15 new professors appointed at ETH Zurich and EPFL
Berne/Zurich, 19.05.2022 - At its meeting of 18/19 May 2022 and upon application of the President of ETH Zurich, Professor Joël Mesot, and the President of EPFL, Professor Martin Vetterli, the ETH Board appointed a total of 6 women and 9 men as professors and awarded the title of professor to 7 individuals. It also took note of the resignations of 20 professors and thanked them for their services. In the last 12 months, the ETH Board has made a total of 31 new appointments for women and 32 for men; the proportion of women among these new appointments amounts to 49%.
New appointment at ETH Zurich and EPFL
Dr Tanja Zimmermann (*1967), currently Head of Department and Member of the Directorate at Empa, as Full Professor of Materials Science and Technology in the School of Engineering at EPFL and the Department of Materials at ETH Zurich. Tanja Zimmermann’s research focuses on the development and manufacture of functionalised wood and cellulose-based materials with tailored properties, for use in areas such as adhesives, packaging and 3D-printed biodegradable structures for sensor and energy applications. As well as being an acclaimed researcher, Tanja Zimmermann is currently Head of the Department of Functional Materials and Co-Head of the Research Focus Area “Sustainable Built Environment” at Empa. She will become Director of Empa on 1 June 2022.
New appointments at ETH Zurich
Dr Katharina Gapp (*1984), currently Senior Scientist at ETH Zurich, as Assistant Professor of Epigenetics and Neuroendocrinology in the Department of Health Sciences and Technology. Katharina Gapp’s main focus is on neuropsychiatric diseases, which are often hereditary to some extent. Today, these sometimes chronic illnesses present a major financial burden for healthcare systems throughout the world. Her research also has potential for clinical applications, including in the context of cancer research. Katharina Gapp’s appointment will strengthen the links between the research areas of organic chemistry, health, endocrinology and neuroscience, both within and between departments.
Dr Robert Christopher Jnglin Wills (*1989), currently Research Scientist at the University of Washington, Seattle, USA, as Assistant Professor of Climate Dynamics in the Department of Environmental Systems Science. Robert Christopher Jnglin Wills’ research has a focus on processes in the atmosphere and ocean that influence climate variability and climate change. He has won a large number of awards for his significant contributions to this field. In his new post he will make use of the latest climate models and innovative data-driven methods to predict future changes in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, and their impacts on atmospheric circulation and regional climate in the entire northern hemisphere.
Dr Kjell Jorner (*1986), currently Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Toronto, Canada, and at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden, as Assistant Professor of Digital Chemistry in the Department of Chemistry and Applied Biosciences. Kjell Jorner’s research combines machine learning and mechanistic modelling in order to compute a wide range of chemical reactions. This data-driven approach contributes to the production of functional materials and promotes innovations in sustainable chemistry. His appointment will enable the department to boost the digitalisation of experimental chemistry and chemical engineering, and enhance student training in data and automation technologies.
Dr Dennis Komm (*1982), currently Senior Scientist at ETH Zurich and Professor at Graubünden University of Teacher Education (PHGR), as Associate Professor of Algorithms and Didactics in the Department of Computer Science. Dennis Komm studies online algorithms with applications in all kinds of areas, from computer resources to management decisions. He is a leading figure in the field and has published a highly acclaimed monograph. His work as a teacher is also widely appreciated, and he has been awarded record scores in student evaluations. By appointing Dennis Komm, the department is building on its 18 years of pioneering work in introducing the discipline of computer science to Switzerland, which has focused on the training and professional development of teachers at all levels.
Dr Matthias Leese (*1984), currently Senior Researcher at the Center for Security Studies (CSS) at ETH Zurich, as Assistant Professor of Technology and Governance in the Department of Humanities, Social and Political Sciences. Matthias Leese’s research explores the implementation of new technologies in security organisations. He has a particular interest in data-based analytical techniques and the varied sociotechnical aspects of data generation, database infrastructures and algorithm-based evaluation procedures. In 2021 he was awarded an ERC Starting Grant. His focus on how data is socially embedded consolidates the position of this future-oriented, widely relevant, interdisciplinary topic, not only within the department but also in ETH Zurich as a whole.
