HR Excellence in Science
Date: 31.10.2023

Gerrit Angst awarded the Lumina quaeruntur premium. He will start a new research team

Soil biologist Gerrit Angst from the Biology Centre of the CAS received the prestigious Lumina quaeruntur Premium from the President of the Czech Academy of Sciences. This generous grant for promising young researchers will enable him to set up his research group focusing on soil biochemistry. According to Gerrit Angst, soil plays a key role in the fight against climate change and its importance is not yet fully appreciated.

Gerrit Angst is a soil biologist originally from Germany. He plans to establish a research group Soil Biochemistry at the Biology Centre of the CAS in České Budějovice, working between soil biology and chemistry. The study of the dynamics of soil organic matter, including the influence of soil fauna, is one of the fundamental issues in contemporary ecological research. It plays a key role for the adaptation of society to climate change or for the preservation of soil fertility.

"Soil is a basic element in the fight against climate change because it can store huge amounts of carbon, not only in the topsoil but also in the subsoil. Yet the functions of soil and its importance are still underestimated," emphasises Gerrit Angst.

His research focuses on the role of earthworms and other soil fauna in the process of soil stabilisation and carbon storage. "Soil fauna control the incorporation of organic matter into the soil, thereby influencing both the quantity and quality of organic substrates available to micro-organisms," explains the scientist, who will work with his team on analyses and experiments both in the laboratory and in the field. "We will be investigating soil in various European countries, including Germany and Switzerland, in addition to the Czech Republic," he says.

Gerrit Angst studied geography, pedology and spatial planning at the University of Bonn. He holds a PhD from the Technical University of Munich. He worked at the University of Leipzig, but also had postdoctoral experience at the Biology Centre of the CAS.

Gerrit Angst receives the award from the President of the Czech Academy of Sciences, Eva Zažímalová, in the presence of the Director of the Biology Centre of the CAS, Libor Grubhoffer. Photo: Jana Plavec, AV ČR

The Lumina quaeruntur Premium targets promising scientists of the younger and middle generation. The programme, with support of up to four million crowns per calendar year for a maximum of five years, will enable them to set up their own research team.

"These young scientists with a great passion for their field are the future of the Czech Academy of Sciences. I am glad that we can support them in their take-off, also because the financial support at the state level for keeping young scientists - or for their return from abroad - is not really very significant," says Eva Zažímalová, President of the Czech Academy of Sciences. The Lumina quaeruntur award was given to five researchers this year. It was first awarded in 2018, and a total of 31 scientists have received it so far.




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