Melanie Schnell

Spectroscopy of molecular processes

Melanie Schnell is a professor for Physical Chemistry at the Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel. At DESY, she leads the research group “Spectroscopy of molecular processes”. Her main research activities concentrate on a better understanding of chemical processes on the molecular level, which will then also lead to the ability to control and even manipulate them. To reach these goals, her group develops novel spectroscopic methods, especially in the area of rotational spectroscopy. Here they particularly focus on broadband rotational spectroscopy using chirped microwave pulses, which allow for new spectroscopy applications in the area of structure determination, but also studies of molecular dynamics become possible. With a novel extension of rotational spectroscopy, the enantiomers of chiral molecules can be differentiated and complex mixtures of chiral molecules can be analysed. One aim of these research activities is to separate chiral molecules, for example to then exploit them for precision measurements. In another research area, the group works on questions related to astrochemistry. They want to understand which chemical processes occur in interstellar space, which is characterized by extreme conditions such as low temperature and harsh, extreme radiation, and why. For these activities it is also relevant to study the photophysics of molecules that are key to astrochemical scenarios, such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which is approached using DESY´s Free-Electron Laser FLASH.

Academic career

Since 2017 Professor at the Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel and Leading Scientist at DESY, research group “Spectroscopy of molecular processes”
2010-2017 Research group leader (W2-equivalent), since 2013 at the Max-Planck-Institut für Struktur und Dynamik der Materie, Hamburg
2014-2017 Privatdozentin (University lecturer) for physical chemistry at the Leibniz-Universität Hannover
2014 Habilitation in physical chemistry, Leibniz-Universität Hannover
2006-2010 Group leader at the Fritz-Haber-Institut der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, Berlin
2005 PostDoc at the Fritz-Haber-Institut der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, Berlin
2004-2005 PostDoc at the National Institute for Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, USA
2002-2004 PhD in Physical Chemistry, Universität Hannover        
1997-2002 Chemistry studies, Universität Hannover and Universität Bonn



Gesellschaft Deutscher Chemiker (GDCh)
Bunsen-Gesellschaft für Physikalische Chemie
Editorial Board Zeitschrift für Physikalische Chemie and Molecular Physics