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Sinologist Lena Henningsen is the 2016 winner of the Leopoldina Early Career Award


Dr Lena Henningsen of the Institute of Chinese Studies at Freiburg University and member of the Young Academy has won the Leopoldina Early Career Award 2016, which is worth €30,000 and is funded by the Commerzbank Foundation. The National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina chose the sinologist for her outstanding research into present-day Chinese culture as well as her commitment to intercultural dialogue and to promoting a differentiated image of China. Lena Henningsen will be presented with the Early Career Award at the Leopoldina Annual Assembly on Friday 23 September in Halle (Saale).

Lena Henningsen (born 1978) has held a junior professorship at the Institute of Chinese Studies at Freiburg University since 2012. Her research interests include the literature, society, and popular and consumer culture of present-day China. In addition, Henningsen conducts research into popular Chinese literature in the 20th and 21st centuries, intellectual property, creativity, imitation and plagiarism in China, as well as Chinese music. Her PhD focused on the topic of intellectual property and the question of creativity, authenticity, imitation and plagiarism in Chinese contemporary literature. Prominent examples are the Chinese versions of the famous Harry Potter novels written by British author J. K. Rowling. In her dissertation, Henningsen proposed that the many instances of plagiarism and alleged plagiarism have their roots in China's media control and in the rapid growth of the global book market. She demonstrated the role that these adaptations play and thus mediated between the (pre-)judgmental attitudes of the European media and the reality of the Chinese book market.

"Lena Henningsen is an outstanding young sinologist and has already received a number of distinctions for her innovative ideas in the transfer of knowledge to the wider public as well as for her research," said the jury in its laudatory speech. "All of her activities in science and science policy are conceived and developed within the framework of intercultural dialogue." Henningsen regularly holds public lectures and translates Chinese literature in her efforts to promote a more differentiated image of China. For more than a decade, the young scientist has also been actively engaged in promoting China-related topics in schools: as head of the "China in Schools" project, funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the Robert Bosch Foundation, she helped design and offer study groups to teach schoolchildren about China. Lena Henningsen also plays a leading role in designing the teaching degree programmes and examination regulations for the Chinese language at Heidelberg University and, currently, Freiburg University.

Lena Henningsen studied sinology, music sciences and political sciences in Berlin, Nanjing (People's Republic of China) and Heidelberg. She gained her PhD from Heidelberg University in 2008, where she went on to conduct research and work as a post-doc and project coordinator for the "Asia and Europe in a Global Context" Cluster of Excellence. Lena Henningsen has received a number of scholarships and prizes. In 2007 she won the BMBF's competition "Geist begeistert" and in 2008 she received the Young Scholar Award from the European Association for Chinese Studies. Henningsen has been a member of the Young Academy since 2013. She has also received scholarships from the German Academic Scholarship Foundation, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the Robert Bosch Foundation. In 2011 she was granted the Brigitte Schlieben-Lange Scholarship.

The Leopoldina Early Career Award presented by the Commerzbank Foundation has been awarded every two years since 2010 and is presented to the winner at the Leopoldina Annual Assembly. The award honours scientists who have made outstanding contributions to the particular theme of that year's Leopoldina Annual Assembly. "Early career" achievements include any research carried out up to ten years after obtaining a doctorate. The prize is endowed with €30,000, provided by the Commerzbank Foundation.

A short film has been made to introduce this year's award winner Lena Henningsen. The film will premiere at the Leopoldina Annual Assembly on 23 September in Halle (Saale), after which it will be available to watch via the following link:

The Early Career Award will be presented at this year's Leopoldina Annual Assembly, taking place on 23 and 24 September in Halle (Saale). This two-day event will bring together scientists from all over the world to attend lectures and take part in discussions on "The Sciences in Intercultural Dialogue". With this choice of theme, the Leopoldina is responding to an increasingly important topic of discussion in research. The aim of the conference is to increase awareness of the competition among different knowledge cultures, identify obstacles to intercultural dialogue, and discuss ways of overcoming these obstacles.


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