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Change at the top of the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt

The physicist Joachim Ullrich is to become the 14th president in the 125-year history of PTB Joint Press Release of PTB and the Max-Planck-Institut für Kernphysik (Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics)


The highest national post in the world of metrology is to be re-filled. From 1 January 2012, the physicist Prof. Dr. Joachim Ullrich will head the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB), the National Metrology Institute of the Federal Republic of Germany. Joachim Ullrich will be the 14th president in the 125-year history of PTB. He will take over from Prof. Dr. Ernst O. Göbel, who was in charge of the fate of PTB for over 16 years and is now going to retire. "I wish my successor all the best, along with much success in his new office and hope that he always has a good sense of the right metrological course", says Ernst Göbel, who is handing over to his colleague a PTB which is best positioned internationally.

Joachim Ullrich (links im Bild) übernimmt ab 1. Januar 2012 das Amt des PTB-Präsidenten. Dr. Sven Halldorn, Leiter der Abteilung "Technologiepolitik" im BMWi überreichte ihm am 19. Dezember in der PTB seine Ernennungsurkunde.

With Joachim Ullrich, PTB is carrying on an excellent tradition which started during the time of its founding president Hermann von Helmholtz: that of appointing a renowned scientist at its head. The Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Technologie (Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology - BMWi), whom PTB is assigned to, is following - with this appointment - a suggestion of the Finding Commission which is especially set up to find a president and prominently consisted of members of PTB's Kuratorium. Thus, the two Nobel Prize winners in Physics Klaus von Klitzing and Theodor Hänsch were members of the commission as well as Joachim Treusch, President of Jacobs University in Bremen, and Jürgen Mlynek, President of the Helmholtz Association.

Ullrich, who was born in 1956, is leaving the Max-Planck-Institut für Kernphysik (Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics - MPIK) in Heidelberg for PTB. Ullrich was a director and a scientific member at the MPIK for ten years and headed the "Experimental Few-Particle Quantum Dynamics" Division there. Joachim Ullrich's background in physics lies in atomic, molecular and laser physics as well as in precision spectroscopy. With his group at the MPI for Nuclear Physics, he looked into the interaction of atoms and molecules with highly intense laser fields among other things. In this way he studied the dynamics of chemical reactions on the femtosecond scale and carried out experiments with ultra-short X-ray pulses at the free-electron laser at DESY in Hamburg and at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in Stanford, USA. Among the most important honours in his scientific career to date are the Leibniz Prize of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation) awarded in 1999 and the Philip Morris Research Award received in 2006.

The MPIK is pleased that Joachim Ullrich - a scientific member of the institute - has been appointed to the important office of president of PTB, and also sees that the excellent research work at the institute has thus been honoured.

Ullrich sees the large step from the Max Planck Institute, where he was also still able to personally work at a scientific level, over to PTB with its breadth of metrological tasks as a challenge: "I won't, of course, place my scientific preferences in the foreground, as I will after all be responsible for the whole PTB." Ullrich, therefore, sees getting to know PTB's spectrum of tasks in its diversity as his first and most important task during the initial phase of his presidency. "At the beginning I will try to be very present and try to really get to know the staff at a personal level, at the working level", says Ullrich.

Joachim Ullrich received his official certificate of appointment to the post of PTB president on 19 December 2011 within a regularly occurring PTB Directors Conference which he simultaneously attended as a guest. Ullrich was awarded the certificate by Dr. Sven Halldorn, Head of the "Technology Policy" Department at the BMWi. The change of president will then be completed one month later. Ernst Göbel will be given his official farewell on 20 January 2012 in the presence of the Federal Minister of Economics Philipp Rösler in a ceremony in the lecture hall of PTB, and the new president will then take office.

Representatives of the media are invited to this ceremony on 20 January 2012 which starts at 3:00 pm in the lecture hall (Hörsaal) of PTB (Bundesallee 100, 38116 Braunschweig). Please register in advance with the Press and Information Office of PTB if you wish to attend.

Curriculum vitae

Prof. Dr. Joachim Ullrich, Director of the Quantum Dynamics Division,
Max-Planck-Institut für Kernphysik, Heidelberg

Born on 2 June 1956 in Edenkoben. Studied Geophysics and Physics at Frankfurt University. Received his doctorate in Frankfurt (1987). Postdoctoral qualification in physics on "Recoil-ion momentum spectroscopy", Frankfurt University (1994), Gesellschaft für Schwerionenforschung (1989), Visiting Scientist Kansas State University, University of Missouri-Rolla (1995), Professor Ordinarius University of Freiburg (1997), Director and Scientific Member at the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics (since 2001), Honorary Professor Heidelberg University (2001), Consultant Professor Fudan University, Shanghai (since 2003).