University Research Medal – Individual – Professor Peter Schwerdtfeger


Professor Peter Schwerdtfeger

Fundamental aspects of chemistry in relation to quantum physics – such as the chemistry and physics of gold – have been the major research focus for Professor Peter Schwerdtfeger during his five years at Massey University, earning him three consecutive Marsden grants over the past three years – a unique achievement.

He is the recipient of the both the College of Sciences' Individual Award and, jointly, a Massey University Research Medal – Individual.

One of the professoriate of three at the Albany campus-based New Zealand Institute of Advanced Study, he has earned multiple accolades and prizes as one of the top-ranked physical scientists in the world.

In nominating him for the College of Sciences award, Distinguished Professor Gaven Martin said Professor Schwerdtfeger has an international reputation as a leading chemist unmatched in his field in New Zealand, and seldom matched in a global context.

“Achievements such as his election to Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand [1997], the award of the Hector Medal for work of great scientific or technological merit [2001], the James Cook Fellowship [2001] and his exceptional citation rate, narrow him down to be among a very few select scientists in New Zealand, ” Professor Martin said.
German-born Professor Schwerdtfeger gained a degree as a chemicotechnical assistant at the Chemisches Institut in Stuttgart, Germany, in 1973, and a PhD in 1986 from the University of Stuttgart. He has held a numerous positions as teaching and research fellow at universities in Germany, Australia and New Zealand, as well as professor (and personal chair) at the University of Auckland and deputy director of its Institute of Fundamental Sciences prior to joining Massey.

His Marsden-funded projects include experimental and theoretical investigations of the nanostructures of gold for a better understanding of the quantum size effects in nano-structured materials, and understanding and modelling the behaviour of dynamic clusters of atoms and molecules in heavy metal clusters.

He has supervised a number of PhD students, and collaborates intensively with more than 30 research groups worldwide on many different topics, ranging from computational inorganic and organic chemistry to materials science and high-resolution spectroscopy.

Professor Schwerdtfeger has been the recipient of a four Marsden grants (2003, 2006, 2007 and 2008) totalling $3 million.

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