Ida Pfeiffer Professorship

The Ida Pfeiffer Professorship of the Faculty of Earth Sciences, Geography and Astronomy supports the mission of the Faculty to do top research for the sustainability of Planet Earth. Since 2018, the Faculty is inviting top scientists for six months to trigger exciting research and teaching and act as a catalyst for the diverse research topics of the Faculty.

The 2018 call for application concentrated on the research focus “Environment/Anthroposphere”; the 2019 call focuses on “Cosmos/Earth”. Probably the next call will be open in Spring / Summer 2019.

See the main research areas of the Faculty

Ida Pfeiffer Professors at the Faculty

June - November 2018

Until the end of November 2018, Gareth Clay from the University of Manchester, is working as Ida Pfeiffer Professor at the Faculty of Earth Sciences, Geography and Astronomy. In this interview he explained, how he expanded his research from peatlands to all kinds of ecosystems, why wildfires might be an issue in Austria and what students should expect in his courses.

[See interview "Research for resilience"]

March - August 2018

Georg Feulner from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research was as "Ida Pfeiffer Professor" at the Faculty of Earth Sciences, Geography and Astronomy from March 2018 to August 2018. In an interview, he described his main areas of research and teaching.

[See interview in German]

About Ida Pfeiffer

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.

Portray of travel author Ida Pfeiffer

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