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Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prizes for two Young Researchers at Leibniz Universität Hannover

Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prizes for two Young Researchers at Leibniz Universität Hannover

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Dr. Xiaoying Zhuang and Dr. Sascha Fahl awarded substantial prizes for research.

Great cause for celebration at Leibniz Universität Hannover: the German Research Council DFG is awarding Heinz Maier-Leibnitz prizes to the two young researchers Dr. Xiaoying Zhuang and Dr. Sascha Fahl. Ten of these prizes to the value of € 20,000 each are awarded annually for the whole of Germany. Two of these prizes go this year to Leibniz Universität Hannover. Funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, the prizes will be awarded in Berlin on 29th May.

34 year old Dr. Xiaoying Zhuang is receiving the prize for her research into lightweight materials for aviation. As a holder of a Sofja Kovalevskaja Prize - one of the most generously endowed science prizes in Germany - Dr. Zhuang has been conducting research at the Institute for Continuum Mechanics in the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering at Leibniz Universität Hannover since 2015. The prize enables outstanding scientists from abroad to build up a research group at a research institution of their choice in Germany for a period of five years, and to carry out an innovative research project. Up to € 1.65 million are available for this. Dr Zhuang's host is Prof. Dr.-Ing. Peter Wriggers, who is also Vice President for Research at Leibniz Universität.

The Heinz Maier-Leibnitz prize once again acknowledges the Chinese scientist's outstanding achievements in her research into stable lightweight materials. These materials are urgently needed, especially in civil aviation. Through their light weight - in comparison to conventional materials - they can help to significantly reduce energy consumption and emissions. Together with her research group, Dr. Zhuang is investigating carbon fibre-reinforced polymer composites, which could be used industrially. These materials have so far not been sufficiently investigated with respect to material behaviour and damage tolerance. Using computer simulations and experiments, Zhuang hopes to gain a new understanding of composites and thus enable them to be used in industry.

Dr. Xiaoying Zhuang was born in China in 1983 and studied at Tongji University, Shanghai. After stays in Great Britain, Norway and China she went to Weimar in 2014 before changing to Leibniz Universität Hannover in 2015.

Heinz Maier-Leibnitz prize winner Dr. Sascha Fahl is an interim professor at Leibniz Universität and in charge of the Institute for IT Security. The 33 year old conducts research into how the usability of IT systems affects IT security. In his research, Fahl focuses on the "human factor"; in other words in his investigations he takes psychological and sociological aspects into account alongside IT issues. "Only if IT security mechanisms are easy to use can a high degree of security of information and personal privacy be achieved," explains the researcher. By using empirical methods he is able to bridge the disciplines. Which factors contribute to a developer being able to deliver a product that is as secure as possible? What are the most effective methods against cyber crime? How can we best protect the personal privacy of users in the internet? Sascha Fahl wants to pursue these and other highly topical core research areas in the next few years.

Fahl's research results have already been incorporated in the mobile operating system Android and the Chrome browser. In last year's NSA "Best Scientific Cybersecurity Paper Competition", one of his papers was commended as a groundbreaking contribution to IT security research.

After studying Information Technology in Marburg and his PhD, Sascha Fahl worked in the Chrome Security Team for Google and as a scientific assistant at Fraunhofer FKIE, among others. He was also a Junior Research Group Leader at CISPA, Saarland University.