ETH Board, 15 July 2016

At its annual retreat of 13/14 July 2016, the ETH Board discussed the 2017–2020 development plan of the institutions of the ETH Domain in detail. In addition, it looked into the possible impact of Brexit on research cooperation with the UK and the EU. The ETH Board regards it as clear that closer cooperation with British universities cannot replace participation in Horizon 2020. It therefore continues to insist that the Confederation should soon find a solution with the EU. Above and beyond this, the ETH Board appointed 14 professors and awarded the title of professor to one individual.

The ETH Board approves the ETH Domain’s development plans and monitors their implementation. This is enshrined in the ETH Act. At its annual retreat of 13/14 July, the ETH Board discussed the key points of the 2017–2020 development plans of the institutions of the ETH Domain, as well as their overall spatial and financial concept (OSFC), in great detail. The development plans indicate the focal strategic points in teaching, research and knowledge and technology transfer (KTT). They are attuned to the ETH Board’s Strategic Planning for 2017–2020 and the 2017–2020 ERI Dispatch. The institutions of the ETH Domain will now review their development plans and OSFC and submit them to the ETH Board for approval at one of its next meetings. On the occasion of its annual retreat, the ETH Board also took an on-site look at the master plan of the university quarter in the centre of Zurich.

Horizon 2020: the door is closing

“Closer cooperation between Swiss and British universities cannot replace cooperation within the framework of Horizon 2020,” says Fritz Schiesser, President of the ETH Board. “There is no other international research programme of such a high standard anywhere else in the world.” If Switzerland were excluded from it, it would lose an important access channel to knowledge and innovation. This will not only create disadvantages for the universities but also for Swiss SMEs and Swiss industry. ETH Zurich and EPFL alone cooperate with no fewer than 1000 industrial partners in connection with the 7th European Framework Programme for Research. In addition, every fifth franc which Switzerland is granted goes into the economy. The ETH Board therefore urgently calls on the Federal Council and on Parliament to ensure that Switzerland will be able to participate in Horizon 2020 to the full extent as quickly as possible.

Departure of André Schneider, Vice-President of EPFL

The ETH Board thanked Dr André Schneider, EPFL Vice-President for Resources and Infrastructure (VPRI), for this great commitment to EPFL and the ETH Domain. André Schneider, who has been VPRI at EPFL since June 2013, will take on the position of CEO of Geneva Airport as from 1 September 2016. During his time as Vice-President, EPFL has been able to reinforce its central services and continue to implement important infrastructural projects, including the SwissTech Convention Center with its shopping arcade, as well as the ArtLab Pavilions, which will be inaugurated in November. Furthermore, André Schneider was actively committed to the further implementation of a sustainable development of the campus.

His present deputy, Dr Etienne Marclay, has been appointed interim VPRI until 31 December 2016.


14 professors appointed at ETH Zurich and EPFL

Upon application of the President of ETH Zurich, Professor Lino Guzzella, and the President of EPFL, Professor Patrick Aebischer, the ETH Board appointed a total of 14 professors and awarded the title of professor to one individual.

Appointments at ETH Zurich

Dr Daniel Farinotti (*1982), currently a senior scientific staff member at WSL in Birmensdorf, as Tenure Track Assistant Professor of Glaciology. Daniel Farinotti addresses questions at the interface of climate science, hydrology and glaciology and has developed an internationally visible portfolio in the field of hydrology of the mountain cryosphere. In the coming years, his principal focus will be on researching the future development of ice deposits in the mountains and, increasingly, long-term hydro-glaciological forecasts. Daniel Farinotti will head a glaciology group at ETH Zurich and WSL, further strengthening the leading international position of both institutions in this field.

