As of 1 January, Prof. Robert Feidenhans’l is the Chairman of the Management Board of the European XFEL GmbH. The 58-year old physicist comes from the Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark. The European XFEL Council, the highest organ of the non-profit corporation, appointed Feidenhans’l as successor to Prof. Massimo Altarelli in September 2016.
Robert Feidenhans’l studied at Aarhus University and earned his doctorate in the area of surface physics, from which nanophysics developed. He worked at Risø National Laboratory in various scientific and leading positions from 1983 until 2005, when he moved to the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen. Feidenhans’l says that he is both honoured and very excited to have the opportunity to lead the European XFEL into successful operation, which is scheduled to start in the second half of 2017.
Feidenhans’l’s predecessor Prof. Massimo Altarelli retired in December at the age of 68. Since the founding of European XFEL GmbH in 2009, he led the non-profit corporation that is building the European XFEL and that will operate the facility from 2017 on, and he took a leading role in the development of the of the project. Prof. Lars Börjesson, the Vice Chairman of the European XFEL Council, said at Altarelli’s retirement in December: “The achievement by Massimo Altarelli to take the brave science and technology visions of the X-ray free-electron laser to reality through scientific leadership of the technical design and construction all the way to close to operation is outstanding. The member states of European XFEL, represented in the Council, are most grateful and impressed by the leadership and achievements of Massimo Altarelli.” In the future, Altarelli will dedicate himself again to science and research at the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter in Hamburg.
The European XFEL Management Board consists of two managing directors, Prof. Robert Feidenhans’l and Administrative Director Claudia Burger, as well as three scientific directors, Prof. Serguei Molodtsov, Thomas Tschentscher, and Andreas S. Schwarz.