Press Release No. 40 | 4 July 2007
New Faces for the DFG's Highest Body
General Assembly in Bonn elects four new vice presidents
New faces in Europe's largest research funding organisation's most senior statutory body. Four new members were elected to the ten-member Executive Committee of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) at its General Assembly in Bonn. The new vice presidents of the DFG are Prof. Dr. Ing. Bernd Scholz-Reiter, Prof. Dr. Konrad Samwer, Prof. Dr. Ferdi Schüth and the second woman to serve on the Executive Committee, Prof. Dr. Dorothea Wagner.
Bernd Scholz-Reiter will be responsible for the engineering sciences on the Executive Committee, replacing the new President of the DFG, Matthias Kleiner, who resigned from his post as a vice president at the end of last year to become President. Scholz-Reiter, born in 1957, studied economic engineering, focusing on mechanical engineering, in Berlin and initially worked at the IBM Research Center in Yorktown Heights, USA after obtaining his doctorate in 1990, from where he moved to the Technical University of Berlin before being appointed to the newly instituted chair of Industrial Information Technology at the Brandenburg University of Technology in Cottbus in 1994. From 1998 onwards Scholz-Reiter was also the head of the Fraunhofer Application Centre for Logistics System Planning and Information Systems in Cottbus, which he founded. Since 2000 he has also been in charge of the newly established department of Planning and Control of Production Systems and the Bremen Institute of Industrial Technology and Applied Work Science (BIBA). His work focuses on applied and industrial contract research, with a particular interest in the planning and control of production system and logistics networks. He is equally interested in the use of artificial neural networks in production systems as in the development of non-linear dynamic methods to control this type of system and the optimisation of automated disassembly lines.
Konrad Samwer, assuming responsibility for physics on the Executive Committee, is the successor of Frank Steglich, who was not eligible for re-election following six years in office as a vice president of the DFG. Born in 1952, Samwer studied in Bonn and his home town of Göttingen, where he obtained his doctorate in 1981 and qualified as a university lecturer in 1987. He was first appointed as a professor of experimental physics at the University of Augsburg, from where he returned to Göttingen in 1999 to hold the same chair there. He also spent several extended periods as a visiting researcher at the California Institute of Technology. Samwer's work on the physics of glasses, for which he was awarded the Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prize for outstanding young researchers by the DFG and the German Ministry of Education and Research in 1983, is of immense scientific interest. The discovery of "colossal magnetic resistance" in wafer-thin manganate layer structures by Samwer and one of his students opened up a new international research field, Samwer's first description of this phenomenon remains one of the most commonly cited scientific publications ever. In 2004 he was awarded the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz prize, Germany's most prestigious and most valuable research prize, by the DFG for this work, which was groundbreaking both for fundamental research as well as for application in novel materials used in computers and video recorders.
Ferdi Schüth will assume responsibility for chemistry on the Executive Committee, replacing Helmut Schwarz, who is also retiring after completing his second term in office and will take up his new post as the President of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (AvH) next year. Schüth, born in 1960, is known as an exceptionally creative scientist who is intensely curious about his subject and has a great flair for practically relevant problems. He studied chemistry and law at the University of Münster, obtained his doctorate in physical chemistry in 1988 and passed the First State Exam in Law just a few months later. Having decided to pursue a scientific career as a chemist he worked as a postdoc at the University of Minneapolis, the University of Mainz and as a visiting professor at the University of California in Santa Barbara, before he qualified as a university lecturer in Mainz in 1995. He was just 34 when he was offered a professorship in Frankfurt, from where he went on to become the director of the Max Planck Institute for Coal Research in Muelheim/Ruhr, where he has been ever since. His particular interest lies in the synthesis and characterisation of inorganic materials that are predominantly used as catalysts. In 2003, Schüth was also awarded the Leibniz Prize by the DFG for his work on mesoporous solids, uses of which include the storage of hydrogen for fuel cells or of dyes as well as for conversion of carbon monoxide to the less harmful carbon dioxide in the catalytic converters used in cars. In addition to this, he is also studying the formation of particles from solutions, one of the most important processes for manufacturing solids.
Dorothea Wagner, the final new appointment to the Executive Committee, will take over responsibility for computer science on the Executive Committee from Jürgen Nehmer, who has also served as a vice president of the DFG since 2001. Alongside Luise Schorn-Schütte, professor of early modern history from Frankfurt, she is only the second woman to serve on the DFG's highest statutory body. Born in 1957, she studied mathematics, with a subsidiary in computer science, in Aachen, where she also went on to obtain her doctorate in 1986. After working as a research assistant and then qualifying as a university lecturer in Berlin as well as acting as a locum for a professor at the University of Halle-Wittenberg she was appointed to the chair of applied computer science at the University of Konstanz in 1994. Since 2003 she has held a chair at the University of Karlsruhe Institute for Theoretical Computer Science and has been head of the algorithmics research group there. Her research interests focus on the areas of graph algorithms, algorithmic geometry, experimental algorithmics and their applications. For example, her current research projects include studies of orientation for transport network and traffic flow and cartography. Her other work also includes looking at the visualisation of networks of all kinds, for example organisation and communication networks and the Internet.
All four of the newly elected vice presidents have been elected for a three-year term of office. Together with the DFG's President, Prof. Dr. Matthias Kleiner, the four remaining vice presidents, Prof. Dr. Jörg Hinrich Hacker (for biology), Prof. Dr. Klaus J. Hopt (for law), Prof. Dr. Jürgen Schölmerich (for medicine) and Prof. Dr. Luise Schorn-Schütte (for history) and the President of the Donors' Association for the Promotion of Sciences and Humanities in Germany, Dr. Arend Oetker, who serves in an advisory capacity, they constitute the Executive Committee, which is responsible for managing the day-to-day business of the DFG that is conducted at its Head Office under the supervision of the Secretary General. Dorothee Dzwonnek, currently Secretary of State for Science, Education, Research and Cultural Affairs in Rhineland-Palatinate, has recently been appointed to succeed Dr. Reinhard Grunwald, who will retire as Secretary General at the End of August.
Further information about the new vice presidents and the other members of the Executive Committee, including profiles and portrait photographs are available online from