Professor Reto Knutti (*1973), currently Associate Professor at ETH Zurich, as Full Professor of Climate Physics. Reto Knutti is a world-renowned scientist. His research focuses on changes in the global climate system caused by rising emissions of greenhouse gases such as CO2, employing numerical models of varying complexity. His work plays a key role in improving our understanding of the uncertainty of climate forecasts, notably for the climate reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC/UNEP). Since 2015 he has been the sustainability delegate of the President of ETH Zurich. By appointing Reto Knutti as a Full Professor, ETH Zurich keeps a very successful researcher and a committed and popular lecturer.

Professor Marloes H. Maathuis (*1978), currently Associate Professor at ETH Zurich, as Full Professor of Statistics. Marloes Maathuis is a very creative scientist and a leader in her field. Her work covers causal inference, algorithms and methods for high-dimensional thin-layer graphic models and interdisciplinary applications at the interface between biology, epidemiology and statistics. Her contributions on causal inference in particular are considered pioneering and have opened up fundamental new possibilities in this field. By appointing Marloes Maathuis as a Full Professor, ETH Zurich is securing an excellent scientist who is engaged in mathematical and interdisciplinary research at the highest level and also drives forward knowledge transfer.

Dr Jeremy Richardson (*1986), currently Junior Research Fellow at Durham University, UK, as Tenure Track Assistant Professor of Theoretical Molecular Quantum Dynamics. Jeremy Richardson's research focuses on the theoretical description of the quantum dynamic processes of complex systems. Among other things, his results facilitate investigation of processes that are of central importance in chemistry such as proton and electron transmission in large molecular complexes and the condensed phase. By appointing Jeremy Richardson, ETH Zurich is gaining a highly original theoretical chemist who will continue the successful tradition of the Chemistry and Applied Biosciences Department in the field of theoretical chemistry.

Professor Konrad Schindler (*1974), currently Associate Professor at the ETH Zurich, as Full Professor of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing. Konrad Schindler is highly regarded internationally in his field and an exceptionally committed teacher. His three main topics are integrated treatment in the extraction of geometric and semantic information, combining and merging data and information from multiple sensors and platforms, and maintenance and tracking of very large geo databases, especially information and data made available via the internet. The appointment of Konrad Schindler as Full Professor helps to secure and strengthen the ETH Zurich's leading international position in photogrammetry.

Professor Heather Stoll (*1973), currently professor at the University of Oviedo, Asturia, Spain, as Full Professor of Climate Geology. Heather Stoll is interested in gaining a deeper understanding of the history of the Earth's climate in the past ten million years, with a special focus on fluctuations in the concentration of atmospheric CO2. For this, she uses state-of-the-art geochemical tools. The appointment of Heather Stoll greatly strengthens paleoclimatology at ETH Zurich. She will dedicate herself to the pressing and societally relevant questions of the links between atmospheric CO2 content and climate on the one hand and biological adaptations due to climate change on the other thus generating significant synergies with other chairs in the Geosciences Department and at ETH Zurich as a whole.

Professor Jing Wang (*1979), currently Assistant Professor at ETH Zurich, as Associate Professor of Air Quality and Particle Technology. Jing Wang is regarded as one of the world’s leading scientists in the field of air quality and particle technology. His principal areas of research include reducing nanoparticle transmission and emissions, developing tools to measure nanoparticles in the air, and air and water filtration. His work helps enhance our understanding of the importance of nanomaterials for environmental protection and occupational safety. By appointing Jing Wang as Associate Professor, ETH Zurich and Empa are securing an excellent research scientist who will contribute substantially to both institutions’ work on the maintenance of air quality in environmental engineering.

Dr Ce Zhang (*1987), currently a post-doctoral student at Stanford University, California, USA, as Tenure Track Assistant Professor of Computer Science. Ce Zhang is a very promising young scientist. His research interests are databases, data processing, machine learning and data science. His applications focus on systems to help scientists analyse and understand large quantities of data. He links conventional areas of databases and information retrieval with new methods of machine learning. By appointing Ce Zhang, the Computer Science Department is decisively strengthening its teaching and research activities in the field of data science.


