ETH Board, 30 September 2011

At its meeting of 28/29 September 2011, the ETH Board appointed 18 professors at the ETH Zurich and the EPFL in accordance with the applications submitted by the Presidents of the two universities.

Upon application of the President of the ETH Zurich, Professor Ralph Eichler, and the President of the EPFL, Professor Patrick Aebischer, the ETH Board appointed a total of 18 individuals as professors, took note of the resignations of six professors and thanked them for their services, and awarded the title of professor to one individual.

1. Appointments

ETH Zurich

Dr Philipp Grohs (*1981), currently a post-doctoral researcher at the ETH Zurich, as Assistant Professor of Applied Mathematics. Philipp Grohs has established himself at an international level as a talent in the field of the mathematical basis of image and signal processing and has also rendered services to teaching. Besides his studies on high-dimensional partial differential equations, he will also deal with an efficient mathematical representation, parametrisation and compression of large data volumes. The appointment of Philipp Grohs ties in ideally with the ETH Zurich’s strategic initiatives.

Dr Ansgar Kahmen (*1974), currently a scientist at the ETH Zurich, as Assistant Professor of Physiological Plant Ecology. Ansgar Kahmen conducts research into the effects of changes in the global environment on the physiological functions of plants and thus into the concomitant consequences for ecosystem processes. His results contribute towards the solution of current environmental problems. In spring 2011, Ansgar Kahmen was awarded a starting grant by the European Research Council.

Dr Mirko Meboldt (*1975), currently a lecturer at the University of Karlsruhe and in an executive function with Hilti AG in Schaan, Principality of Liechtenstein, as Full Professor of Product Development and Engineering Design. Mirko Meboldt has a high degree of scientific competence and a broad base of industrial experience. He is interested in integrative modelling in product creation – from mental models to management processes and practical workflows. His research results will help enterprises to develop new construction methods in a cost-effective way.

Professor Lukas Novotny (*1966), currently Full Professor at the University of Rochester, USA, as Full Professor of Photonics. Lukas Novotny is an internationally recognised expert in nano-optics and has been a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science since 2010. With the appointment of Lukas Novotny, the ETH Zurich is reinforcing its strongly interdisciplinary teaching and research activities in optics and nano-photonics. The results arising from these activities have a high degree of practical relevance, for instance for solar energy, optical sensors and high-efficiency light sources.

Dr Periklis Pantazis (*1975), currently a post-doctoral researcher at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, USA, as Assistant Professor (Tenure Track) of Biosystems Analysis. Periklis Pantazis combines physical and mechanistic approaches in order to develop methods for quantitative optical microscopy. He has already published several ground-breaking research results and is regarded as an expert in the exploration of cell development processes and the analysis of molecular networks. For the ETH Zurich, the appointment of Periklis Pantazis represents a significant reinforcement in the field of light microscopy.

Dr Maria Schönbächler (*1969), currently Reader at the University of Manchester, UK, as Associate Professor of Isotope Geochemistry. Maria Schönbächler has developed high-precision mass spectrometric analyses to examine the chemical and isotopic composition of cosmochemical processes in the emergence of meteorites and their components. In spring 2011, Maria Schönbächler was awarded a starting grant by the European Research Council.

Dr Joost VandeVondele (*1975), currently Senior Academic Assistant at the University of Zurich, as Assistant Professor of Nanoscale Simulations. Joost VandeVondele is an internationally recognised expert in the computer-assisted simulation of molecular dynamic processes. In the last few years, his research has focused on the field of large atomistic simulations with reference to dye-sensitised solar cells and radicals in solutions. With the use of supercomputers, he was able to further enhance the precision of the simulations, thus paving the way for research on a new scale. Joost VandeVondele was awarded a starting grant by the European Research Council in spring 2011.

