Klement Tockner Leopoldina Markus Scholz
Klement Tockner © Leopoldina / Markus Scholz

In its meeting on 17 May, 2016, the Supervisory Board of the Austrian Science Fund FWF elected the Director of the German Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries for a four-year term.

Klement Tockner, Director of the Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and inland Fisheries, as well as Professor for Aquatic Ecology at the Freie Universität of Berlin is the new President of the Austrian Science Fund FWF. Following a hearing he was elected to this office by the FWF’s Supervisory Board. Also elected at this occasion was his team of Vice-Presidents consisting of Ellen L. Zechner from the University of Graz (responsible for Biology and Medical Science), Gregor Weihs from the University of Innsbruck (responsible for Natural and Technical Sciences) and Gerlinde Mautner from the Vienna University of Economics and Business (responsible for Humanities and Social Sciences).

“I extend my cordial congratulations to Klement Tockner on behalf of the entire Supervisory Board”, said the Chairman of the FWF Supervisory Board Hans Sünkel and continued: “Professor Tockner is assuming leadership of the FWF in times of great challenges which need to be tackled with a high level of professionalism and commitment. In Klement Tockner, the Supervisory Board has found the best possible combination of these qualities, and we are looking forward to a constructive collaboration with the new President.”

A multi-stage selection procedure preceded the election of Klement Tockner: the FWF’s Assembly of Delegates selected 6 candidates from a total of 18 applicants from Germany, Austria and Switzerland and invited them to a hearing. The Assembly submitted a shortlist of 3 candidates to the Supervisory Board on the basis of this hearing. The Supervisory Board convened a final hearing in the course of which the three candidates Gabriele Anderst-Kotsis, Walter Berka and Klement Tockner were also asked to present their chosen team of Scientific Vice-Presidents to the ten members of the Supervisory Board.

“I would like to thank the Supervisory Board for their trust in me”, said Klement Tockner in a first response to his election as the new FWF President. “Now we must address the challenges the FWF is confronted with and work together on shaping the future of this institution. If we are to ensure that the development of scientific excellence in Austria will be marked by even greater visibility and effectiveness, the Austrian Science Fund has to be strengthened considerably in material and non-material terms. This is what I understand to be my remit”, Tockner concluded.

The new FWF President was elected following the amendment of the Austrian Research and Technology Funding Act (FTFG) on 1 October 2015, which provides for the Executive Board to take up its duties no later than 1 September 2016. Prior to this date, the Executive Vice-President will be appointed by the FWF Supervisory Board on 4 July, thus completing the Executive Board team.

The Scientific Executive Board of the FWF

FWF President Klement Tockner
In 2007, the biologist and aquatic ecologist Klement Tockner was appointed Director of the Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and inland Fisheries (IGB) and Professor for Aquatic Ecology at the Freie Universität of Berlin Leibniz. Tockner studied zoology and botany at the University of Vienna, where he acquired his PhD in 1993. After professional assignments in Rwanda, Uganda, Japan, Italy, Switzerland and the USA, he served as Titular Professor at ETH Zurich in Switzerland in 2005, before moving to Berlin in 2007, where he was appointed Professor for Aquatic Ecology at the Freie Universität of Berlin and assumed the direction of the IGB. Following his election as corresponding member of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in 2012, Klement Tockner was elected as member of the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina. As an active member of various advisory boards and consulting bodies, Klement Tockner provides advisory services relating to strategic development to scientific institutions and research programmes all over the world, including the German Federal Institute of Hydrology (BFG), the Catalan Institute for Water Research (ICRA), the Hellenic Center for Marine Research (HCMR) and the Japanese National Institute for Environmental Studies (NIES).

FWF Vice-President Ellen L. Zechner (specialist department: Biology and Medical Sciences)
In 2001, the molecular biologist Ellen L. Zechner was appointed Associate Professor at the Institute of Molecular Biosciences, University of Graz. After acquiring her PhD in molecular biology at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, she became a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the then Institute of Microbiology at the University of Graz. As of 1994, Ellen L. Zechner served as university assistant and, upon acquiring the venia docendi in molecular microbiology in 2001, as associate professor. Her primary research focus is on the molecular mechanisms of bacterial infections. Stays at various international research institutions, including Harvard University, Rockefeller University and the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Genetics in Dahlem constitute a wealth of international experience. Since 2005, Ellen Zechner has been the spokesperson of the FWF Doctoral College on Molecular Enzymology and, since 2011, a reporter at the FWF Board in the area of genetics, microbiology and biotechnology. In 2015 she was appointed Vice Dean of the Faculty of Natural Sciences at the University of Graz.

FWF Vice-President Gregor Weihs (specialist department: Natural Sciences and Technology)
In 2008, Gregor Weihs was appointed Professor of Photonics and, in 2012, Head of the Institute for Experimental Physics at the University of Innsbruck. After acquiring his PhD sub auspiciis praesidentis (with distinction) at the University of Vienna, he assumed the position of Consulting Assistant Professor at Stanford University and of Research Fellow at the University of Tokyo. In 2005, he was appointed Associate Professor at the Institute for Quantum Computing of the University of Waterloo, Canada, where he held the Canada Research Chair in Quantum Photonics. He is a member of the Young Academy (Austrian Academy of Sciences) and a Fellow of the Quantum Information Processing Programme of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR). In 2010 he was awarded a Starting Grant by the European Research Council (ERC).

FWF Vice-President Gerlinde Mautner (specialist department: Humanities and Social Sciences)

As of 2000, the linguist Gerlinde Mautner has been a Full Professor at the Institute for English Business Communication, Vienna University of Economics and Business (WU Wien), and was appointed Head of the Institute in 2005. Since 2014, she has also served as Honorary Visiting Professor at the Cass Business School at City University London. She acquired her PhD sub auspiciis praesidentis at the University of Vienna in 1993 and the venia docendi in English Linguistics at WU Wien in 1997. Regular extended stays as a visiting scholar took her to the universities of Birmingham, Lancaster, Cardiff and Sussex, as well as to King’s College London and Queen Mary, University of London. Between 1998 and 2002 she was Vice-Rector of International Relations at WU Wien. She has been a member of the FWF Board with responsibility for literature and linguistics since 2008.


Marc Seumenicht
Head of the Department for Public Relations and Science Communication

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