Dr Mickaël Perrin (*1987), currently Research Scientist and Deputy Group Leader at Empa, as Assistant Professor of Low-dimensional Quantum Electronics in the Department of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering. Mickaël Perrin conducts research into quantum-mechanical heat engines, which in principle permit the near-optimal conversion of thermal energy into mechanical energy. He has won multiple awards, including an ERC Starting Grant, and has excellent scientific connections with over 30 partners in Switzerland, Europe and the rest of the world. Within the ETH Domain he cooperates with several groups at Empa, ETH Zurich and EPFL. His appointment will help strengthen the department and intensify its important collaboration with Empa.
Professor Anna Puigjaner (*1980), currently Associate Professor of Professional Practice at Columbia University, New York, USA, as Full Professor of Architecture and Care in the Department of Architecture. Anna Puigjaner not only conducts historical research but also carries out fieldwork throughout the world, exploring new ways of living communally in a comprehensive and inclusive manner. With the appointment of Anna Puigjaner, the department is gaining a future leader in this area of research and beginning a new era of reflection and action in the field of “architecture and care”. She will also foster important synergies with other departments and institutions.
Dr Arkadiy Simonov (*1986), currently Research Fellow at ETH Zurich, as Assistant Professor of Disordered Materials in the Department of Materials. Arkadiy Simonov’s research focuses on the generation, characterisation and control of disorder in crystalline materials. He has developed a novel method of characterising the structure of materials, which he will use to investigate the effects of electronic disorder in quantum materials. By making this appointment, the department is expanding the field of solid state physics beyond the traditional methods of crystallography and strengthening its links with research institutions such as the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI).
Dr Paolo Angelo Sossi (*1988), currently Lecturer at ETH Zurich, as Assistant Professor of Experimental Planetology in the Department of Earth Sciences. Paolo Sossi’s research has a focus on understanding the processes that led to the formation of the Earth and terrestrial planets and moons. In his work, he uses a combination of experimental spectroscopy and thermodynamic methods to explore the interactions between atmospheric gases, nucleating metals and siliceous magma oceans. Paolo Sossi has wide-ranging experience of teaching and supervising Master’s and PhD students. He received a number of accolades in 2021, including an ERC Starting Grant and the Houtermans Award presented by the European Association of Geochemistry.
Professor Yohei Yamauchi (*1976), currently Associate Professor at the University of Bristol, United Kingdom, as Full Professor of Molecular Medicine in the Department of Chemistry and Applied Biosciences. Yohei Yamauchi’s research is dedicated to the molecular understanding of viral diseases, with an emphasis on pro-viral cellular mechanisms. He has won multiple awards, including the recently instituted Elizabeth Blackwell Institute COVID-19 Grant and, in 2019, an ERC Synergy Grant as part of an international consortium. With the appointment of Yohei Yamauchi, the department is introducing a highly topical and important field of research, while also promoting synergies with the Department of Biology and Zurich University Hospital.
Dr Verena Zimmermann (*1990), currently Scientist at the Technical University of Darmstadt, Germany, as Tenure Track Assistant Professor of Security, Privacy and Society in the Department of Humanities, Social and Political Sciences. Verena Zimmermann conducts research at the interface between psychology and computer science. She explores the role of human beings in designing technical systems that not only ensure IT security and data protection but are also intended to promote intuitive, cognitively adequate user interaction. Verena Zimmermann will join an interdisciplinary cluster of researchers at ETH Zurich who are working on the social implications of digitalisation.
Promotion at ETH Zurich
Professor Jess Gerrit Snedeker (*1972), currently Associate Professor at ETH Zurich, as Full Professor of Orthopaedic Biomechanics in the Department of Health Sciences and Technology. Jess Gerrit Snedeker’s basic research focuses on the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying the mechanical regulation of connective tissue diseases and repair. His work has far-reaching implications for our understanding of healthy and pathological reactions and future treatment strategies. He is a committed researcher with an impressive list of publications, and is held in high esteem by the PhD students he supervises. Jess Gerrit Snedeker will continue to hold a dual professorship with the University of Zurich.
