Press Release Heidelberg University No. 61/2024

Internationally acclaimed physicist honoured for her service to Ruperto Carola

Prof. Dr Johanna Stachel has left a lasting imprint on Heidelberg University with her work as an outstanding scientist, her commitment to university interests and the Faculty of Physics and Astronomy, and as a role model for many young researchers. Accordingly, she has been appointed Senior Professor distincta of Ruperto Carola. The university awards this life-long honorary title to excellent researchers and academic teachers who have also especially distinguished themselves through their all-round commitment to the university.

Johanna Stachel – an internationally acclaimed expert in the field of nuclear and particle physics – has “helped to shape both the development of her subject and that of the faculty and university with the same enthusiasm and equal engagement. She is, at all levels, an impressive scientist and university teacher,” underlined Prof. Dr Frauke Melchior, Rector of Heidelberg University. In 2021 Prof. Stachel was awarded the Cross of Merit 1st Class of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany in recognition of her special service to German science.

For almost three decades, Prof. Stachel’s scientific research has taken place at the Institute for Physics of Heidelberg University. She studied physics and chemistry at ETH Zurich (Switzerland) and the University of Mainz, where she also obtained her doctorate in 1982. Then she spent thirteen years as professor at the State University of New York at Stony Brook (USA), before, in 1996, she was appointed to a professorship for experimental physics at Heidelberg University. The physicist’s special research interest is in quark-gluon plasma – a primeval state of matter which today can only be generated with the aid of particle accelerators such as the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).

Prof. Stachel has received numerous awards for her LHC research in the context of the ALICE collaboration at the European research centre CERN in Geneva (Switzerland) and her activities in the scientific arena. Examples are her various involvements in funding agencies for scientific research, membership of high-level scientific academies and societies, and contributions as a reviewer and consultant for national and international scientific research institutions. From 2012 to 2014 she was the first woman to head the German Physical Society (DPG), followed by a two-year term as vice-president.

Heidelberg University has so far awarded the honorary title of Senior Professor distinctus to Konrad Beyreuther, Hermann Bujard (1934–2020), Detlef Junker, Paul Kirchhof, Andreas Kruse, Peter Meusburger (1942–2017), Thomas Rausch, Jochen Tröger and Jürgen Wolfrum.