Gender Equality Officer

The tasks of the gender equality officer (GEO) are regulated in the Bavarian Higher Education Act (BayHSchG), Art. 4. In particular, the GEO supports the University in the actual implementation of equal rights for women and men and works toward the elimination of existing disadvantages with the aim of increasing the proportion of women at all levels of science.

The School's GEO team consists of the gender equality officer Prof. Dr. Aphrodite Kapurniotu and her five deputies Prof. Dr. Philipp Benz, Dr. Tanja Karl, Dr. María Alejandra Parreño, Dr. Sabine von Tucher, and Dr. Aude Zingraff-Hamed.

Their major fields of activity are:

  • Participation in committees and processes that make personnel and structural decisions (e.g. professor appointment & evaluation committees, the School Council etc.)
  • Contribution to conception/implementation of gender equality plans and measures
  • Contribution to conception/implementation of measures that ensure the study-/academic career-family balance of female students and scientists (e.g. support during maternity leave, pregnancy- or maternity-related restrictions or prohibition of lab work & improvement of childcare facilities)
  • Consulting and supporting female students and scientists in particular also in cases of discrimination, sexual harassment, abuse of power, or "unconscious bias".

An overview of the school's current gender equality programs is provided on the page Academic career & funding.

The Gender Equality Officer of the School and her Deputies


Curriculum Vitae:
Professor Kapurniotu studied chemistry in Athens and obtained her PhD degree in Tübingen (1990). She conducted postdoctoral studies at Rutgers University and the Picower Institute for Medical Research (1992-1995) in the US. Having completed her “Habilitation” in the field of Biochemistry in Tübingen (2001), she moved to the RWTH Aachen where she headed a biomedical research group. In 2007, she was appointed professor for Peptide Biochemistry at TUM. Professor Kapurniotu performs research in the field of peptide (bio)chemistry. A major aim of her research is to develop novel peptide-based molecules as leads for therapeutics and tools for understanding the molecular mechanism of amyloid diseases, in particular Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and type 2 diabetes (T2D). In addition, her research aims at characterizing interactions of inflammatory chemokines in atherosclerosis and the development of peptide-based inhibitors.

Prof. Kapurniotu is the Gender Equality Officer of the TUM School of Life Sciences and a member of the School Council since 2009.


Curriculum Vitae:
Professor Benz studied biology at TU Braunschweig (2003). The research work for his thesis was performed in the laboratory of Professor Crawford at UC San Diego (CA, USA). He subsequently acquired his Dr. rer. nat. from LMU Munich, working in the research group of Professor Soll (Department of Biochemistry and Physiology of Plants; 2009). He then returned to the USA to become a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Professor Somerville at the Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI, UC Berkeley, CA, USA) where he started to work on filamentous fungi. Back in Germany, Professor Benz successfully passed the tenure track phase at TUM between 2014 and 2020 and was advanced to Associate Professor of “Fungal Biotechnology in Wood Science” in August 2020.

In October 2021, Prof. Benz was elected as one of five deputy gender equality officers of the TUM School of Life Sciences. He also serves as an elected member of the School Council.


Curriculum Vitae:
Dr. Parreño is a research associate at the Professorship for Plant-Insect Interactions of the TUM School of Life Sciences. She works on agro-ecology, pollination ecology, global change and human-nature interactions. She studies how human activities affect biodiversity in agricultural landscapes and how we can design practices to improve conservation while not compromising well-being. Dr. Parreño did her BSc in Biology at the University of Buenos Aires (2012), her MSc in Conservation Biology at the University of Lausanne (2015), and her PhD at the University of Zurich (2020). In her PHD thesis, she focused on unraveling the impacts that different types of land use, such as agriculture, forestry and urbanization, have on species richness, plant productivity, and human nutrition, using tools from data science. Dr. Parreño is a proactive science outreach and communication advocate and educator.

In October 2021, she was elected as one of the deputy gender equality officers.




Curriculum Vitae:
Prof. Di Pizio completed a PhD in Drug Sciences at the University of Chieti (Italy) in 2012, followed by a research stay at the University of Marburg (Germany) and a postdoc at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Israel). Since 2018, she has led the Molecular Modeling group at the Leibniz Institute for Food Systems Biology at TUM. The research of Prof. Di Pizio spans a wide range of computational chemistry areas, extending from the analyses of small molecules to the investigation of biomolecular interactions. Through innovative computational tools, her research group develops predictive models to screen and rationally design new bioactive compounds that can be used for food reformulation or therapeutic indications. A primary research interest of Prof. Di Pizio lies in taste and olfactory G protein-coupled receptors, which play a crucial role in mediating chemosensory perception and are also involved in other physiological functions when ectopically expressed.




Curriculum Vitae:
Prof. Mariana Rufino studied Agricultural Sciences at the Universidad Nacional de Tucumán, Argentina, and received her doctorate in Production Ecology and Resource Conservation from Wageningen University in The Netherlands, in 2008. After a postdoctoral fellowship, she worked as scientist and senior scientist at the International Livestock Research Institute in Kenya and at the Center for International Forestry Research, based in Indonesia. She then was appointed as full professor at Lancaster University, in the United Kingdom. Prof. Rufino aims to develop new insights and scientific knowledge about the impacts of livestock production on the land and on ecosystems. She focuses on the interactions between livestock systems, arable land, grasslands and forests. In her recent experimental work, Prof. Rufino examines the effects of different livestock species on plant diversity and their role on carbon capture and storage, GHG emissions and on the functioning of grassland ecosystems.


Curriculum Vitae:
Dr. von Tucher studied horticulture at the TUM from 1981 to 1987 (graduation as Dipl. Ing. agr. in 1987). She then performed her PhD studies on the subject "Microbial degradation of the nitrification inhibitor dicyandiamide" at the Chair of Plant Nutrition at TUM and received her PhD in 1992. From 1992 to 2020, she was a research associate and from 2005 to 2019 “Akademische Oberrätin” at the Chair of Plant Nutrition. Since 2020 she is “Akademische Oberrätin” at the Professorship of Crop Physiology (Prof. Bienert). In her research, she focuses on strategies and mechanisms of plants to increase nutrient (phosphorus, sulfur, and nitrogen) efficiency and utilization in agricultural ecosystems in the plant-rhizosphere-soil system. The focus of her teaching is plant nutrition in bachelor's and master's courses.

She has been a deputy gender equality officer of the TUM School of Life Sciences since 2001.