New appointment at EPFL
Dr Wenyu Gu (*1988), currently Post-Doctoral Scholar at Stanford University, USA, as Tenure Track Assistant Professor of Environmental Engineering (Biorecovery of Environmental Resources) in the School of Architecture, Civil and Environmental Engineering. Wenyu Gu’s research is in the field of microbiology, at the interface between biosciences, biotechnology, bioinformatics and mathematical modelling. She has a particular interest in the use of microbes for energy production, environmental remediation and improving human health. At EPFL she plans to apply her extensive specialist knowledge to technical installations such as water supply and wastewater treatment systems. Wenyu Gu has won a number of awards and will help strengthen the school in an area of research that is important to society.
Promotion at EPFL
Professor Marie Violay (*1984), currently Tenure Track Assistant Professor at EPFL, as Associate Professor of Rock Mechanics in the School of Architecture, Civil and Environmental Engineering. Marie Violay studies the mechanical and physical properties of underground rock materials, in connection with topics such as geothermal energy production, carbon sequestration and the disposal of nuclear waste. She has received several accolades, including an ERC Starting Grant in 2017. Her appointment has particular relevance to the strategic area of energy and sustainability at EPFL and to the school’s efforts in connection with climate change, and will no doubt help Switzerland retain its leading position in the field of rock mechanics and rock physics.
Award of the title of Professor
Dr Nathalie Dubois (*1981), currently Lecturer in the Departments of Earth Sciences and Environmental Systems Science at ETH Zurich and Group Leader at Eawag, as Adjunct Professor at ETH Zurich. Nathalie Dubois is a leading researcher in the field of lake sediments; she investigates recent human impacts on the environment. Her growing reputation within the Swiss and international science community is also reflected in the fact that she chairs or otherwise serves on a number of committees.
Dr Lorenz Halbeisen (*1964), currently Senior Scientist and Private Lecturer in the Department of Mathematics at ETH Zurich and at the University of Zurich, as Adjunct Professor at ETH Zurich. Lorenz Halbeisen is an internationally recognised specialist in forcing, a technique for constructing models in set theory. The philosophical aspects of his work constitute a significant asset to the teaching and research cooperation with the Department of Humanities, Social and Political Sciences.
Dr Daniele Mari (*1961), currently Senior Scientist at EPFL’s School of Basic Sciences and Deputy Director of the Physics Section, as Adjunct Professor at EPFL. Daniele Mari is an expert in mechanical spectroscopy – a very specific branch of materials science with a long tradition at EPFL, which has gained international acclaim in this field. His research has also had a significant impact on Swiss industry, as numerous collaborations demonstrate.
Dr Johann Michler (*1968), currently Lecturer in the School of Engineering at EPFL and Head of Department at Empa, as Adjunct Professor at EPFL. Johann Michler is one of the world’s leading experts in the mechanics of materials and in developing unique instruments for experiments in the micrometer and nanometer range using electron microscopy. He has key relationships with industry and has co-founded several Empa spin-offs.
Dr Andreas Osterwalder (*1973), currently Senior Scientist at EPFL’s School of Basic Sciences, as Adjunct Professor at EPFL. Andreas Osterwalder has established himself as one of the world’s leading scientists in the field of cold-molecule chemistry. His research activities focus on the development of cutting-edge technologies and experimental setups at close to absolute zero. He is a very committed teacher who makes a substantial contribution to the education of young researchers.
Dr Christian Erik Pohl (*1966), currently Lecturer and Senior Scientist in the Department of Environmental Systems Science at ETH Zurich, as Adjunct Professor at ETH Zurich. In his research, Christian Erik Pohl studies the transdisciplinary research process in the area of sustainability. He has achieved international acclaim for his fundamental contributions to transdisciplinarity research and practice, and is one of the world’s leading scientists in this field of research.
