12.04.2021 | Media Release, iDiv, TOP NEWS, Experimental Interaction Ecology

Nadia Soudzilovskaia wins prestigous German research prize for international fungi research

Plant roots with associated mycorrhizal fungi. (Picture: Super Organism, visual artist Suzette Bousema)

Plant roots with associated mycorrhizal fungi. (Picture: Super Organism, visual artist Suzette Bousema)

Nadia Soudzilovskaia (Picture: Leiden Universiteit)

Nadia Soudzilovskaia (Picture: Leiden Universiteit)

Note for the media: Use of the pictures provided by iDiv is permitted for reports related to this media release only, and under the condition that credit is given to the picture originator.

Award will give research collaboration with iDiv an extra boost.

Based on a media release of Universiteit Leiden.

Environmental scientist Nadia Soudzilovskaia has been awarded the prestigious, international Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Award by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. This German award is issued to outstanding foreign mid-career scientists that collaborate with German researchers. ‘The combination of different skills and approaches makes her research highly relevant and innovative!’

Soudzilovskaia, currently Associate Professor at Leiden University (The Netherlands) and Full Professor at Hasselt University (Belgium) from 1 May onwards, was nominated by her colleagues from the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv). ‘Together, we currently initiated an exciting research programme to study beneficial interactions between plants and soil fungi, called mycorrhiza. We focus on the impact of these interactions on soil carbon and nutrient cycles.’ Soudzilovskaia wants to use the personal award of €45,000 to give this research an extra boost.

An important collaboration between plants and fungi

In the special symbiosis between mycorrhizal fungi and plants, fungi provide the plants with nutrients, while plants provide the fungi with carbon. The interaction plays a vital role in among others fixing carbon in the soil and recycling nutrients like nitrogen. Hence it is important for stable and healthy ecosystems. Soudzilovskaia: ‘I am trying to understand the mechanisms that allow these fungi to store carbon in the soil. My colleagues and I have shown that distinct types of mycorrhizal fungi contribute to carbon storage through different mechanisms and that some work better than others. With the prize money, we will use these insights to further investigate how vegetation and fungi together control the soil carbon dynamics and create high-functioning ecosystems.’

Honoured by a prestigious prize

For Soudzilovskaia, the prize is a recognition of her scientific achievements. ‘This is globally one of the most prestigious prizes for mid-career scientists,’ she says. ‘iDiv is a great international research center working on the sustainable management of our planet’s biodiversity. It’s home to fantastic scientists and great research facilities. Collaborating with them is very inspirational for new research inquiries and the ways to realise them. It’s an honour they’ve nominated me.’

Why this award is well-deserved

‘Nadia is an outstanding scientist with a unique research profile,’ says Professor Nico Eisenhauer from iDiv. ‘She works at the interface between environmental sciences & ecology and combines experimental-based research with mathematical models. The combination of these skills and approaches makes her research highly relevant and innovative!’ Eisenhauer hopes together they will bridge the most important scientific gaps in their field. ‘In any case, I am very happy about the decision by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.’

The Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Award (Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel-Forschungspreis) is a variation of the German-based Humboldt Research Award. This award honours researchers from outside of Germany for their outstanding research record. Nominations can only be made by established researchers employed at a German institution. The prize amounts 45,000 euros.



Dr Nadia Soudzilovskaia
Professor Ecosystem Functioning
Hasselt University Belgium
Email: nadia.soudzilovskaia@uhasselt.be


Prof Dr Nico Eisenhauer
Head of the research group Experimental Interaction Ecology
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Leipzig University
Phone: +49 341 97 33167
Email: nico.eisenhauer@idiv.de
Web: www.idiv.de/en/groups_and_people/employees/details/eshow/eisenhauer_nico.html


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