Commemorative plaque 200 years GDNÄ unveiled at the founding site in Leipzig

Commemorative plaque 200 years GDNÄ unveiled at the founding site in Leipzig

In 1822, the physician Lorenz Oken founded the Society of German Naturalists and Physicians (GDNÄ) in Grimmaische Straße in Leipzig. The plaque commemorating the founding and celebrating the 200th anniversary in the Congress Hall at Leipzig Zoo was unveiled today at the site of the founding by GDNÄ President Heribert Hofer together with the Managing Director of the Anniversary Assembly, Zoo Director Jörg Junhold, and GDNÄ Secretary General Michael Dröscher.
Die Plakette zeigt Lorenz Oken, den Gründer der GDNÄ, und einen Auszug aus der Gründungsurkunde.

The plaque shows Lorenz Oken, the founder of the GDNÄ, and an excerpt from the founding document.

On 18 September 1822, the Society of German Naturalists and Physicians was founded by free-thinking personalities at the invitation of the naturalist and physician Lorenz Oken (1779 to 1851). The first meeting was held in Grimmaische Straße in Leipzig. Today, at this very spot, the President of the GDNÄ, Professor Heribert Hofer, together with the Executive Director of the Jubilee Conference, Zoo Director Professor Jörg Junhold and GDNÄ Secretary General Professor Michael Dröscher, presented a commemorative plaque to the public.

 “With this plaque, we commemorate the founding of our society and the outstanding personality Lorenz Oken, who, in the time of restoration and repression at the beginning of the 19th century, had the courage and the creative will to invite a free assembly for exchange among scientists to get to know and appreciate each other and united to bring the sciences forward,” said Professor Heribert Hofer. “The plaque is at the same time a reminder of the big anniversary celebration with 800 participants in the Congress Hall at the Zoo in September 2022,” said the host of the anniversary assembly, Professor Jörg Junhold. General Secretary Professor Michael Dröscher thanked the owner of the building for permission to place the plaque at the founding site, corner of Reichstraße Grimmaische Straße.

Im Zentrum Leipzigs wird jetzt der GDNÄ-Gründung im Jahr 1822 gedacht © Ulmer/Zoo Leipzig

© Ulmer/Zoo Leipzig

The foundation of the GDNÄ is now commemorated in the centre of Leipzig: GDNÄ President Professor Heribert Hofer, Secretary General Professor Michael Dröscher and the Managing Director of the Jubilee Conference, Zoo Director Professor Jörg Junhold (from left to right) at the inauguration of the commemorative plaque in Grimmaische Straße, corner of Reichsstraße.

Angelika Brandt: Thousands of new species brought to light

“Thousands of new species brought to light”

The deep-sea expedition “AleutBio” almost failed shortly before it started. But the near-drama turned into a success. Marine biologist and expedition leader Angelika Brandt describes how this was achieved. 

Professor Brandt, one year ago, on 17 July 2022, you set off with the research vessel “Sonne” to explore the biodiversity of the East Pacific deep sea. As cruise director, you were responsible for the scientific program. How did you experience the six weeks at sea?
It was the most difficult expedition of my life – and I have led many before. The problems began with Russia’s attack on Ukraine, five months before the planned start. As a result, scientific relations with Russia were frozen by the German side. Our German-Russian expedition, which we had been preparing for six years, was also affected. We wanted to study biodiversity in the eastern Kuril-Kamchatka Trench, the Aleutian Trench and the Bering Sea. The research trip was to begin and end in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. Since the end of 2021, we had the necessary permits in our pockets, the financing was secured, and the ship was basically ready to go. The emergency braking three months before the start of the expedition threw everything into disarray. 