Dr Morgan Trassin (*1982), currently Lecturer and Senior Scientist in the Department of Materials at ETH Zurich, as Adjunct Professor at ETH Zurich. Morgan Trassin is an internationally renowned expert in the fields of functional oxide heterostructures and multiferroic materials. His most recent work was supported by two SNSF grants and an ERC Proof of Concept grant. Morgan Trassin is also highly involved with the department’s teaching programmes.
Departure from ETH Zurich and EPFL
Professor Gian-Luca Bona (*1957), currently Full Professor of Photonics in the School of Engineering at EPFL and in the Department of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering at ETH Zurich, is to retire at the end of May 2022. After a career at IBM, Gian-Luca Bona became Director of Empa in 2009, at which time he also took up his dual professorship at EPFL and ETH Zurich. His research covers optics and photonics, with a focus on developing devices for industrial applications in a variety of areas, such as energy, medicine and construction. He is an acclaimed researcher with an impressive list of publications and 30 patents to his name. Not only is he a committed teacher, but he also continues to serve on various scientific committees. Under Gian-Luca Bona’s leadership, Empa has developed into a leading international research institute for materials research and innovative technologies.
Retirements/departures from ETH Zurich
Professor Gion A. Caminada (*1957), currently Full Professor of Architecture and Design in the Department of Architecture, is to retire at the end of January 2023. Gion A. Caminada completed a postgraduate degree in architecture at ETH Zurich and then held a variety of posts at the Federal Institute. He has for many years been regarded as a leading theoretician of alpine building and has an excellent understanding of how to transpose traditional construction styles into a contemporary landscape. In addition to winning numerous prizes and awards, he has gained the utmost respect from his students and colleagues for his dedication to academic teaching. Gion A. Caminada is known as an exceptional architect and teacher of design, both in Switzerland and internationally.
Professor Mohsen Ghaffari (*1987), currently Tenure Track Assistant Professor of Computer Science in the Department of Computer Science, is leaving ETH Zurich at the end of June 2022. Mohsen Ghaffari’s research focuses on theoretical computer science and on designing and analysing algorithms, with the emphasis on distributed and parallel algorithms, randomised algorithms and network algorithms. He has received a number of awards, including an ERC Starting Grant in 2019. Mohsen Ghaffari is leaving to take up the post of Associate Professor at MIT in Cambridge, USA.
Professor Christophe Girot (*1957), currently Full Professor of Landscape Architecture in the Department of Architecture, will retire at the end of January 2023. Christophe Girot’s main focus is on topological methods in landscape architecture, new media in landscape analysis and perception, and the history and theory of landscape architecture. In addition to winning numerous awards, he has produced an impressive list of publications and is a popular lecturer; in 2016 he was awarded the Golden Owl by ETH Zurich. Christophe Girot’s practice in Zurich carries out projects in Europe and Asia, and he is internationally recognised for his expertise in researching and developing the latest techniques for practical application.
Professor Lino Guzzella (*1957), currently Full Professor of Thermotronics in the Department of Mechanical and Process Engineering, is to retire at the end of January 2023. After obtaining his undergraduate degree and doctorate at ETH Zurich, Lino Guzzella later returned to what was then known as the Department of Electrical Engineering, where he became an assistant professor of engine electronics in 1993. His current research is concerned with system dynamics, dynamic optimisation and minimising pollutant emissions from propulsion systems. Lino Guzzella’s scientific reputation is demonstrated both nationally and internationally by his numerous memberships of scientific associations and editorial boards. In addition, he has co-authored a number of patents in the field of mechatronic and automotive systems. He has served as head of institute and head of department, as well as making a very substantial contribution to ETH Zurich as Rector (2012–2014) and President (2015–2018). Under his leadership, ETH Zurich was able to enhance its international networks and its position as a leading university in an increasingly competitive environment.
Professor Beat H. Meier (*1954), currently Full Professor of Physical Chemistry in the Department of Chemistry and Applied Biosciences, will retire at the end of January 2023. Beat H. Meier studied at ETH Zurich, returning in 1998 as a full professor of physical chemistry. His research area is the development of high-resolution solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance and its applications for biomolecules. He achieved a breakthrough in determining the structure of two peptides that are suspected of being responsible for Alzheimer’s. Beat H. Meier is not only a renowned researcher but has also served on numerous committees, such as the appointment committees of ETH Zurich; his many awards include an ERC Advanced Grant in 2017.
