Federal Council selects new Empa director and confirms office of ETH Zurich president

The Federal Council selected Tanja Zimmermann as the new Empa director on 23 February 2022. She is currently a member of Empa’s senior management. The Federal Council also confirmed Joël Mesot as the president of ETH Zurich for another four years and appointed Christian Rüegg, director of the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI, to the ETH Board.

Tanja Zimmermann, 54, will take up her new post as the director of Empa on 1 June 2022. She succeeds Gian-Luca Bona, who is to retire. Nineteen men and seven women applied for the position, which was advertised internationally. After an intensive selection process lasting several months, the ETH Board unanimously agreed to put forward Dr Zimmermann to the Federal Council as the new Empa director.

Dr Zimmermann received her doctorate from the University of Hamburg in 2007. From 2001 to 2012, she worked closely with industry to establish the cellulose nanocomposites research area at Empa, and headed the Department of Applied Wood Materials from 2011 to 2017. Since autumn 2017, she has been a member of the management team and head of the Functional Materials Department, leading around 200 employees.

Joël Mesot reelected as the president of ETH Zurich

At the request of the ETH Board, the Federal Council also confirmed Joël Mesot in his position as president of ETH Zurich for a further four-year term, running from 1 January 2023. This reflects the Federal Council’s appreciation of Professor Mesot’s excellent achievements as president of ETH Zurich and the numerous important initiatives that he has launched. One of the most prominent examples of this is the new ETH Center for the Origin and Prevalence of Life, which will carry out multidisciplinary research in collaboration with the University of Cambridge under the supervision of Swiss Nobel laureate in physics, Didier Queloz.

Christian Rüegg to join the ETH Board

The Federal Council also appointed Christian Rüegg, director of the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI, as a new member of the ETH Board. The ETH Board is the strategic management and supervisory body of the ETH Domain. Following the retirement of Gian-Luca Bona, Professor Rüegg will take over the representation of the four research institutes – PSI, WSL, Empa and Eawag – from 1 June 2022.

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