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

Deputy Secretary General and Member of the Executive Management

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

Henrike Hartmann is the Deputy Secretary General of the Volkswagen Foundation and a member of the executive management as well as 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/Main. She is a member of the University Council of the University of Konstanz, 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. 

Simone Künnecke

Administrative Support Niedersächsisches Vorab

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

Assistant | Administrative Support

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

Head of Team Societal Transformations

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

Head of "Societal Transformations", 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.

Corinna Ben Mohamed Salah


F+49 (0)511 8381-4202
Hanna Wielandt
Dr. Hanna Denecke

Head of Team Exploration

F +49 (0)511 8381-4291
Additional Information
Hanna Denecke is an economist with a long experience in research management and heads the funding team "Exploration”. After studying economics in Heidelberg and Hamburg, she completed a master’s degree in "Development Economics & Policy” at the University of Manchester (UK) and a doctorate in applied microeconomics at the Humboldt University in Berlin.
At the foundation, Hanna Denecke is responsible for business administration and economics and previously supervised cooperative research projects between Africa and Germany as well as research projects in the field of artificial intelligence.
Birgit Niemann


F+49 (0)511 8381-4341
Dr. Antje Tepperwien

Head of Team Understanding Research

F +49 (0)511 8381-4299
Stefanie Schulze

Assistant | Parental Leave

Natalia Grygier


F+49 (0)511 8381-4246
Portrait Barre
Dr. Harald Barre

Program Director SPRUNG Lower Saxony

F +49 (0)511 8381-4247
Dr. Silke Bertram

Program Director

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.

Dr. Ulrike Bischler

Program Director

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

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.

Marjana Plazanic


F+49 (0)511 8381-4248
Portrait Johanna Brumberg
Dr. Johanna Brumberg

Program Director

F +49 (0)511 8381-4297
Jennifer Richter


F+49 (0)511 8381-4227
Selahattin Danisman
Dr. Selahattin Danisman

Program Director

F +49 (0)511 8381-4256
Additional Information

Member of the funding team "Understanding Research". Responsible for projects in medicine, health sciences and science communication (research).

Career: degree in biology at Bielefeld University, PhD in molecular biology at Wageningen University, then research assistant at Bielefeld University and (briefly) funding officer at the Dutch national funding organization (NWO).

Dr. Franz Dettenwanger

Program Director; Coordination Niedersächsisches Vorab

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

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.