Review WiFo 2017

Here you will find a summary of the WiFo highlights. To open the texts for the individual days, click on the arrow next to the heading. There are also videos for some of the program items. You can find the links for each day. At the end of this page you will find a photo review of the gifts that we at WiFo have received from friendly societies from all over the world.

For the first overview

A festival of chemistry

A photo series with some of the highlights can be found in issue 11 of the "Nachrichten" or here.

Highlights of the GDCh Science Forum 2017

On ChemistryViews you will find a compilation of the highlights in English

Sunday September 10th, opening ceremony


This year's annual meeting of the GDCh (German Chemical Society eV) started on Sunday with a very unusual opening ceremony in the concert hall on Berlin's Gendarmenmarkt.

GDCh President Thisbe K. Lindhorst opened the WiFo in the presence of Federal Minister Johanna Wanka. The New Philharmonic Orchestra delighted the audience with, among other things, the "Rhapsody in Blue". Three deserving members of the GDCh (Egon Fanghänel, Peter Gölitz and Helga Rübsamen-Schaeff) were awarded the GDCh's highest distinction, honorary membership.

The highlight of the evening was the presentation of the Primo Levi Prize, which was awarded jointly with the SCI (Società Chimica Italiana), to Prof. Roald Hoffmann, Cornell University and Nobel Prize winner for chemistry 1982. The newly created prize commemorates the Italian chemist and writer Primo Levi, who survived the Auschwitz concentration camp as a Jewish resistance fighter and intensified the connection between chemistry and society through his literary work. This prize is awarded to personalities who have made a special contribution to chemistry and chemistry-related areas of science as well as to the protection of human rights and mediation between cultures.


Roald Hoffmann gave a fascinating speech, which spanned from the periodic table of the elements to diversity in the animal kingdom to cosmopolitan society and cast a spell over the audience. The official ceremony ended with a standing ovation for him and at the same time marked the beginning of the conference activities, which began on Monday morning.

You can find the program for the opening ceremony here.

You can find the flyer for the Primo Levi Prize here

available videos:

Here you will find a summary of the opening event (20 minutes)

Here you can find the keynote lecture by Roald Hoffmann (49 minutes)

Here you will find the address given by President Thisbe K. Lindhors t (22 minutes)

GDCh-Präsidentin Thisbe K. Lindhorst begrüßt die Gäste aus aller Welt (Fotos, wenn nicht anders angegeben: Christian Augustin, GDCh
Bundesministerin Johanna Wanka bei ihrem Grußwort
neue Ehrenmitglieder Peter Gölitz (2.v.l.), Helga Rübsamen-Schaeff (3.v.l.) und Egon Fanghänel (2.v.r.) mit Katahrina Kohse-Höinghaus (Laudatorin, links) und Thisbe K. Lindhorst
Roald Hoffmann bei seinem Vortrag
Neue Philharmonie unter Leitung von Andreas Schulz (Foto: Karin J. Schmitz, GDCh)
Das GDCh-Logo erschien auch in Teilen des Buffets (Foto: Antje Hannebauer, GDCh)

Unveiling of the plaque on Sunday, September 10th

The very first WiFi program item took place before the opening event. 150 years ago August Wilhelm von Hofmann founded the oldest predecessor institution of the GDCh, the German Chemical Society in Berlin, based on the example of the English Chemical Society, which he himself chaired for several years. A memorial plaque was unveiled at the site of the founding event in the presence of several descendants of August Wilhelm von Hofmann.

A total of nine relatives, including several great-great-grandchildren, came to Berlin-Mitte at noon, to the square in front of the Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm Center on Geschwister-Scholl-Strasse. GDCh managing directors Wolfram Koch and Hans v. Heyden, great-grandson of August Wilhelm v. Hofmann unveiled the plaque that points to the founding of the DChG in 1867 in the immediate vicinity of this location.

A video of the event (5 minutes) can be found on the ChemistryViews website

GDCh-Geschäftsführer Prof. Wolfram Koch (links) und Prof. Hans v. Heyden, Urenkel von August Wilhelm v. Hofmann enthüllen die Gedenktafel (Fotos: Frederic Schweizer, GDCh)

Monday, September 11th

After the impressive cultural impressions of the opening ceremony in the concert hall on Gendarmenmarkt, Monday started with the celebratory symposium of the GDCh journal "Angewandte Chemie" in the Henry Ford House on the FU campus in Berlin-Dahlem.

In addition to the four Nobel Prize winners (Jack Szostak, Robert Grubbs, William E. Moerner and Ben Feringa), two speakers in particular stood out. Kenichiro Itami not only discussed the production processes of various forms of the "miracle material" graphene in his lecture , but also emerging applications such as lightweight materials and the use of carbon nanotubes for the so-called space elevator.

On the other hand, Jürgen Kaube, publisher of the FAZ, made the audience sit up and take notice with his explanations on the meaning and purpose of science (in general and chemistry in particular). His statement, "No non-scientist benefits from what is being said here (scientifically)" may seem irritating at first glance, and yet make it clear that science is not an end in itself, but should also make a comprehensive contribution to society.

