In 2024 the research prize was awarded to US American Pamela H. Smith

The award went to Dr Pamela H. Smith, professor of the history of science at Columbia University in New York City. Smith’s research looks at the age of scientific revolution during the early modern period with a focus on systems of craft knowledge as well as the techniques and media used. The selection panel found her original approach compelling: her research centres on non-academic contributions to the generation of knowledge relating to objects and scientific substances. In her work Smith collaborates with scholars in the natural sciences, thus promoting interdisciplinary dialogue and the historical localisation of her research subjects.

Together with Tina Asmussen, junior professor of early modern mining history at Ruhr-Universität Bochum (Ruhr University Bochum), Smith is organising the Summer School programme ‘MINESCAPES: Socio-Natural Landscapes of Extraction and Knowledge in the Middle Ages and the Early Modern Period’, which will run from 31 May to 10 June 2024 at the Herzog August Bibliothek (HAB).

Smith’s publications include her book The Business of Alchemy: Science and Culture in the Holy Roman Empire (1994), which won the History of Science Society’s Pfizer Award. Her work The Body of the Artisan: Art and Experience in the Scientific Revolution (2004) is a groundbreaking example of how the histories of science and art can be combined. Her most recent book is titled From Lived Experience to the Written Word: Reconstructing Practical Knowledge in the Early Modern World (2022); it generalises and enlarges upon her hypothesis that the usage and working of objects in the early modern period acted as a force of innovation.

The prize jury included representatives from the Hans und Helga Eckensberger Stiftung, the HAB and the library’s international academic advisory council.

The Hans und Helga Eckensberger Stiftung was founded in 1974 in memory of Hans Eckensberger, the first proprietor and editor-in-chief of the Braunschweiger Zeitung. After her husband’s death in 1966, Helga Eckensberger took the helm of the newspaper publishing company and carried on his life’s work until her own death. The foundation’s stated mission is to promote culture, education and training for the public benefit and support people in need in the Braunschweig region. The research prize’s focus on the history of media is a reference to the Eckensbergers’ work.