Professor Sandra Luber has been named the 2021 recipient of the Coblentz Award, the flagship prize of the Coblentz Society, which is awarded annually to an outstanding molecular spectroscopist under the age of 40. Prof Luber thus becomes only the sixth woman since 1964 to win the award.
Based at the University of Zurich, Prof Luber holds the position of associate professor in computational chemistry, though she describes her work as sitting at the interface of chemistry, (bio)-physics and materials science. She is a theoretician and much of her work is dedicated to developing and applying new computational methods, particularly in absorption and vibrational spectroscopy.
Her research aims to move molecular simulations ever closer to realistic conditions with regards to temperature, phase, and environment, so that the best possible comparisons can be made to experiments. As she explained in an interview for AcademiaNet last year, one of the areas her group applies their methods to is catalysis, specifically water splitting using solar power.
“I am very happy about this award because only a few women have got it up to now,” Prof Luber told AcademiaNet. “As far as I know I am the first female theoretician, which is of course also great to me, showing that theory plays an important role.”
Prof Luber has won a string of awards for her work, breaking new ground both for women in chemistry and for theoreticians. For example, she was the first woman to win the Hans G.A. Hellmann Award and the Robin Hochstrasser Young Investigator Award, and the first theoretician to win the Clara Immerwahr Award.
The Coblentz Society is an American organisation dedicated to molecular spectroscopy. In winning the Coblentz Award, Prof Luber follows in the footsteps of two other AcademiaNet members, Aleksandra Foltynowicz and Nathalie Picqué. (© AcademiaNet)