Women in Science

February 11, 2022

Strong role models are important. Therefore, on today's International Day of Women and Girls in Science, we would like to introduce "our" female researchers. We start with FHI Director Prof. Dr. Beatriz Roldán Cuenya, Director of our Department of Interfacial Sciences since 2017.

She started her academic career with a Master in Physics in Spain (1998) and a PhD in Physics in Germany (2001). Her postdoctoral research took her to the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of California Santa Barbara (USA). In 2004, she moved to the Department of Physics at the University of Central Florida (UCF) as an assistant professor, where she became a full professor in 2012. In 2013, Beatriz Roldan Cuenya was appointed to a professorship in solid state physics at Ruhr-Universität Bochum. In 2017, she moved to the FHI.

Prof. Dr. Beatriz Roldán Cuenya is the author of 180 peer-reviewed publications and an associate editor of ACS Catalysis and a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Catalysis and of Chemical Reviews.

Since last year, she has also been a member of the Elisabeth Schiemann College for the Advancement of Women in Science.


The Chinese scientist Li He has been working at the Fritz Haber Institute since September 2020. She is conducting research in the CatLab project on various catalysis processes for hydrogen as a green energy carrier. A central task here is the development of novel catalysts that ensure efficient conversion of chemical energy into electrical energy and vice versa. Catalytic testing of these new materials requires the development, optimization and use of high-throughput reactors.
She previously completed her PhD from 2016 to 2020 at the „Rijksuniversiteit“ in  Groningen (Netherlands) with two main areas of research (double degree PhD): catalytic methane oxidation over coated Pt/Al2O3 catalyst in microreactor and glucose oxidation over gold nanoparticle catalyst in microreactor.

From 2012 to 2016, she worked at a petrochemical company in Beijing, at “China Oil” in the field of science and technology, and at the Missan oil fields in Iraq. She completed her Master's degree in “Industrial Catalysis Chemistry” at the “University of Petroleum” in Beijing from 2009 to 2012.


Clara Rettenmaier has been doing her PhD in the electrochemistry group with Prof. Dr. Beatriz Roldán Cuenya since June 2018. Here she worked, for example, on the dynamic transformation of cubic copper catalysts in CO2 electroreduction and investigated their effect on catalytic selectivity.

The research goal of the group is to identify activity-, selectivity- and stability-determining properties of electrocatalysts and to achieve a comprehensive understanding of the solid-liquid interface under steady-state and dynamic electrochemical reaction conditions. The group studies a variety of catalyst systems ranging from well-defined single crystal surfaces, thin films, size- and shape-controlled nanoparticles to industrially relevant powder catalysts.

Clara Rettenmaier did her bachelor’s degree in chemistry at the Unviersity of Vienna from 2012 to 2016 and her master’s degree in physical chemistry at the Technical University of Munich from 2016 to 2018.


The International Day of Women and Girls in Science was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015. It is celebrated annually on 11 February and aims to strengthen the importance that girls and women play in science and technology. Much research potential is lost worldwide because too few highly qualified and well-educated women work in research.

An important tool to combat gender inequality in the sciences is to reduce the barriers for girls and women in the private sphere as well as in the classroom and workplace.

The nationwide Girls' Day is particularly popular, and the Fritz Haber Institute is also happy to participate. This year, it will take place on 28 April. With 25 registrations from girls between the ages of ten and 18, the institute's own programme "Women in Science" is already fully booked. In six different stations, the girls get to know all the departments and workshops.

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