Canada Awards 2020

Eva-Maria Müller (American Studies), Alexander Erhard (Experimental Physics), Judith Rubatscher (Music Studies)
KP 2020 Bildcollage

Opening remarks 

Once a year, in November, the Centre for Canadian Studies presents the “Canada Awards for Young Scholars at the University of Innsbruck” in a public event in the presence of the Vice Rector for Research, Prof. Dr. Ulrike Tanzer. In 2020, everything was to be different and we were forced to move this scholarly and social event online. As head of the CCS, I am therefore particularly grateful that our Vice Rector has agreed to accompany our ‘virtual award ceremony’ in the form presented here. “In addition to targeted support for long-serving staff, I particularly care about the promotion of young scholars. To this end, it is important to strengthen international connections and cooperation. Both goals are combined in an exemplary manner by the Young Scholars Awards of the Canadian Studies Centre. It is a great pleasure for me to be able to attend this award ceremony every year,” says Tanzer.


Dual focus of research funding

The promotion of research in Canadian studies in the humanities and social sciences as well as the promotion of research cooperation between Innsbruck and Canadian academics in all disciplines has always been one of the core tasks of the CCS, which is the oldest centre for area studies at the University of Innsbruck. This dual focus of research funding is a unique feature of the CCS Innsbruck within the Austrian Canadian Studies Centres (Vienna, Graz) and reflected in the “Canada Awards for Young Scholars,” which has existed since 1998 and is awarded with 1,000.00 EUR in each of the two categories mentioned above to outstanding young academics at Innsbruck for completed academic work (diploma theses, master’s theses, doctoral theses, other academic work) published or submitted in the last two years.


Disciplinary range of award winners

The disciplinary range of award-winning submissions is remarkable and shows that the dual orientation of the CCS’s research funding is lived practice. In the last 20 years, the centre awarded publications from the traditional subjects of Canadian Studies, which include American Studies, English Studies, Romance Studies, Comparative Literature, Philosophy, History, Political Science, Law or Sociology. Time and again, it has also supported submissions from mathematical and business-related disciplines – such as (business) informatics, economic theory, finance, strategic management. A considerable number of award winners have also emerged from natural science subjects such as botany, limnology, ecology, microbiology, zoology, psychology and – before the separation of the medical university – medicine. Finally, papers from theoretical physics and experimental physics have been awarded repeatedly, and this is also the case in 2020.

This year, the result of the call for applications proves to be diverse once again: in the category “Canadian Studies” the prize goes to Eva-Maria Müller from the Department of American Studies (doctoral thesis) and, in the category “Scientific Cooperation,” the award goes to Alexander Erhard from the Department of Experimental Physics (scientific article). In addition, a recognition prize of 500.00 EUR was awarded to Judith Rubatscher from the Department of Music for her excellent diploma thesis. This means that for the first time, music studies are also represented among the disciplines from which the submissions come.

Current award winners

The 2020 award-winning publications are presented below (cf. links below) and supported by a project description, CV, and, if applicable, list of publication compiled by the authors themselves. It is striking that all three publications, albeit in very different ways, only seem to have taken shape against the background of an international (exchange of) ideas. 

Eva-Maria Müller’s interdisciplinary doctoral thesis “Rewriting Alpine Orientalism: Lessons from the Canadian Rockies and Austrian Alps” shows how a language that gave form to mountains as idealised places of vacancy and timelessness and reified mountain people as exotic objects and figures of backwardness, survives in modern mass tourism, and how it is resisted today in writing about mountains. According to one of the reviewers, the author “sets new standards and also makes an important and timely contribution to linking tourism studies, sustainability research and literary studies.” Eva-Maria Müller, born in Tyrol, studied in Innsbruck and Gießen, earned an MA in English and biology and spent a year in Australia as an AFS exchange student while still at school. In the academic year 2012/2013 she was a Research Fellow at the Wirth Institute of the University of Alberta, a partner institution of the CCS. Of the countless prizes and awards she has received recently, the Research Grant from the International Council for Canadian Studies (2014) and the Dr.-Herbert-Stolzenberg-Award for outstanding doctoral theses in the study of culture (2020) deserve special attention. 

Alexander Erhard was born in Vorarlberg and completed his BA, MA, and PhD studies in physics at the University of Innsbruck. He is part of Prof. Dr. Rainer Blatt’s research group and is also well-connected internationally. He has collaborated with Canadian scientists for several years, and his award-winning paper “Characterizing large-scale quantum computers via cycle benchmarking”, a collaborative paper published in Nature Communications in 2019 with an impact factor of 12.121, was written in cooperation with two Canadian professors: Joel J. Wallman and Joseph Emerson from the Institute for Quantum Computing and Department of Applied Mathematics at the University of Waterloo, and Quantum Benchmark Inc. in Kitchener. The paper describes the development of a special technique to characterise quantum computers that allows only a portion of the information about a quantum operation under study to be extracted in order to make predictions about the probability of success of any algorithm.

Finally, Judith Rubatscher’s submission “‘Singing is a part vo unsam lebm.’ Die aktuelle Gesangspraxis der Schmiedeleut-I-Hutterer in Manitoba,” a musicological diploma thesis that one of the reviewers “rated above average” and as an “extremely important research contribution.” Judith Rubatscher, born in Brixen, studied at the Mozarteum in Innsbruck and Salzburg, received several performance and sponsorship scholarships, and had already spent a year in the USA during her school years. For her diploma thesis, she conducted field research for several weeks in the Hutterite colony of Fairholme in Manitoba to explore the role of music in this Anabaptist group. Part of her research resulted in a considerable collection of sound recordings and documents, which significantly improve the research situation on these issues.

Once again, I am impressed by the works that develop between the University of Innsbruck and Canada. I close by offering my heartfelt congratulations to the three award winners and wish them every success for the future. 


Prof. Dr. Ursula Moser, Director of the Canadian Studies Centre  


The award-winning publications

Mag. Dr. phil. Eva-Maria Müller

KP 2020 Müller Bild

Rewriting Alpine Orientalism: Lessons from the Canadian Rockies and Austrian Alps

Project description

CV and publications




Erhard Alexander, BSc MSc

KP 2020 Erhard Bild

Characterizing large-scale quantum computers via cycle benchmarking

Project description

CV and publications





Mag. Judith Rubatscher

KP 2020 Rubatscher Bild

„Singen is a part vo unsam lebm“. Die aktuelle Gesangspraxis der Schmiedeleut-I-Hutterer in Manitoba

Project description

CV and publications




Article in the "Newsroom" of the University of Innsbruck >>>


Organized by the Canadian Studies Centre

Supported by: Stadt Innsbruck

Logo Stadt Innsbruck

Nach oben scrollen