Auf Wiedersehen to Head of Science

After 12 years at the helm as Head of Science Programme at ICES, Adi Kellermann is moving on to new horizons.
Published: 16 September 2016

​Ten years as a scientist? Tick. Ten years in science management? Tick. Alongside his other credentials, these were two of the criteria that Kellermann easily met when applying for the ICES post back in 2004. The position was a fresh one: a merger of the previous oceanographer and professional officer in charge of environmental issues roles, amongst others. With Antarctic science and nature conservation as two of the many strings to his bow, Kellermann's expertise perfectly mirrored a fresh direction for ICES, as its waters were opening up to the crossing paths of social and natural disciplines.

A man of many lives

His role fronting the science programme at ICES was, as he calls it, his "third professional life". This seems a fitting description, given his place on research expeditions to the planet's southernmost latitudes for the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research. During this first life, one of the less scientific activities saw him get dunked into a bucket of freezing seawater for initiation.

Kellermann then headed far out into the Pacific, landing in Honolulu and the University of Hawaii at Manoa for his Post-Doc. In 1992 he embarked upon his second professional life at the National Park Office in the German town of Tönning, first as a coordinator and then senior scientist on the project 'Ecosystem Research Wadden Sea'. This latter work involved dealing with social scientists, something which equipped him well as ICES moved to do exactly the same.

"ICES is currently on a good way to finding a common language between natural and social sciences and to be more open to integration," he says, reflecting on the wider evolution of the organization during his time there.    

The tides they are a'changing

Over the course of the last 12 years, Kellermann has not only been at the forefront of this widening of the scientific spectrum – and thus integrated ecosystem understanding – but also strategic progress in two other emerging fields: the Arctic and aquaculture.

"We managed to establish ourselves in both arenas," he continues. "And now we want to contribute to these science arenas. We've managed to make a lot of new friends such as the Arctic Council working groups and have reached out into both Arctic and aquaculture communities."

"Change has always been the secret of ICES success. When I came in, ICES had the reputation of sitting in the middle of the North Atlantic being the grand old dame and authority on how to do things, not really listening to the outside world or paying attention to changes. Fortunately that has changed."

He has also witnessed several other important shifts in ICES, notably the appointment of a new General Secretary in 2012 and a strengthening of communications and publications. He has also overseen and been involved with much project and scientific cooperation, such as in the case of MARCOM+ and with ICES sister association PICES.

"Change is good for the organization – in terms of structure, identifying a problem and creating groups and processes, and personnel."

Conference calling

Kellermann's efforts in and enthusiasm for the main ICES ticket of the year, the Annual Science Conference, will no doubt stand as one of his legacies. Under his tenure, the event has been held in all corners of the organization's Atlantic area – from Canada to Iceland and from Scotland to Spain. And while this year's in Riga will be his last, he has nothing but fond memories.  

"I enjoyed organizing the ASC and we've had fantastic teams in the science department and will do so in the future. This hard work was evident last year when we received the local award for the Copenhagen conference. It's always been a pleasure to work with such people. I always look forward to it and enjoy being there, to meet the like-minded, those who share the same language, view of the world, and culture of science."

New beginnings

As he disembarks the ICES ship, Kellermann will hand over to current second-in-command Wojciech Wawrzynski, who will continue the good work both with science in its own right and also science as part of a continually-integrating organization.

There are, however, plenty of other voyages setting sail for Kellermann. He will take to consultancy work, some of which might entail moderating discussions between shrimping fishers and conservationists.

On top of that, he will be appointed as head of the local section of Kiel University Society, a job he had prior to joining ICES. He will also take over in charge of his local regional anglers association – perfect, given his penchant for hobby fishing – as well as teach courses and give lectures at the local volkshochschule school.

 "There will be life after ICES," he smiles.​​​​

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Auf Wiedersehen to Head of Science

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