The German Research Foundation (DFG) has awarded the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize to Sami Haddadin, Professor of Robotics and Systems Intelligence at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), and biochemist Dr. Brenda Schulman, Honorary Professor at TUM. The Leibniz Prize is the most important German science prize. It is endowed with 2.5 million euros and is awarded to scientists who have achieved excellent research results at an early stage of their career.
Prof. Sami Haddadin (38) is regarded as one of the most important scientists in the field of machine intelligence. Since April 2018 he is director of the Munich School of Robotics and Machine Intelligence (MSRM) founded by TUM in 2017. Haddadin's research on safe, intuitive and reliable human-robot interaction is recognized as groundbreaking. His work opens up a whole new perspective on the way robots learn and are programmed. His algorithms for collaborative learning enable entire robot collectives to acquire new skills in the shortest possible time and with minimal computing requirements.
Haddadin studied Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at TUM and Technology Management at the Center for Digital Technology and Management (CDTM), a joint institute of TUM and LMU. After his doctorate at the RWTH Aachen he worked at the German Aerospace Center. In 2014 he became professor at the University of Hannover. For his research he received, among others, the Early Career Award of the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society and the German Future Prize of the Federal President. As founding director of MSRM, Haddadin brings together outstanding scientists from the fields of robotics and artificial intelligence under one roof.
An outstanding protein researcher and a TUM Honorary Professor
Prof. Brenda Schulman is the director of the Molecular Machines and Signaling Research Group Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Martinsried and an honorary professor at the TUM Department of Chemistry. Schulman is a globally respected expert on the ubiquitin system, one of the most important regulatory mechanisms in the human cell. Disturbances in this complex interplay of multiple proteins can lead to cancer, for example.
Schulman studied at Johns Hopkins University and received her doctorate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Before coming to Germany in 2016, she carried out research at the prestigious St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Tennessee, among other places. For her research, she received numerous prestigious awards. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and was awarded the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, among others.
Protein research is one of the interdisciplinary research focus areas at TUM. Currently, the university’s new research center for Functional Protein Assemblies is being built in Garching.