Reinhard Genzel elected as new Vice-Chancellor of the Order Pour le mérite

June 17, 2021

The Leopoldina announced on 17 June 2021 that Reinhard Genzel, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, has been elected Vice-Chancellor of the Order Pour le mérite for Sciences and Arts. He thus takes over the class of natural sciences within the Order.

Reinhard Genzel

The Order Pour le mérite for Sciences and Arts currently has 37 domestic and 38 foreign members, including 13 winners of the Nobel Prize. Election to the Order is one of the highest honours bestowed on scientists and artists in Germany. Reinhard Genzel has been a member of the Order since 2013. Parallel to his election as Vice-Chancellor, prehistorian and Leopoldina member Hermann Parzinger was elected Chancellor of the Order Pour le mérite and stage director Andrea Breth was elected Vice-Chancellor. The association of artists and scholars was founded in 1842 by Friedrich Wilhelm IV, King of Prussia, and re-established in 1952 by Federal President Theodor Heuss. The first Chancellor of the Order was the natural scientist and Leopoldina member Alexander von Humboldt.

Reinhard Genzel is director Director at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Garching since 1986, where he studies the formation, development and nuclei of galaxies such as the Milky Way. Genzel and his team have developed a number of new observational techniques and instruments in the field of infrared, submillimetre and millimetre astronomy. Over almost 40 years, he was able to prove that a black hole of 4.3 million solar masses exists in the centre of the Milky Way. He thus succeeded in providing the best empirical evidence to date for the existence of black holes, which had been postulated by Albert Einstein at the beginning of the 20th century within the framework of the general theory of relativity. For this, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2020 together with the US astronomer Andrea Ghez; both share the prize with the British mathematician and physicist Roger Penrose. In 2014, Genzel also received the Herschel Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society and in 1990 the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize of the German Research Foundation (DFG). In 2014, Genzel was awarded the Grand Cross of Merit with Star of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany. The astrophysicist has been a member of the Leopoldina in the Physics Section since 2002.

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