Wibke Marie-Luise Unger, born Wibke Harder in July 1945.
I grew up after World War II in a quiet village in Western Pomerania, Germany. Living with my grandma I learned a simple life, with respect for life and a mindfulness of the soul. That is the reason why I have spent my whole life feeling closely connected to nature’s beauty, to a keen awareness of poems and culture. These traits were ingrained in me by my grandmother who was highly educated as an art painter.
As time went by we lived in a very pleasant town along with my parents and sister, and it was there that I attended primary school. My mother was very warm-hearted and beautiful, while my father was a Chief Accountant. Our home was constantly open for friends, music, garden parties, etc.
After primary school I attended the High School finishing with the diploma “High School Leaving Certificate”. At that time I was shy, but confident within. My interests inclined towards science subjects, especially mathematics and biology. Extracurricular activities at school focused on athletics, and in 1964 I completed Piano Lessons at the Second Level.
In 1964 I was admitted to study as a Graduate Scientist “Biology” for 5 years at the Ernst-Moritz-Arndt-University Greifswald, in Western Pomerania, Germany. In my class there were only 14 students per year, and we were taught by 15 different professors. “It was luck”!
I love Botany, but made my Diploma Exams in 1969 in the field of Microbiology and Electron Microscopy concerning the cell wall structures of bacteria, under the tutelage of Professor Mach.
Following graduation, I continued my studies and in 1975 I completed my PhD in the field of Applied Entomology - “The usage of biological products against termites and their flagellates” - at the Ernst-Moritz-Arndt-University Greifswald, East Germany, under the supervision of Professor Keilbach. Later, in 1982 I completed further Postgraduate Education to become a Technical Expert for Wood Building Industry at the Technical University Dresden, Section 15 - Process Engineering, East Germany, working with Professor Wagenführ.
In 1969 Wibke married Achim Werner Unger, who was studying Chemistry, also in Greifswald. Following his time at Greifswald, Achim got a good scientific job in the field of Wood Chemistry in Eberswalde, Brandenburg, East Germany, where he also defended his Thesis. I followed him to Eberswalde, where together with the parents we built a solid house with a nice garden.
Our sons, Stefan and Holger, were born in Eberswalde in 1974 and 1978. I enjoyed very much family life with the children. The family lived together in this house in Eberswalde, Brandenburg, East Germany through the 1980s, and during their upbringing we entertained frequent guests by both grandparents and other relatives, and good friends and colleagues.
In September 1969 I was hired as a Scientific Aspirant and Assistant on the “Institution of Forestry Sciences Eberswalde” (named officially IFE) in the Department of “Wood Biology and Wood protection” in Brandenburg, East Germany. My work involved the construction of a new biological wood laboratory with all wood pests, especially termites, to carry out scientific works for the industries and to train the users of wood protection in the practices necessary.
Under direction of my boss, Dr. Horst Kirk, I was responsible for testing wood preservatives and wood products especially for the exports to tropical countries. The Office for Standardization, Metrology and Goods Inspection (named officially ASMW) was subordinate to the State Building Supervision in Berlin. Test standards, developed by the scientists, were published in the Law Gazette in East Germany, and I was involved in the development of three new international standards. Our work developed as series of publications, patents, monographs, and standards, and this provided me the opportunity to publish peer-reviewed scientific papers, especially those focused on the entomological aspects within the field of wood protection in different scientific journals in East Germany.
The reunification of Germany following the fall of the Berlin Wall brought many changes to life in what had been East Germany. For a year from September 1992 I was assigned as a Scientific Assistant for Wood Biology within the German Materials Testing Agency (named official BAM) in Berlin, and following that stint I became a Scientific manager for the Wood Biological Laboratory in the Material Testing Centre (officially the MPA) in Eberswalde in Brandenburg where I worked for the following six years.
Life changed again in 2000 when I became Professor in Wood Biology and Integrated Wood Protection in the Department of Wood Technology at HNEE, the University for Sustainable Development in Eberswalde. I am grateful to the support I received from Professor Wagenführ (Dresden), Prof. Walter Liese (Hamburg), and Prof. Gunther Wolff (Eberswalde) in receiving this honor. After 14 invaluable years of stimulating research and student interactions, I retired from HNEE in 2014 as an emeritus professor.
The years since retirement have been filled with travel to visit my family members in various far-flung places including:
Madang, Papua New Guinea
There are many events in and around Eberswalde to keep one busy and entertained, while Berlin is just 30 minutes away by train with its museums and cultural events. I also work on the Managing Board on the CMS – Classical Music Summer Festival at the Chorin Monastery outside of Eberswalde, an event which brings great joy and friendships.
This bio was written for the June 2021 IRG Newsletter.
. DGfH, German Society for Wood Research, Germany
Since 1995 to 2004, Committee of Experts, FA 6 Durability of Wood and Wood products
. RAL, Quality Association Wood Preservatives, Frankfurt/ Main, Germany
Since 1995 to 2004
. TRGS 523, (Part I), Ordinance on Hazardous Substances
German Study Group “Pest Control” especially for fumigants
Since 1995 to 2004,
. CITIS, Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species,
Federal Agency for Natural Conservation, Bonn, Germany
Scientific Authority to CITIS, Plant Department
Since 2003 to 2020
. FHP University of Applied Sciences Potsdam, Brandenburg, Germany
Department of Civil Engineering,
Since Sept 2004 up to now Wibke was invited as a Visiting Lecturer. She was very much viewed by the Master students for her engagement during the practical courses and her demands, to cultivate the own sciences education.
. IRG International Research Group on Wood Protection
Since 1993 – up to now
Convener: Working Group 1.8
“Conservation of Wooden Artefacts”
Especially IRG-Meetings in Istanbul (Turkey) and in Biarritz (France)
. IUFRO International Union of Forest Research Organizations
Since 2010 to 2019
Office Holder 5.03.10 - Protection of cultural artefacts
2012 Joint session in Lissabon (Portugal) with Dr. Howard Rosen (USA)
. CEN/ TC38 European Committee for Standardization,
Technical Committee “Durability of Wood and Wood Products”
Since1995 to 2010
. European COST Association Actions
COST Action IE0601 “Wood Science for Conservation of Cultural Heritage”
2008 - 2010
COST Action FP 1303 “Performance of Bio-based materials”
. WSE - Northern European Network for Wood Science and Engineering
Since 2014 – up to now
Conservation of Wood Artifacts