Martin Schröder was born near London of refugee Estonian parents and was first in his family to attend university. He gained his BSc in Chemistry from the University of Sheffield, and his PhD from Imperial College, London under the supervision of Professor W.P. Griffith. After postdoctoral fellowships at the ETH, Zürich and the University of Cambridge, he was appointed to a Senior Demonstratorship at the University of Edinburgh in 1982. He was subsequently promoted to Lecturer, Reader and then Professor, and in 1995 was appointed to the University of Nottingham as Head and Professor of Inorganic Chemistry. In Nottingham he was Head of the School of Chemistry (1999–2005) and Executive Dean of the Faculty of Science (2011–2015). In 2015 he moved to his current position as Vice-President and Dean of the Faculty of Science and Engineering and Professor of Chemistry at the University of Manchester.
He has been a Visiting Professor at the University of Toronto, the University of Otago, and the Université Louis Pasteur, Strasbourg. He has published 525 publications and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry. His awards include the RSC Corday-Morgan Medal and Prize, a Royal Society of Edinburgh Support Research Fellowship, the RSC Tilden Lectureship, the RSC Award for the Chemistry of Transition Metals, a Royal Society Wolfson Merit Award, a Leverhulme Trust Senior Research Fellowship, and the RSC Award for Chemistry of the Noble Metals and their Compounds. He has been awarded Honorary Doctorates from Tallinn Technical University in 2005 and the Nikolaev Institute of Inorganic Chemistry, Russian Academy of Sciences, in 2017. In 2016 he was elected Member of the Academia Europaea.
His research interests lie in the area of materials chemistry, specifically the design, synthesis and study of porous metal–organic framework materials for energy and environmental applications. Current focus lies in the separation and capture of fuel and toxic gases, hydrocarbons and metal values, and applications of porous materials in catalysis, clean-up and proton conductivity.