How did you still manage to get underway on time?
We got together immediately and discussed a lot with the Federal Ministry of Research and the German Research Vessel Control Center. Finally, we agreed on a new route that would take us from the starting point of Dutch Harbor on the U.S. island of Unalaska to largely unknown deep-sea areas in the eastern Pacific and end in Vancouver. The expedition application went through the German Foreign Office, which lobbied the American authorities on our behalf. Exciting weeks followed, during which we continued to prepare the trip without knowing if and when it could take place. Through an international call for applications, we were able to fill the eight research positions that had become available at short notice. This was not an easy task, as 70 highly qualified scientists responded to the call for applications. When we received the approval two weeks before the planned start of the journey, on July 3, 2022, we were very happy. Aleutian Biodiversity Studies, AleutBio for short, was able to set sail.

Institut für Quantenoptik und Quanteninformation (IQOQI). © IQOQI/M.R.Knabl

© Anne-Cathrin Wölfl & Kevin Kess, Geomar

Stations of the international AleutBio expedition in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Trench.

How was life on board?
Pleasant and exhausting at the same time. As a team, we functioned wonderfully. As usual, we worked in shifts throughout. The work under corona conditions was arduous: We had to wear masks all the time, even on deck, and test ourselves daily for the virus. Despite great caution, we had eleven cases of corona in the six weeks, which of course made daily interaction more difficult. And the fact that the sports room remained closed for hygiene reasons did not please the young people in the team at all. We reported daily on everyday life on board and our research in our AleutBio blog, which was frequently accessed. 

And how did you fare as cruise director?
I only got four to five hours of sleep a day, but I was used to that from previous expeditions. What bothered me more was the mask requirement. I am hard of hearing and read a lot from the lips of my conversation partners. I often asked them to take off their masks and talk to me from two meters away. 

Research work in the deep sea: How can we imagine it?
Very important is the modern marine technology on board the Sonne. The ship has a twelve-kilometer deep-sea cable on which heavy equipment is lowered to take samples. There are autonomous and remote-controlled underwater devices and vehicles on board, plus several grab systems and towed devices such as the epibenthos sled. This opens only at the seafloor and collects, together with the deep-sea mud, those organisms that live at the bottom surface or just below it. On deck, the scientific team waits to sift out, pick out, sort, and photograph the critters brought up with the deep-sea mud. The rest of the sediment is fixed with ethanol to be examined days later under the binoculars for microorganisms. At the end of the expedition, the samples are packed into refrigerated containers and shipped to the home laboratories for further analysis. At my institute in Frankfurt, we took delivery of two containers last October and December.

AleutBio-Team © 2022, Thomas Walter, Expedition SO293 AleutBio

© 2022, Thomas Walter, Expedition SO293 AleutBio

The AleutBio team in a quiet minute and for once without a mask.

That sounds like a storybook expedition. Did everything go so smoothly at AleutBio?
The starting conditions were difficult, but after that things actually went well. The loss of two landers, which were to measure and record biogeochemical parameters automatically after setting down on the seafloor in the Bering Sea and the Aleutian Trench, respectively, was problematic. We tried for two days and nights, but were unable to get the landers back on deck. Finally, we had to move on and send a loss report to the U.S. authorities. This was a setback, of course. However, our sediment grab, a so-called multicorer, did help us get samples from this ocean region. We now have to study them outside their original habitat in the laboratory – with the landers, an analysis in the natural context would have been possible. 

What exactly did you want to find out during your expedition?
We are always interested in what the deep sea looks like and which organisms are predominant there. In addition, this time the focus was on two major topics. Topographically, we know that the Pacific deep-sea trenches from the Aleutian Islands to the Japan Trench to the Mariana Trench are interconnected. But is this also true for the fauna? Or do the species living there have little to nothing to do with each other? Then there is the question of the connections between the North Pacific and Arctic Oceans: what species are found there in each case, how fast do they spread, and what are the special features? The answers to such questions are important, among other things, when it comes to laying deep-sea cables or deep-sea mining, which is now being pushed more and more. And in times of climate change, we need to at least begin to understand what is happening in the oceans, which organisms are migrating where, which populations are shrinking or threatened with extinction.

