May 3, 2022

Eckhard Elsen new director at FIAS

New governance structures at the Frankfurt research institute

Prof. Dr. Eckhard Elsen is the new Scientific Director of the Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies (FIAS) as of May 1, 2022. He thus replaces the previous five-member board including the executive and an administrative director. The basis for this new structure is an amendment to the statutes. With a single executive director at the helm processes and decisions in the institute will be rendered more efficient and coordination simplified.

On April 29, the FIAS Stiftungsrat elected the former director of research and computing at CERN, Prof. Dr. Eckhard Elsen as Scientific Director of the Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies (FIAS). The 66-year-old physicist will lead the research institute, which has gained a reputation in mathematical modeling in the theoretical natural sciences, computer sciences, and life sciences.  

Born in Oldenburg, Elsen earned his doctorate in Hamburg and continued research in experimental particle physics at accelerators in Stanford, Heidelberg, Geneva, and Hamburg. From 1990 to 2015 and then again from 2021, he was a scientist at the German Electron Synchrotron (DESY) and, since 2006, a professor at the University of Hamburg. From 2016 to 2020, he was director of research and computational science at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research near Geneva.

"With his experience in the natural sciences and in the management of large scientific institutes, Elsen is the ideal choice and perfect fit for FIAS," agree the previous executive scientific director Prof. Dr. Volker Lindenstruth and the previous administrative director Dr. Rolf Bernhardt. In addition to Lindenstruth and Bernhardt, Elsen replaces three other voluntary board members. Lindenstruth has been appointed deputy director. In the future, the important group of Senior Fellows will support the Scientific Director in fundamental questions of scientific orientation and e.the selection of Fellows. 

The Board of Trustees (Stiftungsrat), which has a say in budgetary matters and the appointment of FIAS Fellows, will also be reduced and will in future comprise only five people. The president of Goethe University will remain a set member of the Stiftungsrat. Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Volker Mosbrugger was elected Chairman of the Stiftungsrat, succeeding Prof. Dr. Rudolf Steinberg. The paleontologist and professor at Goethe University was director general of the Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung until 2020 and is president of the Polytechnic Society in Frankfurt am Main since 2019. Born in Constance, Mosbrugger had conducted research on ecological and climatic changes in Earth history at the universities of Freiburg, Bonn, and Tübingen.

In the future, the FIAS committees will be supported by the Curatorship (Kuratorium), in which friends and sponsors of FIAS support the institute in joint consultation.

With this new structure, FIAS will be able to act even faster administratively while optimally balancing the research orientation involving of all its experienced scientists.

In addition to  Lindenstruth, Bernhardt and Prof. Dr. Luciano Rezzolla, the founding directors Prof. Dr. Dr. h. c. mult. Wolf Singer and Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. mult. Horst Stöcker are also leaving the FIAS board. They founded the institute in 2003 and rendered outstanding services to FIAS with their many years of commitment, as Steinberg emphasized as Chairman of the Stiftungsrat with a heartfelt thank-you. He held this office for 13 years and was also bid farewell with great thanks.

Eckhard Elsen