Katharina Landfester joined the Max Planck Society in 2008 as one of the directors of the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research. She studied chemistry at the technical university of Darmstadt. Her diploma thesis was undertaken at the Ecole d’Application des Hautes Polymères in Strasbourg (Prof. M. Lambla). In 1995 she received her doctoral degree in physical chemistry from the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz after working with Prof. H. W. Spiess at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research on the synthesis and characterization of core-shell latexes by transmission electron microscopy and solid state NMR. After spending another year as a group leader at the institute, she moved to the Lehigh University (Prof. M. El-Aasser) as a post-doctoral scientist, where she first came in contact with the miniemulsion technique. She returned to Germany in 1998 joining the group of Prof. M. Antonietti at the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces in Golm. There, she led the miniemulsion group working on new possibilities in the synthesis of complex nanoparticles. In 2002, she was awarded her Habilitation degree in physical chemistry at the university of Potsdam. In 2003, she accepted the chair (C4) of macromolecular chemistry at the University of Ulm. Here, she started her activities in the field of biomedical applications in cooperation with several medical groups working on the interaction of nanoparticles with different cell compartments, the labeling of cells and the delivery of substances to specific sites.
In 1992 and 1994 she obtained DAAD stipends for her research activities in Strasbourg. For the research in the US in 1996 she got a DFG stipend. In 1998, she received the Liebig stipend of the Fonds der Chemischen Industrie (FCI). In 2001 she was awarded the Reimund Stadler prize of the Gesellschaft Deutscher Chemiker (GdCh) as well as the prize of the Dr. Hermann Schnell Stiftung.
From 2002 to 2007, she was a member of the Young Academy (Junge Akademie) of the Berlin-Brandenburgischen Akademie der Wissenschaften und Deutschen Naturforscher Leopoldina; in 2003/2004 she was the spokesperson for the Young Academy.