for the best doctoral dissertation of the year

With view to the extensive research activities and the resulting scientific achievements the doctoral students at the Helmholtz Centre Potsdam, GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences play a key role in contributing to an improved understanding of System Earth and to the overall success of research work carried out at the GFZ, Germany’s national research center for the solid Earth Sciences. With the Friedrich-Robert-Helmert-Award, the Association of Friends and Supporters of the GFZ (GFZ Friends) honours the best doctoral thesis of the year at the GFZ.


The winner is awarded a cash prize of 1,500 € together with a certificate and a one-year honorary membership in the GFZ Friends. The prize money is not bound to specific purposes. The award ceremony will be publically announced.

Call for entries

All doctoral candidates whose outstanding doctoral dissertation has been supervised by a scientist from the GFZ and is primarily based on research work carried out at the GFZ are eligible to apply. The doctoral procedure should – in the Helmert sense – be strongly application oriented and must have been completed during the previous year or before the deadline of the current year of application.

The Friedrich-Robert-Helmert-Award is awarded on an annual basis. The next call will be announced in time under news.

Previous award winners

10. Friedrich-Robert-Helmert-Award (2023): 
    • Ebuka Canisius Nwosu, Title Dissertation: Sedimentary DNA-based reconstruction of cyanobacteria communities from Lake Tiefer See, NE Germany, for the last 11,000 years
    9. Friedrich-Robert-Helmert-Award (2022): 

         Two first prizes were awarded to:

    • Theresa Hennig, Title Dissertation: Uranium migration in the Opalinus Clay quantified on the host rock scale with reactive transport simulations
    • Lei WangTitle Dissertation: Pressure-dependent mechanical and acoustic properties of porous sandstones and laboratory injection-induced fault slip within porous sandstones
    8. Friedrich-Robert-Helmert-Award (2021): 
    • Irina Zhelavskaya, Title Dissertation: Modeling of the Plasmasphere Dynamics Abstract
    7. Friedrich-Robert-Helmert-Award (2020):
    • Jeffrey Paulo Perez, Title Dissertation: Green rust formation and its reactivity with arsenic species
    6. Friedrich-Robert-Helmert-Award (2019):
    • Kyriakos Balidakis, Title Dissertation: On the development and impact of the propagation delay and geophysical loading on space geodetic technique data analysis
    5. Friedrich-Robert-Helmert-Award (2018): 
    • Bojana Petrovic, Title Dissertation: Studying soil-structure interaction effects: Advanced joint analysis of borehole and building seismic data
    4. Friedrich-Robert-Helmert-Award (2017): 

         Two first prizes were awarded to:

      • Sofia-Katerina Kufner, Title Dissertation: Seismotectonics of the Pamir-Hindu Kush area, Central Asia – constraint from the analysis of passive seismic data
      • Benedikt Soja, Title Dissertation: Anwendung eines Kalman-Filters in der Auswertung von VLBI-Daten
      3. Friedrich-Robert-Helmert-Award (2016):
      • Xingxing Li, Title Dissertation: Real-time high-rate GNSS techniques for earthquake monitoring and early warning

             Two second prizes were awarded to:

      • Camilla Cattania, Title Dissertation: Improvements of aftershock models based on Coulomb stress changes and rate-and-state dependent friction
      • Ina Neugebauer, Title Dissertation: Reconstructing climate from the Dead Sea sediment record using high-resolution micro-facies analyses
      2. Friedrich-Robert-Helmert-Award (2014): 
      • Patricia Martinez-Garzon, Title Dissertation: Seismo-mechanical reservoir characterization from fluid-induced seismicity

           Another recognition award was given to:

      • Gordon Schlolaut, Title Dissertation: Varve and Event Layer Chronology of Lake Suigetsu (Japan) Back to 40 kyr BP and Contribution to the International Consensus Athmospheric Radioncarbon Calibration Curve
      1. Friedrich-Robert-Helmert-Award (2013):
      • Thomas Reinsch, Title Dissertation: Structural Integrity in a Hot Geothermal Well Using Fibre Optic Fibre Optic Distributed Sensing

           Two further recognition prizes were awarded to:

      • Volker Haigis, Title Dissertation: Seltene Erden und Wärmetransport im Erdmantel: vom Atom zu makroskopischen Skalen
      • Christian Sippl, Title Dissertation: Shallow and deep structure of the Pamir-Hindu Kush