Prof. Janina Kneipp teaches at the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences in the Department of Chemistry at the Humboldt Universität zu Berlin (HU) and is spokesperson of the Adlershof SALSA Graduate School. For her intensive, cross-institutional collaboration, she already became a BAM Wilhelm-Ostwald-Fellow in 2012. She has now been honoured with the Caroline von Humboldt-Professorship by HU for her innovative fundamental research and application-related results in spectroscopy at the interface of chemistry, physics and biology. Along with her outstanding international scientific reputation, she is highly committed to university self-administration and the promotion of junior researchers. According to the selection committee, she is an excellent scientist with great personal impact in all fields.
Prof. Kneipp, you teach at HU, launched the SALSA initiative “Make & Measure” in autumn of last year and you now want to devote more time to your research. What drives you - what inspires you?
I really like my job. We characterize molecules, or even very complex materials, with specific spectroscopic effects in a highly sensitive way. For me, research and teaching always come first, so one really should not refer to “more” here. I believe it is the intensity that matters. Of course, there is more time left when there are less administrative tasks or joint proposals pending - “Make & Measure” is certainly an example of how we try to jointly secure the structures we have built by aquiring new collaborative projects. This is very important, and my motivation to do something here is tremendous - and yet of a completely different quality than my reason to go to the university in the morning and look forward to the exchange with people in my lab and with the students.
What does the recognition with the Caroline von Humboldt Professorship mean for you personally?
To receive this award by my university, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, is a great honour for me! Many of those who have received this award previously have been my role models. I have tried to find similarities between Caroline’s life and mine, and this ist really difficult. The project funding associated with the award is of course wonderful, I will use it for the extension of an optical setup in our lab. For me personally, this in turn means new interesting work, fun, and, in the ideal case, new scientific insights.
What makes a day perfect for you?
A perfect day is one where nothing seriously upsets me. One that I can spend together with people that are important to me and that I like, learning new things from and with them.