About UAlberta's Augustana Campus


Peter Berg, PhD, Dipl. Phys.

Department of Science Chair, Professor/Mathematics & Physics

Augustana Campus


About Me

"We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology." (C. Sagan)


  • PhD in Mathematics, University of Bristol, UK
  • Physik Diplom, University of Muenster (WWU), Germany

    Service and Other Activities

    • Chair, Department of Science
    • Participant, Gold College - University of Alberta Leadership Program (2015-2016)
    • Member: Academic Council, Executive Council, Faculty Evaluation Committee 
    • Adjunct Professor, Department of Chemistry, Simon Fraser University, Canada
    • Faculty Representative, Board of Governors, Finance & Audit Committee, UOIT (2006-2009)
    • Life-time Member, American Physical Society
    • Member, Canadian Applied and Industrial Mathematics Society
    • Member, Canadian Association of Physicists
    • Member, Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft
    • Book author
    • Numerous public speaking and outreach activities ("The Enigma Story")
    • Numerous media contributions


    "Basic research is what I'm doing when I don't know what I'm doing." (W. von Braun)

    My research interests lie at the interface of applied mathematics and theoretical physics, especially as it relates to electro-kinetic fluid flows in electro-chemical energy devices such as fuel cells.


    • Sources: NSERC, Ontario Research Fund, CFI, Government of Canada (SIF), MITACS, Research Council of Norway, SIU, Ballard, Toyota Motor Corporation, Enbridge Inc., Beakerhead, University of Alberta, NTNU, UOIT, Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach Foundation, EPSRC, WE-Heraeus Foundation, ERASMUS Program, Donors
    • Total funding: over $4.0m

    Summary of Publications

    Over 40 journal papers, 15 papers in conference proceedings, 13 industrial research reports (Ballard, Toyota), 2 books, 2 patents, 2 theses

    Citations (excl. self-citations): ≥ 1,250 (Google Scholar), h-index ≥ 17 (Google Scholar)

    Selected Publications: "Top 10"

    • P. Berg and M. Stornes, Towards a consistent interpretation of electro-osmotic drag in polymer electrolyte membranes, Fuel Cells, DOI: 10.1002/fuce.201500210, pp. 1-10 (2016)
    • A.A. Kulikovsky and P. Berg, Positioning of a reference electrode in a PEM fuel cell, J. Electrochem. Soc., Vol. 8, pp. F843-F848 (2015)
    • P. Berg and M. Staley, Capital substitution in an industrial revolution, Can. J. Econ., Vol. 48, pp. 1975-2004 (2015)
    • M. Schmuck and P. Berg, Effective macroscopic equations for species transport and reactions in porous catalyst layers, J. Electrochem. Soc., Vol. 161, pp. E3323-E3327 (2014)
    • M. Eikerling and P. Berg, Poroelectroelastic theory of water sorption and swelling in polymer electrolyte membranes, Soft Matter, 7, pp. 5976-5990 (2011)
    • P. Berg and J. Findlay, Analytical solution of PNP-Stokes equations in a cylindrical channel, Proc. Roy. Soc. A, Vol. 467, pp. 3157-3169 (2011)
    • P. Berg, P. Hanz and I. Milton, An energy-economic oil production model, IMA J. Applied Mathematics, doi:10.1093/imamat/hxr049, pp. 1-26 (2011)
    • P. Berg, K. Promislow, J. St-Pierre, J. Stumper and B. Wetton, Water management in PEM fuel cells, J. Electrochem. Soc., 151, No.3, pp. A341-353 (2004)
    • P. Berg and A.W. Woods, On-ramp simulations and solitary waves in a car-following model, Phys. Rev. E, 64, 035602 (2001)
    • P. Berg, A.D. Mason and A.W. Woods, Continuum approach to car-following models, Phys. Rev. E, 61, pp.1056-1066 (2000)
    3 postdoctoral fellows, 4 PhD students, 10 MSc students, 4 undergraduate thesis students, 3 undergraduate summer research students:

    Selected Presentations, Workshops

    • "The Enigma story: Technology, Turing, Trondheim, Toronto", 19 Public Talks in Canada and Norway, 2015-2018
    • "Pore network models and electro-osmotic drag in polymer electrolyte membranes", Fuel Cells - Gordon Research Conference, Stone Hill College, August 2016, Easton, USA
    • "Capabilities and limitations of PEM pore network models", Advances in Polymers for Fuel Cells and Energy Devices, February 2015, Asilomar, USA
    • "Water and ions in PEM nanopores", ECI 2014 - Electrochemical Interfaces: Recent Topics and Open Questions, WIAS, October 2014, Berlin, Germany
    • "Probing the universe", The Unseen, 3rd Annnual TEDxTrondheim Conference, October 2014, Trondheim, Norway
    • “Water Phenomena in PEM”, Int. Workshop, Main Organizer, NTNU, October 2013, Trondheim, Norway
    • "Sustainability: All or nothing at all", OPS (Ontario Public Service) Workshop, MaRS Center, March 2012, Toronto, Canada


    • "Endliche Welt, unendliches Geld - Das wahre Dilemma der Nachhaltigkeit" (Finite world, infinite money - Sustainability's true dilemma), oekom verlag, 2016 
    • "The Finite Planet - How resource scarcity will affect our environment, economy and energy supply", CreateSpace, 2011


    "I don't believe I can really do without teaching. The reason is, I have to have something so that when I don't have any ideas and I'm not getting anywhere I can say to myself, "At least I'm living; at least I'm doing something; I am making some contribution" -- it's just psychological.

