14 new professors appointed at ETH Zurich and EPFL

At its meeting of 6/7 December 2023 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 4 women and 10 men as professors and awarded the title of Professor of Practice to one individual. It also took note of the resignations of 11 professors and thanked them for their services. In 2023, the ETH Board has made a total of 22 new appointments for women and 23 for men; the proportion of women among these new appointments thus amounts to 49%.

New appointments at ETH Zurich

Professor Morteza Aramesh (*1985), currently Tenure Track Assistant Professor at Uppsala University, Sweden, as Assistant Professor of Single Molecule and Single Cell Biophysics in the Department of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering. Morteza Aramesh conducts research at the intersection of materials science, physics and nanotechnology, with the aim of discovering new applications for use in biology and medicine. Thanks to his ERC Starting Grant, Morteza Aramesh will be developing projects that use nanopores to analyse proteins in individual cells. He will also be cooperating with research groups in the Department of Health Sciences and Technology at ETH Zurich and at the University of Zurich.

Dr Amy E. Fraley (*1991), currently Postdoctoral Researcher at ETH Zurich, as Tenure Track Assistant Professor of Medicinal Chemistry in the Department of Chemistry and Applied Biosciences. Amy Fraley’s interdisciplinary research programme focuses on the biosynthesis of natural products and combines fundamental evolutionary questions with new biotechnological applications. In her post as assistant professor she plans to expand the curriculum for pharmacy students by adding courses that emphasise the use of synthetic biology and biocatalysis in the development of new drugs. Her appointment provides an opportunity to strengthen the interface between biosciences and pharmaceutical sciences, while also investigating current issues to do with ecological sustainability.

Professor Mark Fuge (*1986), currently Associate Professor at the University of Maryland, USA, as Full Professor of Artificial Intelligence in Engineering Design in the Department of Mechanical and Process Engineering. Mark Fuge’s research concerns the use of artificial intelligence in technical design and product development processes. He investigates how machines can learn to design other machines. His work has won various prizes and he has extensive teaching experience. With this appointment, the Department is boosting its expertise in the areas of artificial intelligence, design and production technology, which is also of great importance to the recently revised Bachelor’s programme with its new emphasis on computer-assisted methods and machine learning.

Professor Eva Heinen (*1981), currently Full Professor at the Technical University of Dortmund, Germany, as Full Professor of Transportation and Mobility Planning in the Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering. Eva Heinen’s interdisciplinary research looks at mobility and transportation at the intersection of sustainable development, transport planning, spatial planning and health. Her research on non-motorised traffic led to an interest group being set up at the World Conference on Transport Research Society (WCTRS). Eva Heinen also has wide-ranging teaching experience. Her appointment will facilitate important interactions and synergies with other institutes and departments of ETH Zurich.

Michalis Kokologiannakis (*1993), currently a doctoral student at the Max Planck Institute for Software Systems, Kaiserslautern, Germany, as Tenure Track Assistant Professor of Computer Science in the Department of Computer Science. Michalis Kokologiannakis’ main area of research is programming languages, particularly formal software verification. Among other things, he develops advanced algorithms that are very efficient at analysing large numbers of programme executions. In his work, Michalis Kokologiannakis successfully builds bridges between theoretical principles and practical applications. This enables him to engage in productive partnerships with industry and turn his research into practice.

Dr Xiaohua Qin (*1984), currently Senior Researcher and Lecturer at ETH Zurich, as Assistant Professor of Biomaterials Engineering in the Department of Health Sciences and Technology. Xiaohua Qin’s research focuses on developing novel biomaterials and advanced manufacturing processes for cutting-edge applications in biomedicine, for which he received a 2022 ERC Starting Grant subsidised by SERI. He has published a long list of peer-reviewed articles, and two of his four patents are already in use in the medical technology industry. His appointment will further strengthen the links between the research areas of biomaterials engineering, biomechanics and medical technology.

