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Katja Matthes inaugurated as scientific director of GEOMAR

22.10.2020 | The climate scientist laid our her strategic vision for the research institute to help tackle societal problems.
Prof. Dr. Katja Matthes
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(© Stefan Kolbe)

Prof. Dr. Katja Matthes

On October 2nd, meteorologist Professor Katja Matthes officially took over leadership at the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel. She is the first woman to hold the role. In her opening speech, she underlined that she wanted GEOMAR to contribute “to sustainable solutions for urgent societal questions.” She also revealed GEOMAR’s new slogan: “Our world is the ocean.”

The new strategic line for GEOMAR, developed by Prof. Matthes in collaboration with other GEOMAR scientists, will focus on the human-ocean relationship. Her speech was welcomed by, among others, the Prime Minister of Schleswig-Holstein Daniel Günther and the German Minister of Science, Karin Prien. “I absolutely support her idea to actively get involved and to help shape the dialogue between science, society and politics,” Prien said in a GEOMAR press release.

The topic of Prof. Matthes’ research is climate variability, and it is especially focused on the role of the Sun. Solar behaviour plays a large role in Earth’s climate and it goes through decades-long cycles. By gaining a deep understanding of this cyclical behaviour, Prof. Matthes’ work helps to inform and improve short-term climate change predictions. For example, she contributed to the Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Prof. Matthes studied meteorology at the Freie Universität Berlin before moving to the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado with a Marie Curie Outgoing International Fellowship. Upon returning to Germany, she spent time as a PI for the Helmholtz-University Young Investigators Group until 2010 when she was made Professor of Atmosphere-Hydrosphere Systems at Freie Universität Berlin. Two years later, she moved to GEOMAR and Kiel University as Professor of Meteorology.

She succeeds Professor Peter Herzig, who had been in the post since GEOMAR’s formation in 2004.   (© AcademiaNet)

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