Die Bühne in der Kongresshalle am Zoo Leipzig hielt dem Ansturm der Schülerinnen und Schüler stand. © MIKA-fotografie | Berlin

© 2022, Thomas Walter, Expedition SO293 AleutBio

Modern ship and marine technology on board the Sonne: Epibenthos sledge (left), Agassiz trawl (centre), big box grab (top right), multicorer (bottom right).

Are there any initial findings already?
Yes, some have already been published, others we are still reviewing. At great depths, we have found species that occur from the Kuril-Kamchatka Trench to the Aleutian Trench, so they are the same species over a distance of at least three thousand kilometers. This was not known before. In the Bering Sea, we were struck by the extraordinarily diverse habitats. All in all, we have unearthed a great many new species that will have to be studied in greater detail in the coming months and years. 

When and where can you read the results?
As mentioned, the first bachelor and master theses have already been published. By the way, we are still looking for students for further evaluations: So anyone who is interested in our work is welcome to contact me. We are currently preparing larger publications in international journals. The same applies to a research volume that will provide comprehensive information on AleutBio results. On our website we regularly report on new publications. There will be a lot more to come in the next few years. 

The research collaboration with Russia is still on hold. What will become of your connections with Russian colleagues?
There are currently no working relationships, and friendships that have developed over decades are in deep crisis. Some colleagues have more or less taken Putin’s side in the Ukraine war, which I cannot accept. A lot of trust has been lost there. We hear about repression and denunciations at Russian institutes and know that some scientists have left their country. Putin has done enormous damage to the cooperation of Russian researchers with foreign colleagues. 

Die Bühne in der Kongresshalle am Zoo Leipzig hielt dem Ansturm der Schülerinnen und Schüler stand. © MIKA-fotografie | Berlin

© Chong Chen, JAMSTEC

Newly discovered organisms of the deep sea, photographed from different perspectives: A, B: Starfish, C: Worm molluscs.

What do you have planned next?
For the time being, I am fully occupied with evaluating the samples from our expedition. I don’t expect to be in charge of the expedition again; AleutBio was my last major effort in this respect. This also has to do with the long lead time for such expeditions. After all, we wait up to four years for ship time to be approved and I would then be slowly approaching retirement age. That’s why I’m now passing on the baton to the younger generation. Currently, I am supporting the Atlantic expedition of a colleague. She has already been on several trips with the research ships Meteor and Sonne to investigate questions in the Atlantic Ocean similar to those we are working on in the Pacific. This fall, I’m going on an expedition to the Japan Trench with students. If we found the same species there as we did in the Aleutian Trench, that would be spectacular, of course. 

Will you report on your expedition and its results at one of the next GDNÄ meetings?
With pleasure.

Paul Mühlenhoff © Stefan Diesel

© Privat

Prof. Dr. Angelika Brandt, marine biologist and expedition leader.

Interview with Angelika Brandt in the cultural programme of Saarländischer Rundfunk SR2

About the person

Marine biologist Prof. Dr. Angelika Brandt is a member of the board of directors at the Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum in Frankfurt am Main. There, she heads the Department of Marine Zoology as well as the Sections for Crustaceans and Fish Science. At the same time, she is Professor of Special Zoology at Frankfurt Goethe University. Previously, Angelika Brandt was a professor at the University of Hamburg for 22 years and headed the university’s Zoological Museum from September 2004 to October 2009. The 62-year-old researches the biodiversity of the macrofauna in the deep sea and in the polar regions, specialising in the group of marine isopods. For her research, Angelika Brandt has so far taken part in 30 ship expeditions – several times in a leading role. In recognition of her extraordinary research achievements and her commitment to the protection of the deep sea, a new species of deep-sea isopod was recently named Austroniscus brandtae. Angelika Brandt is Chair of the Biology Group at the 2024 GDNÄ conference in Potsdam.

