Helmut Dosch will be the next director of Germany’s DESY Research Centre, effective 1 March 2009. Dosch will be the first condensed-matter physicist to lead the accelerator lab. He takes over from Albrecht Wagner, who has been in charge since 1999.

The Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron (DESY) was founded in Hamburg in 1959 and currently employs about 1900 people there and at a second site in Zeuthen in the former East Germany. Originally conceived as a particle-physics lab, DESY was home to several colliders — the last being HERA, which shutdown last year.

Today however, much of the lab’s activities are focussed on using the synchrotron radiation created by particle accelerators to do condensed matter physics, materials science, chemistry and biology. DESY is home to several accelerators and numerous beamlines dedicated to such research including the HASYLAB synchrotron facility and the FLASH free electron laser.

It not surprising, therefore, that the lab has chosen a new director who has spent much of his career using synchrotron radiation to investigate solid interfaces and nanostructures. Dosch, 53, is currently director of the Max Planck Institute for Metals Research in Stuttgart and chair of Experimental Solid State Physics at the University of Stuttgart. He is also vice-chair of the Administrative Council of the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) in Grenoble, France.

Dosch will see DESY take an important role in XFEL, the European X-ray Free Electron Laser, which is being built next to the lab’s Hamburg site. He will also oversee DESY’s ongoing contribution to the development of new technologies for the International Linear Collider — the next big particle physics experiment after the LHC.