Nine professors appointed

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At its meeting of 24 and 25 May 2023 and upon application of Joël Mesot, President of ETH Zurich, the ETH Board appointed nine professors and awarded the title of professor twice. At the same time, the Board also bid farewell to nine professors and thanked them for their service.

New appointments

Dr Elsa Abreu (*1984), currently Senior Researcher at ETH Zurich, as Assistant Professor of Physics in the Department of Physics. Elsa Abreu’s research concerns the application of intensive light pulses in the terahertz range to investigate materials with strong electronic correlations. She was awarded an SNSF Starting Grant in 2022 and has extensive teaching experience. Her appointment strengthens the department’s expertise in ultrafast photonics and the study of quantum materials, as well as fostering interdepartmental relationships. It is also expected to lead to closer connections with the Department of Materials and the Department of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering, and strengthen links with the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI).

Dr Hedan Bai (*1993), currently Postdoctoral Researcher at Northwestern University, Illinois, USA, as Tenure Track Assistant Professor of Robotic Materials. The aim of Hedan Bai’s research is to build soft robots that imitate the functions of living organisms, such as the ability to adapt to dynamic environments and react to them autonomously. In making this appointment, the department is strengthening the area of science-oriented technology. While exploiting the potential of materials science to develop the next generation of robots, Hedan Bai will offer attractive, project-oriented course components and promote research cooperations within ETH Zurich and Switzerland.

Dr Nina Cabezas Wallscheid (*1982), currently Group Leader at the Max Planck Institute of Immunobiology and Epigenetics in Freiburg, Germany, as Full Professor of Stem Cell Biology and Ageing in the Department of Health Sciences and Technology. Nina Cabezas Wallscheid investigates haemopoietic stem cell pools, with particular attention to the effects of different dietary habits. Her goal is to produce findings that can be used to combat human diseases such as leukaemia. She received an ERC Starting Grant in 2017 and serves on various committees. Her appointment includes a planned collaboration with Kantonsspital Baden, as well as with the departments of haematology, oncology and clinical nutrition at the University Hospitals of Zurich and Bern.

Professor Colette L. Heald (*1977), currently Full Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, USA, as Full Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry in the Department of Environmental Systems Science. In her research, Colette L. Heald aims to understand the key chemical and physical processes that control the composition of the atmosphere, the effects of gases and particles in the atmosphere, and the impacts of the changing climate and biosphere at global level. Her work is an ideal complement to two existing professorships in the department. This internationally renowned researcher also has an impressive list of publications to her name and has won multiple awards.

Professor Martina Rau (*1984), currently Professor at the University of Wisconsin, USA, as Full Professor of Research on Learning and Instruction in the Department of Humanities, Social and Political Sciences. Martina Rau’s research focuses on learning with multiple external representations in educational technologies, particularly in STEM subjects. She has won a number of awards for her research. Through this appointment, the department is strengthening its internal connections between the research areas of learning sciences, cognitive science and educational psychology. There will also be important interactions and synergies with the MINT Learning Centre, the Department of Computer Science and the Joint Doctoral Programme in the Learning Sciences at ETH Zurich and EPFL.

Professor Johanna Ziegel (*1981), currently Full Professor at the University of Bern, as Full Professor of Statistics in the Department of Mathematics. Johanna Ziegel’s main focus is on statistical forecasting methods and their applications in risk management, meteorology and medicine. Her research has already led to important mathematical findings and she has developed innovative methodologies for practical use. She is a very successful and committed lecturer who has won awards for her teaching. With the appointment of Johanna Ziegel, the department has found an ideal way of strengthening the links between statistics, risk management and financial mathematics as well as interdisciplinary data sciences at ETH Zurich.

Dr Thomas H. Zurbuchen (*1968), currently a freelance consultant and international speaker, as Full Professor of Space Science and Technology in the Department of Earth Sciences. Thomas H. Zurbuchen was Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA from 2016 to 2022, and is an internationally sought-after expert in innovation and entrepreneurship. He will head the ETH Zurich Space initiative, and plans to launch Switzerland’s first Master’s degree programme in space science and technology. The Department of Earth Sciences has been involved in several major space missions over the past 20 years, sometimes in a leading capacity. The appointment of Thomas H. Zurbuchen - a world-class scientist with exceptional links to NASA, the ESA, national space agencies and the space industry - provides the department and ETH Zurich with the opportunity to play a decisive role in numerous future missions and other research activities relating to space travel (e.g. satellite data).