Further Information:

Paul Mühlenhoff © Stefan Diesel

© 2022, Thomas Walter, Expedition SO293 AleutBio

Das Forschungsschiff „Sonne“ vor dem Auslaufen im Hafen von Unalaska.

AleutBio figures

  • 38 researchers from 12 nations
  • 16 participating institutions
  • 3631 nautical miles traveled
  • 7230 meters of depth reached (Aleutian Trench)
  • 44 days, 2 hours, 34 minutes on board
  • 952 sampled sites
  • 643 kilometers of deep-sea cable laid

Contact for bachelor and master theses on AleutBio:

Prof. Dr. Angelika Brandt

Barbara Albert: “An important and great task”

“An important and great task”

Barbara Albert, chemist and rector of the University of Duisburg-Essen, on her first year in office, dealing with a cyberattack and focus topics in the Excellence Competition.  

Professor Albert, you have been Rector of the University of Duisburg-Essen, or UDE for short, since spring 2022. How was your first year in office?
It was exciting and productive, but also challenging. As the University of Duisburg-Essen, we are part of the University Alliance Ruhr and this year we had the chance to establish a new Research Alliance that catapults our research into a new league. At the same time, we have vigorously pursued applications for the Excellence Strategy competition of the federal and state governments, as well as our sustainability initiative and the founding of a new faculty – to name just a few examples. 

With what goal and what topics is your university entering the Excellence Competition?
Together with the Ruhr-Universität Bochum and the Technische Universität Dortmund, we are sharpening our research profile, for example in the field of neuroscience. Traditionally, however, drinking water and freshwater research is also very strong at the University of Duisburg-Essen. With the interdisciplinary Centre for Water and Environmental Research, which has been making a name for itself for twenty years, we have an internationally renowned scientific institution with impact at the UDE. Climate change requires a responsible and flexible approach to water as a resource, and that is why it was important for us to place the topic in the competition for excellence. 

On 27 November 2022, you had only been in office for just over half a year, there was a major cyber attack on your university. What exactly happened back then?
Our IT infrastructure was attacked and data was encrypted. We discovered the attack on a Sunday morning and had to disconnect the entire university from the internet on the same day. We worked for more than three months to rebuild our IT infrastructure. Part of our data was published on the so-called Darknet. 

How did your university react to the attack?
With great commitment from all members and enormous solidarity. Despite the technical difficulties, we were able to go through with the examination phase for the students at the beginning of February with more than one hundred thousand individual examination performances – that was a great achievement. But at the same time, even now, many of us are very stressed and drained, because all the involuntary extra work is getting to you. 

The state government of North Rhine-Westphalia supported your university financially in dealing with the cyber attack. How is the cooperation with politics in general?
There is a strong awareness of the value of science in the state government. However, we need more support very urgently in the building sector. Many of our buildings were built in the 1970s and urgently need to be renovated. Others we want to build from scratch. 

Institut für Quantenoptik und Quanteninformation (IQOQI). © IQOQI/M.R.Knabl


Aerial view of the Essen campus of the University of Duisburg-Essen.

Politicians often associate science funding with the hope of economic benefits. How do you deal with this?
The hope is justified, because money that flows into universities often pays off in economic benefits – especially in the region around a university. And the Ruhr is a region that is willing and able to transform. It rightly sees itself as an innovation region. The starting point for an innovation is the invention, and where does that come from? First and foremost from the universities. The UDE, for example, has been doing hydrogen research for many years, which is in great demand from partners in the economy. In my rectorate team there is Professor Pedro José Marrón, a prorector for transfer, innovation and digitalisation. He takes care of the exchange with partners from business and society and energetically promotes entrepreneurial activities, for example the founding of start-ups, from within our university. 

As a chemist, you have worked on the development of new materials. As a science manager, do you still have time for your own research?
I’m involved in Collaborative Research Centre 1487 “Iron, rethought!” and supervise – on weekends – the completion of individual doctoral theses. Unfortunately, there is not enough time for more. Saying goodbye to individual research was not an easy step, but it was a conscious one. I like being where I am now. Leading the UDE is an important and great task.