Martina Voser (*1973), currently owner and member of the Executive Board of mavo Landschaften gmbh and Visiting Professor at ETH Zurich, as Full Professor of Landscape Architecture in the Department of Architecture. Martina Voser is regarded as one of the leading figures in Swiss landscape architecture and has won multiple awards for her work. Her projects are not only conceptually sound and visually impressive, but also sociologically and ecologically motivated. In addition to her excellent achievements in practice, she has made a major contribution over many years to the debate on technical and theoretical matters and professional policy. Martina Voser is a committed teacher as well as a sought-after jury member, critic and expert who sits on various committees and advisory panels.

Dr Basile Isidore Martin Wicky (*1988), currently Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Washington in Seattle, USA, as Tenure Track Assistant Professor of Biomolecular Design in the Department of Biosystems Science and Engineering. Basile Wicky’s research focuses on computational protein design and synthetic biology for programming biomolecular and cellular systems. One of the long-term aims of his research is to develop new molecular and cellular therapies. His appointment will foster important synergies both with academic research and with the biotechnology and pharmaceuticals industries, which have a particular interest in the use of artificial intelligence for discovering and developing medicines.

Promotions at ETH Zurich

Professor Elliott Ash (*1984), currently Tenure Track Assistant Professor at ETH Zurich, as Associate Professor of Law, Economics and Data Science in the Department of Humanities, Social and Political Sciences. In his research, Elliott Ash is particularly interested in the empirical analysis of law and the legal system. He applies methods drawn from machine learning, natural language processing and econometrics to large legal datasets in order to investigate the effects of laws, court decisions and contracts on human behaviour and markets. This places him at the forefront of international legal research. He has already obtained significant third-party funding, including an ERC Starting Grant in 2022, and has helped found four spin-offs.

Professor Hubert Pausch (*1984), currently Tenure Track Assistant Professor at ETH Zurich, as Associate Professor of Animal Genomics in the Department of Environmental Systems Science. Hubert Pausch’s research investigates livestock genomics. In his research programme he makes very creative use of the latest technological innovations, contributing to further innovations. This leading scientist is a member of several expert bodies and is highly committed to public outreach. As a driving force in the highly topical research area of cattle genome analysis, and a scientist who makes use of modern tools and creative approaches, Hubert Pausch is a perfect match with the Department’s main research focus.

Professor Sascha Patrick Quanz (*1979), currently Associate Professor at ETH Zurich, as Full Professor of Exoplanets and Habitability in the Department of Physics. Sascha Quanz is internationally recognised as a leading scientist in the expanding field of exoplanetary research. He has a particular interest in the direct detection and characterisation of extrasolar planets. In the course of his research he participates in numerous observation programmes using the James Webb telescope and ground-based telescopes, as well as in consortia for the development of instruments. He is Deputy Director – and thus a key member – of the new Centre for Origin and Prevalence of Life at ETH Zurich, as well as being Deputy Director of ETH Zurich | Space (both founded in 2022).

Professor Rico Zenklusen (*1981), currently Associate Professor at ETH Zurich, as Full Professor of Mathematics in the Department of Mathematics. Rico Zenklusen conducts research in the field of combinatorial optimisation. The main goal of this area of study is to use mathematical techniques to develop fast algorithms for a wide range of calculation questions. He is internationally acknowledged as a leading mathematician. Rico Zenklusen is Deputy Director of the Institute for Operations Research and nurtures an extensive international network of colleagues, as may also be seen from his impressive list of publications. He has won a number of awards, including an ERC Consolidator Grant in 2018 and a Golden Owl from ETH Zurich in 2021.

New appointment at EPFL

Dr Charlotte Bunne (*1995), currently Postdoctoral Researcher at Stanford University, USA, as Tenure Track Assistant Professor of Computer Science and Communication Systems and Life Sciences in the School of Computer and Communication Sciences and the School of Life Sciences. Charlotte Bunne’s research domain combines computer sciences and life sciences top notch techniques. It is based on deep learning approaches inspired by optimal transport theory; these are used to predict as accurately as possible how patients will respond to medical treatment at the cellular level. She is endeavouring to speed up the discovery of new therapies, especially in the neurosciences, and provides personalised treatment plans for patients. Charlotte Bunne’s interdisciplinary research has won several awards and is widely cited.

