Prof. Dr. Konrad Osterwalder joined the United Nations University on 1 September 2007 as its fifth Rector. In that role, he holds the rank of Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations.
A Swiss national, Rector Osterwalder was born in 1942. Educated in Switzerland, he earned a doctorate in theoretical physics in 1970 at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule; ETH) in Zurich. After a year with the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, New York University, and two years as a research fellow at Harvard University, he was promoted at Harvard to Assistant Professor in 1973 and to Associate Professor for Mathematical Physics in 1976.
In 1977, he returned to Switzerland upon being appointed a full Professor for Mathematical Physics at ETH Zurich. He became Rector of ETH in 1995 and held that post for 12 years. In 2006 and 2007 he also served as ETH President pro tempore.
Rector Osterwalder was a Fellow of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation (1974–1978) and is a member of the Swiss Academy of Technical Sciences. He holds an honorary degree from Aalto University, is an Honorary Member of Riga Technical University, and has been awarded the Premio Matteo Ricci by the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milano, and the Leonardo da Vinci Medal by the European Society for Engineering Education (SEFI).