The Foundation Staff

At present some 100 people work directly for the Volkswagen Foundation – in the "Staff Divisions" of the Secretary General as well as in the departments "Funding", "Investment Management" and "Finance and Administration".

Henrike Hartmann
Dr. Henrike Hartmann

Member of the Executive Management

T +49 (0)511 8381-376
F +49 (0)511 8381-4376
Additional Information

Henrike Hartmann is a member of the executive management at the Volkswagen Foundation and head of funding. Previously, she has been in charge of various funding activities in the life sciences, in funding of junior scholars and structural development of the higher education system.

Henrike Hartmann studied pharmacy at the University of Freiburg, and did her PhD in Pharmacology in Heidelberg and Mannheim. She gained her postdoctoral experience at the University of Gainesville, Florida, the Children’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston and the University of Frankfurt. She is a member of the board of trustees of the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing, the Max Planck Institute for Metabolism Research and the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research. She is also a member of the board of trustees of the University of Frankfurt and a member of the administrative Council of the Mathematisches Forschungsinstitut Oberwolfach. 

Subject area:

  • Pharmacy
Simone Künnecke

Administrative Support Niedersächsisches Vorab

T +49 (0)511 8381-255
F+49 (0)511 8381-4255
Kristina Baae-Lorenz

Assistant | Administrative Support

T +49 (0)511 8381-375
F+49 (0)511 8381-4375
Dr. Adelheid Wessler

Head of Team International

T +49 (0) 511 8381-282
F +49 (0)511 8381-4282
Additional Information

Head of "Team International", responsible for old and non-European languages and cultures as well as for (European) ethnology. Up to now, Adelheid Wessler supervised collection-based research projects at museums as well as cooperations between Africa and Germany.

Background: Studies of social anthropology, sociology and political science in Bonn and Cologne, PhD on "Museale Repräsentationen des Selbst und des Anderen im (De-) Kolonisierungsprozess Namibias". Longer research stays abroad, e.g. in Bolivia and Namibia and participation in various (international) exhibition projects. Professional background includes working for the Lower Saxony State Museum Hannover and the University of Cologne.

Subject areas:

  • Non-European Languages and Cultures  
  • Ethnology  

Funding initiatives:

Eva Biereder


T +49 (0)511 8381-202
F+49 (0)511 8381-4202
Dr. Silke Bertram

Program Director

T +49 (0)511 8381-289
F +49 (0)511 8381-4289
Additional Information

Background: Silke Bertram studied geography and geosciences, with a Master's degree from the University of Uppsala/Sweden, and received her PhD from the University of Wuerzburg in the framework of the research training group "Geoscience Research in Africa. Geological and Geographical Processes at the Continental Margin of Southwest Africa". She previously held positions as coordinator for study affairs at the Department of Geosciences at the University of Bremen and as officer for science policy, research funding and EU affairs at the Ministry for Science and Culture of Lower Saxony.

Subject areas:
  • Geography  
  • Earth Sciences  
  • Area Studies  
  • Environmental Sciences  

Funding initiative:

Verena Peckmann


T +49 (0)511 8381-397
F+49 (0)511 8381-4397
Catharina Altevogt


T +49 (0)511 8381-397
F+49 (0)511 8381-4397
Dr. Cornelia Soetbeer

Head of Team Challenges - for Academia and Society

T +49 (0)511 83 81-228
F +49 (0)511 8381-4228
Additional Information

Head of the Team "Challenges – for Academia and Society".

Background: Cornelia Soetbeer received a Master degree in Romance and German Philology awarded by the Christian-Albrechts Universität zu Kiel, PhD in Romance Philology, scholarship holder in the Research Training group "Imaginatio borealis. Perception, Reception and Construction of the North". Subsequently she worked as Program Director in charge of the areas "research and teaching" as well as "Sports" at the Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach-Stiftung in Essen. Member of the international scientific board of the Fondation Maison Suger in Paris.

Cornelia Soetbeer is interested in literature, arts, hiking, tennis and football. She loves music, big dogs and small paintings.

Jeana Thilla


T +49 (0)511 8381-246
F+49 (0)511 8381-4246
Dr. Antje Tepperwien

Head of Team Persons and Structures

T +49 511 8381-299
F +49 (0)511 8381-4299
Additional Information

Subject areas:

  • Higher Education Research  
Michaela Finsel


T +49 (0)511 8381-298
F+49 (0)511 8381-4298
Dr. Ulrike Bischler

Program Director

T +49 (0)511 8381-350
F +49 (0)511 8381-4350
Additional Information

Program Director in the funding team  „Challenges – for Academia and Society“, has been in charge of projects in the sciences and various Fellowships.

Background: Physics major at University of Freiburg and RWTH Aachen, MSc in Materials Science and Engineering at Stanford University, research assistant at Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics in Garching, PhD in physics.
Her favourite pastime is birdwatching at home and abroad.

Subject areas:

  • Physics  

Funding initiatives:

Friederike Hepp


T +49 (0)511 8381-248
F+49 (0)511 8381-4248
Dr. Astrid Bothmann

Program Director | Parental Leave

Dr. Johanna Brumberg

Program Director

T +49 (0)511 8381-297
F +49 (0)511 8381-4297
Additional Information

Subject areas:

  • History  
  • Law  
  • Administrative Science  

Funding initiatives:

Kerstin Krüger


T +49 (0)511 8381-341
F+49 (0)511 8381-4341
Selahattin Danisman
Dr. Selahattin Danisman

Program Director

T +49 (0)511 8381-256
F +49 (0)511 8381-4256
Additional Information
Dr. Franz Dettenwanger

Program Director; Coordination Niedersächsisches Vorab

T +49 511 8381 217
F +49 (0)511 8381-4217
Additional Information

Program Director in the funding team "Challenges — for Academia and Society", has been responsible for projects from the engineering and material sciences as well as mathematics.

Background: Studied Physics at the University of Tübingen and  NMI Reutlingen, Doctoral studies in the area of Materials Science at the Max Planck Institute for Metals Research at the University of Stuttgart, later research assistant; previously worked for DECHEMA, Frankfurt am Main, in the areas of research and research funding.

Subject areas:

  • Computer Sciences  
  • Engineering Sciences  
  • Mathematics  

Funding initiatives:

Petra Akrami


T +49 511 8381 372
F+49 (0)511 8381-4372