Labor im Innsbrucker Institut für Quantenoptik und Quanteninformation © IQOQI/M.R.Knabl

© UDE/Frank Preuß

Dr Daniel Grabner, coordinator in the UDE’s RESIST special research area, checks so-called mesocosm experiments. These replicate artificial mini-ecosystems and are filled with water from the Boye, a tributary of the Emscher. Various stressors are added to the water, i.e. factors that can negatively influence organisms.

You have been a member of the GDNÄ for a good ten years. What does it mean to you?
Professional societies like the GDNÄ play an important role as a contact and interface between science, civil society and politics. Their professionalism gives them credibility and neutrality. The GDNÄ in particular is exciting because of the diversity of disciplines it represents. This fits well with the aspirations of universities, whose special appeal for me is that scientific depth and expert knowledge are institutionally linked with professional diversity and breadth in aspiration. For the future of the GDNÄ and for all other scientific societies, it is important to convince new members of the appeal of scientific societies – also so that they become more international and diverse. To this end, it is necessary to develop formats that appeal to young people as well and that fit today’s times. I attended the 200th anniversary celebration in Leipzig and had the impression that the GDNÄ is on the right track.



Professor Barbara Albert, Rector of the University of Duisburg-Essen.

About the person

Barbara Albert acquired her scientific qualification at the University of Bonn. After studying chemistry, she received her doctorate in 1995 and then spent a year doing research at the Materials Research Laboratory of the University of California, Santa Barbara. She habilitated in 2000. In 2001, Barbara Albert was appointed Professor of Solid State Chemistry/Material Sciences at the University of Hamburg. From there she moved to the Technical University of Darmstadt in 2005, where she researched and taught as Professor of Inorganic Solid State and Structural Chemistry until 2022. From 2020 to 2021, she served as Vice President for Research and Young Scientists at TU Darmstadt. From 2012 to 2013, Barbara Albert was President of the German Chemical Society. She is a member of the supervisory boards of Evonik Industries and the Schunk Group, a member of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities and has received several academic honours. Professor Barbara Albert was elected Rector of the University of Duisburg-Essen in 2021 and took office on 1 April 2022.

Further information:

Ernst-Ludwig Winnacker: Cooperation with China is indispensable

„Cooperation with China is indispensable“

Research at the turn of the times: Why the long-standing science manager Ernst-Ludwig Winnacker advises cautious continuity and where he sees new potential. 

Professor Winnacker, for decades you have been committed to the internationalisation of German science. What motivated you to do so and what has been achieved?
Science knows no borders and it hardly thrives in intellectual isolation. One of the last universal geniuses, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, is a good example of this: he was not satisfied with discussions in his hometown of Hanover, but sought competition with European peers throughout his life – for example with Christiaan Huygens in Amsterdam and Isaac Newton in London. Working in such a network is indispensable today. When I took office as DFG President, I therefore made internationalisation a priority. We not only established international Research Training Groups, but also offices in important partner countries such as the USA, Russia, China, Japan and India. In addition, as chairman of EUROHORCS, i.e. the European Union Research Organisations Heads Of Research Councils, I prepared the establishment of a transnational, European research council along the lines of the DFG. The European Research Council, ERC for short, began its work in 2007, and as its first Secretary General I was able to contribute to the growing together of research. 

Today we have a war in Europe, the hostilities between the great powers are increasing, the seemingly unstoppable internationalisation is faltering. Are we witnessing the end of a golden age, also in science?
The post-war period until the early years of the 21st century could perhaps be described as a golden age of science. But with increasing restrictions in a number of countries, this is over. In 2014, for example, Switzerland limited immigration and the free movement of persons, thus breaking its bilateral agreements with the EU. For the ERC, the country is therefore only one partner among many. This was followed in 2020 by Brexit, which made the UK an unassociated third country for the ERC. The number of British and Swiss nationals in EU programmes has fallen drastically in recent years. This is a bitter loss for European research, because both Switzerland and the UK have excellent universities and non-university research institutions. They have been important partners for Germany in particular for decades. 