Professor Hans Christian Öttinger (*1958), currently Full Professor of Polymer Physics in the Department of Materials, is retiring at the end of January 2023. Hans Christian Öttinger joined ETH Zurich as a senior scientist in 1989. The fundamental aim of his research is to investigate the flow behaviour of polymer melts and solutions based on a molecular understanding of these prototypes for complex fluids. He wrote the groundbreaking work “Stochastic Processes in Polymeric Fluids” and is a member of numerous evaluation committees. From 2000 to 2002 he was head of the Department of Materials, in addition to spending a total of seven years as Director of Studies and repeatedly serving as head of the Institute of Polymers over a long period.
Professor Thomas Peter (*1958), currently Full Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry in the Department of Environmental Systems Science, is to retire at the end of January 2023. Thomas Peter joined ETH Zurich as a full professor in 1998 and was head of department from 2013 to 2017. At the Center for Climate Systems Modeling, he performs fundamental research on chemical reactions and physical processes of aerosol particles including their interactions with the gas phase chemistry of the atmosphere. He is regarded as a leading exponent in his field and continues to serve on numerous commissions, evaluation committees and professional bodies. Through his diverse activities, Thomas Peter has made a substantial contribution to his institute, the Department of Environmental Systems Science, and ETH Zurich.
Professor Michael Ristow (*1967), currently Full Professor of Energy Metabolism in the Department of Health Sciences and Technology, is leaving ETH Zurich at the end of December 2022. Michael Ristow conducts research into the biochemical and molecular basis of longevity regulation, with the aim of finding new therapeutic options for preventing and curing age-related diseases such as obesity, diabetes and cancer. He is leaving ETH Zurich to take up a post at the Charité Universitätsmedizin university hospital in Berlin.
Professor Karin Sander (*1957), currently Full Professor of Architecture and Arts in the Department of Architecture, is to retire at the end of July 2022. Karin Sander joined ETH Zurich as a full professor in 2007. She is responsible for the artistic education of the department’s students – a role in which she is noted for her expertise as a teacher. Her main interests lie in questions to do with the theory of art and epistemology, as well as conceptual art and action art. Karin Sander has one of the highest international profiles of any contemporary female artist, and she has received numerous major international awards. Her efforts to promote art within architecture has led to it becoming a key component of the study of architecture at ETH Zurich.
Professor Gebhard Schertler (*1957), currently Full Professor of Structural Biology in the Department of Biology, will retire at the end of July 2022. Gebhard Schertler was appointed to ETH Zurich as a full professor in 2009 and became head of the biology and chemistry division at the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI). He has been a member of the board of directors at PSI since 2011 and was also head of the Laboratory of Biomolecular Research from 2010 to 2012. His research investigates the structure and function of membrane proteins, with a strong focus on G protein coupled receptors. He achieved the first direct visualisation of retinal isomerisation. This pioneering work contributed to the development of biological applications using the Swiss Free Electron Laser. He has an impressive list of publications to his name and has received numerous awards.
Professor Joseph Schwartz (*1957), currently Full Professor of Structural Design in the Department of Architecture, is to retire at the end of January 2023. Joseph Schwartz joined ETH Zurich as a full professor in 2008. Areas covered by his work include the history of construction, the application of plasticity theory, and determining the form of load-bearing structures, with the aim of reconciling the disciplines of architecture and civil engineering. Joseph Schwartz has gained high visibility thanks to his professional success, as demonstrated by the many distinctions and prizes he has been awarded. In addition, he has been a committed and innovative teacher for over 20 years, including several years as Director of Studies in the Department of Architecture.
Professor Benjamin Stocker (*1982), currently Assistant Professor of Computational Ecosystem Science in the Department of Environmental Systems Science, is to leave ETH Zurich at the end of July 2022. Benjamin Stocker’s research focuses on how ecosystems function and on climate feedback mechanisms between the terrestrial biosphere and the atmosphere. He is leaving ETH Zurich to take up the post of Tenure Track Assistant Professor at the University of Bern.
