14 professors appointed at the two Federal Institutes of Technology

Zurich, 22.05.2015 - Upon application of the President of ETH Zurich, Professor Lino Guzzella, and the President of EPFL, Professor Patrick Aebischer, at its meeting of 20/21 May 2015 the ETH Board appointed a total of 14 individuals as professors, took note of the resignation of eight professors and thanked them for their services, and awarded the title of professor to one individual.

Appointments at ETH Zurich

Professor Martin Ackermann (*1971), currently Associate Professor at ETH Zurich, as Full Professor of Molecular Microbial Ecology. Martin Ackermann researches topics at the interface between molecular microbiology and evolutionary ecology. He has established himself as one of the world's leading authorities on experimental microbial evolution. For example, he has demonstrated how random molecular processes in a genetically homogeneous group of bacteria can give rise to diversification, which is directly relevant to our understanding of pathogenic bacteria. As a professor at ETH Zurich and a Group Leader at Eawag, Martin Ackermann achieves a productive combination of pure and applied research.

Professor Niklas Beisert (*1977), currently Associate Professor at ETH Zurich, as Full Professor of Mathematical Physics. Niklas Beisert has received global recognition for his calculation methods in the areas of quantum field theory, string theory and symmetries. He works on maximally supersymmetric gauge theories, which appear to possess additional integrable symmetry in a specific border range. Using this suspected symmetry he has succeeded in making precise, non-trivial predictions regarding the energy spectrum of these supersymmetric gauge theories. By promoting Niklas Beisert to a full professorship, the Department of Physics is reinforcing its globally recognised leadership in the field of mathematical physics.

Professor Srđan Čapkun (*1976),currently Associate Professor at ETH Zurich, as Full Professor of Computer Science. Srđan Čapkun works on network security, which covers Internet security and the security of wireless networks. He has made substantial contributions to key problems, such as distance bounding, localisation and anti-jamming. In these areas it is necessary to be able to process signals in nanoseconds, which he has achieved by building special hardware. Srđan Čapkun's work has numerous practical applications, such as in the development of cardiac pacemakers. His field of research fills a gap in the Department of Computer Science and is a key strategic area.

Professor Patrick Cheridito (*1969), currently Associate Professor at Princeton University, New Jersey, USA, as Full Professor of Insurance Mathematics. Patrick Cheridito conducts research in the field of stochastic financial mathematics and has published a series of major articles on modern risk theory, the theory of stochastic processes and valuation theory for financial securities. He has also succeeded in finding convincing solutions for important practical problems, and is therefore in demand as an adviser to the Swiss financial industry. With the appointment of Patrick Cheridito, ETH Zurich is building on its successful tradition in the field of insurance mathematics and financial mathematics.

Dr Margarita Chli (*1983), currently Chancellor's Fellow and Tenure Track Lecturer at the School of Informatics of the University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom, as Assistant Professor of Vision for Robotics. Margarita Chli has received international recognition for her research in the field of visual robot navigation for autonomous localisation and area mapping. She participated in the first fully autonomous flight of a small helicopter with onboard localisation and mapping, which was navigated using only a camera and an inertial sensor. Her approaches have led to collaborations with leading companies. The appointment of Margarita Chli enables ETH Zurich to expand its leadership in the field of robotics.

Professor Katrien De Bock (*1980), currently Tenure Track Assistant Professor at the Katholieke Universiteit (KU) Leuven, Belgium, as Associate Professor of Exercise and Health. Katrien De Bock works on muscular adjustment processes in physical training. Her group investigates how training regulates the formation of new blood vessels in muscles and how the availability of oxygen and nutrients influences factors such as insulin sensitivity. This is particularly important for preventing lifestyle diseases such as obesity and diabetes. By appointing Katrien De Bock, whose professorship is being supported by the Wilhelm Schulthess Foundation for ten years, ETH Zurich is strengthening research in this forward-looking area.

Professor Christian Franck (*1973), currently Assistant Professor at ETH Zurich, as Associate Professor of High Voltage Engineering. Christian Franck has conducted highly successful research in the field of circuit breakers and circuit breaker simulations. His work in the field of power interruption, current limitation and gas insulation has gained him a prominent position in international research and he is regarded as an innovative developer of new technical solutions. With the appointment of Christian Franck as Associate Professor, the Department of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering is enhancing its research capability in a subject area that is of great significance to electrical energy provision.

