Scientific symposium in memory of Wilfried Wurth

Friends and colleagues remember DESY’s lead scientist


Friends and colleagues attended the scientific symposium in memory of Prof. Dr. Wilfried L. Wurth. (Credit: DESY, Marta Meyer)

Wilfried Wurth

Prof. Dr. Wilfried L. Wurth (Foto: DESY, Gesine Born).

On Friday, friends and colleagues of Prof. Dr. Wilfried L. Wurth paid him their last respects at a memorial symposium held at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science CFEL. The lead scientist at DESY and professor at the University of Hamburg passed away unexpectedly this spring. With deep personal sympathy, his fellow scientists from home and abroad recalled Wilfried Wurth’s exceptional character and his achievements.

“We lost our beloved and esteemed colleague Wilfried Wurth completely unexpectedly in May. With him we have lost an extremely competent scientist who was highly regarded throughout the world. He had been the head of the free-electron laser FLASH at DESY since 2014 and was on the faculty of the Department of Physics at the University of Hamburg from 2000 onwards as a professor of experimental physics,” said Prof. Dr. Helmut Dosch, the Chairman of DESY’s Board of Directors. “We will remember Wilfried Wurth as a very special person.”

“As a joint professor of both DESY and the University of Hamburg, Wilfried Wurth was a highly esteemed link between those institutions. His integrative and approachable manner was crucial in shaping their collaboration,” emphasised Prof. Dr. Heinrich Graener, the Dean of the Faculty of Mathematics, Informatics and Natural Sciences (MIN) at the University of Hamburg. “As one of the initiators behind CFEL, natural sciences in Hamburg owe him a great deal.” CFEL is a joint facility operated by DESY, the University of Hamburg and the Max Planck Society.

“Wilfried Wurth was an example to me – as a scientist, university teacher and colleague,” said Prof. Dr. Markus Drescher on behalf of the entire college at the Department of Physics of the University of Hamburg. “Students experienced him as a convincing lecturer, enthusiastic experimenter and reliable mentor. His advice was highly valued among colleagues and his work has left a lasting mark on the department.”

In science, Wilfried Wurth made a name for himself early only as an expert on X-ray spectroscopy and the study of ultrahigh-speed processes, such as observing atomic dynamics on surfaces in real time. Even before coming to DESY in 2014, he was a leading researcher at FLASH. He headed the Advanced Study Group of the University of Hamburg at CFEL and from 2007 until 2013 he was the spokesperson for the Federal Ministry of Education and Research's (BMBF) research priority programme FLASH.

During Wilfried Wurth’s time as the scientific head of FLASH, the expansion project FLASH II was set up, with a second laser beamline and a second experimental hall for the free-electron laser. In DESY’s strategy process, which was completed in 2018, Wilfried Wurth was instrumental in coming up with the visions for the future of this pioneering facility. Most recently, he led the creation of the Conceptual Design Report for developing it to become FLASH2020+.

“We will remember Wilfried Wurth as a highly esteemed colleague, who was decisive in shaping the future project FLASH2020+ but also photon research at DESY as a whole,” emphasised DESY’s Director of Photon Science, Prof. Dr. Edgar Weckert. “His tremendous scientific expertise and calm manner made him an important partner when discussing many issues, and one who will be greatly missed.”

(from DESY News)

Further reading: 
Obituary for Wilfried Wurth by Jochen Schneider (from DESY inForm Nr. 2|19; pdf, ca. 200kb)