Ulm University celebrated its 55th anniversary on Friday, 15 July, with a ceremony and an awards show. Afterwards, everyone was invited to attend the Science Night, where the programme included experiments, hands-on activities and lectures.
For the first time since 2019, Ulm University was able to celebrate its anniversary live on campus. In his welcome address, University President Professor Michael Weber reported on current successes and challenges. The University’s course has been set until 2026 with the newly finalised structure and development planning. “Under the slogan ‘crossing borders’, we hope to do our part with our research and teaching in solving the major challenges facing society today”, related President Weber.
This course is reinforced by the University’s most recent successes in the areas of energy and quantum research as well as biomedicine. Just recently, the Transregio Collaborative Research Centre CataLight, a project on solar energy conversion being carried out in collaboration with the University of Jena, was extended for another four years with 12 million euros. In other news, next-generation imaging and sensory technologies are being developed in a cross-regional centre for quantum photonics “QPhoton”, with sites in Ulm, Stuttgart and Jena. The Carl Zeiss Foundation is providing about 12 million euros in funding for this centre.
In addition, the renowned university virologist Professor Frank Kirchhoff was awarded his second ERC Advanced Grant a few weeks ago. His research project focuses on the body’s own anti-viral immune defence.
Planning for the next phase of the Excellence Strategy is already in progress. In 2018, Ulm University, in cooperation with the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and other partners, acquired the only Cluster of Excellence dealing with batteries in Germany.
These stories of success are overshadowed by the war in Ukraine. “Our deepest sympathies go out to the Ukrainians and especially to the students and researchers whose scientific work and education is being restricted”, said President Weber. The University has initiated extensive support for Ukrainians who wish to study and conduct research at Ulm University. These offers are also supported through the foundation of the recently deceased Professor Péter Horváth.
Traditionally, the doctoral awards are presented at the anniversary celebration by the Ulm University Society (Ulmer Universitätsgesellschaft , UUG). UUG President Manfred Oster and Ulm University President Weber presented eight awards of 1,500 euros each to outstanding PhD students from all four faculties. Professor Dieter Rautenbach, university vice president for careers, interviewed the prizewinners about their doctoral projects. The topics range from the development of novel algorithms for detecting pain and emotion to findings on head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. In his thesis, one doctoral award recipient investigated how interactions in social networks contribute to overcoming unemployment and improving integration of refugees.
University medal for Dietrich Engmann
One of the ceremony’s highlights was the awarding of the university medal to Dietrich Engmann. The engineer and former director of the Ulm Chamber of Industry and Commerce (Industrie- und Handelskamer, IHK) was president of the Ulm University Society (Ulmer Universitätsgesellschaft, UUG) for more than 18 years. In this volunteer position, he was responsible for awarding the Germany Scholarships and doctoral awards, among other things. Perhaps most importantly, he initiated the UUG lectures at Ulm University on scientific topics for the general public. For many years, the lectures filled the Sparkasse Ulm Studio on Saturday mornings. “Dietrich Engmann actively and tirelessly helped shape university life as the longstanding president of the Ulm University Society, in close and trusting cooperation with the Board”, the certificate text states.
The university orchestra provided musical accompaniment for the ceremony, which culminated in the Science Night. Anyone who wanted to was welcome to come to the University to attend the Science Night. On campus, visitors had the opportunity to observe an ion taking a quantum leap, get a closer look at automated vehicles and flying robots or visit the talking tree Berti in the Botanical Garden. Various simulations in the new training hospital To Train U provided a glimpse behind the scenes of hospital life and medical training.
One of the highlights of the evening was the ChemNight to mark the 50th anniversary of the Ulm University Chemistry Department. In addition to lectures on sustainable batteries and the chemistry of beer, the programme included a show of experiments. The show promised no less than a “journey of discovery through the world of colour, crystal and explosion”.
Text and mediacontact: Annika Bingmann
Pictures of the Science Night
Photos: Elvira Eberhardt