Professor Günther Vogt (*1957), currently Full Professor of Landscape Architecture in the Department of Architecture, is retiring at the end of July 2022. Günther Vogt joined ETH Zurich as an associate professor in 2005. The main focus of his research is the changing cultural landscape of the Alps and the urbanised landscapes of metropolitan areas in the European context. He has won many awards and is regarded as one of Europe’s leading landscape architects. His services to research, teaching and practice have significantly boosted the position of the Institute of Landscape and Urban Studies within Network City and Landscape (NSL) at ETH Zurich, thus firmly establishing its international orientation.
Professor Armin Wittneben (*1957), currently Full Professor of Wireless Communication in the Department of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering, is to retire at the end of January 2023. Armin Wittneben joined ETH Zurich as a full professor in 2002. His research has a focus on core technologies for affordable and very broadband adaptive wireless mobile access networks. He is a dedicated lecturer and supervisor with an impressive list of publications. In addition, he has made a substantial contribution to creating a comprehensive framework of consolidated knowledge and insights in the key area of human-centric wireless.
Retirements/departures from EPFL
Professor Christian Enz (*1957), currently Full Professor of Microtechnology in the School of Engineering, will retire at the end of February 2023. Christian Enz joined EPFL as a full professor in 2013. His research investigates analogue integrated circuits, very low power radio frequencies, wireless sensor networks and semiconductor components. He has made important contributions to modelling electronic circuits. Christian Enz has also led numerous internationally significant projects, thus reinforcing the network of academic and industrial partnerships. Furthermore, he played a significant part in setting up the EPFL satellite campus in Neuchâtel. Christian Enz was head of the microelectronics department until May 2021.
Professor Jean-Pierre Hubaux (*1957), currently Full Professor of Computer Science and Communication Systems in the School of Computer and Communication Sciences, is to retire at the end of July 2022. Jean-Pierre Hubaux joined EPFL as an associate professor in 1990. Over the years, his research tended to focus on data security and data protection. He is regarded as a pioneer in wireless network security and robustness as well as in safeguarding the confidentiality of exchanged data – fields in which he is one of the most frequently cited experts. Jean-Pierre Hubaux has always been very active both inside and outside EPFL, having headed several institutions, departments and committees. He has been awarded numerous prizes and distinctions, which include being elected a Fellow of the IEEE in 2008.
Professor Philippe Renaud (*1958), currently Full Professor of Microtechnology in the School of Engineering, is retiring at the end of January 2023. Philippe Renaud joined EPFL as an assistant professor in 1993. His interdisciplinary research covers biomedical microtechnology, microfluidics and sensors. In the first decade of the 21st century he was the first scientist to analyse cells with the help of electrical signals – a groundbreaking technique that was adopted by other researchers some years later. He received the Lifetime Achievement Award of the American Electrophoresis Society in 2020 for his scientific work. Philippe Renaud has made a significant contribution to developing the Center of MicroNanoTechnology at EPFL.
Professor Viesturs Simanis (*1959), currently Associate Professor of Molecular Genetics of the Cell Cycle in the School of Life Sciences, is to retire at the end of August 2023. Viesturs Simanis joined EPFL as an associate professor in 2006. His research interests include cell division in relation to areas such as ageing and cancer development. Most recently, he has been using mass spectrometry for the proteomic analysis of meiosis. His laboratory has made a substantial contribution to the school’s popular science activities. Viesturs Simanis also has an impressive list of publications to his name and is regarded as a highly dedicated teacher. He has served on a number of committees, including the Life Sciences Teaching Committee.
Professor Kenneth Younge (*1968), currently Associate Professor of Innovation Strategy at the College of Management of Technology, is to leave EPFL at the end of September 2022. Kenneth Younge joined EPFL as an associate professor in 2015. His research interests focus on technology management, corporate strategy and data science. He is an expert in strategic and corporate management and has founded several firms.
The ETH Board would like to thank the departing professors for their services to science, teaching and academic administration.
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