In its role as German National Academy of Sciences, the Leopoldina has been advising politicians and society on key future issues for ten years. In this anniversary year, the Leopoldina Annual Assembly, which started today, is therefore set to focus on science-based policy advice over the course of two days. Under the motto ‘Nature – Science – Society’, the Academy will be joined by representatives of its partner academies to look back at ten years of advising politicians and society in Germany and on an international level. Participants at the Annual Assembly will be speaking about topics already addressed by the Leopoldina at an early stage, including antibiotics research, energy systems, the repercussions of digitalisation, demographic change and genome research. Anja Karliczek, the German Federal Minister of Education and Research, spoke at the grand opening ceremony this morning.
“Within politics, important decisions often have to be made on behalf of our society. The people involved need a solid foundation upon which they can base such far-reaching decisions. The Leopoldina has been offering well-founded policy advice with a scientific focus for ten years, during which time it has evolved to become a central scientific institution within Germany,” said Anja Karliczek, the German Federal Minister of Education and Research, offering her congratulations.
“Since the Leopoldina was named as the German National Academy of Sciences ten years ago, we have been aiming to live up to the high expectations that civil society and politics rightly place on dialogue with the world of science,” said Prof. Dr. Jörg Hacker, President of the Leopoldina, during his opening address at the Annual Assembly. “Any statements we make and recommended actions we put forward are always based on the latest research. They are the product of the work of scientists covering a wide range of specialist fields. And they are of relevance when it comes to finding the answers to key questions Germany is set to face in the future of our globalised world.”
The speakers at the Annual Assembly are distinguished scientists who have been sharing their expertise to help forward the Academy’s work for years. The following names are amongst those on the programme: Prof. Dr. Ursula M. Staudinger, who will be talking about demographic change and ageing, Prof. Dr. Frank Rösler, who will be presenting on socialisation in early childhood, Prof. Dr. Bärbel Friedrich, who will be discussing the contribution of biomass as an energy source used to generate renewable energy, Prof. Dr. Katja Becker, who will be sharing her thoughts on antimicrobial resistance, Prof. Dr. Thomas Lengauer, who will be treating the audience to a presentation on statistical data in the age of big data, and Prof. Dr. Wolfgang U. Eckart, who will be analysing academies in the area of conflict between the nation state and pluralism.
One highlight of the Annual Assembly is set to be the talk entitled ‘Ocean, Cryosphere and Humanity: Valuing Alien Nature’ to be given by Prof. Dr. Antje Boetius, Marine Biologist and Director of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Bremerhaven, today (Friday) between 8:15pm and 9:15pm in the Leopoldina Grand Hall. The renowned deep-sea researcher and winner of this year’s Communicator Award will be speaking about how the oceans and cryosphere (the parts of the earth’s surface where water is in solid form) help make our planet habitable. Besides reflecting the sun’s rays to stop the earth from overheating, the oceans and cryosphere absorb CO₂ and provide a living space for an unknown number of species that far exceeds the diversity of species living on land.
As part of today’s opening ceremony, the Commerzbank Foundation’s Leopoldina Early Career Award was presented to Prof. Dr. Xiaoxiang Zhu. The engineering scientist links satellite data to information from social networks so as to monitor the development of residential areas.
More than 30 talented school pupils from across Germany also made it onto the guest list for this year's Annual Assembly. They will be listening to the scientific presentations during the event and will have the chance to talk to top-level researchers. This year, the school programme is being financed by the Friends of the Leopoldina Academy.