Position: Associate Professor Field: Optics, optoelectronics Organisation: School of Engineering, The University of Waikato, Hamilton
Rainer was born in Germany where he attended high school and university. He completed his university studies with a doctorate at the University of Hannover, specialising in laser-based plasma diagnostics under the guidance of Professor Manfred Kock. It was this experience that formed the basis of his interest in using light to probe and investigate the structure of materials.
With a desire to see the world, Rainer and his partner Anna took up a contract to work in Australia analysing and improving laser systems. After the initial culture shock, both started to love the southern hemisphere and decided to stay.
Rainer then took up a position with a company involved in developing and manufacturing electronic measuring equipment for agricultural applications. During this period, Rainer learned how to apply science to solve real-world practical problems. This was a challenging time, as it also required understanding commercial realities, in particular, the demands of operating a small private company and how science and engineering fitted into such an environment.
A position at the University of Wollongong working in the area of materials engineering then followed on from his experiences in the commercial world.
New pastures beckoned, and Rainer moved to New Zealand where he took up a position at the University of Waikato where he has been teaching and researching for the past 18 years.
Given that the university is in the centre of a very productive agricultural region, it was obvious to Rainer to focus his research on agricultural or biological products.
Rainer always enjoyed science at school and has been tinkering with mechanics and electronics since high school. He still enjoys doing hands-on work himself, but generally only his students get to do that.
It is a joy to see students learn and progress and to see them end up in high-flying jobs.
In addition to his passion for tinkering with mechanics and electronics, Rainer is a keen pilot and a qualified flying instructor for both gliders and microlight aeroplanes.
This article is based on information current in 2012.