#researcHER: International elite of female physicists visit Würzburg


This summer, the Hubland Campus of the Julius-Maximilians-Universität (JMU) Würzburg became a hub for female quantum physicists from around the globe. From July 31 to August 2, 2023, they gathered at the behest of the Grete Hermann Network, part of the Würzburg-Dresden Cluster of Excellence ct.qmat. “Together, we fostered new research directions. This meeting deepened collaboration between women across diverse research fields and career levels,” declared Professor Johanna Erdmenger, the Scientific Coordinator of the Grete Hermann Network.


Networking and new perspectives

The event brought together over 20 eminent female scientists, as well as rising young researchers from universities and institutions spanning Australia, France, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and the US. Notably, Professor Setsuko Tajima of Osaka University in Japan traveled to the workshop. The former president of the Japanese Physical Society delivered a lecture on “Exotic phenomena near metal-insulator transition.”


Topics discussed included combining superconductivity and magnetism for spintronics, addressed by Dr. Sol H. Jacobsen from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. Professor Adriana Pálffy-Buß from ct.qmat (JMU Würzburg) shared insights on photonic X-ray devices that exploit non-trivial topology. Additionally, Professor Susan Coppersmith, affiliated with the University of New South Wales, Australia, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA, presented a paper entitled “Quantum stochastic resonance of individual Fe atoms.”


Bridging gaps and fostering young talent

Dr. Joelle Corrigan from US semiconductor giant Intel Corporation delved into the nexus between industry and academic research. She discussed the new quantum chip from Intel, one of the global leaders in chip production. Its latest 12-qubit silicon-based chip known as Tunnel Falls serves as a test chip for research. Throughout the three-day conference in Würzburg, a total of 20 engaging presentations were delivered.


A crucial aim of the 2023 Grete Hermann Workshop was to explore avenues to encourage more young women to delve into physics, especially quantum physics. “What does gender have to do with physics?” asked Andrea Bossmann from Freie Universität Berlin. Her presentation offered a deep dive into the cultures of science. Emphasizing the importance of inclusivity, Dr. Barbara Tautz from Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München introduced the MCQST Equal Opportunity Program in her talk, “Establishing a culture of awareness.”


Held in partnership with Technische Universität (TU) Dresden, this workshop provided an invaluable platform for budding female scientists. They had the chance to interact with seasoned researcher role models, seek mentorship, and present their findings to an international audience. A standout moment was when the Young Scientist Poster Prize was bestowed upon Merit Spring, a doctoral candidate from the Institute of Physics at JMU Würzburg. Her award-winning poster was titled “Electronic Reconstruction and Anomalous Hall Effect (AHE) in the LaAlO3/SrRuO3 Heterostructure.” Plans are already in motion to continue this dynamic exchange of ideas in the future.


The Grete Hermann Network

Named after a pioneer in quantum mechanics, the Grete Hermann Network (GHN) serves as a global nexus for women researchers specializing in quantum physics and condensed matter physics. With a steadfast commitment to promoting diversity and championing equal opportunities in science, the network not only celebrates the remarkable scientific achievements of women but also provides crucial support to female researchers as they navigate their career trajectories.


The GHN’s inception was facilitated by the Cluster of Excellence ct.qmat – Complexity and Topology in Quantum Matter. This distinguished cluster is anchored at two German universities: JMU Würzburg and TU Dresden. GHN works closely with these two institutions. Its Scientific Coordinator is Professor Johanna Erdmenger from JMU Würzburg.

Date & Facts

06 Sep 2023


Cluster of Excellence ct.qmat

The Cluster of Excellence ct.qmat – Complexity and Topology in Quantum Matter has been jointly run by Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg and Technische Universität Dresden since 2019. Nearly 400 scientists from more than 30 countries and from four continents study topological quantum materials that reveal surprising phenomena under extreme conditions such as ultra-low temperatures, high pressure, or strong magnetic fields. ct.qmat is funded through the German Excellence Strategy of the Federal and State Governments and is the only Cluster of Excellence to be based in two different federal states.


Photo gallery

Header: Showcasing female leadership in quantum physics: Participants of the Grete Hermann Workshop 2023 alongside the organizing team. © Daniel Peter Fotografie/ct.qmat


Contact for journalists

Katja Lesser

Public Relations Officer of the Cluster of Excellence ct.qmat

Tel: +49 351 463 33496

Email: katja.lesser@tu-dresden.de

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