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Awards for More Sustainability

The 2020 “CAMPUS AWARD: Research for a Sustainable Future” was awarded to two University of Bremen graduates – engineer Dr. Georg Pesch and the marine biologist Julian Engel, who wrote his master’s thesis at the Leibniz Centre for Marine Tropical Research (ZMT).

Due to the ongoing corona crisis, the award ceremony in May has been cancelled. “We owe it to all the remarkable nominations to honor them and choose a winner,” explains Dr. Rita Kellner-Stoll from the KELLNER & STOLL-FOUNDATION. “Of course, we also hope to be able to celebrate the award winners in person again next year.” Georg Pesch from the Faculty of Production Engineering at the University of Bremen will receive 2,000 euros prize money for his doctoral dissertation, which he completed with top grades. Julian Engel will receive 1,000 euros for his master’s thesis, which he completed in the frame of the "International Studies of Aquatic Tropical Ecosystems (ISATEC)" joint program at the Leibniz Centre for Marine Tropical Research (ZMT) and the University of Bremen.

Winner Establishes Marine Conservation Area in the Philippines

At the beginning of Julian Engel's thesis was a fish: The pelagic thresher shark lives in depths that man rarely enters. Near the island of Malapascua in the Philippines, however, divers can observe the thresher shark at so-called "cleaning stations", where small marine animals cleanse the shark from parasites. As a top hunter, the thresher shark plays an important role in the local ecosystem, but the animals are increasingly threatened. Destructive fishing practices and overfishing are reducing the populations of thresher sharks and other fish species. Tourism is already exceeding capacity. “There should therefore be alternative sources of income for local people, combined with a development towards eco-tourism that takes into account the various interests from fishermen to diving operators,” says Julian Engel. In his master's thesis at ZMT, the 30-year-old investigated the question of how to foster such a symbiosis on the island of Malapascua. During his interviews he always focused on having a dialogue with all parties involved. After completing his research, Engel returned to the island to present his findings to fishermen, island administrators and other stakeholders.

His mission fell on fertile ground: Not least based on Julian Engel's suggestion, the various stakeholders discussed the establishment of a marine protected area (MPA) around Chocolate Island in the southwest of Malapascua – a project that the "People and the Sea" organization continued to pursue. Parts of Julian Engel’s prize money are now going to Malapascua to support the local people whose tourist activities are affected by the Corona crisis.

“We Must Learn to Listen to Each Other More”

Jury member Fabio Nicoletti from the board of the University of Bremen Alumni Association praised the master's thesis for its “balanced consideration of all dimensions of sustainability”. The jury was also impressed by Engel’s critical reflection of the research results and his considerations of alternatives and their consequences. “With great personal commitment, Julian Engel organized and implemented the exchange of knowledge with the local population, officials and non-governmental organizations in a careful, culturally sensitive manner,” said Nicoletti.

“What I associate with the award and my work above all is that we need interdisciplinary approaches to achieve sustainability goals,” says Julian Engel. “We must learn to listen to each other more and approach each other with understanding and affection in order to learn from each other.” Engel now works for the marine conservation organization “OceanMind” in England campaigning for sustainable fishing.

Better Recycling of Precious Metals

The prize winner Dr. Georg Pesch dealt with a topic from the field of process engineering in his dissertation. What is it about exactly? The sorting and selection of very small particles according to shape, material, or size from large quantities of material has so far been an unsolved task with grave consequences for the environment and negative effects on the complete recovery of precious metals from electronic waste. The same applies to the recovery of gold from valuable sludge or dust. Ecological concerns are raised in view of the scarcity of resources and the effort that is often required to extract the precious metals using toxic additives such as mercury.

A novel process is so-called dielectrophoretic filtration. It allows micro-particles to be sorted and is based on the effect of an electric field in which the particles are polarized. Prize-winner Georg Pesch describes this process in his doctoral dissertation and demonstrates its effectiveness. The results of his work make it possible to design a completely new separation apparatus that can perform a large number of previously unsolved, environmentally relevant separation tasks.

Several companies have already shown interest in testing this technology in practice. Work is currently underway on a larger demonstration plant to limit the risks for a market launch. If everything goes well, an important contribution can be made to resource protection and improved resource utilization.

"Award Has Signaling Effect"

For Georg Pesch the award came as a surprise. “Ever since my bachelor's degree, I have been convinced that process engineers have great skills to make the world more sustainable. But this should be taught even more consistently. The award for my dissertation therefore also has a great signaling effect."

Reiner Stoll, jury member for the KELLNER & STOLL-FOUNDATION, says: "What was very convincing for us was the triad of clear analysis of the environmental pollution caused by the extraction and recycling of valuable metals, the development or refinement of the method (dielectrophoretic) for the problem, and the description of the way to solve existing separation problems on an industrial scale".

About the CAMPUS AWARD

The CAMPUS AWARD honors outstanding theses written on the campus of the University of Bremen that are dedicated to the sustainable use of resources, the protection of the environment, the climate and the oceans. The award was established in 2016 and is presented once a year by the KELLNER & STOLL-FOUNDATION FOR CLIMATE AND ENVIRONMENT, the Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research (ZMT), the University of Bremen, and the University of Bremen Alumni Association. It is endowed with a total of 3,000 euros. The Bremen companies ADLER Solar, REETEC and ecolo - Agency for Ecology and Communication support the CAMPUS PRIZE as sponsors.

Further  Information:

www.campuspreis.de  (in German only)
www.stiftung-klima-umwelt.org  (in German only)
https://www.leibniz-zmt.de/en/
www.uni-bremen.de/en/alumni
 

Contact:

Dr. Rita Kellner-Stoll
Chairwoman of the Foundation Board
KELLNER & STOLL-STIFTUNG FÜR KLIMA UND UMWELT
Phone: +49 (0)421 23 05 69
Email: infoprotect me ?!stiftung-klima-umweltprotect me ?!.org

Andrea Daschner
Head of Public Relations
Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research (ZMT)
Phone: +49 (0)421 238 0072
Email: andrea.daschnerprotect me ?!leibniz-zmtprotect me ?!.de  

Meike Mossig
University Communication and Marketing Office
University of Bremen
Phone: +49 (0)421 218-60168
Email: mmossigprotect me ?!uni-bremenprotect me ?!.de

Logo CAMPUS PREIS
Portrsait of a man with glasses
„We need interdisciplinary approaches to achieve sustainability goals,” says marine biologist Julian Engel from ZMT.
Young man with beard is smiling in the camera
Photo from his office at home due to the corona crisis: Prize-winner Georg Pesch is convinced that process engineers have great skills to make the world more sustainable.