Promotion at EPFL

Professor Wenzel Jakob (*1983), currently Tenure Track Assistant Professor at EPFL, as Associate Professor of Computer Science and Communication Systems in the School of Computer and Communication Sciences. Wenzel Jakob works in the field of computer graphics with an emphasis on rendering for the production of photorealistic images. His research has led to impressive technological advances which enable complex physical structures to be modelled with a higher degree of accuracy. In addition he has created the Mitsuba renderer, a free software that is in frequent use not only in academia but also in industry. Wenzel Jakob’s research is widely recognised and has won several awards, including an ERC Starting Grant in 2020.

Award of the title of “Professor of Practice”

Professor Stefan Kurz (*1966), currently VP Senior Chief Expert at Robert Bosch GmbH and Lecturer at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland, as Professor of Practice at ETH Zurich. Stefan Kurz is an established leader in industry with a wide-ranging background in research and development. During his career he has made significant contributions to both science and industry, and has spurred innovations. At ETH Zurich he will tackle current issues in industrial research and development, offering a large number of projects in the fundamentals of the fields of hybrid modelling and computational electromagnetics. He will take up his new role at the beginning of February 2024 and will be awarded the title of Professor of Practice as of that date.

Departures from ETH Zurich

Professor Joachim M. Buhmann (*1959), currently Full Professor of Computer Science (Information Science and Engineering) in the Department of Computer Science, is to retire at the end of July 2024. Joachim M. Buhmann joined ETH Zurich as a full professor in 2003. His main research focus is on algorithms in the empirical sciences. He works on machine learning, computer vision and statistical data analysis, bridging the gap between the engineering and life sciences. His research in the field of medicine led to him being made a Fellow of the International Association for Pattern Recognition and to his election as an individual member of the Swiss Academy of Engineering Sciences.

Professor Paolo Ermanni (*1959), currently Full Professor of Composite Materials and Adaptive Structures in the Department of Mechanical and Process Engineering, will retire at the end of July 2024. Paolo Ermanni joined ETH Zurich as an associate professor in 1998. His research investigates structure technologies and covers multifunctional lightweight structures, reconfigurable aerospace systems, biomedical systems and sustainable composites technology. Paolo Ermanni’s national and international reputation is reflected in his impressive list of publications in peer-reviewed journals, as well as in patents, partnerships and awards. This popular lecturer has also served on various international bodies and committees and carried out a wide range of institutional tasks at ETH Zurich.

Professor Hansjörg Grützmacher (*1959), currently Full Professor of Inorganic Chemistry in the Department of Chemistry and Applied Biosciences, is to retire at the end of July 2024. Hansjörg Grützmacher joined ETH Zurich as an associate professor in 1995. His research interests focus on new molecules with unusual bonding properties. Alongside his theoretical work, which offers fundamental insights into the chemistry of the heavy main-group elements, he also conducts applied research, for which he has been awarded numerous prizes. He has published over 300 articles during his career and is the author of more than 20 patents. In addition, he was a member of the Advisory Board of Angewandte Chemie, one of the most prestigious chemistry journals.

Professor Christian Kerez (*1962), currently Full Professor of Architecture and Design in the Department of Architecture, will retire at the end of July 2025. Christian Kerez joined ETH Zurich in 2003 as a tenure track assistant professor. He is one of Europe’s leading contemporary architects and is known for the rigour of his design approach, his exceptional reduction of the resources used, and the way he integrates form and construction, all of which lends his buildings a high degree of individuality while simultaneously placing them in the tradition of Swiss Modernism. In addition to his architectural practice, he has long been acknowledged for his research and his contributions to international discourse within the profession. He has significantly raised the profile of ETH Zurich in the field of architectural design.

Professor James W. Kirchner (*1959), currently Full Professor of Physics of Environmental Systems in the Department of Environmental Systems Science, is to retire at the end of July 2024. In 2007 the Federal Council appointed James W. Kirchner as Director of the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL), while the ETH Board simultaneously appointed him to a full professorship at ETH Zurich. His area of research covers hydrology and geomorphology, while building bridges with evolutionary ecology, palaeobiology and systems analysis. He has won multiple awards for his research. This internationally renowned researcher also served on a number of committees, including the European Research Council in relation to ERC Starting, Consolidator and Advanced Grants . During James W. Kirchner’s five-year term of office, WSL has strengthened its scientific core and enhanced its key role as a link between science and practice.

