Nernst-Haber-Bodenstein prize awarded to Ellen Backus

May 16, 2018

On May 10, 2018 the Deutsche Bunsen-Gesellschaft has awarded the Nernst-Haber-Bodenstein prize to Dr. Ellen Backus of the Max Planck Institute for Polymer research in Mainz. With this prize the Bunsen Gesellschaft recognizes Ellen Backus for her original and unique experimental contribution to unravel the structure and dynamics of molecules, especially water, at interface. The award was handed to her during the opening ceremony of this years meeting of the german physical chemistry society in Hannover.

Ellen Backus is awarded with the Nernst-Haber-Bodenstein Prize at a ceremony in Hannover. From left to right: Dr. Uwe Nickel, first chairman of the Deutsche Bunsen Gesellschaft, Dr. Ellen Backus and Prof. Mischa Bonn, Director at MPI-P.

The Nernst-Haber-Bodenstein prize is awarded every year to a young scientist up to 40 years for outstanding achievements in physical chemistry. This year the prize was given to two scientists: Ellen Backus and Joachim Paier from the Humboldt University in Berlin.

Ellen Backus leads the research group “Water at interfaces”. The research in her group focusses on understanding the structure and dynamics of water molecules at interfaces. Amongst others, the properties of water adjacent to hard and soft interfaces are relevant for applications in electrochemistry, folding of macromolecules, and catalysis. In order to study selectively water molecules at interfaces she uses time-resolved nonlinear optical spectroscopic techniques.

Ellen Backus has been group leader at the MPI-P since 2012. She studied chemistry at the University of Amsterdam followed by a PhD at the Leiden University. She performed her first postdoctoral work at the University of Zurich partly funded by a Talent stipend from the Dutch organization for scientific research (NWO). Afterwards she received a VENI grant from NWO to perform an independent PostDoc at the FOM institute AMOLF in Amsterdam. In 2013 she received an ERC starting grant for her project “Fundamentals of Photocatalytic Splitting of water”. Since 2014 she has a Minerva position from the Max Planck Society.

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