For talented, creative, and passionate young female researchers working in the field of active and interactive materials

We are living in a material world. Static materials can be rendered dynamic by programming them to respond and even interact with their environment in a spatio-temporally controlled manner, giving rise to new properties and functions. They are designed to provide innovative and sustainable solutions to assure the efficient use of resources and energy, high-quality personalized healthcare, and smart information and communication technologies. At the DWI - Leibniz Institute for Interactive Materials in Aachen, Germany, an interdisciplinary team of synthetic macromolecular chemists, chemical engineers, biotechnology experts, and physicists is developing materials with advanced properties and active functions, inspired by nature’s life-based materials.


Financially supported by the Association of Friends of DWI, Leibniz Health Technologies and the ALTANA Group, a global leader in specialty chemicals for innovative technologies, we initiated the ‘Women Interactive Materials Award’ for talented, creative, and passionate young female researchers working in the field of active and interactive materials. The final of the award will take place on-site in Aachen on September 26, 2023.

A summary of the last WIMA Symposium can be found here.


Application, organization and timeline

This year's application period is over. Please apply next year!

Program and registration

We are honored to welcome six talented, creative and passionate young women scientists conducting research in North America and Europe to the finals in Aachen this year:

  • Ana Mora Boza, Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Ceren Kimna, Helmholtz Munich
  • Christina Tringides, ETH Zürich
  • Hatice Ceren Ates, University of Freiburg
  • Fan Xu, Eindhoven University of Technology
  • Carla Fernandez Rico, ETH Zürich

The finalists will each pitch their research in 20 minutes and answer questions from the jury. In the end, three winners will be chosen.

Here you find the program with the finalists, their presentation titles and further information.

We are looking forward to an event with you that is characterized by cross-border and cross-disciplinary exchange. Therefore, we will provide drinks and snacks for your physical well-being, so that you can get in touch with the finalists, our guests from industry and academia, and DWI colleagues in a relaxed atmosphere.

You can register as a spectator here.



The jury will be chaired by:

Luisa De Cola

Luisa De Cola is since September 2013 Professor Exceptionnelle at the University of Strasbourg (ISIS) as chair of Supramolecular and Bio-Material Chemistry, and part time scientist at the INT-KIT, Karlsruhe, Germany. Since 2016 she is also Professor of the Institut Universitaire de France (IUF), and since 2019 Honorary Professor at Tianjin University, China.

She was born in Messina, Italy, where she studied chemistry. After a post-doc in USA she was appointed Assistant Professor at the University of Bologna (1990). In 1998 she was appointed Full Professor at the University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands. In 2004 she moved to the University of Muenster, Germany.

She is recipients of several awards, the most recent being the ERC advanced grant , IUPAC award as one of the Distinguished Women in Chemistry and Chemical Engineering (2011), the International Prize for Chemistry “L. Tartufari” from Accademia dei Lincei and the Catalan -Sabatier prize from the Spanish Royal Academy of Science in 2015 and the Izatt–Christensen Award in Macrocyclic and Supramolecular Chemistry and the Prize Anassilaos Arte Cultura Economia e Scienze in 2019. She is one of the 39 selected women chemists, from all times, at the Science Museum of Valencia (Ciutat de les Arts y de les Ciencies), Spain.

She has been Nominated “Chevalier de la Légion d' Honneur” by the President of the French Republic, François Hollande, and she is a member of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, of the Akademie der Wissenschaften un der Literatur of Mainz and of the Istituto Lombardo Accademia di Scienze e Lettere.

Her main interests are luminescent and electroluminescent systems and their assemblies, and nano- and porous structures for biomedical applications. She has published more than 370 papers (H index =77), and filed 38 patents.

Petra Severit

Petra Severit is a passionate, authentic and truly international leader with over 20 years of diversified background in engineering, R&D and business in global executive positions in the automotive supplier industry and the chemical industry. R&D management experience in product development, innovation, analytical laboratories, basic research and application development. Additional to the technical background work experience in strategy, strategic sourcing, business development and as managing director, as well as board member. Lived and worked in Germany, USA, China and the Netherlands.

Petra studied chemistry at the University of Cologne. After her diploma thesis at Bayer AG Leverkusen she finished her PhD in Polymer Chemistry at the Fraunhofer Organization Teltow, Germany in 2000.  She started her professional experience in the same year working in Product Development at NISSHINBO GROUP Leverkusen, Germany (TMD Friction GmbH). In 2003, she changed to NISSHINBO GROUP Troy, Michigan, USA (TMD Friction Inc.) doing Project Management, while in 2004, she returned to Leverkusen as Head of Global Raw Material Portfolio Management. In 2009, she became Director of Advanced Product Development at FEDERAL MOGUL in Bad Camberg, Germany and in 2013 she accepted an additional role in the Business Development Department for China of the same company in Shanghai. From 2014 until 2018, she became Director of Research and Technology at Royal DSM in Geleen, The Netherlands and accepted the position as Managing Director (2015 – 2018) at Royal DSM in Düsseldorf, Germany. Since 2018, she is Chief Technology Officer at ALTANA AG in Wesel, Germany and joined Velox Digital Tel Aviv, Israel in 2019 as a Board Member. Grants and Awards include the SAE Excellence in Oral Presentation Award, EuroBrake - Best Presentation Award, and the Award for excellent thesis with significant efficiency in practice from the Stiftung Industrieforschung.

Laura Heinen

Laura Heinen is postdoctoral researcher at the University of Groningen and winner of the WIMA 2022. She is currently interested in engineering artificial metabolic pathways with the aim to better understand the mechanisms of energy harvesting, energy conservation and energy regeneration as the key principles towards long-term autonomous life-like non-equilibrium systems.

Laura De Laporte

Laura De Laporte is an associate professor at the DWI-Leibniz Institute for Interactive Materials and the RWTH University Aachen. She is a member of the Institute for Technical and Macromolecular Chemistry and the Institute of Applied Medical Engineering. She studied Chemical Engineering at the University of Ghent, Belgium, and finished her Ph.D. (2009) in Chemical and Biological Engineering at Northwestern University in the US. From 2009 until 2012, she did her postdoctoral research in Life Sciences at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland. She began an academic career as junior research group leader at the DWI-Leibniz Institute for Interactive Materials in 2013, received an ERC Starting Grant in 2015, and did her Habilitation in Chemistry in 2017. In 2018, she was awarded with the Leibniz Professorinnenprogramm, resulting in a joined W2 tenure track position at the RWTH and DWI. She received tenure in 2020. Her research group focusses on designing biomaterials that control and direct the interaction with cells. Low-invasive, polymeric regenerative hydrogel therapies, consisting of nano –and micron-scale building blocks assemble into structured and dynamic 3D constructs in situ to repair soft anisotropic tissues in vivo or study mechanobiology in vitro. In 2020, Laura became part of the Scientific Advisory Board of Advanced Healthcare Materials.