As DFG President, you opened the Sino-German Science Centre in Beijing in 2000 together with the Chinese partner organisation. It was intended to strengthen cooperation between the two countries in research and teaching. What has become of it?
At that time, we actually built a joint building with the National Natural Science Foundation of China, NSFC for short, in the immediate vicinity of its main building in Beijing. The centre still exists today. In the meantime, cooperation with China has become much more difficult than it was back then. At the time, China was considered a developing country. Today it has become a strategic competitor. Nevertheless, the Sino-German Centre is a success story and I am proud of it. The Centre has brought us intensive scientific contacts and cooperation in this huge country, which is about ten times larger than Russia in terms of population and holds enormous scientific potential. 

A recent study by the Hoover Institution at Stanford University criticises the close cooperation. Its author, Jeffrey Stoff, cites hundreds of publications involving German and Chinese scientists. How do you assess the study?
Fortunately, many joint publications have been produced over the years, most of which were funded by the DFG and the Max Planck Society (MPG). Our two scientific organisations had divided up China’s academic world in the 1990s: The MPG worked mainly with the Chinese Academy of Science CAS, the DFG with the NSFC, and with the individual universities, respectively. The Americans welcomed this kind of cooperation until about 20 years ago. What’s more, they even took us as their role model. I remember a joint appearance with Professor Arden Bement, the former head of the DFG’s partner organisation in the USA, the National Science Foundation, when it opened its own centre in Beijing in 2006. Today, cooperation with China is viewed much more critically in the USA. So it is probably no coincidence that German-Chinese cooperation in science is now being taken to task in such a way at Stanford. 

In the spring of 2022, Federal Minister of Research Bettina Stark-Watzinger called for attentiveness in scientific cooperation with China. A justified appeal?
Yes and no. Some issues, for example in the IT and AI sector, can be solved at national level. Other issues, for example in the field of climate protection or marine research, require intensive, international cooperation – also with China. Because the results of many of these projects can have financial consequences or be of military use, it is important to carefully examine who cooperates with whom and where, and how the results are communicated. The situation is certainly not simple. For example, the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of research plays a central role here, but this is not the case in China. And when head of state Xi Jinping recently called for the fusion of civilian and military research, it must make us think. In my view, clear dual-use projects, whose results can be used both for civilian and military purposes, should take place without the participation of Chinese scientists. Together with the DFG, the Leopoldina has adopted wise recommendations on the subject of dual use. They should make it easier to find the right balance here. 

Around forty thousand Chinese are studying in Germany and many of them are doing their master’s and doctoral theses here. A security risk?
Possibly so. But how can this be checked? It would hardly be practicable for a central body to monitor it. I think it would make more sense to check the theses individually to see if they are sensitive. The responsibility for this should lie in the hands of the project leaders or the review committees.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, research projects with Russia have been put on hold or terminated. What future do the traditional German-Russian academic relations have?
As long as Russia is waging this war, institutional cooperation can no longer take place. The Federal Government has decided on its “Roma locuta – causa finita” here I think that’s right and appropriate.

Institutional cooperation is one thing, personal contacts with colleagues in Russia and China are another. German academics have cultivated such connections for many years. What of this is still welcome today, what is acceptable and what goes too far?
As far as Russia is concerned, I think private scientific contacts are hardly responsible at present, because they can endanger researchers there. However, if such connections are maintained, the institutional sponsors must be informed. Transparency is the be-all and end-all here. China is not currently waging war against a neighbour. However, as already described, we should look closely and not fund some projects. Nevertheless, I consider scientific cooperation with China in particular to be desirable, if not indispensable. After all, the country has excellent universities and research organisations. In the latest Times Higher Education ranking for 2023, Tsinghua and Beijing rank 16th and 17th, while the best German universities, the two Munich universities, follow only in 30th and 33rd place. 

