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Bauer chosen as science minister of the year

Theresia Bauer, the science minister of Baden-Württemberg, has been voted Germany’s best science minister by the DHV, the German Association of University Professors and Lecturers.

Bauer will carry the title “science minister of the year” for 2013, the DHV announced on 19 February. She won for her efforts in protecting the Land’s higher education and research budgets, and her lobbying to increase overhead rates for local universities participating in projects funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, Germany’s largest public research funder.

More than 27,500 professors and lecturers participated in the vote, which is coordinated by the DHV to assess the abilities of science ministers in Germany’s 16 Länder.

“Winning this title makes me particularly happy, because the vote comes right from the scientists themselves,” said Bauer.

Johanna Wanka, Germany’s new science minister who took office this month after previous minister Annette Schavan had to step down over PhD plagiarism allegations, came third in the DHV ranking. Wanka was still science minister for Lower Saxony when voting was underway in January.

Bauer will officially receive her title of during a celebration in March. She said she wants to use this honour to lobby for more collaboration between the Länder and the federal government over science funding and higher education.

“The science system is facing huge challenges, and the expectations of politicians are high,” Bauer said. “Federal government and Länder need to act on their shared responsibilities and solve existing funding problems. There are many initiatives that could be started right away, and that would benefit both schools and higher education institutions,” she added.

Eva Kühne-Hörmann, the Hesse science minister, came last in the ranking. Participants in the vote said she lacked a sense of the relationship between science and teaching, and that her government was too bureaucratic to support science well.