Prof. Dr. Erica Lilleodden

Prof. Dr. Erica Lilleodden, Institute Director

Prof. Dr. Erica Lilleodden has been director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Microstructure of Materials and Systems IMWS since February 2022. In her research work she is primarily concerned with the nano- and micromechanics of materials such as metals, ceramics and composites. This serves to deepen our understanding of the application behavior of such materials, especially with regard to deformation, dislocation, fatigue and defect formation up to fracture. Her research also contributes to the tailor-made development of materials with specific properties for high-performance applications and multi-scale material systems.

Following her studies in materials science at the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities and her Ph.D. at Stanford University, her professional career has included positions at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBL), the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), and most recently as Head of the Department of Experimental Materials Mechanics at the Helmholtz Center hereon. From 2014 to February 2022, she was Professor of Experimental Nano- and Micromechanics at the Institute for High-Performance Ceramic Materials at the Hamburg University of Technology.

Her scientific publications to date include more than 70 papers in peer-reviewed journals and conference proceedings. She is a regularly invited speaker at high-profile international meetings and symposia, has been a lecturer since 2002, and is on the review panel for renowned journals such as Science, Nature, and Nature Materials. In October 2023 she was appointed a member of acatech - National Academy of Science and Engineering.

Video interview with Prof. Dr. Erica Lilleodden on taking office.

PD Dr. Christian Schmelzer

© Fraunhofer IMWS
PD Dr. Christian Schmelzer, Deputy Director

PD Dr. Christian Schmelzer has been Deputy Director of the Fraunhofer IMWS since January 1, 2024. In parallel to this activity, he continues to lead the "Biological and Macromolecular Materials" business unit, which he has headed since August 2018.

His research focuses on future materials for the healthcare sector. These include the development of biomimetic materials for medical applications and tissue engineering, the microstructural and molecular characterization of biological and biomaterials, issues relating to the formation, function and damage of extracellular fibre proteins as well as matrix-degrading proteases and matrikines.

Schmelzer studied physical engineering and information processing in Merseburg and Gdansk. After completing his doctorate on the topic of "Mass spectrometric characterization of protein hydrolysates" in 2007 at Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU), he worked there until 2016 as a research associate and head of the "Elastin" team at the Institute of Pharmacy, Faculty of Natural Sciences I (Biosciences), interrupted by a postdoctoral research stay at the Department of Biology at the Technion - Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa. In 2021, he completed his habilitation on "Elastin - Formation and Fate" at MLU.

Schmelzer joined the Fraunhofer IMWS in 2016, initially as head of the "SkinNext" group, from whose research activities "matrihealth GmbH" emerged as a spin-off of the institute in 2022; at the beginning of 2018 he became Deputy Head of the Business Unit. He is author of more than 70 publications in scientific peer-reviewed journals and has been a lecturer at the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg since 2009. His work has been recognized with the IQ Innovation Award of the City of Halle (2021) and second place in the Hugo Junkers Prize of the State of Saxony-Anhalt (2021), among others.

Thomas Merkel

© Fraunhofer IMWS
Thomas Merkel, Administration Manager

Thomas Merkel studied law at the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg and at the University of Zurich with a focus on business law. Following his second state examination, he worked as Legal Counsel in the legal department of Credit Suisse in Frankfurt am Main. There, he was mainly involved with issues of employment, banking, corporate and commercial law. Thomas Merkel was admitted to the bar in September 2004 and additionally to the bar as an in-house lawyer in 2016.

In July 2007, he joined the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft as a consultant to the institute's management for human resources and law at what is now the Fraunhofer Institute for Microstructure of Materials and Systems IMWS. Since January 2009, he has been Head of Administration for the Fraunhofer IMWS and thus responsible for the individual areas of finance, human resources, technical services and IT as well as for the area of law and compliance. Within the institute management, he takes over the administrative tasks of the Fraunhofer IMWS and represents the institute Director in these areas, among other things as an interface to the central administration of the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft. On a higher level, Thomas Merkel is involved in committees of the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft.