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Award Recipient 2022: Dr. Mai Thi Nguyen-Kim

Photo: Andreas Schmitter

Science Journalist Mai Thi Nguyen-Kim Chosen to Receive the Aachen Engineering Award

With formats and broadcasts such as maiLab, Terra X and MAITHINK X - the Show, she stands for modern, engaging, and winning science communication. Dr. Mai Thi Nguyen-Kim has been one of Germany’s most distinguished science communicators for several years now. Her YouTube channel maiLab has more than 1.4 million subscribers, and the shows there have been viewed more than 120 million times since September 2016. She has also become a familiar face on German TV. She hosted the science show Quarks with Ranga Yogeshwar (until November 2018) and Ralph Caspers, then switched to the Terra X team, and with MAITHINK X, she now has her own (science) entertainment show on ZDFneo. She also wrote two books, loosely translated as “Funny, Everything Is Chemical” and “The Lowest Common Reality, ” which landed her at the top of the bestseller lists both times.

When the COVID-19 pandemic swept the world, she started working as a commentator on the Tagesthemen news show. Then-German Chancellor Angela Merkel publicly praised her for her easy-to-understand presentations . Her YouTube video about Coronavirus has been viewed 6.6 million times and heatedly discussed: 50,000 viewers of the video left comments. She has been publicly praised, presented with awards (such as the Grimme Prize and the Nannen Prize), and even received the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany. On the flip side of the coin, however, conspiracy theorists filled her digital inboxes with hate mail. Her energy and courage to talk about science are nonetheless undiminished. And the need for excellent science communication is only increasing.

Raising Awareness for the Importance of Research and Progress

For her successful work as a science journalist and her special achievement to succeed in communicating complex scientific topics and in making people realize the importance of research and progress even in difficult times, Mai Thi Nguyen-Kim will be awarded the Aachen Engineering Award on Saturday, September 3, 2022, at 7pm. Hosted jointly by RWTH and the City of Aachen, the festive ceremony will take place at Coronation Hall of Aachen City Hall.

“Dr. Mai Thi Nguyen-Kim has taken science communication to another level in recent years, building a unique communicative bridge to present scientific issues in a way that is understandable to both policymakers and general society. As a scientist with a doctorate in chemistry, who still has close ties to RWTH Aachen University, she has a special and distinct role model function for our students at RWTH,” says Professor Ulrich Rüdiger, Rector of RWTH Aachen University, explaining the decision. “The Coronavirus pandemic has shown us that we must focus on communicating scientific content in an easy-to-understand manner in order for all of us to keep on talking and discussing the issues and, as a result, have more empathy towards one another,” says Aachen’s Mayor Sibylle Keupen.

The Aachen Engineering Award is presented jointly by RWTH and the City of Aachen thanks to the kind support of VDI, who sponsor the prize. It is annually awarded to a prominent personality whose work has significantly contributed to a positive perception of engineering or science or to driving further development This is the eighth time the award has been presented. The first winner was Professor Berthold Leibinger, deceased in 2018, partner of TRUMPF GmbH + Co. KG. He was followed by Professor Franz Pischinger, founder of Aachen-based FEV Motorentechnik GmbH; astronaut Thomas Reiter; Professor Manfred Weck, the long-time director at RWTH Aachen University's Laboratory for Machine Tools WZL; Professor Emmanuelle Charpentier, microbiologist and co-inventor of the CRISPR-Cas9 gene scissors; entrepreneur Hans Peter Stihl, and finally, last year, technology pioneer Sebastian Thrun.