Pascale Ehrenfreund, currently Research Professor of Space Policy and International Affairs at the Space Policy Institute in Washington, is the new Chair of the Executive Board of the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR). This was decided unanimously in Berlin today by the DLR Senate, which was chaired by the State Secretary at the German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy (Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Energie; BMWi), Matthias Machnig, in Berlin. Pascale Ehrenfreund will succeed Johann-Dietrich Wörner, who has been Chairman of the DLR Executive Board for eight years – since March 2007. From 1 July, he will take office as Director General of the European Space Agency (ESA).

“As an astrobiologist with extensive scientific experience and an excellent reputation in teaching and research, at, among other places, Paris, Vienna, Leiden and Washington, Pascale Ehrenfreund is particularly well qualified to provide new impetus in research and development to a major research facility such as DLR. And of course, I am particularly pleased that, with Ehrenfreund’s appointment, a woman will head the largest German engineering research facility for the first time. The decision was unanimous in both the Appointment Committee and the Senate. I would also like to thank the outgoing Chairman, Johann-Dietrich Wörner, for the work he has done at DLR and wish him the best of luck in undertaking his new tasks as ESA Director General,” said Machnig.

“The Senate chose Pascale Ehrenfreund based on her high profile as an internationally recognised scientist and an experienced manager,” said Wörner about the selection. He is looking forward to welcoming Ehrenfreund in her new role as head of the German delegation at ESA.

The departing and the soon-to-be presidents of the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres (Helmholtz-Gemeinschaft Deutscher Forschungszentren; HGF), Jürgen Mlynek and Otmar D. Wiestler, also welcomed the clear election result.

“I know and value Pascale Ehrenfreund as a dedicated scientist and science manager,” said Mlynek after the election. “I am convinced that she will promote the development of DLR as an excellent national and international research organisation with both commitment and skill.”

Mlynek’s successor at HGF, Otmar P. Wiestler, is looking forward to further cooperation within the Helmholtz community. He emphasised that, with Ehrenfreund, the DLR Senate had appointed a highly qualified woman to the top post in the largest engineering research institution in Germany.
“I am very pleased that the DLR Senate trusts me to run DLR in a challenging future. It is an exciting and honourable task,” said Ehrenfreund.

Pascale Ehrenfreund was born in 1960, and has been Professor of Space Policy and International Affairs at the Space Policy Institute in Washington since 2008. The doctorate-level astrobiologist has been active in teaching and research at universities in Paris, Vienna, Leiden and Washington, as well as at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. Since 2013, she has been President of the Austrian Fund to promote scientific research. Pascale Ehrenfreund is originally from Vienna; she is married and has two children.