Dr. Heinrich Baur Prize 2022 Awarded for Outstanding Research in Agriculture

Research, Award |

Three researchers from the TUM School of Life Sciences have been honored for outstanding scientific work in the field of agricultural research. The Dr. Heinrich Baur Prize 2022, which comes with 5,000 euros each, goes to Prof. Sara Leonhardt and PD Martin Wiesmeier. The Dr. Heinrich Baur Promotional Award 2022, which comes with 2,500 euros in prize money, goes to Dr. Pablo Albertos.

Verleihung des Dr.-Heinrich-Baur-Preises
Prof. Wolfgang Liebl (left) and Prof. Senthold Asseng (right) awarded the Dr.-Heinrich-Baur-Prizes to PD Dr. Martin Wiesmeier, Prof. Sara Leonhardt and DR. Pablo Albertos (from left to right) (Photo: Schweitzer/TUM).

The Dr. Heinrich Baur Award recognizing outstanding scientific achievement in the field of agriculture was presented to two researchers on Friday, February 17 by Prof. Liebl, Associate Dean for Talent Management & Diversity of the TUM School of Life Sciences.

Awardee Prof. Sara Leonhardt holds the professorship of Plant-Insect Interactions and studies the chemical and ecological mechanisms that govern plant-insect interactions.

In her research, she combines ecological field methods with physiological and behavioral approaches as well as sophisticated chemical analysis. In several projects in Europe and the tropics, she and her team are investigating the influence of different habitats and local biodiversity on nutrition and thus on the health and fitness of bees.Worldwide, the decline of many beneficial insects, especially pollinators, is creating a critical situation that is already leading to restrictions in agricultural production. Prof. Leonhardt's research topic is therefore an important and central issue and shows how important ecological research is in agricultural sciences.

Prof. Sara Leonhardt presents her research results in many international journals and at conferences, and also regularly promotes the practical communication of her findings - for example, at lectures for the Freising public or at special information events for schoolchildren.

The second award winner in this category is PD Dr. Martin Wiesmeier. He works as a research assistant at the Chair of Soil Science at the TUM School of Life Sciences in Weihenstephan. As a postdoc there, he has already produced landmark work on soil condition, carbon storage and climate change in agricultural soils of various regions (Central and Eastern Europe, Africa, China, Brazil). In 2018, he completed his habilitation.

Since 2017, in addition to his employment at TUM, he has headed the Humus and Soil Microbiology Department at the Bayerische Landesanstalt für Landwirtschaft (LfL), while continuing to work on and supervise scientific projects, master's theses and doctoral students at the TUM School of Life Sciences. Wiesmeier has thus developed an intensive collaboration between the State Institute of Agriculture and the TUM School of Life Sciences at the highest scientific level.

His work on the correct and quantifiable CO2 certification through humus build-up in soils as well as his publications on soil science indicators are published in papers, but also serve as guiding handouts for agriculture.  In this way, current scientific findings on the management of soils and the associated effects on climate change are directly incorporated into agricultural advice.

The Dr. Heinrich Baur Sponsorship Award is for young scientists from the agricultural sector who are predicted to have a scientific career based on their demonstrated performance. This prize was awarded to Dr. Pablo Albertos.

Dr. Pablo Albertos received his PhD from the University of Salamanca in Spain, where he studied how signal transduction pathways regulate early developmental programs and the abiotic stress response of plants. To continue his work on plant stress resistance, he joined the Professorship Biotechnology of Horticultural Crop. at the TUM School of Life Sciences as a research associate in 2015, where he worked until the end of 2021.

At TUM, Dr. Albertos conducted research on heat stress resistance of plants, a topic with high relevance for horticultural and agricultural crop production. He was able to show that the plant steroid hormones brassinosteroids (BRs) can increase heat stress resistance in plants. He also contributed centrally to a project that focused on the growth-promoting properties of BRs and to a review article on the cold stress response of flowers, focusing on fruit trees.

In addition to his outstanding scientific achievements, Dr. Pablo Albertos was also an extremely dedicated teacher. He acquired a very good knowledge of German in order to be able to offer courses not only in English, but also in German. With his independently developed module "Neglected Crop Species" he expanded the range of courses in horticulture.

About the award:
The Dr. Heinrich Baur University gift dates back to 1966. In a donation contract, the married couple Sophia and Dr. Heinrich Baur bequeathed the Grünschwaige estate to the then Faculty of Agriculture and Horticulture at the Technical University of Munich. This will still allows the faculty to award Dr. Heinrich Baur prizes today. The prize winners are selected by the administrative advisory board of the Dr.-Heinrich-Baur-University endowment.

Susanne Neumann
TUM School of Life Sciences
Press and Public Relations