As a special highlight, Prof. Dr. Matthias Beller was awarded the Karl Ziegler Award of the GDCh.

Events for children and young people

The school day was less festive, but all the more fun. At "Meet the Hero", six school classes had the opportunity to ask Nobel Prize winners straight to the point. They not only received helpful tips for their own career, but also gained unique insights into the life of the "super scientists".

ChemSlam, a science slam all about chemistry, nine slammers showed the around 300 schoolchildren that chemistry is not only exciting, but also great fun. A comprehensive report with photos can be found here. The videos of the slammers are published on the YouTube channel Chemie ist...

And the ?experimentation for children and young people?, which took place on the premises of the Department of Biology, Biology and pharmacy , was well attended by all school classes. From the production of lactic acid-based 3D filaments (and the associated 3D printing) to fluorescence, there was a wide range of hands-on activities that the young researchers gladly accepted.

GDCh-Geschäftsführer Wolfram Koch (sitzend, links) und GDCh-Präsidentin Thisbe K. Lindhorst (sitzend, rechts) mit Rednern und Organisatoren des Angewandte-Festsymposiums (Fotos, wenn nicht anders angegeben: Christian Augustin, GDCh)
Preisträger Matthias Beller
Ben Feringa spricht mit Schülern über seinen Werdegang und seine Forschung
Gute Laune und viel Applaus gab es beim ChemSlam
Die Sieger des Chemslam wurden per Applausometer bestimmt, der akustischen Messung der Applauslautstärke
Beim Experimentiertag für Schüler/innen wurde fleißig gearbeitet (Foto: Ralf Lippold)
Ordentlich geknallt hat es beim Abschlussvortrag für Schüler/innen

Tuesday September 12th


In addition to the job exchange, the daily program of the third WiFo day included various annual and specialist conferences of the various GDCh Divisions, including (a little further away on the FU Berlin main campus) the annual conference of the FG chemical education. Some participants used the walk between the individual conference locations through the park-like residential area of Berlin-Dahlem along with a small park to relax and recharge their batteries for the next lectures.

A special highlight was the event "Fascination Chemistry - from comets to molecular machines" organized by the SEC (Senior Expert Chemists) Division , which more than filled the Laue Hall in the Harnack House. In addition to an extremely entertaining lecture on vanillin and the "twisted paths" of rumors by Klaus Roth, Uwe Meierhenrich from the University of Nice, an expert on the Rosetta mission, was on the program. The GDCh stand in the foyer of the Henry Ford Building was also well attended. Many participants took the opportunity to create their own button to attach.


In the evening, Evonik's Creavis Lounge started, which drew the interested audience to the Henry Ford Building for a moderated panel discussion on the subject of creativity in chemistry, which moderator Matthias Bongart said, "There was relatively little argument at this point." concluded and released the participants into the subsequent individual and group discussions.

Next door, in the economists' building, the "Chemiewende Innovation Marathon" started, in which seven teams searched for new paths for science, startups and industry overnight.

Video: You can find a summary of the innovation marathon on YouTube

Jahrestagung der Fachgruppe Chemieunterricht (Foto: Frederic Schweizer, GDCh)
Reges Interesse an den Ständen der Jobbörse (Foto: Karin J. Schmitz, GDCh)
Der GDCh-Stand (Foto: Christian Augustin, GDCh)
Buttons zum Selbermachen (Foto: Christian Augustin, GDCh)
Diskutanten der Crevais Lounge (Foto: Karin J. Schmitz, GDCh)
Innovationsmarathon Chemiewende. Nach einer Podiumsdiskussion zum Auftakt zogen sich die Teams zurück, um über Nacht ein Konzept zu entwickeln. (Foto: Frederic Schweizer, GDCh)

Wednesday September 13th


Wednesday also had a few surprises to offer. The day began again with fascinating plenary lectures on the main topic "Moving Molecules - Synthesizing the Future", which set the mood for the day and the future in equal measure.

Afterwards, activities from the start-up scene took place again at the WiFo 2017 in the premises of the economics department (a stone's throw from the Henry Ford Building). The 24-hour hackathon Innovationsmarathon Chemiewende on start-up ideas in the field of chemistry with mentors from business, venture capital and international entrepreneurs has entered its final phase. At around 12 noon, the seven teams each used 3-minute elevator pitches to show what opportunities there are for chemists outside of the laboratory. Federal Economics Minister Brigitte Zypries insisted on handing over the ?5,000 prize to the winning team, ?Startups?. A complete success, because despite the new format, lecture hall 101 was well filled.

All pitches and video presentations from the teams are available online at You can find a summary of the innovation marathon on YouTube


In the chemistry premises on Takustraße, chemical education were the focus of a variety of experimental and discussion lectures throughout the day. Life is chemistry! Reason enough to start imparting knowledge early on.

At the GDCh General Assembly meeting, the participants learned that Dr. Matthias Urmann, Sanofi-Aventis Germany, will be GDCh President for the years 2018 and 2019. He was elected at the (non-public) board meeting on Tuesday.

