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Bridging Geosciences in the Berlin-Brandenburg Region

Six Universities and Institutions Create Geo.X Platform

№ 47/2010 from Mar 03, 2010

On Wednesday, March 3, 2010, Freie Universität Berlin, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Technische Universität Berlin, the Museum of Natural History, Berlin, the University of Potsdam, and the Helmholtz Centre Potsdam - GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences founded the coordination platform Geo.X. The name Geo.X represents the bridge between the Earth sciences and other natural sciences and engineering as well as to humanities and social science disciplines. Earth science themes of considerable importance for society will be investigated across disciplines.

The key objective of Geo.X is the consolidation of the geoscientific competence in the region of Berlin-Brandenburg. More than 1600 individuals in the participating institutions are engaged with geoscientific themes, while approximately 3000 future Earth scientists are studying at the universities. The region of Berlin-Potsdam is already a recognized location for this discipline worldwide. It is expected that bringing this expertise together within the Geo.X platform will make it more effective. Earth scientists in the region of Berlin-Brandenburg “have in the last years been able to make significant contributions,” explains Professor Juergen Zoellner, Berlin Senator for Education, Science and Research, in a welcome message. “They were able to rely on a broad spectrum of data and scientific methods not found in most of Europe or even worldwide. Preserving this spectrum, its trend-setting structure, and its further shaping is not only the duty and obligation of the geosciences itself, but also an important concern of Berlin’s science policy.” State Secretary Martin Gorholt of the Ministry for Science, Research, and Culture of the State of Brandenburg stated, “The establishment of the Geo.X coordination platform is a not only an appropriate, but also a necessary step. In this way projects within the framework of the Excellence Initiative of the Federal Government or other large joint projects can be more easily realized. Geo.X will, therefore, strengthen the economic competitiveness of the metropolitan region of Berlin-Brandenburg.” Professor Reinhard Huettl, Chairperson of the Board of GFZ and designated speaker of Geo.X added, “In the field of geosciences in the Berlin-Potsdam region, collaboration between universities and non-university research institutions is already well established through numerous joint appointments. Through the use of excellent infrastructure such as mainframes, large-scale instrumentation, and international observatories this cooperation is being further extended. The structural platform Geo.X opens new potential in research and teaching for solving the big geoscientific challenges such as climate change and scarcity of resources. Furthermore, other fields of knowledge from institutions within the region can be merged interdisciplinarily. This configuration of geoscientific research focusing on the Earth/human system is one of its kind in Europe.”

To start with, Geo.X is focusing on three key research themes: “Natural Hazards and Risks,” Natural Resources and Energy Resources,” as well as “Human Habitat and Sustainability.” In view of a world population expected to reach more than nine billion people by the year 2050,  these are, not only from the geoscientific viewpoint, the largest challenges worldwide. These issues are important for the entire international community of states.

With their respective scientific profiles the Geo.X partner institutions complement each other ideally. While the Technical University brings in its core focus on modeling of geo-information systems and a multiplicity of engineering-scientific projects and cooperation partners, the geo-scientific portfolio is complemented with the topics impact research and extinction of species through the Berlin Museum of Natural History, a research museum of the Leibniz Association. Furthermore, the Berlin Museum of Natural History offers extraordinary possibilities for geoscientific education through it exhibitions. Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin with its areaas of research contributes significant expertise to geo-information management and to the thematic spectrum of physical geography and also provides a strong connection to legal sciences via its Centre for Disaster Law. Freie Universität Berlin and the University of Potsdam enrich Geo.X through their basic and application-oriented Earth sciences research. Both universities additionally contribute already existing ties to biology, mathematics, and physics. The GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences covers, as a Helmholtz Centre, all disciplines of the geosciences and carries out  Earth system research on all spatial and time scales, and contributes, in particular, its international network.

Geo.X is based on and will expand collaboration in research and teaching already existing between the participating research institutions. Five joint DFG research groups and two collaborative research groups, four joint projects supported by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research, and over ten groups of junior scientists with the participation of several Geo.X partners are proof of this. In addition a total of over 500 graduate students who are working on their doctorate at the respective Geo.X institutions speaks for itself. During the last five years more than 350 million euros in external funding were procured for geoscientific research.

Graphics and photos in printable resolution can be found at:

Further Information

Dr. Hildegard Goedde, Helmholtz Centre Potsdam, GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, Scientific Advisory Council, Tel.: +49 (0)331 / 288 1026, Fax: +49 (0)331 / 288 1002