Physical Chemistry

A Burning Passion for Science

Professor Dr. Kohse-Höinghaus is first female president of Combustion Institute

4. 9. 2012 | Professor Dr. Katharina Kohse-Höinghaus of Bielefeld University has been elected as president of the Combustion Institute in Pittsburgh, USA. Not only is she the first female president, but also the first European president of this international association for combustion research. Kohse-Höinghaus has already been vice president of the Institute since 2008.
After a series of almost exclusively American presidents, the board of directors elected her to a four-year term during their meeting in Warsaw this August. Professor Gerhard Sagerer, rector of Bielefeld University, expressed his congratulations: "Electing professor Kohse-Höinghaus is a very welcome and very well-earned recognition of her research achievements and her untiring commitment to science. Moreover, this presidency enhances Bielefeld University's international profile by placing it on a par with universities like Princeton and Sydney." The international Combustion Institute, based in Pittsburgh, USA, is the parent organization for currently 34 national sections throughout the world. The institute is committed to supporting, promoting, and disseminating research in all fields of combustion.

Katharina Kohse-Höinghaus
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Katharina Kohse-Höinghaus
Professor Kohse-Höinghaus has ambitious plans for her term of office. She will be supported by an executive committee with members from Sweden, Japan, and the USA. One challenge is the increasing number of members and sections especially in the Asian-Pacific region and South America. Such a broad international scale confronts the institute with new challenges regarding its governance structures, the efficiency of its business operations, and a common identity. Hence, her first official trip will take her to Asia.

In addition, Prof. Kohse-Höinghaus intends to concentrate on promoting young scientists in combustion research. "I'm particularly interested in finding out how young scientists in various parts of the world see the energy scenarios of the future and the role of combustion in this context. Ideas in China or Brazil are probably quite different from those in Germany", Kohse-Höinghaus explains. She also sees a need to promote women in the technological disciplines represented in the Combustion Institute. During her term as vice president, she already launched the programme "Women in Combustion", with a focus on networking, mentoring, and coaching activities.

Although its roots go back to 1928, the international Combustion Institute was first founded in the USA in 1954. The importance of combustion in the energy sector is almost impossible to overestimate. More than two-thirds of the global energy consumption in transport and power generation derives from the combustion of fossil and alternative fuels. In addition, combustion contributes to major industrial processes such as steel and glass production. Moreover, an understanding of combustion is crucial for fire safety.
With the growing demand for energy in many parts of the world, combustion can be expected to continue to make a significant contribution to the energy mix over the next 20 years. This makes it all the more important to develop and implement low-emission, high-efficiency combustion strategies today. Both basic and applied research in this field require the collaboration of many disciplines including chemistry, physics, fluid mechanics, and chemical and mechanical engineering. The design of practical combustors, as in automotive engines and gas turbines, also increasingly calls for sophisticated computer-based models of the combustion process.

"I am pleased to see that this interdisciplinary work at the interface of molecular science and technical processing fascinates many young scientists; moreover, this provides them with excellent qualifications for other interdisciplinary fields", Kohse-Höinghaus elaborates, who also sees analogies to Bielefeld University's mission statement of "transcending boundaries". Katharina Kohse-Höinghaus has been professor for physical chemistry at Bielefeld University since 1994 and a member of the University Council since 2008. She is an active member of several scientific organizations including the senates of the German Research Foundation, the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres, and the International Advisory Board of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. In 2007 and 2008, she served as the president of the German Bunsen Society for physical chemistry.   (© Bielefeld University)
Sandra Sieraad

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