Jana Zhang wins the Schnieder-Preis JUNGE MACHERIN
Berlin, 18 October 2023
The Schnieder-Preis JUNGE MACHERIN 2023 (young female rising star) goes to Jana Zhang. The judges’ decision was based on her excellent Master’s thesis on new quantitative magnetic resonance imaging (qMRI) techniques as well as her various extracurricular activities and voluntary work. Friederike Butt and Melanie Johanning received special mentions. acatech President Jan Wörner and member of the Academy Tobias Schäffter gave addresses at the award ceremony of the Schnieder-Preis JUNGE MACHERIN (in German) on 11 October in the Institute Berlin of the National Metrology Institute of Germany (PTB). Jana Zhang introduced guests to her research in the very institution where she obtained her Master’s thesis.
Decision made based on Jana Zhang’s accomplishments
Jana Zhang studied electrical engineering at the Technical University of Darmstadt and subsequently biomedical engineering at Technische Universität Berlin, majoring in biomedical imaging. She gave an e-poster presentation of parts of her Master’s thesis at the European MRI Congress (ESMRMB) in September 2021, which underscores the quality of her scientific research. During her studies, she completed a number of voluntary internships in various medical technology companies and in the clinical setting. Jana Zhang speaks four languages in addition to German and Chinese (English, French, Russian and Portuguese), plays multiple musical instruments and has won prizes in the young musician competition “Jugend musiziert”. Alongside her studies, languages and music, Jana Zhang is involved in social non-profits. While studying she participated in student initiatives, gave German lessons to refugees, and supported the work of UNICEF e.V. and schools during the coronavirus pandemic.
At her alma mater, the Institute Berlin of the National Metrology Institute of Germany, on 11 October, acatech President Jan Wörner gave an address honouring her scientific achievements as well as her extensive social engagements and her wide-ranging extracurricular interests. It was these accomplishments that convinced the panel of judges, which included Jan Wörner, former acatech President Dieter Spath, Hans-Peter Berlien, Martina Schraudner, Ellen Ivers-Tiffée and Eva-Maria Jakobs, that she is an outstanding “young female rising star”.
Tobias Schäffter emphasised the quality and originality of her research
In his award address, acatech member Tobias Schäffter, Head of the Institute Berlin of PTB and Jana Zhang’s Master’s thesis supervisor, praised the immense originality and exceptional scientific quality of the Master’s thesis. The topic of her thesis was new quantitative magnetic resonance imaging (qMRI) techniques to improve the determination of the spatial distribution of abdominal T1 relaxation times. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a common imaging technical in medical diagnostics. Doctors have to date read MRI images almost exclusively visually, that is qualitatively. The interpretation of the MRI images thus heavily depends on the experience of the medical professionals, which can lead to different diagnoses and assessment of the outcome of treatment. Quantitative imaging is therefore an important research topic. This involves obtaining spatially resolved measurements of biophysical parameters (such as T1 relaxation times). However, the measurement times are long, and variation arises, for example, due to respiratory motion. The aim of Jana Zhang’s thesis was to increase the accuracy of T1 mapping with AI-assisted motion correction and, at the same time, to reduce the measurement time. Jana Zhang researched a measurement technique that allows T1 maps to be computed from the continually captured measurements and, at the same time, fields of motion to be modelled for the abdomen. These computed fields of motion are then used to obtain motion-compensated T1 maps. Tobias Schäffter had particular praise for her attentiveness and enthusiasm, as well as her technical skills and interest in medical issues. What is so original about Ms Zhang’s ambitious Master’s thesis, he said, is the fact that both fields of motion and T1 data are generated from the same measurements. He said he had rarely received a thesis that he had such pleasure reading without it being a cause for correction.
Video of the award ceremony (in German)
00:05 Speech by acatech President Jan Wörner
02:45 Speech by acatech member Tobias Schäffter
11:15 Presentation of certificate and trophy by the founders Katharina and Antonio Schnieder
Length: 12 minutes 53 seconds
In addition, two researchers receive special mention
In addition to winner Jana Zhang, acatech gave special mention to Friederike Butt and Melanie Johanning. Given the strong field, the panel decided to award special mentions to these two graduates. The panel recognises them as excellent up-and-coming researchers and young rising stars in their own right.
Friederike Butt studied physics at the Institute for Quantum Information at RWTH Aachen. She completed her Master’s thesis on the theoretical development and analysis of new protocols for the fault-tolerant operation of logical qubits. In particular, she succeeded in developing so-called quantum circuits. They allow for the fault-tolerant transfer of quantum information between various quantum error-correcting codes. As a result, any computing operations and thus any freely programmable quantum algorithms can be run on logical qubits. Based on her results, leading experimental groups in the field of quantum computing around the world have already registered their interest in implementing the protocols developed by Friederike Butt on their quantum processors.
Melanie Johanning completed a Master’s in materials sciences at the Technical University of Darmstadt. The topic of her Master’s thesis was recycling processes of oxygen transport membranes in the context of a major Federal Ministry of Education and Research project on green hydrogen. She is currently working on her doctorate. During her studies, she gained 18 months of experience in China and Taiwan, and was a member and director of the student business management consultancy Junior Comtec.
The Schnieder-Preis JUNGE MACHERIN
The winners of the annual prize for young female rising stars are selected by a panel in recognition of outstanding Master’s graduates of courses in science, technology and engineering. Candidates’ names are put forward by acatech members. acatech’s aim in awarding the Schnieder-Preis JUNGE MACHERIN is to develop young female scientists and to motivate them to further their careers. This idea is that the winner and the recipients of special mentions set an example for girls and young women, encouraging them to pursue a career in technology or engineering. The overall winner receives EUR 3,000. The winner and the recipients of special mentions receive mentoring: researchers from among the acatech membership advise and support the outstanding Master’s graduates for twelve months. Find out more (in German)