The Max Planck Society, one of Germany's main research organizations, has elected a chemist as its new president. Martin Stratmann, 59, who studies interface chemistry, surface engineering, and corrosion, is one of the directors at the Max Planck Institute for Iron Research in Düsseldorf. He has been a vice president of the society since 2008. Elected to a 6-year term today at the society's annual meeting in Potsdam, he will replace current president, developmental biologist Peter Gruss, next June. Gruss, 63, has been Max Planck president since 2002.
The society, which had a budget last year of €1.5 billion, comprises 80 institutes and research facilities and employs more than 5000 scientists. As vice president, Stratmann has been closely involved in the society's increasing international presence. The society has long had institutes in Florence, Italy, and Nijmegen, the Netherlands, but it has recently added institutes in Florida and in Luxembourg. It has also established Max Planck Centers and Partner Institutes in a dozen countries. Stratmann has also served as managing director of the Minerva Foundation, an arm of the Max Planck Society that sponsors German-Israeli academic cooperation.
The Institute for Iron Research is organized differently from most of the society's institutes. Officially a company, it is financed in equal parts by the Max Planck Society and a steel industry association called the German Steel Institute. Stratmann has spent most of his career at the institute, earning his Ph.D. there in 1982. Following a fellowship year at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, he returned to the institute and became a research group leader in 1987. In 1994, he moved to Friedrich-Alexander University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, but returned to the Iron Research Institute in 2000 when he was named director.