Acclaimed Massey scientist receives rare honour

Monday 23 May 2022

In a rare honour, Distinguished Professor Peter Schwerdtfeger, Head of the New Zealand Institute for Advanced Study within the College of Sciences, has recently been elected as a foreign member of the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters (FASL).

Distinguished Professor Peter Schwerdtfeger

Last updated: Friday 25 November 2022

He is one of very few researchers in Aotearoa New Zealand to be a member of any foreign national academy.

Professor Schwerdtfeger was elected alongside three other global researchers and is one of only two members within New Zealand. The other is also a Massey scientist, Distinguished Professor Gaven Martin, who was elected in 2016.

Professor Schwerdtfeger was elected as a foreign member for his outstanding work in the area of relativistic quantum theory and its applications to heavy element chemistry and physics, including many challenging and sometimes surprising results in quantum chemistry. He was elected to Fellowship of the Royal Society of New Zealand in 1997, International Academy of Quantum Molecular Science in 2012 (receiving their Fukui Medal), and received the Rutherford Medal in 2014 and the Dan Walls Medal in 2019.

“I am thrilled to receive this honour from a very prestigious overseas scientific learned society. As one of only four new external members for 2022, I am very conscious of the recognition of my work in fundamental chemistry and physics. My research is now following a path where I can join with this network of researchers to learn and collaborate in future, and this may lead to an active exchange program between New Zealand and Finland,” Professor Schwerdtfeger says.

The Finnish Academy, founded in 1908, is a broad-based learned society that has the principal aim of promoting scientific research and acting as a bond between those engaged in advanced research. It currently has 180 foreign members, all of whom are distinguished academics, alongside 800 members from Finland.

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