ESS Appoints New Director General

Helmut Schober
Professor Helmut Schober is the new Director General of ESS. Credit: Cedrine Tresca

Helmut Schober has been named as the next Director General of ESS by the ESS Council, and will officially join the organisation on November 1st.

It has been announced today that Professor Helmut Schober, currently Director of the European research centre, Institut Laue-Langevin (ILL), in France, will be the new ESS Director General. 

“I am happy that the ESS Council has appointed Professor Helmut Schober as the next Director General of ESS,” says Beatrix Vierkorn-Rudolph, Chair of the ESS Council. “Helmut Schober has a long-standing experience as a neutron scientist and a deep knowledge in leading a European scientific facility. He will lead ESS in the transition from a construction project into an international leading research facility.”

After two decades at the world-leading neutron source, ILL, Helmut Schober became its Director in 2016. He was the founding Chair of the League of advanced European Neutron Sources (LENS), of which ESS is a member, and since 2020, is also Chair of the European International Research Organisations forum (EIROforum). Schober is a prominent figure within the European research community and, as a former member of the ESS Scientific Advisory Committee, is very familiar with the ESS project.

Professor Schober has a PhD in Physics, and worked as a researcher at the University of Mainz and at the Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe in Germany, before joining the ILL in 1994. His research focused on the spectroscopy of functional materials, covering a wide domain from nanostructures to liquids and glasses. 

“I am honoured to be appointed ESS Director General. ESS will be an absolutely necessary building block for preserving Europe’s long-standing, global leadership in neutron science. Its unprecedented capabilities will enable unique scientific insight into materials that will contribute to solving many of the pressing challenges our society is facing,” says Helmut Schober. “Together with the ESS staff and our partners I will deploy all my energy to deliver a vibrant facility at the earliest possible date.” 

Europe has a long tradition of excellence in neutron science, and  ESS is of strategic importance for European research and innovation to enhance and consolidate its top global position in material science. ESS will significantly outperform other similar facilities in the world and provide new opportunities for science through its unprecedented brightness and state-of-the art instruments.

Helmut Schober will join ESS at an important time in the project, when civil construction is coming to an end, and the installation works of technical equipment and commissioning of parts of the facility will be intensified. A major milestone at ESS in 2021 will be the commissioning of the first part of the linear accelerator, which is expected to take place after the summer.