Prof. Dr. Antonio DeSimone from the Scuola Superiore S. Anna in Pisa and the SISSA-International School for Advanced Studies Trieste (Italy) receives the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Research Award. Prof. Dr. Stefan Müller from the Hausdorff Center for Mathematics at the University of Bonn has nominated the scientist for the award. Both will now intensify their cooperation. The prize is endowed with 60,000 euros.
For many years, Prof. DeSimone has been linking numerous research interests with scientists from the Hausdorff Center for Mathematics at the University of Bonn. About 20 years ago, he worked particularly intensively with Prof. Dr. Stefan Müller and Prof. Dr. Sergio Conti when they were still conducting research at the Max Planck Institute for Mathematics in Leipzig. Several scientific publications emerged. "Over the past ten years, we have all developed new research interests," says DeSimone. "I am now looking forward to working with the two scientists again and to tackling new, joint fields of research".
Prof. Dr. Stefan Müller from the Hausdorff Centre for Mathematics has nominated the scientist for the Humboldt Research Award. "Prof. Antonio DeSimone is known to me for his outstanding research achievements in the field of mathematical modelling of complex phenomena in the natural and engineering sciences," says Müller. These include work on materials with shape memory, liquid crystals and locomotion mechanisms in biological and artificial systems (robotics).
New physical phenomena
Over the next few months, the scientists plan to jointly tackle two research projects. One is the reduction of dimensions. How does one get from a three-dimensional representation and model of a body (for example a tube) to a two-dimensional (the surface of a cylinder) or even to a one-dimensional one (a straight line representing the axis of the cylinder)? "There is already a large arsenal of mathematical techniques for this," says DeSimone. "However, new understanding of physical phenomena sometimes occurs when the step from the three-dimensional to the two-dimensional or one-dimensional model is performed mathematically." Mathematicians are particularly interested in this new field.
In addition, the scientists want to work on further applied questions from biological mechanics. DeSimone: "We would like to find out how form in nature is related to function". In living organisms, the shape of muscle fibers, for example, determines how forces are transmitted. These studies are to be transferred to the material sciences.
DeSimone is professor both at of Scuola Superiore S. Anna in Pisa and at SISSA-International School for Advanced Studies in Trieste. There the SISSA-MathLab has been the place where he has conceived and developed a research programme on the mathematics and biophysics of cell locomotion. Pisa (The Biorobotics Institute) is the place where he plans to transfer concepts revealed by mathematical analysis to biomedical engineering applications and devices. He has published more than 140 papers, including on mathematical modelling of the mechanical properties of new materials and biological tissues. The scientist has received several awards, including one from Istituto Nazionale dell'Alta Matematica F. Severi, the Keith Medal of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the Prix La Recherche.
The Humboldt Research Award honours the entire oeuvre of scientists from abroad. With their findings or new theories, they have had a lasting influence on their own discipline. The award winners are invited to carry out research projects of their own choice in Germany in cooperation with their peers for a period of up to one year.
Prof. Dr. Antonio DeSimone
SISSA-International School for Advanced Studies
Prof. Dr. Stefan Müller
Hausdorff Center for Mathematics
University of Bonn