Press release

Change at the helm of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Bremerhaven: Karin Lochte takes over from Jörn Thiede

[24. October 2007] 

On October 31, 2007, Prof Dr Jörn Thiede will hand over the directorship of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, part of the Helmholtz Association, to Prof Dr Karin Lochte, a biologist currently with the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences at the University of Kiel. Thiede will continue his involvement with the Alfred Wegener Institute, especially in his capacity on the planning committee of the European research icebreaker Aurora Borealis.

Born in Hannover in 1952, Lochte has been director of the research unit Biological Oceanography at the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences at the University of Kiel for the past seven years. Her research focus has been on metabolic cycles in the ocean. Bacteria and other microscopic organisms play a major role in the carbon cycle and hence contribute significantly to climate regulation. Although Lochte has been concentrating her research on the tropical Atlantic Ocean, she also has experience with colder waters. From 1990 to 1994 she investigated bacteria in sea ice at the Alfred Wegener Institute. Since May 2004, she has been a member of the Science Council, the highest ranking scientific advisory board of the federal and Lander governments. “I very much look forward to the great challenge of leading this exceptional institute. The Alfred Wegener Institute addresses important questions about climate change in polar regions and alterations in environments which, ultimately, will affect us directly in Europe also. I would like to strengthen the institute’s international leadership role that is based on research excellence”, says Karin Lochte.

With Lochte’s appointment, the Alfred Wegener Institute is now entirely female-led. Administrative director Dr Heike Wolke took office in early 2007, and Prof Dr Karen Wiltshire has been leading the Biological Institute on Helgoland since 2005.

Thiede, born in 1941, intends to concentrate further on planning efforts for the European research icebreaker Aurora Borealis. Before his time as director of the Alfred Wegener Institute he, too, was a faculty member at the University of Kiel. From 1987 to 1997, he held a professorship for paleo-oceanology, studying the climate of the past. In 1989, he was awarded the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz prize for his research, associated with the highest endowment for any award in Germany. In addition, Thiede contributed significantly to the establishment of the Institute of Marine Geosciences GEOMAR in Kiel, especially in his capacity as founding director of the new institute. Since he became director of the Alfred Wegener Institute in 1997, Thiede participated in many Arctic and Antarctic expeditions. His last voyage in the summer of 2007 took him to the Arctic aboard the research vessel Polarstern.

Notes for editors:
The inauguration ceremony will take place on October 31, at 2.30 pm, at the Alfred Wegener Institute, Am Handelshafen 12, in Bremerhaven. Media representatives are cordially invited to attend after registration with the public relations department. There will be opportunities for interviews with Ms Lochte and Mr Thiede on October 31, between 11 and 12 pm at the Alfred Wegener Institute, building E, Am Handelshafen 12. Additional interview appointments can be arranged with the Public Relations Department. Your contact person is Dr Susanne Diederich (Tel: ++49-471-4831-1376, email: Susanne.Diederich@awi-de).

The Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) conducts research in the Arctic, Antarctic and in oceans of temperate and high latitudes. The AWI coordinates polar research in Germany, and provides important infrastructure, such as the research icebreaker Polarstern and research stations in the Arctic and Antarctic for international scientific enterprises. The Alfred Wegener Institute is one of 15 research centres of the 'Helmholtz-Gemeinschaft' (Helmholtz Association), the largest scientific organisation in Germany.


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Das Institut

Das Alfred-Wegener-Institut forscht in den Polarregionen und Ozeanen der mittleren und hohen Breiten. Als eines von 19 Forschungszentren der Helmholtz-Gemeinschaft koordiniert es Deutschlands Polarforschung und stellt Schiffe wie den Forschungseisbrecher Polarstern und Stationen für die internationale Wissenschaft zur Verfügung.