Shaping the European Research Area

Max Planck President Martin Stratmann concludes the 70th Annual Meeting with a speech on the future of the European Research Area

June 26, 2019

"The European Research Area is a promise for the future", said Max Planck President Martin Stratmann in his speech at the Altona Fish Auction Hall on the occasion of the 70th annual meeting in Hamburg. The central task of the Max Planck Society is to play an active role in shaping this community of responsibility. In his lecture, the Max Planck President, who had been confirmed in office a few hours earlier, addressed the risks that pose challenges to the development of the European Research Area.

In addition to the complexity, which could lead to slower decisions in comparison to competitions such as China or the USA and anti-scientific requirements, Stratmann warned above all against a performance gap in science: "The European Research Area stimulates mobility, which within Europe can lead to a brain drain instead of a brain circulation". This would increase differences between member states - with serious economic and social consequences. Hence Stratmann's appeal: "We need a strengthening of the research area in all regions through consensus and the will to react quickly and flexibly to challenges". For example, the Max Planck President advocated the so-called ELLIS initiative, as did Dioscuri. The newly launched programme aims to establish scientific lighthouses in Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe.

Focus on own initiatives

Kiran Klaus Patel from the University of Maastricht took a broader perspective in his keynote speech: The German-British historian spoke on „Europe in turmoil: Lessons from the History of European Integration“. The subsequent panel discussion with top-class protagonists of European science, Venki Ramakrishnan, President of the Royal Society, and Maciej Żylicz, President of the Foundation for Polish Science, also focused on the future of Europe. Peter Tschentscher, First Mayor of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg, opened the ceremony: "For Hamburg, the largest location for science and research in northern Germany, the Max Planck Institutes are great added value. I am delighted that the Max Planck Society is gathering in Hamburg for its 70th annual meeting".

Stifterverband Science Prize for Wolfgang Baumeister

The annual meeting was opened on Tuesday evening with the presentation of the Stifterverband Science Prize: Wolfgang Baumeister was honoured for his outstanding achievements in the field of cryo-electron tomography. The director of the Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry has developed a method that opens up completely new possibilities and numerous fields of application for structural research. The jury explained that it was awarding the prize because of the method’s great economic relevance, which is evident in important areas of high technology, such as electronics, materials technology, and pharmaceuticals. The cryo method allows larger spatial structures from cells to electronic components to be tomographically captured at very high resolutions and analysed. The prize was presented by Kurt Bock, Vice President of the Stifterverband, together with Max Planck President Martin Stratmann. The laudation speech was held by Andrei Lupas, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology. Wolfgang Baumeister went on to deliver a short presentation outlining his research.

Max Planck President Stratmann confirmed in office

On Wednesday and Thurday the panels of the Max Planck Society gathered in the Emporio Tower of Hamburg.  In addition to the Senate and the Executive Committee, these are the Sections that discuss, amongst things, the appointment of further scientific members.  At the meeting of the members of the Max Planck Society, the results of the Max Planck-wide employee survey on work culture and atmosphere were presented for the first time and the current annual report 2018 was adopted. The Senate confirmed the incumbent Martin Stratmann for the period in office starting in June 2020. This was one of the key results today’s senate meeting which takes place as part of the 70th annual meeting. The Senate Committee, convened under the chairmanship of the non-scientific Vice President of the Max Planck Society, Andreas Barner (Boehringer Ingelheim), had offered Martin Stratmann a second term of office in the light of the positive feedback from the Scientific Members. "The office of President offers a great opportunity to shape the Max Planck Society in cooperation with its panels. And the coming years will be particularly exciting," said Stratmann after his re-election. For personal reasons, however, he has reserved the right to resign from office prematurely, if necessary at the end of the 2023 Annual General Meeting.

Special honour for outstanding early career researchers

Like every year, the Max Planck Society recognized its particularly gifted early career researchers with a special medal at its annual meeting: 28 scientists were awarded the Otto Hahn Medal this year for outstanding scientific achievements, generally achieved in connection with their doctoral thesis. The official presentation of the medals took place during the Section meetings, where the award winners were introduced to the directors of their respective sections.

About the Max Planck Society

At 86 Max Planck Institutes and research facilities, scientists are conducting basic research in the natural sciences, life sciences, and humanities. The Max Planck Society has produced 18 Nobel Prize winners from its ranks since its inception in 1948. The MPG is the international flagship of German research: as well as five Institutes abroad, it runs 20 Max Planck Centers with partners such as Princeton University in the USA, Science Po in France, University College London / UK, and the University of Tokyo in Japan. Funded in equal measure by the Federal and State Governments, the Max Planck Society had a basic budget of around 1.8 billion euros in 2018. (Personnel figures as of 31.12.2018)

Please note that this articles was updated on June 25, 26, and 27.

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