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In Memoriam Siegfried Franck

Siegfried Franck

Deeply moved we have received the news of the sudden death of our colleague and friend Prof. Dr. Siegfried Franck. With him we have lost a scientist who has made a lasting impact on more than 30 years of research on the Telegraphenberg in Potsdam.

Siegfried Franck was born 1952 in Annaberg-Buchholz. He studied physics at Leipzig University and obtained his PhD in 1978 for a dissertation about the theory of phase transitions. Soon after he joined the Zentralinstitut für Physik der Erde in Potsdam. He was awarded the degree „Dr. sc. nat.“ in 1984. In 1989 he was appointed Professor of Geophysics at the Academy of Sciences. From 1992 to 1996 he worked as a member of a programme for the integration of east german scientists at Potsdam University. In 1997, he established his own research group at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, focusing on the structure and evolution of Earth and other planets. His key interest was the co-evolution of the geo- and biosphere. In 2004 Siegfried Franck was appointed to a personal chair at Potsdam University. An important concern of his was teaching students, and he was particularly involved in the masters programme “Evolution Across Scales”. He continued his research at PIK.

His studies in astrobiology, e.g. about the habitability of planets in remote stars, were groundbreaking and internationally well recognized. His particular capacity was to connect disciplines such as geosciences, biology and astrophysics in a coherent framework, driven specifically by the question about the existence of life elsewhere in our cosmos. In his latest works, he also studied the question of the maximum carrying capacity of planet Earth in terms of food supply.

With Siegfried Franck we have lost a person who, beyond the scientific work, was always open and helpful to his colleagues. Besides the serious aspects of research, we will all remember the stories and anecdotes that he could tell about his long time of activity on Telegraphenberg, before and after the fall of the Berlin wall. We express our deep condolences to his wife, his children and his grandchild.


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