Klaus von Bröckel is a senior scientist at the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel in Germany., He started with all aspects of phytoplankton ecology more than 40 years ago. He soon became involved in the planning and construction of research vessels as a scientific coordinator. He acted as an ‘interpreter’ between the scientific community and the engineers at construction bureaus and shipyards. His last involvement included the development of KOSMOS, the world's first facility for large offshore in-situ experiments.