Mourning for Dr Gerhard Bönisch

May 18, 2024

We mourn the loss of our long-time employee, friend and colleague Gerhard Bönisch, who passed away on 6 May 2024 after a long and severe illness.

Gerhard Bönisch was one of the earliest members of the Institute and worked with us for almost 25 years. Trained as a physicist at the University of Heidelberg, Gerhard worked at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University in New York, first with a DFG-stipend, finally as Senior Staff Associate, where he early on recognized the great importance of professional data management and built up extensive expertise in this area. 

In 1999, he joined our institute as Scientific Data Manager. He developed and maintained the databases in the laboratory for routine measurements and analyses of soil, sediment, and water samples, as well as in the laboratories for spectrometry and for the measurement of 14C isotope ratios. He also developed the Data Exchange Portal of the Biogeochemical Integration Department and was instrumental in creating and maintaining the web interface for integrated hourly meteorological surface data. 

Gerhard became internationally well-known for his work on the TRY database, the global database for plant traits, which is an essential contribution to global biodiversity research. Gerhard was a founding member of the TRY initiative, a member of its Steering Committee, and was responsible for developing and maintaining the entire data infrastructure and website. 

In addition to his scientific work, Gerhard was committed to the interests of all employees and was a member of the institute’s works council for several years.

With Gerhard Bönisch, we have lost a much-loved and always-helpful colleague. We will remember him as a brilliant, polite, cheerful, empathetic and courageous friend and colleague. We will miss him dearly. 

Our deepest sympathy goes out to his mother, his wife and his sons..

You are warmly invited to participate in Gerhard’s Kudoboard filling it with your memories and thoughts of Gerhard.

A memorial service is planned for 31 May 2024 at 02:00 p.m. in the Ceremonial Hall of the North Cemetery in Jena.


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