Minister-President Michael Kretschmer welcomes future CASUS director

In order to get an overview of the development at the Center for Advanced Systems Understanding (CASUS) – the institute of the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) in Görlitz – the Minister-President of Saxony, Michael Kretschmer, met CASUS researchers on March 9, 2023. On this occasion, he also welcomed the designated director, Prof. Thomas D. Kühne, to Saxony. The expert in computational science will move to Görlitz on May 1, 2023 from the University of Paderborn, where he currently holds the Chair of Theoretical Chemistry. The refurbishment work at Werk 1 should also be completed by then.

Since its foundation at the end of August 2019, the Center for Advanced Systems Understanding in Görlitz has grown to around 75 people – so much that the capacities in the original premises at Untermarkt 20 are no longer sufficient. Werk 1 in Görlitz (Christoph-Lüders-Strasse 34-35) is currently renovated to create additional space. A further 72 workplaces for CASUS scientists are expected to be created here by the beginning of May. CASUS will then inhabit its third building in Görlitz after Untermarkt 20 (since 2019) and Untermarkt 19 (since 2022). The Minister-President of Saxony, Michael Kretschmer, also inquired about this directly on site – and was pleased with the progress as well as with the overall development of CASUS.

Minister-President Michael Kretschmer: “CASUS has developed extremely well over the past four years. Achievements in highly competitive funding programs, such as the grants from the European Research Council, the strong demand for expertise in international projects and numerous connections in the region and to Poland illustrate this capability clearly. The Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf is thus strongly contributing to the structural change in Lusatia. I am also pleased to see how the many researchers who CASUS draws to Görlitz from all over the world enliven the cityscape.”

Thomas D. Kühne now wants to build on this good foundation in order to develop the HZDR institute into a global beacon. He brings the relevant experience with him from Paderborn, as the Scientific Director of the Rossendorf research center, Prof. Sebastian M. Schmidt, assesses: “I am delighted that Thomas Kühne, a well-known expert in the development of computer-aided techniques that are used in fields as diverse as chemistry, biophysics or materials science, will join us. Together with him and all its employees CASUS will continue to grow.”

The decision to come to Saxony was easy for Thomas D. Kühne, “because CASUS offers a unique opportunity. There is no comparable institute in the world. Other institutions in the field either concentrate on a topic, for which they then use computer-aided methods in a specialized way, or they limit themselves to pure theory. At CASUS, on the other hand, the focus is on computer-aided sciences, around which we build a wide range of topics and applications. Of course, it is of great advantage that we can draw on the respective expertise of our founding partners.”

In addition to the existing research areas, Kühne wants to focus on the topic of hydrogen. He sees great potential in chemical energy conversion and storage as well as in the development of improved catalysts using computer-aided methods. He has already discovered a possible local partner in the Fraunhofer Hydrogen Lab Görlitz. But there are also good connection points for cooperation with the two new research centers – the German Center for Astrophysics and the Center for the Transformation of Chemistry – as Kühne estimates.

About Thomas D. Kühne
In September 2018, Thomas D. Kühne took over the Chair for Theoretical Chemistry at the University of Paderborn, where he had held the professorship for Theoretical Interface Chemistry since 2014. From 2010 until he moved to Paderborn, Thomas D. Kühne was a junior professor for Theoretical Chemistry at the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz. After studying computer science, computational sciences and completing his doctorate in theoretical physics at the ETH Zurich in 2008, Kühne worked for a year as a postdoc at Harvard University. His research to date has focused primarily on the investigation of complex systems in condensed phases using computational methods, in particular aqueous systems such as water interfaces or biologically relevant reactions in water solutions. Kühne has published more than 150 publications in professional journals and holds a Starting Grant from the European Research Council.

About the Center for Advanced Systems Understanding

CASUS was founded 2019 in Görlitz/Germany and pursues data-intensive interdisciplinary systems research in such diverse disciplines as earth systems research, systems biology or materials research. The goal of CASUS is to create digital images of complex systems of unprecedented fidelity to reality with innovative methods from mathematics, theoretical systems research, simulations as well as data and computer science to give answers to urgent societal questions. The founding partners of CASUS are the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR), the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research in Leipzig (UFZ), the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden (MPI-CBG), the Technical University of Dresden (TUD) and the University of Wrocław (UWr). CASUS, managed as an institute of the HZDR, is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the Saxon State Ministry for Science, Culture and Tourism (SMWK).