Appointments at EPFL

Professor Friedhelm Hummel (*1969), currently Deputy Director of Hamburg-Eppendorf University Hospital, Germany, as Full Professor of Life Sciences. Friedhelm Hummel is an internationally renowned specialist in the research and treatment of stroke. He was the first person to demonstrate using non-invasive methods such as magnetic stimulation to stimulate the brain can improve stroke patients’ motor functions. With his broadly based experience of hospitals, research and teaching, Friedhelm Hummel is the ideal person for this Chair, which focuses on neurotechnology and human-machine interaction. He will work both at the Campus Biotech in Geneva and at the Campus EPFL Valais Wallis.

Dr Martin Jaggi (*1982), currently a post-doctoral student at ETH Zurich, as Tenure Track Assistant Professor of Computer Science and Communication Systems. Martin Jaggi is already a highly regarded mathematician and computer scientist. He dedicates his entire energy to the relatively new field of machine learning. The automated recognition of patterns and laws in big data is currently developing very fast and promises progress in a wide range of scientific applications. In Martin Jaggi, EPFL is gaining a very dynamic – and, despite his youth, persuasive – scientist who will continue to establish and drive forward his specialist field in research and teaching.

Professor Andrew Oates (*1969), currently Professor at University College, London, UK, as Full Professor of Life Sciences. Andrew Oates is a highly innovative, world-renowned developmental biologist. His research focuses on genetic programmes that trigger the embryonic development of vertebrates through the formation of somites in a precisely defined time sequence. His interdisciplinary approach combining theoretical biology, system biology, physics, computer modelling and quantitative imaging methods have enabled him to achieve widely acclaimed breakthroughs using zebra fish as an example. The appointment of Andrew Oates greatly strengthens EPFL's international position in developmental biology.

Dr Pavan Ramdya (*1979), currently a post-doctoral student at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, USA, as Tenure Track Assistant Professor of Life Sciences. Pavan Ramdya is a promising neurobiologist who is investigating the group behaviour of drosophila flies using neurogenetics, observation of behaviour and computer simulations. At EPFL he will be focusing, inter alia, on the formation of patterns of leg movement in vertebrates and non-vertebrates. Pavan Ramdya is familiar with a broad spectrum of disciplines and methods, which he combines. This enables him to tackle highly demanding biological questions with translational potential.

Professor Paolo Ricci (*1976), currently Tenure Track Assistant Professor at EPFL, as Associate Professor of Plasma Physics. Paolo Ricci is a very creative scientist with high potential. In recent years, he has managed to position himself internationally at the forefront of his field. His research focuses on three topics: the simulation and analysis of turbulence in Tokamak fusion reactors, the dynamics of high-speed ions, and the validation of numerical codes used to simulate plasma turbulence. With his novel research strategies he will make a significant contribution to the international positioning of EPFL.

Dr Christian Theiler (*1982), currently a post-doctoral student at EPFL, as Tenure Track Assistant Professor of Plasma Physics. In recent years, Christian Theiler has achieved worldwide acclaim for his scientific results and papers in highly regarded publications. During a period at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, USA, his work included developing a new technique of spectroscopic measurement of the exchange of charges in the plasma of a Tokamak reactor. He uses his findings to further improve this type of fusion reactor in international projects. The appointment of Christian Theiler enables EPFL to step up its activities in the field of nuclear fusion.


Award of the title of Professor

Dr Andreas Rigling (*1964), currently Lecturer at ETH Zurich, as Adjunct Professor at ETH Zurich. Andreas Rigling is a member of the Directorate of WSL, where he heads the Research Unit of Forest Dynamics. He has also been a Lecturer in the Department of Environmental Systems Science at ETH Zurich since 2007. His research focus is on aspects of forest dynamics, especially the response of forests to changes and disruptions such as fire, infestation by insects and climate change.