Professor Torbjörn Netland (*1980), currently Tenure Track Assistant Professor at ETH Zurich, as Full Professor of Production and Operations Management in the Department of Management, Technology and Economics. Torbjörn Netland’s research focuses on improving the quality, productivity and other performance characteristics of operational processes in companies. He works closely with industry and has established a number of successful partnerships. "Advanced Manufacturing" is one of ETH Zurich’s strategic focus areas, and Torbjörn Netland’s work has helped shape it in numerous ways. He has received many prestigious awards for his innovative research and much-valued teaching.

Professor Jeremy Richardson (*1986), currently Tenure Track Assistant Professor at ETH Zurich, as Associate Professor of Theoretical Molecular Quantum Dynamics in the Department of Chemistry and Applied Biosciences. Jeremy Richardson’s research focuses on the theoretical description of quantum dynamic processes in complex systems. His main interest lies in calculating thermal velocity constants with the help of ring-polymer instanton theory. He conducts fundamental research at the highest international level and without prejudice to the outcome, which offers opportunities for exploratory research. Jeremy Richardson has won several awards and is very influential in his field, as demonstrated by numerous invitations to lecture and participate in international conferences.

Dr Johannes Lengler (*1981), currently Lecturer in the Department of Computer Science at ETH Zurich, as Adjunct Professor at ETH Zurich. As a leading theoretical computer scientist, Johannes Lengler undertakes a broad range of research, ranging from pure mathematics to the neurosciences. In addition to his work on random network theory, he has also become a driving force behind the theory of nature-inspired search heuristics, to which he makes important contributions thanks to his background in mathematics.

Dr Cristina Müller (*1975), currently Private Lecturer in the Department of Chemistry and Applied Biosciences at ETH Zurich and Group Leader at the Paul Scherrer Institut (PSI), as Adjunct Professor at ETH Zurich. Cristina Müller conducts research in the field of radiodiagnostics with particular reference to radio-labelled small molecules that target tumour-associated structures in ovarian and prostate cancer cells. She is an internationally acclaimed scientist who carries out world-class radiopharmaceutical research, for which she has received a number of awards.

Professor Kay W. Axhausen (*1958), currently Full Professor of Transport Planning in the Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering, is to retire at the end of January 2024. Kay W. Axhausen joined ETH Zurich as a full professor in 1999. His research has a particular focus on measuring and modelling traffic behaviour and analysing transport decisions made by individuals and institutions. Of the studies he has conducted, the most influential were on the value of reducing travel time. This work led to the definition of the official values used for cost-benefit analysis in Switzerland and Germany. Kay W. Axhausen has an impressive list of publications to his name and has won many prestigious awards. He has also served on numerous commissions, committees and boards.

Professor Lucas Bretschger (*1958), currently Full Professor of Economics in the Department of Management, Technology and Economics, is to retire at the end of January 2024. Lucas Bretschger joined ETH Zurich as a full professor in 2003. His research interests are in the field of dynamic economic theory. Over the past few decades he has made a significant contribution to the development of resource economics, environmental economics and sustainability economics worldwide. In 2019 he was awarded the highest honour in this discipline, that of EAERE Fellow. He also co-founded and helped develop the new Department of Management, Technology and Economics (D-MTEC), of which he was director from 2005 to 2007. He also initiated and organised the EAERE-ETH Winter School.

Professor Giovanni Felder (*1958), currently Full Professor of Mathematics in the Department of Mathematics, will retire at the end of January 2024. Giovanni Felder obtained his doctorate at ETH Zurich in 1986 before working there as a senior researcher and assistant professor. After then taking up positions at other universities, he returned to ETH Zurich as a full professor in 1996. His research concerns mathematical physics and related areas. He is a distinguished researcher who has received numerous awards, including seven SNSF Grants. His reputation is also demonstrated by frequent invitations to participate in national and international conferences, workshops and colloquia. The posts in which Giovanni Felder has served at ETH Zurich include those of founding director of the ETH Institute for Theoretical Studies and co-director of the National Centre of Competence in Research SwissMAP.

