Peter Chen

Golden Owl

Prof. Dr. Peter Chen


Full Professor

Contact Data

Tel.: +41 44 632 28 98
Tel. (Sec.): +41 44 632 47 88

ORCID: 0000-0002-9280-4369


ETH Zürich
Peter Chen
Professur f. Physik.-Org. Chemie
HCI  G 209
Vladimir-Prelog-Weg 1-5/10
8093 Zürich

Organisations Full Professor at the Department of Chemistry and Applied Biosciences
Curriculum Vitae (CV)

Peter Chen has been Full Professor of Physical-Organic Chemistry since September 1994. From September 2007 to September 2009 he was Vice President Research and Corporate Relations of ETH Zurich.

Peter Chen was born in 1960 in Salt Lake City, USA. After attending schools in Akron, Ohio, he studied at the University of Chicago where he earned his BSc in 1982. He was awarded a doctoral degree in 1987 by Yale University, New Haven CT. Following this he accepted a call to Harvard University in Cambridge MA, where from 1988 to 1991 he was Assistant Professor and from 1991 to 1994 Associate Professor. In 1994, he was elected Full Professor at ETH Zurich. From September 1, 2007 to September 30, 2009 he was Vice President for Research and Corporate Relations.

Prof. Chen has been distinguished as "National Science Foundation Presidential Young Investigator", "Camille and Henry Dreyfus Distinguished New Faculty Fellow", "David and Lucile Packard Fellow", "Camille and Henry Dreyfus Teacher Scholar", "Alfred P. Sloan Fellow", and "American Chemical Society Cope Scholar". He received an "ERC Advanced Investigator" grant, and the "James Flack Norris Award for Physical Organic Chemistry".

Prof. Chen was also active in the Swiss National Science Foundation, first as a member of the National Research Council, and then as Vice President and finally President of Division IV, in charge of national research programs.

Peter Chen has been a consultant for many companies in the chemical and pharmaceutical industry, and served on the Board of Directors of Clariant, a leading Swiss specialty chemicals company, from 2006-2018. Since 2020, Prof. Chen has been a member of the Board of Trustees of the Austrian Institute of Science & Technology (IST Austria).

Of all his distinctions, Prof. Chen is most proud of having won the Golden Owl twice, a prize for the best teaching in the department voted by students.

In his research Prof. Chen combines detailed physical measurements with the planning and synthesis of molecules, making it possible to design and test intuitive models of the energetics and reactivity of reactive intermediates in organic and organometallic chemistry. Under normal conditions of reaction these intermediate products have a very short life span, their behavior provides the key to the understanding and the control of the chemical process.

Course Catalogue
529-0012-03L General Chemistry (Organic Chemistry) II
529-0232-00L Organic Chemistry IV: Physical Organic Chemistry
529-0299-00L Organic Chemistry
Publications inResearch Collection – Publication platform of ETH Zurich
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