Alexander von Humboldt and the Consuls in Hobart
Alexander von Humboldt was a genius — Prussian mines inspector, community educator, scientific expeditioner and cultural anthropologist, pioneer of ecology, forerunner of Darwin, and not least, a polyglot and a diplomat. When asked whether he ever slept, he was said to reply, `not if I can avoid it!’. A small gathering in Hobart of former holders of the German Government’s prestigious Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship, and friends met before Christmas to mark the birthday anniversary of this towering intellect of the early nineteenth century. And who better to support the proceedings than the honorary consuls of Germany, Austria, and France, as guests at the dinner!
Pictured enjoying the occasion are (left and right, from the front) Dr Michael Hitchman (Chemistry), Mrs Annette Hitchman; Ms Ans van Heyster, and Dr Peter Jarvis (Mathematics and Physics); Mrs Dianne Bye (Hon Consul both for Germany and France), Dr Eva Meidl (School of English, Journalism and European Languages, and Hon Consul for Austria), Dr Michael Gardiner (Chemistry), and guest of the School of Chemistry, Prof Stephen Hashmi (Heidelberg). Prof Hashmi toured Australia as RACI national visiting lecturer, and gave a plenary presentation at the Organic08 conference held at Wrest Point in December.
Since the ‘fifties, the von Humboldt Foundation has supported more than 50,000 foreign researchers on substantial stays of at least six months to work with German hosts. The programme is for high profile newly graduated PhD’s or early-career researchers, in any discipline. Reciprocally, the German Government funds the majority of a reverse-exchange scheme, called the Lynen Fellowship, whereby young German scientists can work with former von Humboldt Fellows in their home countries, provided the host institution makes a local commitment (of 25 percent in the first year and 40 pecent in the second year). Finally, the Foundation offers sur place support to hosts of former stipendiates for follow-up travel. As a case in point, Prof Gerd Rudolph (Institute for Theoretical Physics, Leipzig) will be visiting Peter Jarvis in physics for 2 months in autumn next year.
The local von Humboldt Association hopes that the Lynen scheme can be taken up more widely — both as a magnet for future staff to come to the University, and as a means of fostering international contacts in all disciplines.
For more information on von Humboldt and Lynen Fellowships, contact Dr Peter Jarvis (Physics):
Assoc. Prof. Peter Jarvis, Tel.: (03) 6226 2425 Peter.Jarvis@utas.edu.au