Dear DESY colleagues,

A very different festive season is coming up and will be a new experience for many of us. Let's take a break and look back on a year with special challenges, which nevertheless also had many good moments to offer at DESY. And let's look ahead – because 2021 will also be different, but just as exciting in a positive sense. Many great DESY projects are in the planning stage or have already started, some of which we report on in this newsletter.

Have fun reading and enjoy the holidays!

Best wishes from your DESY inform team


You all are DESY to us!

In this special year, the DESY Science Day 2020 was also presented completely digitally. Appreciations and honors in the livestream, surveys at a distance, award presentations without shaking hands – and scientific lectures on the screen instead of in the large lecture hall. Everything at a physical distance, but nevertheless close, warm, committed, and inspiring!

A few weeks before, the filming of the film inserts for the event started. So here's a "mini making-of" from Science Day 2020.

The grand backdrop: the auditorium wasn't the venue this year, but it was the stage for the recording of the lecture for the Bjørn H. Wiik Prize, which was once again awarded in 2020. And at the end – bridging the social distance – a bouquet of flowers flew directly into the arms of the award winner.

Lifetime Achievement Awards: the Directors – here Joachim Mnich filming laudatory remarks in his office – sent the framed flange awards on their way to their winners including to Schenefeld, Walsrode, Quickborn, and Poppenbüttel.

Canteen chat: during filming in mid-November, Delf Deicke and his film team got many hungry DESY colleagues in front of the microphone for the Science Day survey.

A conversation among researchers: Melanie Schnell, winner of the Bjørn H. Wiik Prize, and prize presenter Jörg Rossbach, Chairman of the BHW Prize Committee. Melanie Schnell has been a senior scientist at DESY since 2017. "There are still few women in physics," she said during the Science Day preparations. "In my group, however, the percentage of women is over 50 percent. I wish that many of you will move on as well-educated and self-confident women scientists and become role models yourselves – both for women and for men."

Morning at nine in the office of Director Edgar Weckert. He was incredibly quick and sure in his words when giving his laudatory remarks for the Lifetime Achievement Awards. By the way, this counts for all directors!

Poised and ready for the camera – the last rehearsal before the livestream: Kerstin Straub, leader of DESY PR, moderated the Science Day this year as well, this time from one of the meeting rooms. To everyone who helped out and contributed or watched: many, many thanks! And for everyone who wasn't there to watch the stream live on 2 December, or who wants to see the event again:

Morning Science Colloquium
Afternoon recording


Ayan Paul: "Creation without a goal is pure art"

Recently, we had an conversation with DESY physicist Ayan Paul on the Hamburg campus. Normally, the Indian-born physicist analyzes results from particle accelerators. But in recent months, the 39-year-old has been driven by a will to make his contribution to the fight against the COVID pandemic. He wrote several scientific publications on the subject and, with an international team, developed a COVID app called CoVis (we reported on it earlier). The app, whose market launch is imminent, was also the main topic of our conversation. But the scientist kept getting so philosophical that it turned into an interview of its own – a kind of second soundtrack. Insights into the mindset of a data analyst: Check out the interview here.

Great also the news that just reached Ayan Paul: for his academic COVID-19 research, he will receive financial support from the Volkswagen Foundation until mid-2022. The DESY physicist was among the few chosen from more than a thousand applications.


"I am looking forward to a new, huge challenge"

Joachim Mnich has been Director of Particle Physics at DESY for twelve years. From January 2021, he takes up a new job – as Research Director at the renowned particle research centre CERN in Geneva. He will be in charge of the experiments at the giant accelerator LHC, which is undergoing a significant upgrade in the coming years.

More information



The interest in sustainability at the research centers of the Helmholtz Association is great, and the calls for concrete action are getting louder. This became clear at the Digital Warm-Up for the Helmholtz Sustainability Summit, an exciting online event that DESY hosted in November. The theme of the event was "Research in Social Responsibility". At the end of the event, Christian Harringa, Administrative Director at DESY, presented the new commitment to its sustainable development on behalf of the Helmholtz Association. The actual sustainability summit will take place next year.


To strengthen and further expand the collaboration between the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences (HAW) and DESY, an online workshop was held in mid-November 2020. More than 80 participants discussed possible topics for a more intensive collaboration in workshops and discussion rounds. Based on the results of the workshop and the already existing successful cooperation with HAW Hamburg, such as with the training of dual students or with the Data Science Graduate School (DASHH), an agreement for a strategic cooperation is now in preparation. The focus is on topics such as innovation, sustainability, and digitalisation. The combination of the competences of both partners opens up new ways in applied research and development to develop digital and sustainable technologies.

