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Published on 16. August 2012, 10:19 h
Professor Dr. Kohse-Höinghaus elected first woman president of the international Combustion Institute

Bielefeld’s Professor Dr. Katharina Kohse-Höinghaus has been elected to the Presidency of the International Combustion Institute. This makes her not only the first woman President but also the first European President of this international association for combustion research. After a series of almost exclusively American presidents, the Board of Directors elected her to a 4-year term of office during their meeting in Warsaw at the beginning of August. Professor Kohse-Höinghaus has already been Vice President of the Institute since 2008.

As the first woman president of the international Combustion Institute, Prof. Katharina Kohse-Höinghaus is particularly interested in promoting young female scientists in combustion research.
As the first woman president of the international Combustion Institute, Prof. Katharina Kohse-Höinghaus is particularly interested in promoting young female scientists in combustion research.
Professor Dr. Gerhard Sagerer, Rektor of Bielefeld University, expressed his congratulations: ‘Electing Professor Kohse-Höinghaus is a very welcome and very well-earned recognition of her research achievements and her untiring commitment to science. Moreover, this presidency enhances Bielefeld University’s international profile by placing it on a par with such universities as Princeton and Sydney’.

The international Combustion Institute, based in Pittsburgh, USA, is the parent organization for currently 34 National Sections throughout the world. The Institute is committed to supporting, promoting, and disseminating research in all fields of combustion. Professor Kohse-Höinghaus has ambitious plans for her term of office. She will be supported by an Executive Committee with members from Sweden, Japan, and the USA. One challenge is the increasing number of members and Sections especially in the Asian-Pacific region and South America. Such a broader international scale confronts the Institute with new challenges regarding its governance structures, the efficiency of its business operations, and a common identity. Hence, her first official trip will also take her to the Asian region.

In addition, Professor Kohse-Höinghaus intends to concentrate on promoting young scientists in combustion research. ‘I’m particularly interested in finding out how young scientists in various parts of the world see the energy scenario of the future and the role of combustion in this context.  Ideas in China or Brazil are probably quite different from those in Germany’, says Kohse-Höinghaus. She also sees a need for much work on promoting women in the predominantly technological disciplines represented in the Combustion Institute. She already made a start on this during her term as Vice President by launching the programme ‘Women in Combustion’ with its focus on networking, mentoring, and coaching activities.

Although its roots go back to 1928, the international Combustion Institute was first founded in the USA in 1954. The importance to society of combustion in the energy sector is almost impossible to overestimate. More than two-thirds of the global energy consumption in transport and power generation derives from the combustion of fossil and alternative fuels. In addition, combustion contributes to major industrial processes such as steel and glass production. Moreover, an understanding of combustion is crucial for fire safety. With the growing demand for energy in many parts of the world, combustion can be expected to continue to make a significant contribution to the energy mix over the next 20 years. This makes it all the more important to develop and implement low-emission, high-efficiency combustion strategies today. Both basic and applied research in this field require the collaboration of many disciplines including, for example, chemistry, physics, fluid mechanics, and chemical and mechanical engineering. The design of practical combustors, as in automotive engines and gas turbines, also increasingly calls for sophisticated computer-based models of the combustion process. ‘I am pleased to see that this interdisciplinary work at the interface of molecular science and technical processing fascinates many young scientists; moreover, this provides them with excellent qualifications for other interdisciplinary fields’, says Katharina Kohse-Höinghaus, who also sees analogies to Bielefeld University’s mission statement of ‘transcending boundaries’.

Katharina Kohse-Höinghaus has been a Professor of Physical Chemistry at Bielefeld University since 1994 and a member of the University Council since 2008. She is an active member of numerous scientific organizations including the Senates of the German Research Foundation, the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres, and the International Advisory Board of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. In 2007–2008, she served as the President of the German Bunsen Society of Physical Chemistry. She was elected as a member of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina in 2008 and appointed a member of the German Council of Science and Humanities in 2012.

Prof. Dr. Katharina Kohse-Höinghaus, Bielefeld University
Physical Chemistry I
Email: kkh@uni-bielefeld.de
Telephone: +49 521 106-2052

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