DESY News: Barbara Mez-Starck Prize for Melanie Schnell


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Barbara Mez-Starck Prize for Melanie Schnell

DESY researcher honoured for pioneering work in structural chemistry and molecular physics

DESY researcher Melanie Schnell has received this year's International Dr. Barbara Mez-Starck Prize. The DESY Lead Scientist was honoured for her outstanding studies of structural changes in water complexes with increasing amounts of water molecules as well as for her pioneering investigations of enantiomers and the separation of these chirally different molecules, as the jury announced in Ulm. The award ceremony took place on 29 August during the 27th Colloquium on High-Resolution Molecular Spectroscopy in Cologne.

Melanie Schnell with last year's award winner, Stephan Schlemmer from the University of Cologne, who was awarded retrospectively because of the corona pandemic, and the representative of the Dr. Barbara Mez-Starck Foundation, Jürgen Vogt (centre). Credit: Dr Barbara Mez-Starck Foundation
Schnell, who is also a professor at the Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel, heads the research group “Spectroscopy of Molecular Processes” at DESY. Her main research activities concentrate on better understanding chemical processes at the molecular level and ultimately being able to control and manipulate them. To this end, she and her group are developing new spectroscopic methods that enable novel spectroscopic applications in the field of structure determination, but also novel investigations of molecular dynamics.

In another field of research, Schnell is working on questions related to astrochemistry. She wants to understand which chemical processes take place in interstellar space, which is characterised by extreme conditions such as low temperatures and harsh, extreme radiation. For these activities, it is also relevant to understand the photophysics of key molecules such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), for which experiments with DESY's free-electron laser FLASH are ideally suited.

The Dr. Barbara Mez-Starck Foundation has been awarding the International Dr. Barbara Mez-Starck Prize annually since 2003 in memory of the founder for outstanding contributions in the field of experimental structural chemistry and molecular physics (including gas electron diffraction, microwave and high-resolution infrared spectroscopy). The prize is endowed with 5000 euros. The nominations come from eminent researchers in these fields.


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