New Max Planck President takes up office

Change of presidency during the 65th Annual Meeting of the Max Planck Society in Munich

May 28, 2014
On Thursday evening, Martin Stratmann took up the office of President of the Max Planck Society. At the conclusion of the 65th Annual Meeting in Munich, he thanked his predecessor Peter Gruss for his outstanding work and outlined the highlights of his future work.  Further speakers were Minister President  Horst Seehofer and Cancellery Minister Peter Altmaier.

In view of the scientific and economic competition between the metropolitan areas of America, Asia and Europe, the new President pleaded for a further strengthening of the European Research Area: "The Max Planck Society has created outstanding opportunities for such an approach with its Max Planck Centers, Partner Groups and institutes abroad.  Startmann went on to say that this European commitment could be extended, also in terms of "economic and scientific development, particularly in Eastern Europe". He emphasized: "Europe must increase its attraction to outstanding students and change the ratio of 'brain drain' and 'brain gain' in its favour." Stratmann said he believed that this could be attained among other things, through building European career structures similar to those in the U.S., which should offer young scientists throughout Europe good opportunities for advancing their careers.

The Max Planck Society will continue to recruit internationally, so Stratmann, who thus is set to continue the course charted by his predecessor Peter Gruss. At the same, Stratmann said the MPG must become more courageous with regard to the future research orientation of its institutions and more attractive to younger scientists. The MPG needs even more top young scientists "who regard the Max Planck Society as their home and an institution that offers them prospects and enhancing opportunities for their own research." Considering the international competition, Stratmann urged: "The scope of the necessary investments in research will not be determined by us, but by our competitors."

In addition, Stratmann paid tribute to his predecessor, Peter Gruss, who has directed activities of the Max Planck Society in the past twelve years. Nine Institute foundations, 15 institutional realignments and the establishment of 14 Max Planck Centers with leading international research institutions - these are probably the most visible changes that were effected during the tenure of Peter Gruss. "I had set myself the goal to take the Max Planck Society to the level where it would strengthen its international profile and appeal." The Max Planck Society's name should feature prominently in any assessment of the world's top research institutions, according to the outgoing President. "This can only be achieved with an internationally visible and competitive organization with extensive networks that performs cutting-edge research. Excellence is only proven on a global scale. And a Max Planck Society that fills this role will fulfil its mission in and for Germany."

The handing over of the Presidency took place in Munich as part of the Plenary Assembly in the Prince Regent Theater. Leading representatives from politics, business, science and society were among the approximately 700 guests, as Gruss handed over the chain of office to Stratmann. "There has probably been never a scientist to enter this office who possesses such comprehensive experience in all matters of the Max Planck Society", said Gruss about his successor.

Since 2000, Stratmann has been a Scientific Member and Director at the Max Planck Institute for Iron Research, where he already was a PhD student and later a research group leader at the beginning of his scientific career. He also has a lot of experience in committee work. Stratmann, who has served as Vice President since 2008, was already a Senate Member in the capacity of employee representative. During the tenure of Peter Gruss, he has also held the position of Section Chairman for two years.

About the MPG

The Max-Planck-Gesellschaft (MPG) is one of the leading research institutions in German. Over 5,500 scientists and more than 13,000 doctoral students, graduate students, student assistants and visiting scientists conduct basic research in the natural sciences, life sciences and the humanities and social sciences at currently 83 Max Planck Institutes (MPIs). The Max-Planck-Gesellschaft was founded in 1948 as the successor organization to the Kaiser Wilhelm Society, which had been established in 1911. Since then, 17 Nobel Laureates have emerged from the organization's ranks. The Max Planck research Institutes are of the highest international standing and attract top researchers from all over the world. In addition to five institutes abroad, the MPG also operates 14 Max Planck Centers with research institutions such as Princeton in the USA, Sciences Po in France, the University College London / UK and the University of Tokyo in Japan.

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