Dr Martin Vechev (*1977), currently a researcher at the IBM T.J. Watson Research Center in Hawthorne, USA, as Assistant Professor (Tenure Track) of Computer Science. Martin Vechev is an internationally recognised expert in the development of parallel software. His research is characterised by creativity and a balance between theory and practice. The topic of parallel software is of high relevance as a consequence of the increasing spread of multicore processors and cloud computing.

Dr Marcy Zenobi-Wong (*1963), currently a senior scientist at the ETH Zurich, as Assistant Professor (Tenure Track) of Cartilage Engineering and Regeneration. Marcy Zenobi-Wong has earned herself an excellent reputation at the ETH Zurich with the establishment of an interdisciplinary Master’s programme in Biomedical Engineering and further courses. In the new Department of Health Sciences and Technology, she will play a key part in tissue and cartilage technology and will develop methods for tissue regeneration.


Dr Katerina Argyraki (*1976), currently a post-doctoral researcher at the EPFL, as Assistant Professor (Tenure Track) of Computer Science and Communication Systems. Katerina Argyraki focuses her research work on the performance and security of high-speed data networks. Her interests include the defence against attacks from the internet and the implementation of fast software routers. Katerina Argyraki has an outstanding scientific track record complemented by practical experience in various start-up companies in the Silicon Valley.

Professor George Candea (*1974), currently Assistant Professor (Tenure Track) at the EPFL, as Associate Professor of Computer Science and Communication Systems. George Candea has specialised in techniques and methods with which the performance and stability of large-scale programs and systems can be improved without any additional development effort. The focus is on practice-oriented systems with millions of code lines written by hundreds of programmers. In order to cope with this complexity, George Candea does not work on programming itself but focuses on the reduction of repair times in cases of breakdown.

Professor Grégoire Courtine (*1975), currently Assistant Professor at the University of Zurich, as Associate Professor of Life Sciences. Grégoire Courtine is a specialist in neurorehabilitation. His research aims to improve therapies for people with neuromotoric disorders. In the last two years, he has achieved a sensational breakthrough with a three-stage form of therapy whose development he was involved in and which was refined in his own laboratory in Zurich. In 2010, Grégoire Courtine was awarded a Starting Grant by the European Research Council.

Professor Joerg Huelsken (*1968), currently Assistant Professor (Tenure Track) at the EPFL, as Associate Professor of Life Sciences. Joerg Huelsken is a globally recognised cancer research specialist with an extensive scientific track record. He focuses his research activities on molecular biological processes in the formation of tumour cells. Experts agree that these approaches have a great potential in the fight against metastases. The relevance of Joerg Huelsken’s work is evidenced by various research prizes.

Dr Michael Lehning (*1967), head of a research unit at the WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research (SLF) in Davos, as Full Professor of Cryosphere Research. Michael Lehning is internationally known for innovative approaches to the exploration of the dynamics of snow masses and the avoidance of Alpine risks. He developed pioneering modelling software for the appraisal of dangerous situations. With his research unit at the SLF, Michael Lehning investigates the interactions between the ice-covered surface of the planet – the cryosphere – and changes in the climate.

Professor Anders Meibom (*1969), currently Full Professor at the Museum National d’Histoire Naturelle in Paris, France, as Full Professor of Geosciences. Anders Meibom has very broadly based chemical-physical knowledge. This has enabled him to pursue a scientific career in no fewer than three fields of research: geochemistry, cosmochemistry and biomineralisation. He is among the world’s leading scientists in all three areas. He caused a sensation with, among other things, his analysis of metallic meteorite components which condensed from solar nebulae more than 4.5 billion years ago. Recently he also made important contributions to research into the formation of oceanic basalt.

Professor Joseph Sifakis (*1946), currently Research Director at the Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS) in Grenoble, France, as Full Professor of Computer Science and Communication Systems. In his research, Joseph Sifakis is particularly interested in the modelling, analysis and component-based design of real-time systems with a focus on correct-by-construction techniques. Joseph Sifakis is a researcher with an excellent international network and an outstanding track record, which is documented by a variety of renowned prizes, among them the Turing Award. He holds an honorary doctorate of the EPFL.

