Board of Directors

The ScienceCampus Halle is managed by a Board of Directors which consists of six specialist professors of the founding members. Three of them belong to the respective Leibniz-Institutes and another three to the Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg. The Deans of the Faculties of Science I and III of the MLU and one representative of each associated member also belong to the Board of Directors. They have no vote but provide additional advice. In the order to bridge the gap between the Spitzencluster and the SCH, Prof. Dr. Markus Pietzsch in his capacity i.a. as a member of the Steering Committee of the Spitzencluster BioEconomy belongs to the Board of Directors as an advisory member.

The duties and responsibilities of the Board of Directors include

  • Development of a research and teaching concept
  • management and usage of available funds
  • promote the raise of third-party fundssupport of the publication and application of project results
  • establishment of a SCH information platform to promote the exchange of knowledge and technology transfer with appropriate partners in science, economy, politics and society

The Board of Directors is assisted in its work by Dr. Anne-Laure Tissier and Nadja Sonntag; they lead the office of the ScienceCampus Halle (see Contact).

Members of the Board

Prof. Dr. Markus Pietzsch (Speaker, MLU NFW I)
Prof. Dr. Markus Pietzsch (Photo: Maike Glöckner)

Prof. Dr. Markus Pietzsch studied chemistry at the TU Braunschweig from 1983 to 1989. Between 1989 and 1992 he wrote his dissertation there on the topic of “Purification and characterization of a hydantoin racemase from Arthrobacter aurescens DSM 3747“. He then stayed at the TU Braunschweig as a research assistant in the area of screening for the enzymatic conversion of various hydantoins to the corresponding amino acids. In summer 1992 he switched to the Enzyme Technology Department of the GBF as a post-doctoral student; Today's Helmholtz Center for Infection Research.

In 1993 he became head of the working group for biocatalysis and enzyme technology at the Institute for Bioprocess Engineering at the University of Stuttgart. In November 1999 he completed his habilitation at the University of Stuttgart in the field of "Technical Microbiology". In 2000 he moved back to the TU Braunschweig as administrator of the professorship for biochemistry and biotechnology before he became professor for the processing of biotechnological products at the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg in 2001. In addition, until 2005 he was Vice Dean of the Engineering Science Department and chaired the Engineering Science Examination Committee. Since 2006 he has headed the department for processing biotechnological products at the Institute for Pharmaceutical Technology and Biopharmacy.

The main areas of work of Mr. Pietzsch are downstream processing, biocatalysis and enzyme technology. His research interests are in biocatalysis / biotransformations (including N-glycosylation in vitro), new materials based on renewable recources, metabolic engineering & directed evolution, process development for the production of biopharmaceuticals, the biotechnology of gaseous substrates (including CO2, methane) and the bioeconomy/ biorefinery .

From 2008 to 2017 he was chairman of the Agrochemical Institute Piesteritz (AiP) e. V., affiliate of the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) and from 2012 to 2017 scientific coordinator in the BMBF top cluster BioEconomy. He has been a member since 2012 and the chairman since 2017 of the advisory board of the Fraunhofer Center for Chemical-Biotechnological Processes (CBP), Leuna. Since 2015 he has also been a member of the advisory board of BioEconomy e.V. In January 2020 he was elected to the board of directors of the ScienceCampus Halle – Plant-Based Bioeconomy (WCH) and at the same time appointed speaker for the WCH.


Prof. Dr. Ludger Wessjohann (Speaker, IPB)
Prof. Dr. Ludger Wessjohann
Prof. Dr. Ludger Wessjohann

Professor Wessjohann studied Chemistry as a scholar of the German National Academic Foundation and the DAAD (German academic exchange service ) between 1981 and 1987 in Hamburg and Southampton (GB). He earned his doctorate in 1990 in the lab of Prof. de Meijere in Hamburg with an interim two-year sandwich stay in Oslo (N) with Prof. Skattebøl, as recipient of a Royal Norwegian Postdoctoral Fellowship. After having completed his doctorate, he went to Brazil in 1990 to participate in the formation of a chemistry department (GIZ, former GTZ). This was followed by a postdoctoral stay in Stanford University (USA) as a Fedor-Lynen fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt foundation working on the total synthesis of the herbal anticancer drug Taxol® in the lab of Prof. Paul Wender. Back in Germany, he habilitated at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich (LMU, 1992-1998) in organic chemistry with organometallic chemistry and biocatalysis research. In 1997, he was appointed to the Chair of Bioorganic Chemistry of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (NL), where he worked from 1998 to 2000. In 2000, he was offered full profesorships at the universities of Stuttgart, Bayreuth and Halle, the latter in combination with the position as head of Department of Bioorganic Chemistry at the Leibniz Institute of Plant Biochemistry (IPB), which he accepted. Since 2010 he is the Managing Director of the IPB.

