December 12, 2013
Dr. Dieter Schmitt
Dr. Dieter Schmitt, scientist at the MPS and coordinator of the International Max Planck
Research School (IMPRS) at the MPS for many years, passed away December 4, 2013, after a
With the passing of Dieter Schmitt we have lost an excellent scientist, who made important
contributions to our understanding of magnetic fields in astrophysics. As coordinator he built up
the IMPRS from its beginning and shaped its development for 12 years. His unfaltering
commitment for this task, his sensibility and openness to the concerns and problems of the PhD
students were crucial for the great success of the IMPRS.
Dieter Schmitt was born in Fulda in 1953. He studied physics at the University of Göttingen and
earned his doctorate in 1985 with a thesis on the dynamo theory of the solar magnetic field,
which received the highest distinction “summa cum laude”. Until 2000 he then worked as a
scientist at the Observatory of the University of Göttingen, interrupted by a stay as Visiting
Scientist at the High Altitude Observatory in Boulder (Colorado, USA). He habilitated in 1996 and
received the venia legendi for astronomy and astrophysics. After a short stay at the Copernicus
Society (European Geophysical Society) he came to MPS (then still MPI for Aeronomy) in 2001.
The multifaceted scientific work of Dieter Schmitt includes detailed studies of the stability of
magnetic fields in rotating stars, of linear and nonlinear dynamo theory, and of various
theoretical aspects of solar, planetary, and galactic magnetic fields. Moreover, he was active in
teaching at the university and the IMPRS, but particularly also in the impart of insights in
astronomy and astrophysics to the general public.
Characteristic of the acute sense of responsibility and the unselfish social commitment of Dieter
Schmitt is his long-term voluntary work as speaker of the coordinating group for Ethiopia of
We mourn an excellent scientist, an outstanding IMPRS coordinator, a committed teacher,
and a good friend.
Directors and staff of the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research