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Excellent: Professor at 31

6 February 2007

Junior professor Selim Jochim follows in Einstein's footsteps and investigates the characteristics of ultracold quantum gases — "Same rights and duties" as other professors

He is Heidelberg's youngest professor: Selim Jochim, born in Leimen in 1975. Within the framework of a cooperation between the University of Heidelberg and the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics, he has been working at their installation up on the Königstuhl since 1 October 2006.

Selim Jochum is well-acquainted with the city on the Neckar river. After all, he spent most of his university time at the University of Heidelberg. He worked on his doctoral thesis on Bose-Einstein condensation of molecules at the Universities of Heidelberg and Innsbruck. He was the first person to confirm that Albert Einstein's and Satyendra Neth Bose's theory that various particles — if they are extremely cooled down — melt into one condensate and behave like a single particle also applies to molecules.

A recipient of the Prize of the Principality of Liechtenstein for Scientific Investigation, he has often travelled to the U.S. for research purposes and spent time at the University of California in Berkeley and at San Francisco State University. Prior to his current position in Heidelberg, he took a sabbatical at the University of Chicago.

The decision to accept the junior professorship in Heidelberg needed some contemplation, since his prior position as a scientist at the IBM Research Laboratory Zurich was permanent, whereas the junior professorship will be evaluated after four years and can then be extended for another two years. "A clear advantage of my position here, though, is that I am free to work independently and that I am in charge of my own research group," Jochim explains his decision. A key aspect is the excellent scientific community of the Max Planck Institute that also provides the necessary funds to establish an independent research group.

The young physicist appreciates the opportunities that arise from the junior professorship at the University of Heidelberg: "I am integrated as a fully-fledged member at the Faculty and generally have the same rights and duties as other professors." That means he takes over independently the supervision of graduates and doctoral candidates and has already been able to win over the first students to his group. The number of graduates and doctoral candidates he can supervise is more restricted, though, than that of his older colleagues. The junior professorship was created, after all, in order to provide young scientists with a platform to continuously improve their qualifications by conducting their own research at the University.

In Heidelberg, Jochim will continue what he started in his dissertation and investigate ultracold gases and their functions with superconductors that conduct electricity without loss at his newly equipped laboratory at the Max Planck Institute. He certainly does not feel isolated: "Everyone is really nice to me and my colleagues provide the support I need to turn this junior professorship into a full success." He considers the fact that all eyes are on him a motivation; his position as a junior professor will definitely be helpful for his further scientific career.

Selim Jochim will also participate in the Graduate School on Fundamental Physics funded by the Initiative for Excellence. He has fulfilled his teaching duties by running a seminar together with Prof. Markus Oberthaler on "ultracold quantum gases". This way he was able to share his current work with the students and exchange scientific ideas with a colleague who also deals with this topic, albeit from a different perspective. This fruitful scientific cooperation makes Jochim look confidently into the future.

Katinka Krug

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Dr. Michael Schwarz
Press Officer of the University of Heidelberg
phone: 06221/542310, fax: 54317

Irene Thewalt
phone: 06221/542310, fax: 542317


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