    When I was at Princeton in the 1940s I could see what happened to those great minds at the Institute for Advanced Study, who had been specially selected for their tremendous brains and were now given this opportunity to sit in this lovely house by the woods there, with no classes to teach, with no obligations whatsoever. These poor bastards could now sit and think clearly all by themselves, OK? So they don't get any ideas for a while: They have every opportunity to do something, and they're not getting any ideas. I believe that in a situation like this a kind of guilt or depression worms inside of you, and you begin to worry about not getting any ideas. And nothing happens. Still no ideas come. Nothing happens because there's not enough real activity and challenge: You're not in contact with the experimental guys. You don't have to think how to answer questions from the students. Nothing!

    In any thinking process there are moments when everything is going good and you've got wonderful ideas. Teaching is an interruption, and so it's the greatest pain in the neck in the world. And then there are the longer periods of time when not much is coming to you. You're not getting any ideas, and if you're doing nothing at all, it drives you nuts! You can't even say "I'm teaching my class." If you're teaching a class, you can think about the elementary things that you know very well. These things are kind of fun and delightful. It doesn't do any harm to think them over again. Is there a better way to present them? Are there any new problems associated with them? Are there any new thoughts you can make about them? The elementary things are easy to think about; if you can't think of a new thought, no harm done; what you thought about it before is good enough for the class. If you do think of something new, you're rather pleased that you have a new way of looking at it.

    The questions of the students are often the source of new research. They often ask profound questions that I've thought about at times and then given up on, so to speak, for a while. It wouldn't do me any harm to think about them again and see if I can go any further now. The students may not be able to see the thing I want to answer, or the subtleties I want to think about, but they remind me of a problem by asking questions in the neighborhood of that problem. It's not so easy to remind yourself of these things. So I find that teaching and the students keep life going, and I would never accept any position in which somebody has invented a happy situation for me where I don't have to teach. Never." (R. Feynman)

    Teaching Philosophy

    Teaching and learning are processes that take place in a social context. It is the responsibility of the teacher to create a productive learning environment and it is the duty of the students to commit to their studies. Nothing can replace a knowledgeable, inspiring and organized teacher, equipped with a great sense of humour, not even a computer.  

    Favourite Teacher at Present

    Professor Leonard Susskind, Stanford University
    Online Lecture Series “The Theoretical Minimum”, www.theoreticalminimum.com

    Pedagogical Training

    Pedagogical certificate – Pedagogical development program (“PEDup”), NTNU (2013-2014)

    Pedagogical Initiatives & Program Development

    • Implementation of innovative 3-11 Calendar ("Augustana Calendar"), unique in Canada, Department of Science, University of Alberta (2016-2018)
    • Introduction of academic mentorship program for 1st-year physics students, NTNU (2014-2015)
    • Program development at UOIT (2005-2006): BSc Medical Physics; MSc and PhD Modelling and Computational Science; MSc and PhD Materials Science

    IT and Teaching

    • Principal investigator of the nationally-funded project "Creating a computational-physics online platform with IPython Notebook", Norway (2015-2016), www.numfys.net
    • IT in Education (IKTiSU) projects at NTNU (2012, 2014), involving Matlab and IPython Notebook
    • Introduction of computational physics and numerical methods into most of my courses, including homework problems, projects, and final exam questions

    Classroom Experience

    • Significant teaching experience at the undergraduate and graduate level, covering small (< 20 students), medium-sized (20-50 students) and large courses (50-250 students) 
    • Use of tablet PC as teaching tool since 2004
    • Courses taught: Calculus II, Calculus III, Ordinary Differential Equations, Mathematical Ecology and Dynamical Systems, Numerical Methods, Mathematical Modelling, Physics I, Physics II, Mechanics I, Mechanics II, Fluid Mechanics, Quantum Mechanics I, Quantum Mechanics II, History of Mathematics and Physics, Introductory Energy Science, Introductory Environment Science, Emerging Energy Technologies, Hydrogen-based Energy Systems and Fuel Cells, Physics and Geophysics, Science in Context

    Courses at University of Alberta

    • AUMAT 330 Ordinary Differential Equations
    • AUMAT 332 Mathematical Ecology and Dynamical Systems
    • AUMAT/AUPHY/AUCSC 340 Numerical Methods
    • AUMAT/AUPHY 480 History of Mathematics and Physics