Dr Kevin Sivula (*1979), currently a scientist at the EPFL, as Assistant Professor (Tenure Track) of Chemical Engineering. Kevin Sivula conducts research into the development of cost-effective production methods for photovoltaic cells. For this purpose, he relies on new nano-materials from organic polymers. Keeping the composition, crystallinity and morphology of these materials under control is considered to be very exacting. A further research focus is the storage of generated solar energy through the production of hydrogen.

Professor Patrick Thiran (*1966), currently Associate Professor at the EPFL, as Full Professor of Computer Science and Communication Systems. Patrick Thiran is a globally recognised and frequently quoted expert in the fields of communication systems, efficiency analysis, dynamic systems and stochastic models. In his academic career he has produced trail-blazing research results in the field of wireless networks, among other things.

2. Retirements/departure

ETH Zurich

Professor Peter Bösiger (*1946), currently Full Professor of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Zurich and at the ETH Zurich. Peter Bösiger rendered great services to the exploration and development of methods of magnetic resonance imaging, opening up new ways of examining the functioning of human organs. Through close cooperation with the industry, he ensured that new scientific findings were quickly applied in practice. Since 2004, Peter Bösiger has been at the helm of the Institute of Biomedical Engineering. He will take retirement as from 31 January 2012.

Professor Ludwig Gauckler (*1948), currently Full Professor of Nonmetallic Materials at the ETH Zurich. Ludwig Gauckler focuses his research on colloidal chemistry, as well as high-temperature superconductors, computer-assisted thermodynamic modelling and conducting oxides for fuel cells and sensors. In addition, he is Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Swiss Academy of Engineering Sciences. Ludwig Gauckler will leave the ETH Zurich on 31 January 2012.

Professor Richard F. Hurrell (*1946), currently Full Professor of Human Nutrition at the ETH Zurich. Richard F. Hurrell pioneered the establishment of the Laboratory for Human Nutrition at the ETH Zurich and is currently dealing with techniques of mass spectrometry for the measurement of the absorption of minerals and trace elements by the human body and of iron and iodine deficiencies in people in the Third World. Richard F. Hurrell will retire on 31 January 2012.

Professor Hans Kollhoff (*1946), currently Full Professor of Architecture and Construction at the ETH Zurich. Besides his scientific activities and teaching at the Department of Architecture, Hans Kollhoff runs an office of his own together with his partner in Berlin. As one of his generation’s leading architects, he realised office and business buildings, as well as residential buildings, all over Europe. After German reunification, he was one of the instrumental players in the makeover of Berlin with projects such as that in Potsdamer Platz. Hans Kollhoff will take retirement on 31 January 2012.

Professor Hans-Jakob Lüthi (*1946), currently Full Professor of Operations Research at the ETH Zurich. Hans-Jakob Lüthi focuses his research on the application of mathematical models in economic practice, primarily with methods for the coordination and control of processes in complex systems. Hans-Jakob Lüthi is also a co-founder of RiskLab Switzerland, an institute for applied research in the field of integrative risk management for the finance and insurance industry. He will retire on 31 January 2012.

Professor Thomas Rutherford (*1955), currently Full Professor of Economics, particularly Energy Economics, at the ETH Zurich. Thomas Rutherford primarily deals with issues in the fields of energy, the environment and climate, as well as with topics related to foreign trade. He is one of the internationally leading experts in the field of quantitative modelling. The instruments he has developed are among the most important cornerstones of political evaluation, for instance with regard to climate protection and development aid. Thomas Rutherford will leave the ETH Zurich on 31 December 2011 in order to take up a full professorship at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, USA.

The ETH Board would like to thank the departing professors for their services to science, teaching and academic administration.

3. Award of the title of Professor

Dr Frank Nüesch, Head of the Department “Functional Polymers”, as Adjunct Professorat the EPFL.