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Susanne Buiter to head the GFZ

Susanne Buiter to head the GFZ. The Board of Trustees of the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences appoints Dutch geophysicist as Scientific Executive Director.

Prof. Dr. Susanne Buiter will take over as Scientific Executive Director of the Helmholtz Centre Potsdam – GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences as of May 15, 2022. The GFZ Board of Trustees appointed the Dutch geophysicist as the new Scientific Director and Spokesperson of the Board at the end of March. Susanne Buiter holds a professorship in tectonics and geodynamics at RWTH Aachen University. Previously, she led the Team “Solid Earth Geology” at the Norwegian National Geological Survey NGU. Susanne Buiter replaces Niels Hovius, who has led the GFZ as acting Scientific Director since November 2020.

“The GFZ has a unique position as *the* institute for solid Earth research in Germany and is recognized worldwide,” says Susanne Buiter. “It is a great honor for me to be able to support everyone at the GFZ on their way in deepening our understanding of planet Earth, be it in excellent basic research, in application-related areas or in technical-administrative support of science.” Susanne Buiter adds, “My goal is to continue to advance basic research so that we in science, as well as in society, remain capable of addressing the geological challenges of an Earth in transition, which include natural hazards as well as the energy transition. In all of this, from major research programs to our daily work decisions, I want to ensure that we consider sustainability and achieve diversity, collaborate within Germany, Europe and beyond, and strive for open science. For me, open science is an integral part of how we see ourselves as researchers. I look forward to the new task, which includes integrating the IASS with its important and interesting dimensions of transformational research.”

Commenting on the appointment, GFZ's Chair of the Board of Trustees, Ministerialdirigentin Oda Keppler from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, says: “We are very pleased that in Ms. Buiter we have been able to recruit an excellent researcher and experienced science manager for this task. I am sure that with Ms. Buiter at the helm, the GFZ will deliver excellent results and answers to pressing questions of our time, be it climate change and adaptation to it, natural hazards or resources and geoenergies.”

Ministerialdirigentin Oda Keppler adds: “On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I express my great thanks and appreciation to Prof. Niels Hovius, who took over the leadership of GFZ at the end of 2020. With a high level of personal commitment, Mr. Hovius ensured that the GFZ was able to continue its work safely and excellently in a period marked by the pandemic and, most recently, the Ukraine war. In particular, he has accompanied the start-up phase of the new research program ‘Changing Earth – Sustaining our Future’ with a clear view of priorities, thus creating the best conditions for future work.”

Background information

Susanne Buiter is 51 years old and comes from Drenthe, a province of the Netherlands. She studied geophysics in Utrecht and received her PhD with a thesis on surface deformation resulting from tectonic processes ("Surface deformation resulting from subduction and slab detachment"). Stages in her career have taken her to Bern, Switzerland, Canada, and Trondheim, Norway, where she led various teams at the Norwegian National Geological Survey NGU and taught at the University of Oslo. Since 2020, she has been Professor of Tectonics and Geodynamics at the Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule Aachen.


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