Chapman, Damanik awarded Humboldt Prize

Rice professors plan to collaborate with colleagues in Germany

Two Rice University professors have been awarded the prestigious Humboldt Prize, an international award sponsored by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in Germany.

Walter Chapman, the William W. Akers Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, and David Damanik, the Robert L. Moody, Sr. Professor of Mathematics, were recognized as researchers “whose fundamental discoveries, new theories or insights have had a significant impact on their own discipline and who are expected to continue producing cutting-edge achievements in the future.”

Walter Chapman

Walter Chapman

The prize typically includes extended visits by the honorees to work with research colleagues in Germany.

Chapman is being recognized for his work in molecular thermodynamics. His theories relate molecular forces to phase behavior, interfacial properties and mesoscale structure of such complex fluids as performance polymers, soft materials, associating fluids, patchy colloids, confined fluids, asphaltenes and gas hydrates.

Chapman plans to collaborate with Professor Irina Smirnova of the Hamburg University of Technology on research related to such novel materials as aerogels and green processes. He will also work with Professor Sabine Enders of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and faculty from the University of Stuttgart, the University of Kaiserslautern and other universities in Germany.

David Damanik

David Damanik

Damanik’s studies focus on spectral theory, dynamical systems and aperiodic order. In Germany, he will be hosted by Professor Sebastian Herr at the University of Bielefeld, where they will work on the Korteweg-de Vries (KdV) equation, which models shallow waves on water, and investigate a conjecture about the equation by mathematician Percy Deift, who stated that almost-periodic initial data lead to global solutions of the KdV equation that are almost-periodic in both space and time.

Damanik will also collaborate on projects with Professor Michael Baake at the University of Bielefeld, Professor Daniel Lenz at the University of Jena and Professor Hermann Schulz-Baldes at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, and visit universities in Chemnitz, Darmstadt, Frankfurt, Karlsruhe, Munich and Stuttgart.

The prize will be presented to Chapman and Damanik at the annual Humboldt Foundation meeting in Berlin in June.

The awards are part of the Humboldt Foundation’s celebration of the 250thanniversary of its namesake’s birth. The foundation characterized Alexander von Humboldt, a pioneer in the fields of geography whose work laid the foundations for geomagnetic and meteorological monitoring, as “an obsessive networker, a daredevil and a marketing genius.”

About Mike Williams

Mike Williams is a senior media relations specialist in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.