginning of November he moved from Imperial College London to the University of Münster.

“In Gustav Holzegel we have been able to attract to the University of Münster not only a leading international mathematician, but also a further Humboldt professorship – and a second one for Mathematics, at that. This represents an exceptional strengthening of Mathematics as one of our core profile areas, as well as being an outstanding success overall for the University of Münster,” says Prof. Johannes Wessels, the Rector of the University.

“The Humboldt professorship opens up entirely new opportunities for me to pursue my own research, hire talented junior researchers and attract distinguished scientists to Münster for longer periods,” comments Gustav Holzegel. “I’m sure that it will develop a strong dynamic of its own, as well as enhancing the University’s international reputation.”

In the last few years, Gustav Holzegel, 40, received several awards for his pioneering contributions to the mathematical understanding of black holes. At Münster, he will be continuing his research programmes on the stability of black holes and on the dynamics of anti-de Sitter space times, but he also aims to get some new projects started.

“Black holes are a hot topic at the moment – this year the Nobel Prize for Physics was awarded for research precisely in this field,” says Prof. Joachim Lohkamp from the Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Science, who was one of the leading advocates for the nomination of Gustav Holzegel for the Humboldt professorship. “With the appointment of Gustav Holzegel,” he says, “Münster University is now one of the outstanding locations for work on the Theory of Relativity and in particular black holes. In addition, the Cluster of Excellence ‘Mathematics Münster’ will be further strengthened.”

Prof. Angela Stevens also played a pivotal role in the negotiations with Gustav Holzegel – she is looking forward to working with him. “Gustav Holzegel is a mathematician who uses powerful tools from geometric analysis and partial differential equations to answer deep questions in theoretical physics and astrophysics. His appointment is a great asset for Münster.”

At the beginning of November, Gustav Holzegel took up a so-called “Bridging the Gaps” professorship at Münster, designed to bring together the various sub-disciplines. “My field of research, the General Theory of Relativity, reaches into many different fields of mathematics and, as such, fits in very well with this unifying concept,” he says. What impressed Gustav Holzegel most of all at Mathematics Münster was the mood of optimism for the future. “There is a vision of what can and should happen in the coming years, and this seems to be endorsed and supported by all the colleagues here, both young and old, without any reservations. It’s an environment in which hopefully a lot of new ideas can be developed and exchanged.”

Prof. Gustav Holzegel

Gustav Holzegel was born in 1980 and graduated in Physics at the University of Kaiserslautern. He took his PhD in 2008 at the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics (DAMTP) at the University of Cambridge and subsequently undertook research at Princeton University in the USA. From 2012 he was at Imperial College London, where he was appointed professor in 2018. For his pioneering contributions to the mathematical understanding of black holes, Gustav Holzegel was awarded the Whitehead Prize by the London Mathematical Society (2016), the Adams Prize by the University of Cambridge (2018) and the Blavatnik Award (2019).

Alexander von Humboldt professorships

Alexander von Humboldt professorships are awarded to researchers who are worldwide leaders in their fields and have so far been working abroad. This is the most valuable international research prize in Germany. It is awarded by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. It opens up opportunities for German universities to offer top-level researchers internationally competitive conditions for working and enhancing their profile in worldwide competition.

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