Start of PIER Seed Projects

Researching together – scientists from DESY, the Universität Hamburg (UHH), and the University Medical Center Eppendorf (UKE) have joined forces to work together in seven PIER research fields: Infection and Structural Biology, Nanoscience, Photon Science, Particle and Astroparticle Physics, and Accelerator Research. Their projects were selected in this year's round of calls for PIER Seed Projects. DESY, the UHH and the UKE will provide nearly 280 000 € over the next two years through the PIER Ideas Fund. With the annually announced Seed Projects, PIER supports joint research projects of DESY and UHH/UKE researchers. In addition, PIER also awards funding for workshops and short visits by international researchers.

From school to the research campus

Learning rather than teaching: at this year's research visit for STEM teachers, twelve participants experienced DESY research live on the Hamburg campus for five days in October (at the DESY test beam and other locations): workshops, project work in a service or research group, lectures, and tours. The response was extremely positive. The organising team led by Kim Plath from the School Lab hopes for the next teacher training in fall 2021 – it would be the seventh event of this kind.


The new DESY website for crisis help is online. It helps DESY employees to find the right contact persons in difficult situations. This includes topics such as discrimination, sexual harassment, and health problems. The contact list is long – among the helpers in difficult times are equal opportunity officers, employees from health management, conflict counselling, the human resources department, the works council, and the DOIT doctoral student initiative.

Spin-off Funding for two DESY scientists

Special coatings for science and industry: this is the core of a spin-off idea for which two DESY scientists are receiving enterprise funding from the Helmholtz Association. Mehdi Ramin Moayed and Kai Schlage will be able to finance and implement their business idea for a coating service for high-precision coatings. Applications are particularly interesting for the fields of optics, electronics, sensor technology, and medical technology. The team expects the concrete spin-off in September 2021 and will be supported by the DESY Start-Up Office.


Simply shut down your own accelerator for a while or switch to family mode – that's what many people are looking forward to in the coming days. Three personal tips from DESY's company physician Katharina Bünz on how to get through the festive season well:

1. Nutrition: cooking together is fun and will play a special role this year. And if your internal critic warns of the superfluous calories, remember the following: you don't get fat between Christmas and New Year, but rather between New Year and Christmas. In other words, enjoy without false regret!

2. Anticipation: planning is almost as beautiful as the execution – perhaps you already travel in your head and discuss your vacations for 2021. This can only put you in a good mood.

3. Movement: download the videos from the "Moving Pause" from the internal DESY media library. Maybe try gymnastics with your family. Laughter is guaranteed.

I would like to wish all our colleagues a happy holiday season and a peaceful start for the New Year,

Katharina Bünz



A note on another programme worth watching: For its series Planet E, ZDF visited DESY and took a look around the PETRA III experiments to search for a treatment for COVID-19. Broadcast: "Planet E: What do we know about COVID?" (German: "Was wissen wir über Corona?" on 17 January 2021 at 4:30 p.m. on ZDF.

SCIENCE CAFÉ DESY: 2021 online

The Science Café DESY will continue in 2021. For the time being, however, the talks and interactions with the audience will only happen online. Next date: On 27 January 2021 with Ilja Bohnet, who will talk about his new book The 42 Biggest Puzzles in Physics. And on 24 February 2021 with Ties Behnke on the topic: "Making the Invisible Visible - Particle Hunting at DESY from 1959 to Today."

And now the sad news: On September 2, 2020, Waldemar Tausendfreund passed away at the age of 88. More than 20 years ago, the solid-state physicist and high school teacher had dedicated himself to teaching physics at DESY. He founded and supervised the DESY Science Café DESY and the "Faszination Physik" working group.

More information

WISSENSWERTE: Evening lectures 2021

"Searching for COVID treatments with X-ray vision" – in this November event, DESY physicist Alke Meents and European XFEL's Kristina Lorenzen proved that scientific presentations can also inspire people when they're online. In December, Ralf Röhlsberger from DESY and the Helmholtz Institute Jena spoke about "125 years of X-rays: From discovery to the X-ray laser." The lectures are available on our YouTube channel. This series of public talks will be continued in the new year – initially online.

More information


This week we sent out our first issue of the external newsletter DESY KOMPAKT, with the most important research news from our campuses in Hamburg and Zeuthen. Of course, DESY colleagues are also welcome to subscribe to this newsletter. The subscription box will appear on the DESY website soon.


DESY inform Team:

Project management: Kerstin Straub
Editorial management: Kristin Hüttmann
Editorial team: Christina Mänz, Barbara Warmbein, Till Mundzeck, Thomas Zoufal, Joseph Piergrossi
Production and design: Stefanie Fahlfeder, Britta Liebaug
Picture credits: Marta Mayer, Gesine Born, Anna Gärtner, Stefanie Fahlfeder, Britta Liebaug, Christina Mänz | Science Communication Lab