At the booth of GDCh and Wiley-VCH the anniversary book "Infinite Widths" was presented and celebrated with a reception. In addition to training lectures, poster sessions and innovation forums, there was a lot of new things to learn at the annual conferences of the individual Divisions before a spirit of optimism arose.

Das Gewinnerteam mit Ministerin Brigitte Zypries (links) (Foto: Michael Fahrig)
Mitgliederversammlung der GDCh (Fotos, wenn nicht anders angegeben: Christian Augustin, GDCh)
GDCh-Präsidentin Thisbe K. Lindhorst mit dem designierten Nachfolger Matthias Urmann
Thisbe K. Lindhorst und Gudrun Walter von Wiley-VCH schneiden beim Empfang die Jubiläumstorte an

Thursday, September 14th: Experiment Future

"Experiment Future - Value Thinking in Chemistry" was the title of the experimental symposium in the Spreespeicher in Berlin at the end of the GDCh Science Forum.


How can the results of chemical research, development and the know-how of chemical experts be brought into society in such a way that they can help to cope with global challenges? That was the question those present asked themselves. Moderated by TV journalist and presenter Ines Arland, the participants heard eight keynote speeches on four pairs of topics in the morning, presented by high-ranking keynote speakers.

Edwin Mmutlane from Johannesburg / South Africa and Gisela Lück from Bielefeld University focused on education and talked about "rich and poor". Jonathan Forman from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and Leonard Möckl from Standford University tackled ethical issues under the heading of "War and Peace", ranging from chemical weapons of war to ethical issues. Möckl emphasized the responsibility of scientists, who should not simply allow themselves to be guided by scientific curiosity when choosing their research area.

Merck CEO Stefan Oschmann and AiCuris founder Helga Rübsamen-Schaeff spoke about pharmaceutical research in the "Life and Death" block. They discussed the challenges facing pharmaceutical companies in Germany, but also the great successes of the Pharmacy. Oschman emphasized that despite all the problems, there has been an enormous increase in life expectancy and a decrease in maternal and child mortality in Africa in recent years. However, much remains to be done. "It shouldn't make a difference whether a person gets cancer in Europe or in Africa," he emphasized, referring to preventive medical check-ups, health insurance and therapies that are available in Europe, but only to a limited extent or not at all in African countries.

It was a little more controversial in the last thematic block of the morning. "Sated and Hungry" was about the contributions of chemistry to agriculture. Martin Brudermüller from BASF called for "more hunger for innovation" and regretted that in Europe the risks rather than the opportunities of new technologies are seen. Angelika Hilbeck from the ETH Zurich pointed to the resource consumption of the industrialized countries. "We produce lots of calories, but we don't feed the world."

After the lunch break, the participants discussed the four subject areas in four workshops in the formats "Brainstorming", "World Cafe", "Fishbowl" and "Unterhaus-Dehatte" before the plenum met again. At the end, the results of the workshops were presented in short presentations. "I was thrilled to see how much know-how there is among the participants," said Stefan Oschmann in the closing remarks. "The chemists and the GDCh can contribute a lot to the public discussion." GDCh President Thisbe K. Lindhorst also emphasized in her closing remarks: "We have to commit ourselves to the future."

Edwin Mmutlane spricht über Bildung in Südafrika (Fotos, wenn nicht anders angegeben: Christian Augustin, GDCh)
Impulsredner und Zuhörer im Berliner Spreespeicher
Moderatorin Ines Arland
Graphische Darstellung der Vorträge (Foto: Karin J. Schmitz)

Gifts from International Visitors

From many Chemical Societies all over the world gifts were presented to us. The GDCh says thank you for donors and donations. These gifts will always remind us of a great anniversary celebration. Without our many guests from all over the world it would not have become such a splendid event.

EuCheMS - Europe is our concern
EuCheMS added a framed certificate
RSC - a framed certificate
RSC - a glass bowl with engraved congratulations
a closer look at the RSC glass bowl
Italy - a golden coin
The Netherlands - a certificate
France - a sculpture
... even if the perspective changes, friendship persists
Spain - a glass vase
Slovakia - a certificate
Slovakia - a historic sight: Maria Theresia was crowned King of Hungary (Rex Hungariae) in 1741 in the town of Pressburg, nowadays Bratislava
The ACS - a framed resolution
China - the Great Wall - in an unsignificantly smaller glass version
South Korean Society - a certificate in a laquer shrine
Wiley-VCH - a letter emphazising a longlasting close relationship
Russia - booklet
Russia - stamps
Japan - a laquer vase
Japan - with a card
which reads
Canada - a certificate
Canada - an Inuit carving
Canada - Inuit handicraft
A random collection: Japan, Korea, France, China and Russia
Arrangement of gifts

back to the anniversary page

Texts: Ralf Lippold, Maren Mielck, Karin J. Schmitz

To the GDCh YouTube channel " Chemie ist ... "

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last modified: 07.10.2022 12:29 H from Translator