Celebrating the Life of Manfred Wuttig: Long-Time Educator, Mentor and Friend of the Department

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Manfred Wuttig, professor emeritus and inaugural chair of the Department of Materials and Science Engineering (MSE), passed away in December of 2023, leaving a mark in a community touched by his passion, wisdom and kindness. 

An early pioneer in the materials science field, Wuttig rose to prominence after publishing one of the first studies on the ferromagnetic shape memory effect, which has been cited over 900 times. His work, titled “Magnetostriction of Martensite," was released in 1998 in collaboration with University of Minnesota’s Richard D. James, a distinguished professor and director of the Minnesota Space Grant Consortium. Wuttig was also an international expert in ferromagnetic, ferroelectric and ferroelastic materials, reversible phase transformations, multiferroics, magnetoelectrics and nanomagnetism. Having left as a trailblazer in materials science, the late professor will also be remembered for his contributions to our community.

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of a long-time scholar, mentor, and friend to many in this department. We wish his family a peaceful time of grief during these difficult times,” said Chair JC Zhao. 

Prior to joining our faculty in 1986, Wuttig was associated with the National Metrology Institute of Germany and was a physics lecturer at the Gauss Ingenieur Schule in Berlin. He later became a professor at the Department of Metallurgy at both the University of Missouri - Rolla and the University of Illinois, and directed the National Science Foundation's Metallurgy Program. In 1992, after serving as the director of graduate studies in MSE, Wuttig became the first acting chair of the department, and recruited then-junior-faculty Robert Briber, nowadays associate dean for research. 

“Professor Wuttig hired me as an assistant professor when he was acting department chair. In my 30-plus years at the University of Maryland, I have always thought of him as a mentor and colleague of the highest order. He was truly a ‘Professor’s Professor,’” said Briber. 

Later in his career, Wuttig led one of the greatest efforts in multiferroics, an emerging field in the early 2000s, by directing a multi-university research initiative funded by the Office of Naval Research, which resulted in his breakthrough study titled “Epitaxial BiFeO3 multiferroic thin film heterostructures,” a joint publication with Rice University’s Executive Vice President for Research Ramamoorthy Ramesh.

His most recent work encompassed the study of synthesis and characterization of magnetoelectric composites, organic multiferroics for spintronics and alloys with magnetostrictive properties. He was also involved with the development of an all solid-state, elastocaloric cooling technology based on latent heat generated by the martensitic transition of shape memory alloys. By July of 2020, Wuttig had officially retired from the University of Maryland, and was honored at the department’s 20th anniversary celebration held in November 2023, where many of his former students returned to campus from all around the world to celebrate his profound influence on their lives.

A native of Germany, the professor obtained his doctorate degree at the Technische Hochschule Dresden and Technische Universität Berlin in 1958. Today, many remember him as a humble scholar, like Professor Lourdes Salamanca-Riba, who recalls collaborating with him a rewarding experience.

"Professor Wuttig had a vision for new and interesting scientific topics. He frequently gave ideas to colleagues that turned into new areas of research, even though he did not get much credit for it. But in addition to being an outstanding scientist, he was a great mentor of students and junior faculty," said Salamanca.  


  • University of Missouri Weldon Spring Presidential Award for Research and Creativity (1984)

  • American Society of Mechanical Engineers Adaptive Structures & Material Systems Best Paper Award in Mechanics and Material Systems (1998)

  • University of Maryland Invention of the Year (2010)

  • University of Maryland Research Leaders (2012)

  • A. James Clark School of Engineering Senior Faculty Research Award (2013)

  • A. James Clark School of Engineering Pool and Kent Teaching Award for Senior Faculty (2020)

  • Stanford University’s Top 2% World Scientists Report (2021)

Published January 31, 2024