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Ph.D. student wins Germany’s Green Talents Award

November 10, 2015

Samuel Zipper, a Ph.D. student in the University of Wisconsin–Madison Freshwater and Marine Sciences Program, is the only American among 27 up-and-coming scientists from around the world to receive Germany’s recently announced Green Talents Award. The prize is awarded to outstanding young leaders in the environmental and sustainability fields to foster their mobility as promising scientists and enhance global exchange.

Photo: Samuel Zipper

Samuel Zipper

Photo: FONA

The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research administers the award, which is in its seventh year, to promote international cooperation and creativity in sustainable development.

“I have been impressed by the German commitment to understanding and responding to climate change,” Zipper says. “German society values science very highly, which I believe is driven by the connection between basic and applied research.”Zipper traveled to Germany with the other winners for a two-week tour, meeting with leading experts and visiting some of the country’s renowned research institutions and companies, such as Ecologic Institute, Fraunhofer FOKUS and KWB – Berlin Centre of Competence for Water.

The tour allows the winners to lay the groundwork for future collaborations. They will return to Germany in 2016 for a fully funded research stay at an institute of their choice.

Zipper is a member of the Water Sustainability and Climate project at UW–Madison. His research focuses on how water moves through agricultural and urban ecosystems, which has implications for agricultural production and meeting global food demands.

While he isn’t sure yet which institute he’ll pick for next year, Zipper plans to use his stint in Germany to gain exposure to a wide range of sustainability scientists, make research connections, and expand the scope of his work.

“I believe an international perspective is required to meet global sustainability goals,” he says. “My dissertation research focuses primarily on local processes, but in order to maximize the relevance of my work, it is critical to understand how it fits into the global scientific community.”

Zipper competed against more than 550 applicants from over 90 countries. His ambitious research approach and unwavering curiosity made him stand out to the expert jury, says a press release issued by the Green Talents team.

—Jenny Seifert