Berlin, Bad Honnef, Germany – On Friday, April 1, 2022, Joachim Ullrich will assume the presidency of the German Physical Society (DPG). He succeeds Lutz Schröter, who was president of the world's largest physics society with around 55,000 members from April 2020 to March 2022 and will now become DPG vice president by rotation. The previous vice president, Dieter Meschede of the University of Bonn, is also leaving office by rotation.
"We believe in the idea that science bridges cultures," says the new DPG president, underlining a central guiding principle of the DPG. "Genuine science only functions in the long term in freedom, in open discourse, free of fear in pluralistic discussion."
The war in Ukraine makes it abundantly clear how important it is for the DPG to devote all its energies to maintaining bridges for the free exchange of scientific knowledge and opinions across national borders and cultures. This includes, in particular, concrete measures initiated by his predecessor.
An important concern of the new DPG president is the promotion of young people. "Promoting young talent also includes mitigating the negative consequences of the Corona pandemic for young, school-age people, that includes teachers," Ullrich emphasizes. Only recently, the DPG, together with other mathematics and science societies, issued a position paper on continuing education and training for teachers, calling for participation in continuing education and training programs to be made much easier.
Joachim Ullrich is convinced that a good education in the natural sciences is the basis for social participation and a discourse based on facts. "We have to support society and politics in their decisions," says Ullrich, "and provide the scientific basis for this." This applies not least to the challenges in the areas of climate and energy supply.
Ullrich believes: "The DPG has to get involved, more than ever! We have to support society and politics in finding the right way without – and I think this is extremely important – becoming political ourselves!"
For this involvement, he says, further strengthening of DPG communications is necessary. This also includes communicating how science works; there are still major misunderstandings. In this communication, he also sees the DPG as having a responsibility to support scientists who express themselves scientifically on present topics, such as the pandemic or climate change, and to protect them from hostility.
Joachim Ullrich is convinced that the success of the DPG in all its activities is indistinguishably linked to a lively, creative and inspiring association culture: "Our members are the heart of our association, and enthusiastic members are also the best ambassadors, the best source of new members. I will therefore do everything I can to preserve, and even increase, the attractiveness of the DPG for our members, and – above all – to extend it to new groups."
About Prof. Dr. Dr. h. c. Joachim H. Ullrich
Joachim Ullrich was born in Edenkoben, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany, in 1956. He studied Geophysics and Physics at the University of Frankfurt, where, after receiving his diploma in 1983, he also received his doctorate and habilitated on recoil ion pulse spectroscopy in 1994. From 1989 to 1997 he worked as a scientific employee at the Gesellschaft für Schwerionenforschung (Society for Heavy Ion Research, GSI) in Darmstadt, where he was active in the development of recoil ion spectroscopy. After a research stay at Kansas State University and a visiting professorship at the University of Missouri in 1995, he received an appointment to a chair in experimental physics at the University of Freiburg in 1997.
There he quickly brought his department to the international forefront. In 1999, Joachim Ullrich was awarded the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize of the German Research Foundation.
With his appointment as director at the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics (MPIK) in Heidelberg, he established the department of "Experimental Multiparticle Quantum Dynamics" there from 2001. As managing director of the MPIK from 2002 to 2006, he played a major role in the institute's future-oriented scientific direction. In addition, he has been actively involved in teaching at Heidelberg University as a personal full professor since 2002.
Joachim Ullrich has made a special contribution to the use of free-electron lasers (FEL) – sources of X-rays of the highest intensity and quality. Since 2006, he has been head of the Max Planck Advanced Study Group at the "Hamburg Center for Free Electron Laser Science" (CFEL), which he helped to establish in 2008 as chairman of the CFEL Management Board. One of his internationally significant achievements is the development of the CAMP multifunctional measurement apparatus. This was used to perform ground-breaking experiments at the world's first X-ray FEL at Stanford to image increasingly complex systems ranging from molecules to clusters, biomolecules and biological samples such as viruses.
Joachim Ullrich has received numerous national and international awards for his scientific work. In 2006, for example, he received the Philipp Morris Research Prize together with Robert Moshammer, and in 2021 he received the Stern-Gerlach Medal, the highest award of the DPG for outstanding achievements in the field of experimental physics.
In 2012, Joachim Ullrich was appointed President of the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB). One year later, he was elected second deputy in the presidium of the German Institute for Standardization (Deutsches Institut für Normung e. V.) as well as a member of the German Academy of Science and Engineering (acatech). Within the framework of the Metre Convention, Joachim Ullrich became a member of the International Committee for Weights and Measures (CIPM), has been its vice president since 2015 and president of the Consultative Committee for Units (CCU) since the beginning of 2014.
The German Physical Society (Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft e. V.; DPG), which was founded way back in 1845, is the oldest national and, with more than 60,000 members, also the largest physical society in the world. As a non-profit-making organisation it pursues no economic interests. The DPG promotes the transfer of knowledge within the scientific community through conferences, events and publications, and aims to open a window to physics for the curious. Its special focuses are on encouraging junior scientists and promoting equal opportunities. The DPG’s head office is at Bad Honnef am Rhein. Its representative office in the capital is the Magnus-Haus Berlin. Website: www.dpg-physik.de