International Ellis Island Medal of Honor awarded to Bill Hansson

May 10, 2016    No. 4/2016 (159)

Jena Max Planck director and vice president of the Max Planck Society was honored in New York for his contributions to international scientific cooperation and as a global leader in neuroscience research.

Bill S. Hansson wearing the Ellis Island Medal of Honor 2016. Photo: National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations (NECO)

In a festive ceremony on May 7, 2016, Bill S. Hansson received the International Ellis Island Medal of Honor on Ellis Island, in New York. Ellis Island Medals of Honor, which were established in 1986 by the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations (NECO), are officially recognized by the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives; each year the recipients are listed in the Congressional Records.

From the late 19th until the middle of the 20th century, the central immigrant inspection station was located on the small Ellis Island in Upper New York Bay. Since 1990 the island hosts a public museum on the history of immigration. The island has therefore become a symbol for immigration and the gate to a better life. The Ellis Island Medal of Honor usually pays homage to outstanding contributions to common welfare by U.S. citizens. Past recipients include Bill and Hillary Clinton, Frank Sinatra, film director Martin Scorsese, boxer Muhammad Ali, or opera singer Renée Fleming. Since 2003, NECO also awards International Medals of Honor for special achievements and contributions to the global community.

After the former president Peter Gruss and Nobel Prize winner Bert Sakmann, Bill Hansson is the third representative of the Max Planck Society to receive this award and international honor.


About Bill Hansson:


Bill S. Hansson was born in Jonstorp, in the south of Sweden, and studied biology at the University of Lund.  After his PhD in ecology and a postdoctoral stay in the United States, he became Professor for Chemical Ecology, first in Lund and, beginning in 2001, at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) in Alnarp. In 2006, he was appointed Director at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena, Germany, and Scientific Member of the Max Planck Society. Head of the Department of Evolutionary Neuroethology, Bill Hansson focuses on neurophysiological and behavioral aspects of interactions between insects and their host plants. His main research interest is insect olfaction: How do insects detect odors, how is semiochemical information processed in the insect brain, and how does olfaction affect insect behavior? Bill Hansson is Honorary Professor at Friedrich Schiller University in Jena and a fellow of several national and international science academies, such as the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and the Royal Entomological Society. He has also received several distinguished awards for his research. Since June 2014 he is the first vice president of the Max Planck Society who does not have German nationality. As vice president he is responsible for the 27 institutes in the Section of Biology and Medicine, including the new Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience in the United States. One of his main tasks is the internationalization in the Max Planck Society. Until today, researchers in the Society have established more than 40 partner groups and 16 May Planck Centers worldwide. In this context, Hansson plays an important role as ambassador for international scientific cooperation. Since 2006 he is also a member and since 2014 he is the chair of the governing council of the International Centre for Insect Physiology and Ecology in Nairobi, Kenya.

Contact and Media Requests:
Angela Overmeyer M.A., Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology, Hans-Knöll-Str. 8, 07743 Jena, +49 3641 57-2110, E-Mail overmeyer [at] ice.mpg.de  

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