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Research Field "Matter"

Between November 2017 and February 2018, the scientific evaluations of the seven research centers DESY, FZJ, GSI (with the Helmholtz Institutes in Mainz and Jena), HZB, HZDR, HZG and KIT in the research field Matter took place.

98 international experts assessed the research and development activities of a total of 1301 scientists (in person years) in the research field, which is grouped into 34 research units and operates 13 user facilities, on average for about 3.5 days and a total of 23 days. In addition to the chairs, a total of 17 program reviewers were elected from among the expert reviewers, who evaluated not only the scientific quality of the R&D activities but also the contribution of the research units and the respective center to the corresponding Helmholtz program. In addition, there were a total of 9 cross-reviewers who participated in more than one scientific review within the framework of this scientific evaluation. 

The results of the assessments were presented orally as part of a public initial notification at the end of the last day of each assessment, then written down and sent to the president and the board of the respective center in the form of an evaluation report. Following the last evaluation and with the presentation of the last report on the center, an overall statement on the program contributions of the seven research centers to the three programs Matter and Universe, From Matter to Materials and Life, and Matter and Technologies was prepared between April and May among the program reviewers and the chairpersons. 

The extensive results, presented on more than 250 pages, contain a differentiated qualitative view of the different research units of each center and provide center-specific advice for further profiling, both  in the three programs and at center level. In addition, the results contain strategic recommendations for the programmatic development of the centers and the research field. 

In summary, the experts state that the research field Matter has outstanding systems competence in basic physical research, from basic research at working group level to the construction, operation and further development of the associated large-scale research facilities with all the personnel required. It honors the great complementarity of the diverse fields in the research of the structure of matter, which is usually backed up by sufficiently critical mass. The experts unanimously support the original program structure of the research field, in which the once separate scientific disciplines of elementary particle physics, hadron and nuclear physics and astroparticle physics are brought together and – supported by the materials research activities at the user facilities – are combined by a worldwide unique program for the generic development of accelerators and detector systems. The program takes up current developments and enables excellent research results. The experts see the outstanding research infrastructures and user facilities as a prime example of the division of tasks in the German science system and the cooperation between German and foreign universities with the Helmholtz Association. This is supported very well by the centers' own research at their facilities. 

The experts encouraged the centers of the research field Matter to play a more central role in designing the various international roadmaps for large user facilities and to consistently pursue the planned upgrades and improvements of their own facilities. The experts unanimously recommend strengthening the interaction of theory and experimental groups in all three programs. They also urge the research field to recognize its great attractiveness to talented young people as the most important asset and use this fact consistently both in research policy and in recruiting within the centers.

Dr. Ilja Bohnet

Chief Research Manager Matter
Helmholtz Association

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