For Research. For Berlin.

Press release

17.03.2021 // (02/21)

Einstein Foundation Announces New Appointments for the Einstein Strategic Professorship Program

With support from the Einstein Foundation, Berlin’s universities have successfully attracted four pioneering international researchers. Political scientist and Slavic scholar Gwendolyn Sasse and business informatics specialist Jan Mendling will take up work at the Humboldt-Universität this spring, while historian Michael Goebel will pursue his research at Freie Universität Berlin beginning in September 2021. Psychologist Marcel Brass joined the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin as an Einstein Professor at the beginning of the fall 2020 semester.


Psychologist Marcel Brass is interested in understanding the neural and cognitive foundations of our social behavior. Building on methods gleaned from neuroscience, he also explores questions of executive control and free will. Marcel Brass earned his PhD in 2000 at the Max Planck Institute for Psychological Research at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, after which he held a research position at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig. In 2006, he was awarded a Heisenberg Fellowship by the German Research Foundation and took up work as a research professor at Ghent University, Belgium, where he remained until being appointed as Einstein Professor of Social Intelligence at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin in fall 2020.


Gwendolyn Sasse’s research is focused on democracy and authoritarianism, the transformation processes in Eastern Europe, and the dynamics of war, migration, and protest movements. She studied history, Slavic studies, and political science and received her PhD from the London School of Economics. She subsequently taught at the Central European University, the London School of Economics, and the University of Oxford, where she was appointed Professor in Comparative Politics at the Department of Politics and International Relations and at the School of Interdisciplinary Area Studies in 2013. She is also a Non-Resident Senior Fellow at Carnegie Europe. Since 2016, she has been the Director of the Center for East European and International Studies (ZoiS) in Berlin. Remaining in this role, she will join the Department of Social Sciences at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin as Einstein Professor of Comparative Democracy and Authoritarianism Studies in April 2021.


Jan Mendling, professor of business informatics, has previously taught at Vienna University of Economics and Business and will now join Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. As Einstein Professor of Process Science, he will investigate how processes in administration, logistics, and other industries can be improved. To this end, he and his team analyze event data and develop algorithms and user-friendly visualization techniques. To manage business processes more efficiently, he also explores technologies such as Robotic Process Automation, Blockchains, and Business Process Management systems. His textbooks “Business Information Systems” and “Fundamentals of Business Process Management” are used in teaching in over 70 countries. For his doctoral thesis he received the Heinz Zemanek Award of the Austrian Computer Society and the German Targion Award.


Michael Goebel works on the history of migration, cities, and nationalism in the 19th and 20th centuries, and has now been appointed as Einstein Professor of Global History at Freie Universität Berlin, where he earned his Habilitation in 2014. He currently holds a chair at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva. His study, “Anti-Imperial Metropolis: Interwar Paris and the Seeds of Third World Nationalism” (2015), won the American Historical Association’s 2016 Jerry Bentley Prize in World History. As a founding member of the Global Urban History Project and head of a multi-year research project funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation, Goebel’s current research focuses on the relationship between metropolization and social inequality in cities around 1900.


The Einstein Strategic Professorship program allows Berlin’s universities to appoint leading international researchers and is made possible through the generous financial support of the Damp Foundation. With the State of Berlin’s Matching Funds program the Einstein Foundation’s Strategic Professorship program thus has a total of about €50 million at its disposal. Seven professorships have been successfully appointed for Berlin, and negotiations with three further candidates are currently underway. For the duration of their appointments, the funded scientists are “Einstein Professors”.


The Einstein Foundation Berlin is an independent, not-for-profit, science-led organization established as a foundation under civil law in 2009. Since then, its task has been to promote international cutting-edge science and research across disciplines and institutions in and for Berlin. To date, it has funded 172 researchers, including three Nobel laureates, 71 projects, and six Einstein Centers.