On Friday, March 8th, 2024, the Environment and Climate Research Hub awarded its first Environment and Climate Award in two categories. Taking place during the celebration of  the Hub’s kick-off event, two outstanding young scientists from the University of Vienna, Tatiana Konrad and Lucia Fuchslueger, were honored with the “ECH Research Award”. Katharina Rogenhofer, alumna of the University of Vienna and committed advocate of evidence-based climate policy, received the Society Award for Environment and Climate for her continuous and outstanding commitment to civil society. The Environment and Climate Research Hub honored the significant achievements of the three women on the International Women’s Day.

The Environment and Climate Research Award makes women in science visible

“With the Environment and Climate Research Award, the ECH has set itself the goal of promoting the next generation of young scientists,” says Co-Director Thilo Hofmann. This year’s award marks the commencement of honoring excellent research by women in climate and environment at the University of Vienna.

“Granting the research award to Lucia Fuchslueger and Tatiana Konrad therefore draws attention to their outstanding research achievements, with which they have made an important contribution to a better understanding of climate change,” emphasizes Sabine Pahl, Co-Director of the research network.

Tatiana Konrad: Viewing climate and environmental issues through a cultural lens

As a postdoctoral researcher at the Department of English and American Studies, Tatiana Konrad sets an example for the interdisciplinary approach to the complex climate and environmental issues of our time. Vice-Rector Manuela Baccarini emphasizes in her laudatory speech, that Konrad’s work provides answers to the question of how cultural production, be it literary or audiovisual, can be used to solve environmental problems. Konrad places a particular focus on the topics of plastic pollution, biodiversity, climate change, and health, as well as the support and education of young and future scientists.

This award emphasizes the important role that the humanities play in solving environment- and climate issues. It encourages me to continue my work in Environmental and Health Humanities, both as a researcher and as a lecturer, and to further work on understanding climate change and environmental justice.

Lucia Fuchslueger: Interdisciplinary approach to adapting ecosystems to climate change

Lucia Fuchslueger from the Department of Microbiology and Ecosystem Research was the second young scientist to be honored. With her research on the effects of drought on mountain meadows, she highlights the need for human adaptation to climate change and the urgency of making ecosystems more resilient. In her research, she integrates approaches from empirical and theoretical ecology and combines interdisciplinary approaches, as highlighted by Vice-Rector Baccarini during her laudatory speech.

Diversity in the scientific community has already become quite important, but there is still much to do and achieve. Because of this, it is especially important to foster equity and equality and tear down invisible barriers, to change things long-term. I am very happy about this award!

The Society Prize for Katharina Rogenhofer: Tireless and committed to educating the public

“The world’s pressing problems can only be solved together,” explained the Vice Rector. “Together” in this case not only means the combined expertise, talent and passion of scientists from all disciplines, but the joint effort of these scientists with engaged representatives of civil society who are committed to meaningful scientific findings. Katharina Rogenhofer stands for this commitment with her whole persona:

As the initiator of Fridays for Future in Austria and spokesperson for the climate referendum, she is committed to increasing awareness and willingness to act against climate change in civil society. In doing so, she always combines her passion for a sustainable future with the precision of scientific findings and draws on the latest evidence in environmental and climate research. The “Institute for Climate Issues” KONTEXT, which Rogenhofer co-founded, promotes understanding of the complex issues surrounding climate change among the wider public. For this tireless and committed work, which motivates people of all generations to take action, the ECH honored Katharina Rogenhofer with the Society Award Environment and Climate 2024.

This award is for everyone, who stood up in the last years. Climate Change is a topic that can now longer be ignored, and we have the climate movement to thank for this. Now it is our responsibility to close the gaps between word and action.

Authors: Lena Schmidlechner / Nora Gau