Major honor: Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize awarded to Professor Gabriel Martínez-Pinedo


GSI/FAIR scientist Professor Gabriel Martínez-Pinedo received the 2022 Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation). This is the most important and highest endowed German research prize. The award ceremony was held in Bonn on May 12, 2022. The decision was announced in December 2021. The award ceremony can be followed once again via stream. Martínez-Pinedo was awarded for his outstanding work at the interface between astrophysics, nuclear physics and neutrino physics. He works at the GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung in Darmstadt and the Institute for Nuclear Physics at the TU Darmstadt.

Physicist Gabriel Martínez-Pinedo's work has helped to solve one of the biggest unsolved problems in physics in the 21st century: Where does the Cosmos produce heavy elements, such as precious metals gold and platinum? Together with other scientists, including Professor Almudena Arcones from Darmstadt, Martínez-Pinedo showed that these elements are created during the merger of neutron stars and that this process produces a distinct electromagnetic signal, a light curve, for which Martínez-Pinedo and colleagues created the term "kilonova." In 2017, such a kilonova was observed for the first time, following the detection of a neutron star merger in gravitational waves.

This scientific breakthrough is considered the birth of multi-messenger astronomy and opens up new scientific possibilities to understand the dynamics and nucleosynthesis of neutron star mergers. In the future, for example, the nuclear physics processes involved in the merger of neutron stars will be studied with unprecedented quality in the laboratory after completion of the international accelerator center FAIR currently being built at GSI in Darmstadt.

The Joint Committee of the DFG awarded the 2022 Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize to ten researchers – five women and five men. They had previously been selected from 134 nominees. Of the ten prizewinners, four are from the humanities and social sciences, four from the natural sciences and the engineering sciences, and two from the life sciences. The prizewinners each receive prize money of €2.5 million. They are entitled to use these funds for their research work in any way they wish, without bureaucratic obstacles, for up to seven years. (TUD/DFG/BP)

Awarding of the Leibniz Prizes 2022

On 12 May 2022, the Leibniz Prizes was awarded in Bonn in front of an audience of invited guests. The event was also live streamed on the DFG’s digital channels and can be viewed again at:

Portrait film about Gabriel Martínez-Pinedo

On the occasion of the awarding of the Leibniz Prizes, portrait films of all prize winners were made.

Statements on the award for Gabriel Martínez-Pinedo

Professor Paolo Giubellino, Scientific Managing Director of GSI and FAIR: „I am extremely delighted about the great appreciation of the excellent scientific work of Gabriel Martínez-Pinedo. At the same time, the award is a proof of the outstanding opportunities in the research area of Darmstadt, at GSI and FAIR as well as at TU Darmstadt. With FAIR, we will be able to further extend the perspectives of such groundbreaking research as conducted by Gabriel Martínez-Pinedo and enable further important pioneering achievements.“

Professorin Tanja Brühl, President of TU Darmstadt: “Research personalities like Gabriel Martínez-Pinedo strengthen the role of the Technische Universität Darmstadt and the GSI Helmholtzzentrum, which together have become an internationally outstanding center of nuclear astrophysics. We are proud that with Gabriel Martínez-Pinedo another Leibniz prizewinner is helping to shape the research field of Matter and Materials at TU Darmstadt.“

About Gabriel Martínez-Pinedo

Gabriel Martínez-Pinedo studied at the Autonomous University of Madrid, where he received his PhD in Theoretical Physics. His further career took him to the California Institute of Technology, the universities of Aarhus, Basel and Barcelona, among others. Since 2005, he has worked at the GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung in Darmstadt, where he heads now the Nuclear Astrophysics and Structure Theory Department and in 2020 became one of the directors of the Helmholtz Research Academy of Hesse for FAIR. Since 2011, Martínez-Pinedo has held the professorship of Theoretical Nuclear Astrophysics in the Department of Physics at TU Darmstadt. Martínez-Pinedo has received many awards; among others, he received an ERC Advanced Grant last year for the project "Probing r-process nucleosynthesis through electromagnetic signatures (KILONOVA)". He is a much sought-after speaker at international conferences, represents his field in important international committees, and publishes in prestigious scientific journals.

About the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize

The Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize is the most important research award in Germany. The Leibniz Programme, established in 1985, aims to improve the working conditions of outstanding researchers, expand their research opportunities, relieve them of administrative tasks, and help them employ particularly qualified early career researchers. A maximum of €2.5 million is provided per award. Prizewinners are first chosen from a slate of nominations put forward by third parties; the Joint Committee selects the actual prizewinners based on a recommendation from the Selection Committee for the Leibniz Program.

Awards are made to individuals who, with regards to the stage of their careers, have demonstrated superior achievements in their research areas both in a national and an international context and who show exceptional promise for future top-level accomplishments that will have a sustainable impact on the German research landscape. The prizes are not limited to certain research areas; the scientific quality of the previous work is the sole criterion for nomination. The prize may be awarded to individuals or research teams working at a research institution in Germany or at a German research institution abroad

More information

Photo gallery of the award ceremony

News release of the DFG

News release of the TU Darmstadt