On 24 October the Federal Council appointed Professor Joël Mesot as the new president of the Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich. This choice was proposed by the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER) and received the unanimous support of the ETH Board. Joël Mesot has been director of the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) since 2008 and currently holds professorships at the two federal institutes of technology in Zurich and Lausanne. Professor Mesot takes up his new position on 1 January 2019, taking over from Professor Lino Guzzella, who as ETH Zurich’s president since 2015 has continued to boost the institute’s reputation internationally.
Joël Mesot is a distinguished scientist who has also demonstrated impressive abilities in the management of modern science and research institutions. The appointment by the Federal Council for an ordinary four-year term of office was made at the request of the head of the EAER, Federal Councillor Johann Schneider-Ammann, and on the unanimous recommendation of the ETH Board, which ran the selection procedure.
Besides the applications received in a public call, the ETH Board received nominations from a number of sources. There were forty candidates altogether, eighteen of whom were women. The selection procedure, which involved several stages including an external assessment, was run by a committee headed by ETH Board president, Dr. Fritz Schiesser.
Joël Mesot grew up in Geneva. He did a degree in Physics, graduating in 1992 from the ETH Zurich. Following stays in the USA and France, in 1999 he joined the PSI. In 2008 he was appointed director of this institute by the Federal Council. Since then he has also held ordinary professorships at the EPF Lausanne and at the ETH Zurich. His mother tongue is French and he speaks German, English and Spanish fluently.
As PSI director Joël Mesot moved the institute forward to become an internationally renowned user lab and research institute. One of the major developments during his directorship was the commissioning of the SwissFEL x-ray laser, a large-scale research facility which is the only one of its kind in the world. Other milestones include the Center for Proton Therapy for the treatment of cancer and the PARK INNOVAARE, one of the locations in the Swiss Innovation Park. During his time at the PSI, Prof. Mesot fostered cooperation with private-sector partners and so encouraged the transfer of findings from basic research and their application in industry.
In 2002 Prof. Mesot received the ETH Zurich’s Latsis Prize for excellence in research. He is a member of the board of trustees of Technopark Aargau and of the Swiss Innovation Park, and a member of the PARK INNOVAARE AG management board. He also represents the ETH Domain’s four research institutes on the ETH Board.
Thanks to his wide-ranging experience in research and management, he has excellent knowledge of the various disciplines at the ETH Zurich and of issues in education, research, society and the economy. As digitalisation becomes a dominant feature of our society, the federal institutes of technology fulfil a crucial role in leading Switzerland towards a successful future.
The Federal Council would like to thank Lino Guzzella, the outgoing president and former rector of the ETH Zurich, for all he has done for the institute and for research and academia in Switzerland. Professor Guzzella announced in May 2018 that he would not be standing for a second term of office. Under his leadership the ETH Zurich expanded its position as a top international higher education institution, performing with excellence in research, teaching and technology transfer.
The ETH Zurich is a global leader among universities specialising in technology and natural sciences. Founded in 1855, it now has over 20,000 undergraduate and graduate students who originate from 120 countries. More than 500 professors teach and conduct research in natural sciences, engineering, architecture, mathematics, system-oriented science, management science and social sciences. The ETH Zurich is regularly classed as one of the top universities in international rankings. 380 spin-offs since 1996, around 90 patent applications each year and around 1,500 current partnerships with companies in Switzerland and around the world demonstrate how successfully the ETH Zurich transmits the knowledge it generates to the economy and society.