Chinese physicist Dr. Yun Cheng won the Yara´s Birkeland Prize 2012 for her doctorate thesis 'Hydrodynamics and Freeze Out Problems in Energetic Heavy Ion Reactions', carried out at the University of Bergen's Department of Physics and Technology.
The annual award was established by Yara to honor innovative research, with the award going to Physics and Chemistry work in alternate years.
The prize ceremony was held in Oslo. University of Bergen Professor Jan S. Vaagen accepted the award - a diploma and NOK 100,000 - on behalf of Yun Cheng, who could not be present.
Yara CEO Jørgen Haslestad told the prize ceremony gathering that the event honored Birkeland's spirit of vision, ambition and innovative entrepreneurship.
"This is the spirit we are all looking for - I, for my employees and thereby also for my company - others in this audience, surely in their ongoing search for knowledge, innovation, research and development," the CEO said.
"Also, it is about pursuing truth - knowledge - to be humble in the face of research, results and surely failures along the way. At the end of the day, it is also about making a contribution - in your area of expertise, to society," Haslestad said.
Dr. Cheng's field of research is the theory of relativistic heavy ion collisions. According to the Prize evaluation committee, her work "is pure basic research, aiming at understanding and testing the validity of quantum chromodynamics, one of the main components of the current Standard Model of elementary particles."
"In a sense, it seems appropriate that this year's winner is a foreign student at a Norwegian University. It reflects the great diversity which characterizes both the world of today and Yara as a global company," the CEO added.
Scientific prize to honor Birkeland spirit
Yara has established an award for work in the fields of Physics and Chemistry, in honor of Norway's arguably greatest scientist, Kristian Birkeland. The prize’s objective is to give attention to cross-scientific work and collaboration between universities and institutes. The prize goes to the doctoral thesis that best meets the enquiring and adventurous spirit of Birkeland's research career. The first 'Yara Birkeland's Prize in Physics and Chemistry' was awarded in 2009 to German chemist Dr. Melanie Zimmermann.
Birkeland is best known for his collaboration with engineer and industrialist Samuel Eyde which established the technique of passing air through an electric arc to form oxides of nitrogen - and the birth of Norsk Hydro's fertilizer production.
Read more about Birkeland and Yara´s history here.