Advocate of the Seas

AWI Director Antje Boetius appointed Mercator Professor

Two lectures at the University of Duisburg-Essen planned
[24. January 2020] 

Antje Boetius has led expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic and is a passionate proponent of more climate protection and nature conservation, both in her private life and in various organisations – whether the National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, or Scientists for Future. Now Prof Boetius, Director of the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), has been given a new role: as the next Mercator Professor at the University of Duisburg-Essen (UDE).

“With the addition of Professor Antje Boetius, we have gained a trusted scientific personality and dedicated advocate of climate protection as a Mercator Professor. I’m very pleased, and look forward to seeing what impulses she’ll share during her talks at the UDE,” said University Rector Prof Dr Ulrich Radtke.

According to Boetius, “Climate change is already transforming our own country and the most remote reaches of the Earth, the ocean depths and the polar regions. We only have a small window of opportunity for reaching the climate targets.” The 52-year-old has argued for a significantly more ambitious environmental protection policy and the introduction of a CO2 tax, while also underscoring the importance of our consumer behaviour. “We’re going to pay a heavy price for choosing not to invest in climate protection. But unfortunately our tax revenues continue to be used to support technologies that are harmful to the environment.” In addition to the financial costs of storms and heat waves, valuable habitats and biodiversity are being lost.

Expeditions and journeys to the polar regions 

In the course of nearly 50 expeditions, including many to the polar regions, the Professor of Geomicrobiology has seen first-hand how great the threats to our environment are. “Sea ice is melting faster than our models predicted, and plastic litter has now found its way to the ocean depths – in places no human being has ever seen. We have to find solutions.” Nevertheless she remains confident “that research, commitment, and a social dialogue can get us on the right track.” She is currently working with other experts from the art community and research community to explore the ties between human beings and nature.

The Mercator Professorship at the University of Duisburg-Essen was created in 1997, in order to continue the scientific legacy of Duisburg’s famous cartographer and polymath Gerhard Mercator (1512-1594). Prominent Mercator Professors include: Joachim Gauck, Richard von Weizsäcker, Hans-Dietrich Genscher, Margarethe von Trotta, Peter Scholl-Latour, Alfred Grosser, Götz W. Werner, Alice Schwarzer, Jutta Limbach and Karl Lehmann.

In her new role as a Mercator Professor, Antje Boetius will be giving two lectures: on 12 November in Duisburg, and on 10 December in Essen.




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Marlena Witte