Professor Emeritus Martin Trethewey receives Freiburg University Medal

October 28, 2022

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared on Penn State News. Martin Trethewey, Penn State professor emeritus of mechanical engineering, was featured.

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — On Sept. 22, University of Freiburg Rector Kerstin Krieglstein presented the Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg’s University Medal to Martin Trethewey, Penn State professor emeritus of mechanical engineering, for his efforts in forging a global collaboration between the two universities. The University of Freiburg awarded the honor to Trethewey in 2020, but, due to the pandemic, the in-person award ceremony was postponed until this year.

According to Penn State Global, the award recognized Trethewey's essential role in building the partnership between the two institutions and credited him with establishing the groundwork for bilateral cooperation that has enabled both universities to push the boundaries of global collaboration in research and education.

The University of Freiburg and Penn State have been linked since 1997, a partnership connecting the universities through research, teaching and service in a multidisciplinary way. Years of student exchanges led to the formation of the Collaboration Development Program in 2016, which has provided seed money for long-term programs integrating faculty and junior researchers from both universities.

Two people hold an award between them

University of Freiburg Rector Kerstin Krieglstein (left) hands the Freiburg University Medal to Professor Martin Trethewey. Credit: Penn State

In 2019, with the renewal of the partnership's memorandum of understanding, the two universities signed an agreement to pursue a large-scale initiative of strategic importance to them both, resulting in the Convergence Center for Living Multifunctional Material Systems (LiMC2). The initiative in living materials, representing the largest partnership investment to date, is led by Penn State's Materials Research Institute and Institutes of Energy and the Environment and Freiburg's livMatS Cluster. It is supported and facilitated by Penn State Global and the International Office in Freiburg.

“The past years of joint workshops, faculty visits, research and new educational initiatives have built strong ties between the two institutions, resulting in high levels of faculty excitement for the continuing partnership,” said Alexandra Persiko, assistant director for Europe and Oceania partnerships. “Leadership discussions highlight the close alignment of institutional objectives and strategic priorities. The Freiburg partnership has been strong for many years and shows clear signs of continuing that trajectory.”

Trethewey played a critical role in cementing the strong partnership with Freiburg. He served as the director for the Global Engagement Network, Penn State’s network of strategic university partners around the world.

“I am humbled to receive the University Medal from the Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg for my contributions,” Trethewey said upon receiving the award. “I am honored to share this recognition with many colleagues at Penn State and the University of Freiburg who have contributed their talents to advancing this partnership. The partnership has flourished due to the effort of committed teams from both universities, and they have created a rich international collaborative environment with a bright future.”

Though the university now organizes its strategic partnerships differently, the aim remains the same — to make a lasting impact in research and academic connections to address global challenges. Penn State Global has continued and expanded upon this central tenet by expanding and intensifying these partnerships.

“The success of strategic partnerships such as Penn State’s collaboration with Freiburg University depends on the engagement of faculty champions at both institutions,” said Sabine Klahr, associate vice provost for Penn State Global. “Professor Trethewey exemplifies this leadership and engagement.”

For more information on the Penn State-Freiburg partnership, contact Alexandra Persiko at



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College of Engineering Media Relations

"I am honored to share this recognition with many colleagues at Penn State and the University of Freiburg who have contributed their talents to advancing this partnership." — Martin Trethewey