Prof. em. Dr. Gotthilf Hempel,  founding director of AWI and ZMT, at one of his "Dämmerschoppen" | Photo: M. Sabelhaus

13.03.2018 | "Money is not talked about, personnel issues, staffing and institutional policy are taboo, we focus on the scientific dialogue for two hours." Prof. em. Dr. Gotthilf Hempel has established clear rules for his "Dämmerschoppen" (roughly translated as twilight get-together). Once a month (Thursdays from5 to 7pm), Professor Hempel invites a selected numbr of guests to the ZMT in Bremen for a twilight meeting. Each time, around a dozen marine researchers gather for scientific discussions. They come mainly from the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Bremerhaven and the Leibniz Centre for Marine Tropical Research, both founded by Professor Hempel. The marine biologist initiated the scientific sundowner 40 years ago in Kiel and revived it together with his wife ten years ago in Bremen.

The format is very simple: a scientist gives a lecture on a current topic — without PowerPoint slides and other visual aids. The presentation quickly turns into a discussion, frank and stimulated, always in German and without abbreviations. This is a new concept to younger participants, as English and acronyms are common in modern maritime science discussions. The topics are as varied as the discussion round itself and range from the bacterial life in the marine snow to the effectiveness of marine protected areas and the migrations of Peruvian clammers.

Scientists from doctoral candidates to emeritus are invited by Gotthilf Hempel to his event and interdisciplinarity is important for a good discussion to evolve. The scientific discourse of the Dämmerschoppens does not only thrive on the expert knowledge present, but also from Professor Hempel's moderation which is knonw for its wit and infectious enthusiasm for science.

Many researchers from the region agree that Gotthilf Hempel's marine ecologcial "Dämmerschoppen" are legendary. Some, such as Dr. Andreas Kunzmann from ZMT or Dr. Christopher Zimmermann from the Thünen-Institut: Baltic Sea Fisheries in Rostock, have already taken part in this event at the time of their doctoral dissertation with their supervisor Hempel.

On March 15th, the Bremer Dämmerschoppen celebrates its 100th anniversary. This time Prof. Dr. Volker Storch from the University of Heidelberg will give a lecture (in German) on "Die Eroberung von Lebensräumen und die Evolution von Lebensgemeinschaften". Three billion years of the history of life provide plenty of material for discussion.