Professor Juraj Hromkovic (*1958), currently Full Professor of Computer Science (Information Technology and Education) in the Department of Computer Science, is to retire at the end of January 2024. Juraj Hromkovic joined ETH Zurich as a full professor in 2004. He enjoys a top-class international reputation for his mathematical contributions to solving previously intractable fundamental problems. In addition, he has placed considerable focus on the teaching of computer science. In order to promote the introduction of computer science as a school subject in Switzerland, he founded the Centre for Computer Science Education (ABZ) at ETH Zurich and runs the teacher education programme for the teaching diploma in computer science. He thus succeeded in creating a central hub at ETH Zurich for computer science education in Switzerland and throughout German-speaking Europe.

Professor Simon Lilly (*1959), currently Full Professor of Astrophysics in the Department of Physics, is to retire at the end of January 2024. Simon Lilly joined ETH Zurich as a full professor in 2002. He is acknowledged as one of the world’s leading scientists in the fields of observational cosmology and galaxy development, and has a special focus on studying the formation and evolution of galaxies during the early history of the universe. Simon Lilly has been honoured with some of the most prestigious awards in his field, and has an impressive list of publications to his name. As co-founder of the Institute of Astronomy, Simon Lilly also helped turn Zurich into an internationally important centre for studying the formation and development of galaxies by using major redshift surveys.

Professor Dimos Poulikakos (*1955), currently Full Professor of Thermodynamics in the Department of Mechanical and Process Engineering, is to retire at the end of January 2024. Dimos Poulikakos joined ETH Zurich as a full professor in 1996. His research focuses on interfacial transport phenomena, thermodynamics, and nanotechnology in relation to materials. He has gained considerable international attention and recognition for his work, as demonstrated by the many prestigious awards he has received, including an ERC Advanced Grant. Dimos Poulikakos has made an outstanding contribution to ETH Zurich, not only as a popular lecturer but also by holding a variety of offices and serving on different committees, including as Vice President for Research on the Executive Board from 2005 to 2007.

Professor Christoph Schär (*1958), currently Full Professor of Climate and Water Cycle in the Department of Environmental Systems Science, is to retire at the end of January 2024. Christoph Schär joined ETH Zurich as an assistant professor in 1992. He is one of the foremost researchers in climate modelling, and was one of the first to use the latest generation of supercomputers for this purpose. Many of his research findings have long been recognised as standard results. He has made a substantial contribution to ETH Zurich, such as by playing a major part in founding the Centre for Climate Systems Modelling, of which he was the first Scientific Director. In addition, he was instrumental in setting up the Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science, of which he was Director (2001-2006 and 2014-2018).

Professor Emo Welzl (*1958), currently Full Professor of Computer Science in the Department of Computer Science, is to retire at the end of January 2024. Emo Welzl joined ETH Zurich as a full professor in 1996. He is a world leader in the field of algorithmic geometry. Not only has he represented his specialist field through his participation in international bodies and academies, but he has also shared his expertise via prestigious international journals and made a contribution to ETH Zurich that goes far beyond the requirements of his chair. He has, for example, served as head and deputy head of the Department of Computer Science, as well as head and deputy head of the Institute of Theoretical Computer Science on several occasions. Emo Welzl was also a member of the Research Commission from 2019 to 2022 and of the Teaching Commission from 2002 to 2012.

Professor Lutz Wingert (*1958), currently Full Professor of Philosophy, Practical Philosophy in particular, in the Department of Humanities, Social and Political Sciences, is to retire at the end of January 2024. Lutz Wingert joined ETH Zurich as a full professor in 2007. He works on a wide range of philosophical topics, ranging from epistemology and political philosophy to social philosophy, ethics and philosophy of mind. Lutz Wingert studied under Jürgen Habermas and is regarded as a representative of the "third generation" of the Frankfurt School. He has won multiple awards for his research. Not only is he appreciated for his teaching, but he has also made a substantial contribution to ETH Zurich. Lutz Wingert’s commitment to the Ethics Commission of ETH Zurich, which he has chaired since 2008, is worthy of special note.
Editorial team