As of January 2021, Frauke Gräter is the new Scientific Director of HITS. As the position of Scientific Director rotates through the group leaders, this is a planned change in the HITS management. Wolfgang Müller, who had been Scientific Director for the last two years, stepped down from this position at the end of the year. The new deputy Scientific Director will be Tilmann Gneiting.
Frauke Gräter has been leader of the “Molecular Biomechanics” group at HITS since 2009, since 2014, she has been professor for molecular biomechanics at Heidelberg University. She wants to decipher how proteins have been designed to specifically respond to mechanical forces, be it in the cellular environment or as a biomaterial, covering medicine topics like blood clotting as well as materials science such as on spider silk. For her outstanding impact on research in high-performance computing (HPC), Frauke Gräter was awarded PRACE Ada Lovelace Award for HPC. This award honors female scientists for their outstanding impact on HPC research, computational science, or service provision at a global level. In her current project, Gräter is taking a closer look at collagen, the protein which provides structural and mechanical stability to all our connective tissues like bones, tendons, ligaments, and skin. She has already shown that excessive mechanical stress on collagen produces radicals – a critical finding since radicals are known to cause damage in the body. For her research on radicals in collagen, she was awarded an ERC Consolidator Grant with about two million Euros of funding. As of 2021, she will be a member of the Editorial Board of “Biophysical Journal.”
Tilmann Gneiting has been leader of the “Computational Statistics” group at HITS and professor for computational statistics at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) since 2013. His research focuses on methods for probabilistic forecasting, such as in weather prediction or for the development of the Corona pandemic. Gneiting is one of the highly cited researchers worldwide, according to the Clarivate Analytics list that included him five times in a row (2014-2018). He was fellow at the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecast (ECMWF), is fellow of the American Statistical Association and the Institute of Mathematical Statistics, and served as Editor-in-Chief of the “Annals of Applied Statistics.” For his research, he was awarded an ERC Advanced Grant in 2012.
The Scientific Director (“Institutssprecher”) is a group leader appointed by the HITS shareholders. The Scientific Director represents the Institute in all scientific matters vis-à-vis cooperation partners and the public.
HITS, the Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies, was established in 2010 by physicist and SAP co-founder Klaus Tschira (1940-2015) and the Klaus Tschira Foundation as a private, non-profit research institute. HITS conducts basic research in the natural, mathematical, and computer sciences. Major research directions include complex simulations across scales, making sense of data, and enabling science via computational research. Application areas range from molecular biology to astrophysics. An essential characteristic of the Institute is interdisciplinarity, implemented in numerous cross-group and cross-disciplinary projects. The base funding of HITS is provided by the Klaus Tschira Foundation.