Prof. Wessjohann focuses on the discovery, medicinal chemistry and application of bioactive natural products from plants and fungi and their derivatives. This work includes the synthesis of relevant compounds by chemical and biological methods, e.g. with plant enzymes and fermentation processes, the elucidation of mechanisms of action, computational methods in chemistry and biochemistry, and the application of the developed compounds and processes in pharma, agrochemistry, food-flavor-fragrance and cosmetics area.

Professor Wessjohann is co-founder of four companies. He received the Microsoft IT Founders Award and the IQ Award of the City of Halle. He is author of over 230 publications and 20 patent applications. He is a selection board member for the DAAD and the Alexander von Humboldt foundation, spokesperson of the ScienceCampus Halle, co-founder of the "Halle Institute of Science and Technology" (HIST), and representative of the IPB at the German Biodiversity Centre (iDIV). He is among other things active in the German-Brazilian mixed scientific commission, a management committee member for the COST Action "PlantEngine ", holds a position as visiting professor at King Saud University in Saudi Arabia (KSU), and is an honorary member of the Argentinean Society of Synthetic Organic Chemistry.

Prof. Dr. Alfons Balmann (IAMO)
Prof. Dr. Alfons Balmann
Prof. Dr. Alfons Balmann

Prof. Dr. Alfons Balmann studied from 1983 and 1989 agricultural economics at the Georg August University Göttingen. There he worked from 1990 to 1994 on his dissertation on path dependence of structural change in agriculture for which he got his doctoral degree and the prize of the German association of agricultural economists (GEWISOLA). In 1994 he moved to Humboldt University Berlin where he got in 2000 his habilitation in agricultural economics. In 1996 he spent 6 months as Visiting Scholar at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. After stations at the FH Neubrandenburg and the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg in 2001 and 2002, he took over the position as head of the department "Structural Change of Farms and Rural Areas" at the Leibniz Institute of Agricultural Development in Transition Economies (IAMO) in October 2002. Since then Alfons is also one of the Directors at IAMO and since 2003 Professor at the Martin Luther University.

Main research areas of Alfons are structural change in the agribusiness in Central and Eastern Europe, agricultural policy analysis, investment under uncertainty and spatial market power. In addition to empirical approaches, he uses particularly methods from the field of computational economics, such as agent-based models and genetic algorithms.

Since 2012, Alfons is member of the Scientific Advisory Board Agricultural Policy of the Federal Ministry for Agriculture, Food and Consumer Protection and since 2010 of the Future Forum Agriculture and Forestry of the Ministry for Agriculture and Environment of Saxony Anhalt. Moreover, he serves as member of the Steering Committee Europe and the Working Group Internationalization of the Leibniz Association as well as Board Member of the Interdisciplinary Research Unit on Cooperatives and Cooperation at Martin Luther University.

Prof. Dr. Holger B. Deising (MLU - NWF III)
Prof. Dr. Holger B. Deising
Prof. Dr. Holger B. Deising

Prof. Deising studied agricultural sciences at the Christian Albrechts University in Kiel (1976 - 1982) and got his doctoral degree in 1987 at the Institute of Botany in the working group "Plant Physiology". From 1988 to 1996 he studied the differentiation of infection structures of bean fungus Uromyces viciae-fabae by biochemical methods at the University of Konstanz.

He completed this in 1996 and received his habilitation and the permission for lecturing for the subjects Phytopathology and Plant Physiology. In 1989 and 1992, H.B. Deising did research periods in the U.S. in the working groups of W.E. Timberlake at the University of Georgia, Athens, GA, and of RL Nicholson, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN.

Since October 1997, he is holder of a C4 Professorship of Plant Pathology and Plant Protection at the Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg. Focal Point of his work are the identification and characterization of fungal gene for pathogenicity. Assignment to the universities of Copenhagen and Hohenheim were rejected.

Prof. Deising is executive director of the Interdisciplinary Centre for Crop Research (IZN), Halle, director of the board of the ScienceCampus Halle - Plant-Based Bioeconomy (SCH) and second Chairman of the German Phytomedical Society (DPG).

