Andreas Markwitz – An Exploring Person
Andreas’ research, as Principal Scientist at GNS Science, focuses on silicon nanosurface interfaces, and how our understanding of new materials can be applied to industry. He is a pioneer of electron beam annealing, which can manufacture surfaces on the 1nm scale, and his work with industry has allowed him an understanding of the critical role science plays in the New Zealand economy. Andreas’ science story starts at high school in Frankfurt, where he had a wonderful physics teacher who “totally sparked” within him an enthusiasm for physics. He went along with his teacher to Friday night meetings of the Frankfurt Astrophysical Society, meeting other enthusiasts and scientists, and deciding then that he wanted to be like the “exploring people” he’d met. It was clear to him, at age 16 or 17, that it was science that was going to be his career. He also had an interest in geography, so combined his two loves and enrolled in a geophysics degree. His professor suggested the best use of his degree would be to go off and drill for oil in Saudi Arabia, or to go and work on earthquake prediction technology in Turkey. Andreas, keen to remain in Germany, considered his options, and enrolled in a Masters in Nuclear Physics, then moved on to a PhD with a focus on the analytical technologies behind advanced materials. Andreas considers himself lucky – the broad focus of the German education system meant he’d not specialised too much, too young, and it was easy to move into a different field. In 1998, Andreas was invited to join GNS Science as a team leader in the areas of ion beam analysis and ion beam technology. There was a plan to further develop New Zealand’s capability in the ion beam technologies area, and Andreas’ skills fitted the bill, and he was able to develop capacity and ensure New Zealand science had the equipment it needed to be at the forefront of international materials science.