Professor Siddhartha Mishra (*1980), currently Associate Professor at ETH Zurich, as Full Professor of Applied Mathematics. Siddhartha Mishra researches and teaches in the fields of numerical analysis, scientific computing and solving systems of hyperbolic conservation equations. This work plays a key role in hypersonic and multiphase flows, combustion, plasma simulation and magnetohydrodynamics, and has applications in areas which include astrophysics and nuclear fusion. Siddhartha Mishra has earned an outstanding global reputation and also makes key contributions in the strategic area of computer-aided science and to the Swiss High Performance Computing Initiative.

Professor Renato Renner (*1974), currently Associate Professor at ETH Zurich, as Full Professor of Theoretical Physics. Renato Renner works on the development of new information theory methods that are suitable for applications in thermodynamics. He has succeeded in deriving a universal formula for the waste heat produced during calculation processes. Using a similar information theory approach he was also able to gather new insights regarding the foundations of quantum theory. Renato Renner is recognised worldwide as one of the leading theoreticians of his generation in the quantum information sciences. His work makes a major contribution to ETH Zurich's strong international position in this field.

Dr Alessandro Sisto (*1986), currently a post-doctoral student at ETH Zurich, as Assistant Professor of Mathematics. Alessandro Sisto's field of work is geometric group theory, an area of research at the interface between geometry and algebra. One of his main interests is generalisations of hyperbolic groups, which play a central role in geometric group theory. He is a world leader in this field. In addition, he has made important contributions on numerous other topics, including random walks and mapping class groups. Through the appointment of Alessandro Sisto, ETH Zurich is gaining a very promising young scientist with excellent contacts.

Dr Fabian Walter (*1978), currently a Senior Assistant at ETH Zurich, as Assistant Professor of Glacier Seismology. Fabian Walter researches various aspects of glacier seismology and glacier calving. His internationally acclaimed research is very significant for the assessment of glacier risks such as glacial lake outbursts. Both his research and teaching ideally complement the activities of the Laboratory of Hydraulics, Hydrology and Glaciology (VAW) in the field of physical glaciology, and particularly in glacier seismology. Through the appointment of Fabian Walter, ETH Zurich is laying new emphasis on research into protection against natural hazards.

Dr Melanie Zeilinger (*1982), currently Research Associate at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Tübingen, Germany, as Assistant Professor of Intelligent Control Systems. Melanie Zeilinger works on control systems for large-scale dispersed and highly complex systems in changing, insecure environments. One objective of her research, which has strong international links, is to fully exploit the potential of the available data in order to develop agile, high-performance controllers for security-critical systems. Melanie Zeilinger will introduce forward-looking topics in the field of intelligent control systems to the research and teaching of ETH Zurich and strengthen its leading role in this area.


Appointments at EPFL

Dr Raffaella Buonsanti (*1981), currently Research Associate at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, USA, as Tenure Track Assistant Professor of Chemical Process Engineering. Raffaella Buonsanti works on the synthesis and photocatalytic applications of semiconductors, magnetic nanocrystals and hybrid compounds of metal oxides. She also conducts research on mesoporous materials which combine nanocrystals and copolymers. Her work opens up new possibilities for combining hybrid and multifunctional nanomaterials in photocatalytic processes in order to transform solar energy into chemical energy. Raffaella Buonsanti will work at EPFL Valais Wallis and will support the university's international position in important subject areas.

Professor Kristina Schoonjans (*1968), currently Adjunct Professor at EPFL, as Associate Professor of Life Sciences. Kristina Schoonjans studies the metabolism of fats and carbohydrates. Investigating the molecular basis on which metabolites transmit signals to metabolic organs helps to find new mechanisms and strategies to combat metabolic disorders. She has discovered that bile acid, for example, can increase energy metabolism by activating the TGR5 receptor. Her work is of huge importance to medicine. Through the appointment of Kristina Schoonjans, EPFL is further strengthening its research and teaching in the field of metabolic processes.


Award of the title of Professor

Dr Michael Stauffacher (*1965), Senior Scientist and Lecturer at the Department of Environmental Systems Science at ETH Zurich and Associate Professor Extraordinary at Stellenbosch University, South Africa, as Adjunct Professor at ETH Zurich. Michael Stauffacher successfully focuses on socio-environmental research, including the topics of nuclear waste disposal, electricity supply after Fukushima and sustainable urban development. He also makes an important contribution to ETH Zurich through his dedicated teaching.


