St Hilda's College
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Molecular dynamics and fatherly sayings

11 December 2023

Die Universität Göttingen beendete am 7. Dezember das Jahr 2023 mit einer Akademischen Jahresfeier in der Aula am Wilhelmsplatz. Auf dem Programm stehen der Festvortrag von Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Thomas Kaufmann, diverse Ehrungen sowie der Jahresrückblick und Ausblick auf 2024 von Unipräsident Prof. Dr. Metin Tolan

Dr. Arman Nejad and Dr. Jan Reitzner were awarded the Dissertation Prize of the University Association of Göttingen eV for their doctoral theses at the University of Göttingen. The physical chemist, Nejad, combined theory and experiment in his dissertation. He tested the quantum dynamics of molecules using spectroscopic methods and developed a calculation method that can reproduce these findings very precisely. The theologian, Reitzner, did pioneering work in his field by researching the reception of the so-called fatherly sayings of late antique monks in the medieval West. He discovered different ways of receiving things. The two young scientists share the University Association's prize worth a total of 10,000 euros, which is supported by the AKB Foundation. The award was presented on December 7, 2023, as part of the university's annual academic celebration by Prof. Dr. Arnulf Quadt, Chairman of the University Association.

In chemistry, approximations in quantum mechanical calculations can only be truly assessed through experiments. The interaction of light with matter is particularly useful here, enabling very precise insights into the cohesion and forms of movement of the molecules. Nejad dedicated himself to this rigorous testing of quantum dynamics using the example of formic acid molecules and their molecular assemblies. He critically examined spectroscopic data from almost a century and expanded it extensively with new experiments. He has also developed a calculation method that can reproduce the experimental findings very precisely, thus enabling a precise bridge between theory and experiment for hydrogen bond systems. He has prepared his results in a publicly accessible database.

Sayings and deeds of late antique monk fathers and mothers from the Egyptian desert were collected and passed down. They had an enormous impact on Christian asceticism and spirituality and were widespread in the medieval West. Reitzner researched the reception of the Latin translation of these fathers' sayings called “Verba Seniorum” using an excerpt from the reform of monastic life in the 12th century in France. With his study, he shows how reception differs for two different monastic milieus: in manuscripts from traditional monasteries such as Cluny, they were received in a conservative manner, and their difference from western-medieval monasticism was emphasized. In manuscripts from reform monasteries, especially from Cistercian abbeys, the handwritten tradition was broken. Rather, the sayings were adapted to the respective context of the statement, and the readers were encouraged to reflect individually.