Prof. Dr. Klaus Pillen (Speaker, MLU)
Prof. Dr. Klaus Pillen
Prof. Dr. Klaus Pillen

In April 2011, Prof. Klaus Pillen was elected as Co-Chairman of the ScienceCampus Halle - Plant-based Bioeconomy.

Prof. Pillen began his scientific career studying agricultural sciences (1982-1988) at the University of Bonn. He then moved to Ludwig-Maximilians-University (LMU) Munich (1989-1992) where he earned a PhD in plant molecular biology. Thereafter, he received a fellowship of the Human Frontier Science Organization to spent 3 years (1993-1995) at Cornell University, USA, working as a post-doctoral scientist in plant genetics. After returning to Germany, he enrolled at the University of Bonn (1996-2006) to prepare his habilitation and to work as a researcher and teacher in molecular plant breeding. From 2006 to 2008, he headed the Independent Research Group on Barley Genetics at the Max-Planck-Institute for Plant Breeding Research (MPI-PZ) in Cologne. Since April 2008, he acts as Full Professor for Plant Breeding at the Martin-Luther-University (MLU) Halle-Wittenberg.

The special research interest of Prof. Pillen is on utilization genetic resources of barley and wheat in plant breeding.

He currently serves the research community as board member of the Plant Breeding Association, Bonn, the Günther- & Anna-Wricke-Foundation, Hannover, the Interdisciplinary Center for Crop Plant Research (IZN), Halle, the ScienceCampus Halle - Plant-based Bioeconomy (WCH), and the Scientific Coordinating Committee (SCC) of the German PLANT 2030 Initiative. In 2012, Prof. Pillen was elected to the Review Board of the German Research Foundation (DFG).

Prof. Dr. Nicolaus von Wirén (IPK)
Prof. Dr. Nicolaus von Wirén
Prof. Dr. Nicolaus von Wirén

As Head of the Department for Physiology & Cell Biology at the Leibniz-Institute for Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research (IPK) Prof. Nicolaus von Wirén represents a founding member of the ScienceCampus Halle.

Prof. von Wirén studied agrobiology at the University of Hohenheim where he received his Ph.D. in 1994 for work on iron acquisition strategies in plants. Supported by a fellowship from the Japanese Ministry for Foreign Affairs he went in 1992 for one year to the University of Tokyo, Japan, to study molecular biological techniques. In 1995, he received an EMBO and a Feodor-von Lynen fellowship which led him to the INRA/CNRS Montpellier, France, to research on biochemical aspects of iron uptake before he went for 2 months to the King's College London to study the formation of iron complexes. In 1996 Nicolaus von Wirén was appointed as an assistant professor at the Botanical Institute of the University of Tuebingen and established there in 1999 an independent research group at the newly founded Center for Plant Molecular Biology (ZMBP), mainly characterizing ammonium and urea transporters in plants. After his habilitation in plant physiology, he followed in 2001 a call to the University of Hohenheim, where he took over the chair for Plant Nutrition. In 2005 he spent a sabbatical at the Australian Center for Plant Functional Genomics in Adelaide, Australia. In April 2009 he moved to the IPK Gatersleben, where he established a research group for "Molecular Plant Nutrition".

His major research interests are mechanisms and the regulation of nutrient transport processes in plants, morphogenetic aspects of plant nutrition and mechanisms leading to enhanced nutrient efficiency in plants.

Former member: Prof. Dr. Klaus Humbeck (MLU - NWF I)
Prof. Dr. Klaus Humbeck
Prof. Dr. Klaus Humbeck

Prof. Humbeck studied chemistry/biochemistry at Philipps-University Marburg (1975-1981). In his doctoral thesis he investigated chloroplast development using an unicellular green alga (1981-1984). Granted by the German Science Foundation (DFG) he worked at Oregon State University, USA, as post-doc, investigating carotenoid biosynthesis. His Habilitation was 1990 at Philipps-University Marburg. After another post-doc period at the University of California (1994-1995) he holds a C2-lectureship at the Botanical Institute of the University of Cologne from 1996-1997. Since 1998 he is professor at the Institute of Biology of Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg.

I his research he focuses on ageing processes in plants, on abiotic stress responses and on epigenetic regulation of leaf senescence.

Prof. Humbeck is member of the Interdisciplinary Center of Crop Plants (IZN), Halle, of the ScienceCampus Halle – Plant-based Bio-Economy and the Agrochemical Institute Piesteritz (AIP).

In January 2020 he left the Boeard of Directors of the ScienceCampus Halle due to professionnell reasons.