What future do you see for the major international programmes in space, environmental and energy research? Let’s think about the ISS, climate research and basic research in physics.
The programmes should continue, as long as the sanctions allow it. But the constant discussion of differences of opinion, for example on how to deal with minorities such as the Uyghurs, must be part of our scientific profile. We must not rest on these issues when dealing with the Chinese or Russian side.  

How do you assess German foreign science policy as a means of diplomacy?
Foreign science policy always arises when scientists maintain international contacts. These then not only reflect the quality of the respective projects and people, but also testify to the importance of the science systems and institutions from which they come. Often such contacts take place below the radar screens of official institutions, and occasionally they are used when a cooperation is not immediately intended to have an official character. Foreign science policy has always been a major topic, for example when it came to establishing diplomatic relations with Israel at the time.  Three scientists, Otto Hahn, Werner Heisenberg and Feodor Lynen, who enjoyed the confidence of Chaim Weizmann, travelled to Israel in the 1950s to pave the way for a meeting between Ben Gurion and Konrad Adenauer. Whether there are currently scientists whose reputation is great enough to influence the Russian government together with Russian colleagues, I dare to doubt. In the field of foreign science policy, there is a very nice book entitled “Wettlauf ums Wissen”, edited by Georg Schütte and published in 2008. Perhaps now, after the proclaimed turn of the times, we should consider a new edition of this book or a conference on this topic. 

Which regions of the world should Germany focus more on in the future? Where does potential lie dormant?
In Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, India, Brazil, Argentina and Chile. Small Singapore has at least two important universities, on the basis of which the city-state was able to become a member of the Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP). The situation is similar in Japan and South Korea. Japan was the initiator of this programme in the late 1990s, which still exists today and spends around 55 million US dollars annually on cutting-edge science. At the time, Japan did not have a particularly good reputation in science, which has since changed fundamentally. When one thinks of Taiwan, one thinks of the National Taiwan University (NTU), but also of Academia Sinica and the Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry, Yuan T. Lee, who was President of Academia Sinica until 2006. I met him often in Lindau, and once also visited him in Taipei at the Academia. Stronger scientific cooperation with Taiwan is definitely worthwhile. The DFG has maintained intensive scientific relations with India for decades, especially with the various Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), but also with INSA, the Indian Academy of Sciences, and the International Center of Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) with its two branches in Trieste and in Delhi. During my presidency, a DFG office was even established in Delhi. Cooperation with countries in South America has a long tradition and a promising future, for example in the operation of large telescopes, in environmental sciences and biomedical research. 

What role can the GDNÄ play as a German-speaking scientific society in the modern scientific world?
The GDNÄ must act as a credible mediator of science, today more than ever. Perhaps it should join forces more with other players to this end, for example with the Leopoldina. A good starting point would be engagement with school students. In this area, the GDNÄ has achieved impressive things in the past years.


© Michael Till / LMU

Prof. Dr Ernst-Ludwig Winnacker, GDNÄ President in 1999 and 2000.

About the person

Ernst-Ludwig Winnacker was born in Frankfurt/Main in 1941. He studied chemistry at the ETH Zurich and received his doctorate there in 1968. Postdoctoral positions followed at the University of California, Berkeley, from 1968 to 1970 and at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm (1970-1972). In 1980, Winnacker was appointed Professor of Biochemistry at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich; in 1984, he took over as Director of the Laboratory of Molecular Biology – Gene Centre at the University of Munich. From 1987 to 1993 Ernst-Ludwig Winnacker was Vice-President and from 1998 to 2006 President of the German Research Foundation. During this time, from 1999 to 2000, he was President of the GDNÄ. From 2007 to 2009 he served as First Secretary General of the European Research Council in Brussels and from 2009 to 2015 as Secretary General of the Human Frontier Science Program in Strasbourg. He is a member of several scientific academies, including the Leopoldina and the US National Academy of Medicine, and has received numerous honours, including the Grand Cross of Merit with Star of the Federal Republic of Germany, the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star of the Empire of Japan and the International Science and Technology Cooperation Award of the People’s Republic of China. Winnacker is the author of numerous scientific publications. These include the textbook “Genes and Clones. An Introduction to Genetic Engineering” (1984), the non-fiction books “The Genome”, (1996), “Viruses, the Secret Rulers” (1999) and “My Life with Viruses” (2021).

