Federal President finds catalysis "intoxicating"

Benjamin List is awarded the Federal Cross of Merit at Bellevue Palace

September 02, 2022

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has awarded Benjamin List, director at the Max-Planck-Institut für Kohlenforschung, the Grand Federal Cross of Merit with Star. It is a "tremendous honor," says the chemist.

In recognition of his research as an incentive to continue working on his "bold ideas," German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has now awarded Benjamin List, Director at the Max-Planck-Institut für Kohlenforschung, the Grand Federal Cross of Merit with Star. The ceremony took place at Bellevue Palace, the seat of the Federal President in Berlin.

In his laudation, Steinmeier emphasized that the Nobel laureate's fascination with chemistry and catalysis in particular was "intoxicating" - for example, when List argues that there is no technology more important than catalysis because so many products are based on it. "You want to use your research to make the world a better place," Steinmeier told Ben List, adding that he deserves the award for that as well.

Trust in Basic Research

List thanked the Federal President for the "tremendous honor," but also explicitly expressed his gratitude for two other things: "I am grateful for the trust my home country has placed in basic research," List stated first, explaining that this trust is reflected in the generous funds that the government makes available to the Max Planck Society.

Second, List expressed extreme gratitude for the German school and university system: "I was able to go to school and university for free," said List, who attended school in Frankfurt and studied in Berlin. Without that opportunity, he said, he would not have gotten to where he is now. "I wasn't always a straight-A student in school," List admitted with a smile, "and the starting point of my career wasn't exactly on the expressway to Bellevue Palace."

You can find an English translation of the president’s speach here

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