Space law specialist lands top fellowship

Prof Wian Erlank of the North-West University’s (NWU’s) Law Faculty has been awarded a prestigious research fellowship by an internationally renowned foundation.

The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation focuses on sponsoring scientists and scholars across all disciplines and nationalities. It provides researchers with the opportunity to do research in Germany through international research exchanges and is an opportunity for Prof Erlank to research space law, a field which is becoming increasingly relevant as more manned and unmanned missions head for the stars.

“Apart from the obvious financial and academic benefits of receiving a Von Humboldt sponsorship for a specific time, once a person is sponsored by the foundation for any of their programmes recipients continue to be supported by the foundation for the rest of their lifetime,” says an excited Prof Erlank.

Among the various sponsorships awarded by the foundation, the Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellowships are some of the best known. Theses fellowships are further divided into research fellowships for postdoctoral researchers, and the research fellowship for experienced researchers.

The fellowships allow one to conduct research in Germany for between six and 18 months and include a generous monthly fellowship amount. Additional allowances cover travel and benefits for children and marital partners, who may accompany the researcher.

Apart from the general research fellowship which is open to researchers around the world, researchers from developing or transition countries can apply for the Georg Forster Research Fellowship, which has the same benefits and prestige as the main fellowship.

The latter is exclusively for postdoctoral researchers with above-average qualifications from developing or transition countries. Research must address questions relevant to the further development of their region.

Additional criteria for experienced researchers include a doctorate and an academic profile substantiated by an extensive list of reviewed international publications. The review process is rigorous and the success rate of applicants for this fellowship over the past few years has only been between 20 and 25%.

Prof Erlank was fortunate to be awarded the Georg Forster Research Fellowship and will be hosted by Prof Dr Stephan Hobe of the Cologne Institute for Air, Space and Cyber Law, in Germany.

While in Germany, he will do research on the development of the concept of ownership and property law in outer space, including an historical overview, the current state of development and the possibilities and envisaged future developments in space law.

The future holds great challenges for Prof Erlank but there is little doubt he will do himself and the NWU proud, on Earth and beyond.

Prof Wian Erlank.

Submitted on Sat, 09/05/2020 - 14:38