At the end of 2020, Klement Tockner will leave the Austrian Science Fund FWF and become the Director General of the Senckenberg Society for Nature Research. The Austrian Science Fund FWF will be advertising for his successor.

Since May 2016, Klement Tockner as President has played a key role in the fortunes of the Austrian Science Fund FWF. Under his leadership, the FWF has become more future-oriented and further professionalised as a modern funding organisation. He has set some major milestones by initiating innovations in the funding portfolio, expanding cooperation on the national and international level, and by serving as a strong voice for independent, competitive basic research.

‘The corona crisis is clearly demonstrating the critical importance of excellent basic research. Now more than ever, researchers require Austria’s full support in their efforts to gain new insights’, said Klement Tockner, emphasising his key priority. He continued, ‘For the last four years, my outstanding team and I have been working to support Austrian researchers. We have achieved a lot during this time and have prepared the FWF for the future: with a higher funding budget, more cooperation arrangements, and an attractive funding portfolio for researchers’.

Since Tockner took office, the FWF’s grant budget has increased, after years of stagnation, to an annual total of €270 million until 2021. ‘It is crucial for Austria to continue in future to increase the growth of competitive funding for basic research to do justice to the outstanding potential of researchers working in Austria. I shall do my utmost to this end until the end of the year’, said Klement Tockner with conviction.

Heinz Faßmann thanks Klement Tockner for his outstanding work

Austrian Federal Minister of Science Heinz Faßmann: ‘I regret the departure of Klement Tockner, who has done an amazing job of leading the FWF and has always been an ally when it comes to promoting basic research. At the same time, I am happy for him that he has the opportunity to head such a prestigious research institution. Over the past years, Klement Tockner has not only profoundly changed the Austrian Science Fund FWF but has also had a positive impact on the entire Austrian research community. I would like to express my sincere gratitude for his excellent work, his commitment, and his achievements’.

Introduced innovations within the Austrian Science Fund FWF

Aquatic ecologist Klement Tockner was appointed in May 2016, and his term of office was already extended to 2024 in 2018. He is now ending his second term of office prematurely in December 2020 to follow the call to Frankfurt as the new Director General of the Senckenberg Society for Nature Research. Under the leadership of the departing president, the Austrian Science Fund FWF has started many innovative activities to support excellent researchers. Some highlights of his administration are the expansion of university and interdisciplinary funding programmes, the increase in national and international cooperation, and the creation of new funding programmes such as the 1,000 Ideas Programme or #ConnectingMinds. By the end of the year, Klement Tockner hopes to not only finish all the current business but also further develop the career programmes and push forward with the current funding agreements. ‘I would have never been able to accomplish the achievements of the last four years without my dedicated staff and the close collaboration with the Vice-Presidents, members of the FWF decision-making bodies, the universities and research institutions, as well as the Austrian Federal Ministry of Science. I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to all of you’, said Klement Tockner.

Switch to leading biodiversity research institute

In his new role as Director General of the Senckenberg Society for Nature Research, Klement Tockner succeeds Volker Mosbrugger, who is retiring after 15 years. With more than 850 researchers and staff, the Senckenberg Society for Nature Research is one of the leading international research institutions in the field of biodiversity and is, at the same time, the largest institute of the Leibniz Association. With its facility in Frankfurt, it also runs one of the most important natural history museums in the world.

FWF Supervisory Board: Vice-President Gregor Weihs will take over in the interim

Klement Tockner’s departure takes place in agreement with the FWF Supervisory Board and the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research. This decision was announced at today’s Supervisory Board meeting. From January 2021, Gregor Weihs, current FWF Vice-President for Natural and Technical Sciences, will take over in the interim until a successor can be appointed by the Supervisory Board. Sonja Puntscher Riekmann, Chair of the FWF Supervisory Board: ‘With the departure of Klement Tockner, the Austrian Science Fund FWF loses an outstanding president who has initiated many positive changes. On behalf of the FWF Supervisory Board, I would like to thank Klement Tockner for his tireless commitment to basic research, which he has demonstrated once again in the last few months with the establishment of the corona urgent funding programme’.

The Austrian Science Fund FWF will be publicly advertising for a successor shortly.

Putting his heart and soul into open and diverse science

Before serving as FWF President, biologist and aquatic ecologist Klement Tockner was the Director of the Leibniz Institute of Aquatic Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB) as well as Professor of Aquatic Ecology at the Free University of Berlin. Tockner studied zoology and botany at the University of Vienna and received his doctoral degree there in 1993. After several stays abroad—among others, in Japan, Italy, Switzerland, and the USA—he was appointed adjoint professor at ETH Zurich in Switzerland in 2005 before following the call to the Free University of Berlin as Professor for Aquatic Ecology in 2007 and simultaneously taking over as the head of the IGB. In 2012, Klement Tockner became a corresponding member of the Austrian Academy of Sciences and was accepted into the German National Academy of the Sciences Leopoldina in 2015. As an active member in several scientific bodies, Klement Tockner provides scientific and research organisations worldwide with advice on their strategic further development.


Marc Seumenicht
Dep. Head of Communications, Spokesman | @FWF_at | @FWFOpenAccess

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