President of MTA, József Pálinkás
József Pálinkás was born on 18 September 1952 at Galvács. After attending the local primary school and the Piarist High School of Kecskemét, he studied physics at, and in 1977 graduated from, Attila József University at Szeged. On a grant from MTA, he worked at MTA’s Nuclear Research Institute (ATOMKI) in Debrecen. His principal area of research was the experimental examination of atomic collisions. In 1981, he earned a top-level (“summa cum laude”) university doctorate with Lajos Kossuth University of the Sciences in Debrecen.
Working on high-energy heavy ion collisions, from 1983 through 1985 he was guest scientist of Texas A & M University at College Station. From 1985 he continued his work with ATOMKI examining atomic collisions with both X-ray and electron-spectroscopy methods. He also worked on ion-atomic collisions at the Manne Siegbahn Institute in Sweden in 1988. In 1989, he earned a Doctor of Physics title with HAS.
From 1990, his field at ATOMKI was exploring electron emission arising from ion-atomic collision processes. He became its Vice-Director in 1990, and its Director from 1991 through 1996. In 1994, he became involved in major research carried out at CERN’s LEP, on the one hand, he joined the OPAL experiment exploring hypothetical Higgs particles, and on the other, he joined the experimental search named NA-49 for a quarg-gluon plasma. His participation in those experiments has gone a long way in establishing and upgrading particle physics experimental research in Debrecen. A promising offshoot of that development presently is a heavy Debrecen participation in measurements carried out on the new LHC accelerator.
In 1995, József Pálinkás was elected Corresponding Member of MTA. From 1995, he served as Department Chair at Lajos Kossuth University of the Sciences, later re-named Debrecen University. Since 2005, he has been Director of its Physics Institute, and also Vice-Chancellor for its Science Branches.
From 1998 through 2002, József Pálinkás served first as Secretary of State, then as Cabinet Minister of Education in the Hungarian Government. Due to his activities, scientific research in Hungary gathered momentum. He was also responsible for a new science policy concept stipulating an increase in financing Hungarian research, the launching of a new National Research and Development Programme. In 2006, he was elected an MP of the Young Democrats´ Party (FIDESZ) representing Hajdú-Bihar County. In Parliament, he takes part in the work of the Education and Science Committee while co-chairing an ad-hoc Research and Innovation Committee.
In 2002, he left government for his university and research commitments. At the ECR lab he was instrumental in re-invigorating the research of atomic physics as proven by his publications on the distribution of X-rays arising from ECR plasma and interacting with heavy ion crystal surfaces. From the start, he has been active in the Doctoral School of his Department. In 2004, he was elected a Full Member of MTA.
He is well-known in scientific life both at home and abroad. As Director of ATOMKI, from 1991 through 1996, he was active in many committees and scientific bodies of MTA. He was a member, and then vice-president, of Hungary’s University Accrediting Committee from its inception till 1998. He served as member for the following international scientific bodies:
- IUPAP Commission on Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics;
- European Committee on Future Accelerators;
- International Conference on Photonic Electronic and Atomic Collisions.