Honorary doctorate for Reinhard Genzel
The award ceremony took place in the historic Pieterskerk.
On 8th February, the oldest Dutch university in Leiden bestowed a honorary doctorate on
Reinhard Genzel, astrophysicist and director at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial
Physics in Garching, Germany, for his ground-breaking research into interstellar matter and the
central regions of galaxies, in particular the evidence for a black hole at the centre of our own
galaxy, and his drive to get the required innovative infrared instrumentation developed. The
ceremony took place in the framework of the "Lustrum Dies Natalis 2010" celebration,
commemorating the university´s foundation in February 1575.
The Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, and the infrared group of director Genzel
in particular, maintains close ties with the University Leiden and other Dutch research groups.
The ISO-SWS spectrometer, for instance, was a joint project between the MPE and the Netherlands
Institute for Space Research SRON. The SINFONI instrument for the VLT telescopes was also developed
in close collaboration with the University Leiden.
Honorary 'promotor' Ewine van Dishoeck highlighted the laureate´s method of integrating science
and instrumentation as a frequently cited role model for the instrumentation programme of the
Netherlands Research School for Astronomy NOVA. "Several current staff members at the university
or NOVA received their PhD or postdoc training at the MPE in Reinhard Genzel´s group," said van
Dishoeck. "In the coming years this collaboration will be reinforced by the joint analysis of data
from the recently launched Herschel Space Observatory and the joint design and development of
instruments for the future Extremely Large Telescope of the European Southern Observatory."
Even though Reinhard Genzel received already a number of awards and prizes, the honorary doctorate
of the University Leiden is however the first of this kind. "Receiving this from the University
Leiden is something very special," said MPE-Director Genzel. "The physics and chemistry of warm
dense gas in our own and other galaxies, or the properties of the galactic centre are just a few
of the topics we study together."
Reinhard Genzel is scientific member of the Max Planck Society and head of the infrared and
sub-millimetre research group at the MPE. In addition, he holds the position of professor in the
Physics Department of the University of California in Berkeley, USA, and is honorary professor at
the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich, Germany.
Dr. Hannelore Hämmerle
Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics
and Max Planck Institute for extraterrestrial Physics
Phone: +49 89 30000-3980