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The Austrian Polar Research Institute is excited that its board member Andreas Richter from the University of Vienna will receive several awards this year. Congratulations on:

About the laureate

Andreas A. Richter, © Ludwig Sched

Andreas leads the Terrestrial Ecosystem Research group at the University of Vienna, where he maintains an excellent and stimulating research environment. He is an excellent teacher and mentor for his students and follows an inclusive approach that provides young researchers with an optimal start into their scientific career. He was one of the founders of APRI in 2013 and its director for several years. Andreas is also very active in communicating his research and fosters APRI’s media activities, but also in public debates, where he discusses the implications of his research for sustaining the functioning of future soils by raising awareness about the impact of anthropogenic climate change on soils and the processes therein.

Andreas has become a leading representative within soil ecological research with a focus on the role of microorganisms driving soil biogeochemical processes in response to climate change. Andreas’ approach to soil ecology integrates multiple disciplines, which allows him to link data and conceptual approaches from the microorganism to the ecosystem scale. His research is driven by overarching questions of soil microbial processes with a global perspective, from the Siberian arctic, to the Amazon basin, to the Antarctic. Notably, he also includes modeling to develop quantitative and causal relationships among the biological agents (bacteria, fungi) and their respective environment (soil) which makes him a true pioneer in the integrative understanding of soils and their functions. Within soil science the work of Andreas represents one of the currently most vibrant and future oriented research fields that provide the fundament for the integrative understanding of soil functions in a fast changing world. By developing novel methods to measure carbon and nitrogen use efficiency, he strongly contributed to our current understanding of microbial stoichiometry and its consequences for the decomposition of soil organic matter. Stoichiometry is the relationship between the quantities of reactants and products before, during, and following chemical reactions. Andreas led pioneering work in stable isotope pool dilution methods to measure gross protein and cellulose depolymerisation rates in soil and litter. Importantly, he has been able to frame these cross-scale measurements into the bigger picture. This became evident, for example, through a recent publication in ‘Nature Climate Change’, where it was shown that microbial temperature sensitivity and substrate depletion together dictate warming effects on soil carbon loss via their control over microbial biomass.

His publication record includes soil science and ecology journals (e.g. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, Global Change Biology, Ecology Letters), as well as the world’s leading multidisciplinary science journals. He has a highly distinguished record of scientific accomplishments in soil science over the course of his career, and has been has been continuously listed as a highly cited researcher since 2018 (Thomson Clarivate Analytics).


The 2023 Philippe Duchaufour Medal for Soil System Science is awarded for the first time to an Austrian scientist in this field. Andreas receives it for his pioneering scientific contributions in soil ecological research, and his work as an excellent teacher and mentor for his students, following an inclusive approach. The Medal Lecture will take place at EGU in Vienna on Thursday 27 April 2023 at 19.00-20.00 Read more about the medal lecture here.

FWF’s Excellence Cluster enables cutting-edge research as an expedition into the future. It has several disciplines where Andreas together with APRI faculty member Alexander Loy will work on “Microbiomes Drive Planetary Health” as partners in the project in order to understand how Microbiomes impact Planetary Health. The cluster also includes a permafrost microbiome component. It runs over 5 years and is donated with 21 mio EUR.

Research award from the City of Vienna in the category mathematics, information science, natural science and technology was donated to Andreas for his innovative research approaches in climate change research and soil microbiology, were he contributes significantly to the excellent reputation of environmental research in Vienna and has been one of the most cited researchers worldwide for years.

We are proud and honored to have him as an active APRI researcher and congratulate him for these significant scientific lifetime awards. We wish that the donations will help to reach the defined goals successfully.

Media information

Written by Christoph Ruhsam, APRI Media Officer.
Layout by APRI-Media Team.
Header photo: Christoph Ruhsam.
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