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Honorary doctorate from the University of Bayreuth for science journalist Dirk Steffens

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University of Bayreuth, Press release No. 072/2020, 09 May 2020

The Faculty of Biology, Chemistry & Earth Sciences at the University of Bayreuth has awarded an honorary doctorate to the science journalist Dirk Steffens (seen on "Terra X"/ZDF among other programmes). This honours "his outstanding achievements in communicating complex scientific content in the fields of the earth sciences, bio-geography, and ecology, and his services in the preservation of biodiversity".

TV-Moderator und Wissenschaftskommunikator Dirk Steffens mit der Urkunde, die die Ehrendoktorwürde der Universität Bayreuth dokumentiert.

The Faculty of Biology, Chemistry & Earth Sciences awards honorary doctorates to figures who have made outstanding scientific achievements - including the communication of scientific knowledge - in the subjects of biology, chemistry, and earth sciences.

In the view of the Faculty, the extraordinary achievements of Dirk Steffens lie, first-and-foremost, in the fact that he "has been doing outstanding and widely recognised work as a science journalist, at a high scientific level, for many years". The Faculty particularly emphasizes that Mr. Steffens "presents complex geoscientific and biological issues in a very appealing way to a broad audience, and attaches great importance on the scientific substance of the topics conveyed". The Dean of the Faculty, Prof. Dr. Matthias Breuning, Professor of Organic Chemistry, emphasises "Mr. Steffens incorporates current research findings into his programmes, teases out unanswered questions, and arouses curiosity about nature and its exploration. This is particularly important for science today. We need to be represented in the public media, and need communication experts like Dirk Steffens there who can reach people outside the scientific community and get them excited about science.

The Faculty particularly appreciates the fact that Steffens has established a foundation for the preservation of biodiversity. It was founded in December 2017 as the "Biodiversity Foundation", and aims to initiate the public discussion and political processes necessary to preserve biodiversity. According to the foundation, the core of its international work is to present and disseminate scientific findings in an understandable way.

 "This honour from the University of Bayreuth means a lot to me, because it is recognition that is given by the researchers themselves," Dirk Steffens admits. "For a science journalist, this is of course something very special. In times of fake news and digital echo rooms, of species extinction and the climate crisis, it is perhaps more important than ever to make the findings of the natural sciences accessible to the widest possible audience".

Dirk Steffens is the fifth honorary doctorate the Faculty of Biology, Chemistry & Earth Sciences of the University of Bayreuth has awarded so far. Over the years, the University has awarded a total of 27 honorary doctorates. The ceremony for the appointment to honorary doctorate is to take place on 30.06.2020, if possible at that date.

Vita Dirk Steffens

Born in Stade, Germany in 1967. After an apprenticeship as a telecommunications mechanic, he matriculated and studied history and politics. He gained professional experience as a radio presenter for Deutschlandfunk and Südwestfunk, creating nature reports for ARD, WDR, VOX, Canal+, Discovery Channel, and RAI. Dirk Steffens has been working as a presenter and journalist on scientific documentaries and reports for ZDF, ARTE, and 3SAT since 2007. Since June 2015, Steffens has been a member of the board of trustees of the Senckenberg Society for Natural Research), and is thus closely connected with the bio- and geosciences community. Steffens is official ambassador of the "UN Decade for Biological Diversity", the World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF), and the "Jane Goodall Institute".


Prof. Dr. Matthias Breuning
Dean of the Faculty of Biology, Chemistry & Earth Sciences
University of Bayreuth
Phone: +49 (0) 921 / 55-3396
E-mail: matthias.breuning@uni-bayreuth.de

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