Departures from ETH Zurich

Professor Otto Cordero (*1978), currently Assistant Professor of Microbial Population Biology, is leaving ETH Zurich at the end of June 2015. He has worked at ETH Zurich since 2013 and focuses on the dynamics and interactions of aquatic communities of micro-organisms. Otto Cordero has been offered a tenure track position at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Boston, USA.

Professor Emanuela Del Gado (*1970), currently Assistant Professor of Microstructure and Rheology of Building Materials, is leaving ETH Zurich at the end of June 2015. Emanuela Del Gado has worked at ETH Zurich since 2006 and has contributed to the development of a new method of investigating glasses. In spring 2014, Emanuela Del Gado was appointed part-time Tenure Track Assistant Professor at Georgetown University in Washington, USA, and will be working there full-time from July 2015.


Departures from EPFL

Professor Michel Aguet (*1947), currently Full Professor of Molecular Oncology, will retire with effect from 1 June 2015. Michel Aguet directed various research institutions in universities and industry before being appointed a Full Professor at EPFL in 2005. He enjoyed great success in investigating cytokines of the interferon group. As head of the National Centre of Competence in Molecular Oncology, he pressed ahead with the integration of cancer research in Lausanne and contributed to setting up the Swiss Cancer Center Lausanne. Michel Aguet has also been a dedicated teacher and served on numerous national and international expert committees.

Professor Rémy Glardon (*1950), currently Full Professor of Mechanical Production Methods, is to retire on 1 October 2015. Rémy Glardon completed his undergraduate and postgraduate degrees at EPFL. He then carried out post-doctoral studies in the USA and worked in industry for several years before returning to EPFL as an Associate Professor in 1995. In 1998 he was promoted to Full Professor. His research focused on the design, configuration and strategic management of the supply chain. He modelled and simulated production and internal logistics, which resulted in improvements in the control of complex systems. Rémy Glardon's strong industry networks have also been useful in his teaching.

Professor Jean-Jacques Meister (*1950), currently Full Professor of Experimental Physics (biomedical technology), will retire with effect from 1 August 2015. Jean-Jacques Meister completed his undergraduate and postgraduate degrees at EPFL. As head of an engineering firm he then participated in the development of non-invasive methods of treating cardiovascular diseases before being appointed to EPFL in 1990. His research work focused on cellular biophysics and cardiovascular biomechanics. He made a significant contribution to establishing the Institute of Physics of Biological Systems at EPFL. In addition, Jean-Jacques Meister developed an important collaboration with Japanese institutions in the area of biomechanics and served on numerous national and international expert committees.

Professor Georges Meylan (*1950), currently Full Professor of Astrophysics, is to retire on 1 September 2015. Georges Meylan was appointed as Full Professor at EPFL in 2004 after an impressive international career. His field of research covers broad areas of galactic and extragalactic astrophysics and observational cosmology. He discovered some of the first quasars, which are subject to the gravitational lensing effect. Thanks to his reputation for scientific excellence, he was appointed to numerous national and international bodies. Georges Meylan was always a successful and dedicated teacher who communicated the fascination of astronomy to a wide audience.

Professor Michel Rappaz (*1950), currently Full Professor of Simulation of Microstructures and Material Processes, will retire with effect from 1 October 2015. Michel Rappaz completed his undergraduate and postgraduate degrees at EPFL. From 1984 he led the group for numerical simulation in the Physical Metallurgy Laboratory at EPFL, in 1990 he was appointed Adjunct Professor and in 2003 promoted to Full Professor. His research focuses on solidification processes and phase transitions. While combining numerical simulation and experimental work, he and his group developed new approaches, such as models for the formation of granular bodies. Michel Rappaz has received numerous prestigious awards for his research. Several of his discoveries led to commercialisation via a company he founded.

Professor Jacques Thévenaz (*1950), currently Full Professor of Mathematics, is to retire on 1 September 2015. His career led Jacques Thévenaz from the University of Geneva via international postings to Lausanne, where he began by conducting research at the university. As President of the Mathematics Department, he prepared for the subject area to be switched from the university to EPFL, where in 2003 he was appointed Associate Professor and in 2007 Full Professor. His research concentrated on the theory of G-algebras and the classification of endo-trivial and endo-permutation modules, among other topics. Jacques Thévenaz occupied a number of leading positions in his department at EPFL and was also a very successful teacher.

The ETH Board would like to thank the departing professors for their services to science, teaching and academic administration.

Address for enquiries

Alex Biscaro
Head of Communication of the ETH Board
CH-8092 Zürich
+41 44 632 20 03


Board of the Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology

Last modification 27.04.2016

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