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The Princess of Asturias Foundation

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Princess of Asturias Awards


The Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science, Prince of Asturias Award for International Cooperation

The Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science was bestowed with the 2013 Prince of Asturias Award for International Cooperation, as made public on 12th June in Oviedo by the Jury responsible for conferring said Award.

Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science, 2013 Prince of Asturias Award for International Cooperation. ©FPA

The jury for this Award –convened by the Prince of Asturias Foundation– was chaired by Gustavo Suárez Pertierra and composed of Pedro Alonso Fernández, Enrique Barón Crespo, Eugenia Bieto Caubet, Silvia Escobar Moreno, Jorge de Esteban Alonso, Gloria Fernández-Lomana García, Enrique Fernández-Miranda y Lozana, Duke of Fernandez-Miranda, Isabel Gómez-Acebo y Duque de Estrada, Jerónimo López Martínez, Ricardo Martí Fluxá, Luis Javier Navarro Vigil, Rafael Sánchez-Barriga Fernández y Ruiz and Alicia Castro Masaveu (acting as secretary).

This candidature was put forward by Pedro Miguel Echenique, holder of the 1998 Prince of Asturias Award for Technical and Scientific Research.

The Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science (Max-Planck-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Wissenschaften, in German) is a network of scientific research institutes founded in Göttingen (Germany) in 1948, as successor to the Kaiser Wilhelm Society for the Advancement of Science, which had begun its work in 1911. Named in honour of the German scientist who initiated quantum mechanics, it has its current headquarters in Munich. It encompasses 80 institutes in all, five of them abroad: Bibliotheca Hertziana (Rome), The Art History Institute (Florence), The Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics (Nijmegen, Netherlands), Max Planck Florida Institute (USA) and Max Planck Institute Luxembourg for International European and Regulatory Procedural Law (Luxembourg). It also has around 30 Max Planck Research Schools for PhD students (86.4% of whom are foreign nationals) and over 40 integrated research groups at universities and foundations worldwide. The Society employs more than 17,000 people: 5,300 are scientists, 36.9% of these are foreign nationals, as are 31.5% of those occupying positions of responsibility. Moreover, over 4,000 junior and guest scientists from all around the world work at its institutes, bringing the number of people employed by the Society to more than 21,500. The president of the Max Planck Society is cell biologist Peter Gruss.

The centres making up the network perform basic research to the benefit of society in fields such as the natural sciences, the social sciences and the humanities. This generally comprises research that does not conform to the organisational structure of universities or which requires extra funding and complements the work of these institutions. An interdisciplinary approach and close cooperation between research centres and universities generate teams of highly qualified young scientists committed to cutting-edge areas of research.

In the fields of biology and medicine, the research units belonging to the Max Planck Society focus on aspects related to microbiology, ecology and cognitive research; in chemistry, physics and technology, research is conducted in the fields of astronomy and astrophysics, materials research, Earth sciences and climate research. The humanities section addresses cultural studies, jurisprudence and social and behavioural sciences. Many of the scientists that make up this society also work with the world’s most prestigious laboratories on projects related to leading international space missions. The results of the research work at the institutes that comprise the Society are published annually in more than 13,000 scientific articles, books and reports. In 2012, its impact factor was 17.642 in the global index of scientific journals, its publication Living Reviews in Relativity was ranked number one in the field of Physics, Particles and Fields. Furthermore, according to the Journal Citation Report, the publication Living Reviews in Solar Physics was ranked third worldwide.

Throughout its history, 17 researchers from the Max Planck Society have won the Nobel Prize, as did 15 researchers from its precursor, the Kaiser Wilhelm Society. Spanish scientist Juan Ignacio Cirac, 2006 Prince of Asturias Award for Technical and Scientific Research, heads the Theory Division at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics. In the latest ranking of non-university research institutions published by the British magazine Times Higher Education Supplement in 2006, the Max Planck Society was ranked first in scientific research and third in technological research worldwide.

According to the Statutes of the Foundation, the Prince of Asturias Awards aim “to reward scientific, technical, cultural, social and humanitarian work carried out at an international level by individuals, institutions or groups of individuals or institutions”. As part of this spirit, the Prince of Asturias Award for International Cooperation shall be conferred on those “whose work with another or others in areas such as public health, universal education, environmental protection and social and economic development, among others, constitutes an outstanding contribution at the international level”.

This year a total of 26 candidatures from Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, China, Colombia, France, Germany, Ghana, Italy, Kuwait, Netherlands, Norway, Palestine, Panama, South Africa, United States and Spain ran for the award.

This was the sixth of eight Prince of Asturias Awards to be bestowed this year for the thirty-three year. The Prince of Asturias Award for the Arts went to Austrian filmmaker and playwright Michael Haneke, the Prince of Asturias Award for Social Sciences was given to Dutch sociologist Saskia Sassen, the Prince of Asturias Award for Communication and Humanities went to US photographer Annie Leibovitz , the Prince of Asturias Award for Technical and Scientific Research was jointly bestowed on physicists Peter Higgs (UK) and François Englert (Belgium), together with the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) and the Prince of Asturias Award for Literature was given to Spanish writer Antonio Muñoz Molina. The Prince of Asturias Award for Sports will be announced next week. The Prince of Asturias Award for Concord being announced in September.

Each Prince of Asturias Award comprises a Joan Miró sculpture, representing and symbolising the Awards, a cash prize of 50,000 euros, a diploma and an insignia. The awards will be presented in the autumn in Oviedo at a grand ceremony chaired by H.R.H. the Prince of Asturias.

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