A well-deserved distinction for Gerhard Ertl

October 15, 2007

The President of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation), Professor Matthias Kleiner, has congratulated the chemist Professor Gerhard Ertl from Berlin, a former long-serving vice president of the DFG, on being awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. "The DFG and the whole German scientific community are thrilled about this truly well-deserved distinction for your fundamental work on understanding the elementary processes of catalysis," said Kleiner in his congratulatory letter to Professor Ertl, who was informed on his 71st birthday that he is to receive the Nobel Prize in Chemistry from the Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm.

Kleiner went on to mention that Ertl had already been awarded the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize by the DFG for his work in 1991. "This shows, once again, that the most important and prestigious research prize in Germany is a precursor to the Nobel Prize," he emphasised.

With his research work, which is now receiving renewed acclaim, Gerhard Ertl has made a significant contribution to an initial understanding of the processes of industrial catalysis, which are still not altogether understood. In several instances he has managed to close the gap between the highly idealised experimental conditions in the lab and the actual conditions that prevail in industrial production. Ertl's work has always been characterised by its originality, versatility and flair for discovering new experimental methods, and his publications have been among the most cited in physical chemistry for many years. And, in spite of all his scientific achievements, the long-serving director of the renowned Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society Berlin has always been able to make his highly complex research findings comprehensible, even to non-scientists and the lay public.

In addition to his scientific work, Gerhard Ertl has also always been very dedicated to the interests of research funding in Germany, Kleiner continued. "As a long-standing peer reviewer and, especially, as vice president of the DFG from 1995 to 2001, he did a great deal of bridge building between the various disciplines in the natural sciences and engineering." He had a particular interest in the promotion of young researchers and in the development of scientific cooperation with China during his time as vice president of the DFG.

This year's winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry is also a very charming and communicative man of great integrity, who is held in the warmest regard by many people at the DFG.

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft

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