Ida Pfeiffer Professorship

The Ida Pfeiffer Professorship of the Faculty of Earth Sciences, Geography and Astronomy honors one of the first female explorers, who contributed in a unique way to geographical as well as ethnographical research in the middle of 19th century. The Viennese Ida Pfeiffer (1797-1858) dedicated her second part of life to traveling to foreign countries and undertook independently and with little financial support five journeys, including two journeys around the world, purely driven by curiosity and personal interest. From her expeditions, Pfeiffer brought back new insights into foreign cultures, ethnological and geographical observations, as well as a comprehensive collection of plants, animals like insects, minerals, and ethnographica.

As a devoted traveler as well as an internationally renowned travel writer, Pfeiffer perfectly represents the spirit of our “Faculty for Exploration”, both sharing the dedication to exploring foreign or even unknown territory of our planet. Based on Pfeiffer’s comprehensive travel reports, which were translated into several languages, the early female explorer also gained international attention by a broader public and was highly respected by the two geographers Alexander von Humboldt and Carl Ritter.

Pfeiffer may not have had the opportunity to hold an academic position during her lifetime due to her gender, however nowadays she would be a perfect representative of our Faculty and its endeavour to explore Cosmos, Earth, Environment, and Anthroposhere in greater detail, to cross disciplinary and geographical borders, and to share knowledge with other interested parties.

Call for applications

Further details can be obtained from the next call. Once published it will be provided for download on this website.

Portray of travel author Ida Pfeiffer

Portray of travel author Ida Pfeiffer (1797–1858), published 1861 (Source: Wikipedia,, Library of Congress, Public Domain)

Ida Pfeiffer Professorship Summer term 2018

From March until the end of August 2018, Georg Feulner from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research works at the Faculty of Geosciences, Geography and Astronomy as an Ida Pfeiffer-Professor. In this interview, he describes his main areas of research and teaching. (See the interview in German)