Professor Johann W. Kolar (*1959), currently Full Professor of Power Electronic Systems in the Department of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering, will retire at the end of July 2024. Johann W. Kolar joined ETH Zurich as an associate professor in 2001. He is regarded as the father of high-frequency multiphase AC/DC converter technology and laid the foundations for research into sophisticated, compact and efficient commutator systems. Johann W. Kolar continued working at the cutting edge of what was a new field of research at that time. His groundbreaking work was supported by research grants from industry and research institutions, and has won multiple awards. He has registered more than 200 patents worldwide and owns a hundred of them.

Professor Richard Pink (*1959), currently Full Professor of Mathematics in the Department of Mathematics, will retire at the end of July 2024. Richard Pink joined ETH Zurich as a full professor in 1999. His research activities cover different branches of algebra and number theory. In collaboration with researchers at other universities he achieved notable results and won awards. In 2002 he was a speaker at the International Congress of Mathematicians in Beijing. Richard Pink has served in a number of roles in the Department of Mathematics at ETH Zurich, including several years as head of department. Some of this committed mentor’s lecture notes are still in use today at universities throughout the world.

Professor Andreas Stemmer (*1962), currently Full Professor of Nanotechnology in the Department of Mechanical and Process Engineering, is to retire at the end of August 2024. Andreas Stemmer joined ETH Zurich in 1995 as a tenure track assistant professor. His research covers a broad spectrum of themes and areas of nanoscience and nanotechnology. Together with his group, he is one of the few people in the world to have succeeded in producing electrical energy from human immune cells in a biofuel cell, and to explain the relevant mechanism. His research has been published in over 150 articles in leading international journals. Alongside his successful teaching work he has also served in many roles both inside and outside ETH Zurich, including as a Delegate of the President for Faculty Appointment Procedures.

Professor Luc Van Gool (*1959), currently Full Professor of Computer Vision in the Department of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering, will retire at the end of July 2024. Luc Van Gool joined ETH Zurich as a full professor in 1998. His main research interests include 2D and 3D object recognition, robot vision and optical flow. Today, his technology is also used in mobile phones, VR headsets and self-driving vehicles. His 3D city plan “VarCity” – an application that uses images from drones, webcams and social media to produce a dynamic cityscape – attracted a great deal of international attention and won him an ERC Advanced Grant. He is one of the world’s most frequently cited computer scientists.

Departures from EPFL

Professor Thomas Keller (*1959), currently Full Professor of Structural Engineering in the School of Architecture, Civil and Environmental Engineering, will retire at the end of July 2024. Thomas Keller studied at ETH Zurich before moving to EPFL in 1998 as an associate professor. He set up the Composite Construction Laboratory (CCLAB) at EPFL in 2002. His main area of research is composite and hybrid solutions for materials, components and structural systems. His laboratory has made a significant contribution to improving the experimental characterisation of the mechanical behaviour of new materials. Thomas Keller has won multiple awards and is a committed lecturer, with an impressive list of publications to his name. He also serves on numerous committees.

Professor Andrea Rinaldo (*1954), currently Full Professor of Environmental Engineering in the School of Architecture, Civil and Environmental Engineering, is to retire at the end of September 2024. Andrea Rinaldo joined EPFL as a full professor in 2008 and founded the Ecohydrology Laboratory (ECHO). He works in the field of ecohydrology and hydrogeomorphology, and is internationally recognised for his innovative approaches. His research has won numerous prizes, including the prestigious Stockholm Water Prize, which is regarded as the highest honour in his area of activity. He is a very committed lecturer who has held a number of offices within EPFL. These include several years as head of the Environmental Engineering Institute.

The ETH Board would like to thank the departing professors for their services to science and teaching, as well as their commitment to their institution.

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