New professorships for researchers

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Hope for the future: students at a lecture at ETH Zurich. Image: ETH Zurich / Al
Hope for the future: students at a lecture at ETH Zurich. Image: ETH Zurich / Alessandro Della Bella

Three researchers were appointed professors at ETH Zurich and EPFL today: Tanja Zimmermann, who will head Empa as its new CEO as of 1 June, MickaŽl Perrin and Johann Michler.

From the beginning of June this year, Tanja Zimmermann, MickaŽl Perrin and Johann Michler will pass on their knowledge to the next generation of academics as newly appointed professors. Thanks to their achievements and experience, they are internationally recognized in the scientific community and have excellent networks.

Tanja Zimmermann is currently a member of Empa’s directorate. The ETH Board appoints her Full Professor of Materials Science and Technology both in the School of Engineering at EPFL and in the Department of Materials at ETH Zurich.

Her research focuses on the development and production of functionalized woodand cellulose-based materials with tailored properties - such as for adhesives, packaging and 3D-printed biodegradable structures for sensor and energy applications.

The renowned researcher is currently head of the Department of Functional Materials as well as co-head of the Research Focus Area (RFA) Sustainable Built Environment at Empa. She will become Empa’s new CEO as of 1 June 2022. She succeeds Gian-Luca Bona, whose term of office ends at the end of May after nearly 13 years at the helm of Empa.

Tanja Zimmermann is the author of more than 100 scientific publications, proceedings and book chapters, and co-owner of a number of patents. Together with her team colleagues, she has won various innovation and sustainability awards such as the Swiss Green Economy Symposium Award, the Cadre d’Or from Baukader Switzerland for outstanding achievements in building with wood, and the award for the best innovative environmental technology at the Pollutec exhibition in Lyon.

MickaŽl Perrin currently works as a Research Scientist and Deputy Group Leader of the Quantum Devices group at Empa. The ETH Board appoints him Assistant Professor of Low-Dimensional Quantum Electronics at the Department of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering at ETH Zurich.

Perrin’s research focusses on quantum heat engines, which are believed to enable near-optimal conversion of thermal energy into electricity. At Empa, in the past years, Perrin and his colleagues from the Transport at Nanoscale Interfaces lab have been working on different approaches to produce electronic devices based on graphene nanoribbons, the synthesis of which had been pioneered by another group at Empa.

Mickael Perrin’s current goal is to develop a quantum heat engine, a tiny electric power plant, based on such nanoribbons. Current quantum heat engine only at very low temperatures. By using graphene nanoribbons, he hopes to realize a quantum heat engine that operates at room temperature.

Perrin, a multi-award-winning researcher who recently received one of the EU’s prestigious ERC Starting Grants and an SNSF Eccellenza Professorial Fellowship, has an excellent scientific network with more than 30 collaborations in Switzerland, Europe and worldwide. Within the ETH Domain, he collaborates with several groups at Empa, ETH Zurich and EPFL. His appointment contributes to the strengthening the collaboration between ETH Zurich and Empa.

Johann Michler heads the Laboratory for Mechanics of Materials & Nanostructures at Empa and has already been a lecturer in the School of Engineering at EPFL since 2007. The ETH Board now appoints him titular professor at EPFL.

Michler is a world-leading expert in the field of materials mechanics and the development of unique instruments for the study of material properties at the microand nanometer scale using electron microscopy. He has important relationships with industry and is co-founder of several Empa spin-offs.

Michler’s research focuses on understanding scale-dependent mechanical properties of materials. He and his team are also developing in situ methods that allow the study of mechanical properties while observing material behavior under the electron microscope, as well as novel thin film synthesis methods for metals and ceramics. He is author or co-author of more than 300 publications and organized several international conferences.