Further Information:

Student Program: Team portraits now on Instagram

Student Program

Team portraits now on Instagram

New on the GDNÄ’s own Instagram channel @gdnae.society are short video portraits of six student program teams from biology, chemistry, mathematics, medicine, physics and engineering. The young people describe on camera , how they experienced the 200th anniversary of the GDNÄ and what participation in the student program means for their future. On Instagram, the team portraits will be published successively.

The Instagram posts were produced by a young team from Stuttgart Media University. The team includes Gloria Gamarnik, Lena Dagenbach and Maren Krämer, three students from the Crossmedia Editorial/Public Relations program. During the Leipzig anniversary celebration, they provided the Instagram community with up-to-the-minute impressions of the conference events. The focus of the coverage was the GDNÄ’s student program. The GDNÄ Instagram project is led by Dr. Alexander Mäder, science journalist and professor at the Media University.

Nobelpreisträger Paul J. Crutzen

© Webster2703 / Pixabay

School Programme 2022: A brief portrait of all teams

Student Program 2022: Scholarship holders take stock (only in German).
Student Program 2022: Former scholarship holders report back (only in German).
Student Program 2022: The Biology Team introduces itself (only in German).
Student Program 2022: The Chemistry Team introduces itself (only in German).
Student Program 2022: The Mathematics Team introduces itself (only in German).
Student Program 2022: The Medicine Team introduces itself (only in German).
Student Program 2022: The Physics Team introduces itself (only in German).
Student Program 2022: The Technology Team introduces itself (only in German).

Change in the Board

Change in the Board

Heribert Hofer is the new President of the GDNÄ

With the internationally renowned wildlife researcher, a committed promoter of young talent takes over the presidency..

Professor Heribert Hofer, Director of the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW) in Berlin, has been at the helm of the German Society of Naturalists and Doctors (GDNÄ) since 1 January 2023. The renowned zoologist was elected to the office of President by the General Assembly and The renowned zoologist was elected to the office of President by the General Assembly for the two years 2023 and 2024 and is thus responsible for the scientific organisation of the 133rd GDNÄ Assembly in 2024 in Potsdam. As President, he replaces pharmacologist Professor Martin Lohse, who moves into the office of 1st Vice President for two years. 

Heribert Hofer (62) has headed the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in Berlin-Friedrichsfelde since 2000. Until 2017, he was also head of the Department of Evolutionary Ecology at his institute. Since 2000, Hofer has also been Professor of Interdisciplinary Wildlife Research at the Free University of Berlin. Before his time in Berlin, he conducted research at the Max Planck Institute for Behavioural Physiology in Seewiesen, Bavaria, from 1986 to 1999, initially as a postdoctoral researcher and later as an independent scientist. In 1997, he habilitated at the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich with a thesis on the behaviour of spotted hyenas in the Serengeti savannah. Heribert Hofer began his studies in zoology at Saarland University and completed them at Oxford University with a doctorate in “DPhil”. 

The internationally renowned scientist has been closely associated with the GDNÄ for many years. He has been involved in many ways: as an elected subject representative and group chair for the subject of biology, with speeches at meetings and as 2nd vice-president in the preparation of the 200th anniversary celebration in Leipzig. In addition to the dialogue with the public, Heribert Hofer attaches particular importance to the promotion of young talents within the framework of the GDNÄ student programme.