Celebrating great minds and research

January 26, 2023

In recollection of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for Gerhard Ertl, which he received in 2007, the Chemistry community in Berlin celebrates this event with a special prize, the “Gerhard Ertl lecture”. Since 2008 numerous excellent and well-known awardees from all over the world delivered a lecture on their work in Physical Chemistry.

On the 12th of December 2022 Prof. Dr. Alec Wodtke gave his award lecture entitled “Progress toward building the world’s greatest microscope: Making ultrafast atomic scale movies of chemical reactions at surfaces” at the 15th instalment of the Ertl Lecture.

The Director at the Max Planck Institute for Multidisciplinary Sciences received the 2022 Award for his contributions to improving our understanding of surface chemistry and dynamics. For the first time since 2019 the award ceremony was again held in front of a live audience. To be able to share this special event with the scientific community and beyond, the lecture was simultaneously streamed and can be enjoyed anytime at the FHI YouTube channel.

The 15th Ertl Lecture award ceremony at the historical Harnack House was a great success. The room was full of excited and interested guests and the hosts enjoyed the first big live event in years. After some words of welcome from the Executive Director of the Fritz Haber Institute Prof. Dr. Martin Wolf, the President of the Freie Universität Berlin Prof. Dr. Günter M. Ziegler took to the podium for a short talk and passed the microphone to Dr. Detlef Kratz, the President, Group Research at BASF, for the laudatory speech.

“Alec Wodtke has developed sophisticated experimental methods and combined them with rigorous theretical simulations that provide an atomic scale view of the dynamics of reactions on surfaces. What is important and impressive about Alec, apart from his groundbreaking research, is that he is a bridge builder in many ways. He is a scientific liaison between the university of Göttingen and the MPI for multidisciplinary Sciences. As a professor for physical chemistry, he elegantly bridges and links neighboring scientific disciplines such as chemistry and physics as well as other fields in his research work. The indispensable interplay between experiment and theory in his field of research are remarkable. Not just his scientific expertise but also his hospitality and openness to other people and cultures area very good explanation why the places in his research group are highly coveted.” – Detlef Kratz

In the context of the award, Alec Wodtke showed his admiration for Gerhard Ertl by writing a few words on the occasion of the Award Lecture titled ”To a great man and scientist”.

After the ceremony everybody was invited for the reception, where lively and pleasant conversations took place.
“We were waiting for 3 years to enjoy the Ertl lecture again live, listening to great science and meet so many good colleagues again at the Harnack House. This is a fantastic tradition.” – Martin Wolf

The Ertl Lecture Award was established in 2008 by the three Berlin universities (Humboldt University, Technical University and Free University) and the Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society and is awarded once a year. The award honours outstanding personalities and researchers in the field of catalysis where Ertl carried out exceptional research for many decades. The prize, sponsored by BASF, includes a one-week research stay at the participating Berlin institutions and a keynote lecture. 2022 the Gerhard Ertl autobiography ”Mein Leben mit der Wissenschaft“ was part of the prize. The award ceremony always takes place around December 10th, the anniversary when Gerhard Ertl recieved his Nobel Prize.

We are looking forward to the 16th Ertl Lecture Awards this year where we can celebrate more great minds and research.

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