The President heads the Helmholtz Association. He is responsible for implementing the programme-oriented funding system. Working with the Helmholtz Centres, the President is also responsible for developing the association's general strategy and for representing the association internally and externally. The President is elected by the Senate once every five years on the basis of a proposal submitted by the Assembly of Members with two terms maximum.
The President's responsibilities
The Statutes of the Helmholtz Association define the President's responsibilities as follows:
- To prepare and implement the Senate recommendations on programme funding, including the organisation of programme evaluations,
- To coordinate the development of programmes across research fields and to develop the general strategy,
- To represent the Helmholtz-Gemeinschaft e.V. externally,
- To coordinate the financial controlling system across all the centres,
- To present draft resolutions on the programmes and their budgets in the Senate,
- To negotiate - on the basis of Senate recommendations - with the centres and financing partners on the total funding requirement for the Helmholtz Association and on the distribution of the association budget across the research fields.
The President has a so-called Initiative and Networking Fund worth 60m euros per year at his disposal. This instrument enables him to carry forward the association's development and to accelerate the reform processes. The President can use the fund to specifically drive forward the programme-oriented funding and to extend examples of best practice developed in individual Helmholtz Centres across the whole association. The president is elected on the basis of the proposal of the General Assembly every five years by the Senate, for a maximum of two terms. He is assisted by eight vice presidents and managing directors.
Current President: Professor Dr. Jürgen Mlynek
"Excellent and relevant research is the basis of the Helmholtz mission as national laboratories with strategic goals," said Mlynek. "Helmholtz-Research-Centres provide large-scale-facilities and scientific infrastructures not only for our own scientific programmes but for our national and international partners as well. We need to further extend the current excellent networking with universities for this and to work with them in a joint commitment to the advancement of young scientists and researchers. However, I also see an important task in building bridges with industry and society. We will achieve this by intensifying the field of knowledge and technology transfer."
This is how Professor Mlynek outlines the scope of his responsibilities. The President has been in office since 1 September 2005. He was reelected in 2009 for a second term until 2015.
From physicist to research leader
Jürgen Mlynek studied physics at the TU Hannover and the École Polytechnique in Paris. He gained his doctorate at the University of Hannover (Dr. rer. nat.) in 1979 and his habilitation in 1984. After a period at the IBM Research Laboratory in the United States, Mlynek moved to the ETH Zurich as an assistant professor. In 1990 he went to the University of Konstanz, where he became a Full Professor in Experimental Physics. After 10 years researching and teaching in the field of experimental quantum optics, atomic physics and surface physics, Mlynek felt drawn to the field of research management: he served as Vice-President of the German Research Foundation (DFG) from 1996 to 2001. In September 2000 he became President of the Humboldt University Berlin, which he developed into one of Germany's leading universities. Mlynek has received numerous science and research prizes, including the Gottfried-Wilhelm-Leibniz Prize awarded by the German Research Foundation (1992). In 2010 Prof. Mlynek was awarded the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany.