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EPFL Appoints 12 Professors

© 2014 EPFL

© 2014 EPFL

At its meeting in December, the Board of the Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology appointed 12 professors.

Yves Bellouard was named Associate Professor of Microengineering in the School of Engineering (EPFL Neuchâtel, Microcity).
Continuously improving the mechanical components of manufacturing processes is a cornerstone of the success of the Swiss microengineering industry, particularly regarding watch components. The emergence of new technologies such as laser machining, 3D printing, lithography and plasma etching make it possible to advance beyond current technological limits to enhance performance and quality.

Yves Bellouard has led innovative research in many fields within applied physics, microengineering and manufacturing. He championed the idea of device miniaturization through monolithic integration based on a concept of “system material”. Instead of constructing a device by combining and assembling materials, his approach is based on the use of a single piece of material by adapting local properties at selected locations. This approach is extremely powerful and has the potential to profoundly change the manufacturing of small instruments.

Yves Bellouard will assume the Chair sponsored by Richemont that, through EPFL’s Microcity campus in Neuchâtel, solidifies the leading position of the Swiss microtechnology industry by strengthening its competitiveness through continuous innovation.

Daniel Gatica-Perez has been given the title of Adjunct Professor, Lecturer and Senior Researcher in EPFL’s IDIAP Institute in Martigny.

The research of Daniel Gatica-Perez focuses on object extraction and content analysis for videos. His work on image classification and annotation using probabilistic latent space models has become a reference in vision and multimedia communities. More recently, the researcher has expanded his scope to simulate human activity and group interaction by integrating audio processing algorithms, computer vision, machine learning and psychology.

Daniel Gatica-Perez is considered one of the initiators of research on social networks using the approach of computer vision. His interest in simulating face-to-face interactions has led to an interest from other scientists of his generation in more complex psychological constructions, to more subtle non-verbal cues and to different social contexts.

Sandrine Gerber has been named Adjunct Professor, Lecturer and Researcher in EPFL’s School of Basic Sciences (SB).
Sandrine Gerber is a renowned scientist in the field of organic synthesis oriented toward biomedical applications. She has contributed significantly to the development of innovative synthetic pathways from natural bioactive molecules and enzyme inhibitors.

Her recent work focuses on the functionalization of porous ceramics and nanomaterials for the development of cellularized bone implants and imaging probes that target cancer. Her unwavering commitment in this area has resulted particularly in a patent on biomaterial surface modification to promote the adhesion of progenitor cells of bone tissue and blood vessels.

Over the past fifteen years, she has contributed in particular to teaching basic organic chemistry both to EPFL’s chemistry and biology students as well as to pharmacy and forensic science students at UNIL.

Diego Ghezzi has been appointed to the tenure-track position of Assistant Professor of Bioengineering in the School of Engineering (Biotech Campus, Geneva).
Diego Ghezzi’s research is related to the fields of bioengineering and neuroengineering. His interests focus mainly on methods, technologies and devices for optical modulation of neuronal activity and on their application as prosthetic tools. His main objective is to develop electronic neuro-optical interfaces that can interact bilaterally with neural networks by stimulating them with light and reading their activity with microelectrodes or high-resolution imaging.

His work is directed towards the evaluation of the effectiveness of an implant in restoring in vivo light responses. Diego Ghezzi developed not only advanced techniques in electrophysiology and direct imaging but also a wide range of other techniques, such as primary neuron cultures, gene transfer techniques and in vivo physiology.

Diego Ghezzi joined the team at EPFL’s Center for Neuroprosthics through the support of Medtronic, the world leader in advanced medical technologies.

Dirk Grundler was appointed Associate Professor of Materials Science in the School of Engineering (STI).
Dirk Grundler’s experimental and numerical research focuses on the areas of magnonics and magnetic materials and, more specifically, on various topics related to the electronic and magnetic properties of nanoscale systems. Magnonics is an original approach that proposes the use of spin waves (magnons) to store, transport and process information. Dirk Grundler has made important contributions to the fundamental understanding of magnon transport mechanisms.

Dirk Grundler was one of the first to understand the great potential of magnonics in nanoscience research. He has become one of the main researchers in magnonics, an area currently booming with great potential for a variety of future applications.

Kathryn Hess Bellwald was appointed Associate Professor in Life Sciences and Mathematics in the Schools of Life Sciences and Basic Sciences (Biotech Campus, Geneva).
Kathryn Hess Bellwald’s work in the field of algebraic topology and homotypic theory is highly esteemed. This field is purely mathematical. Nevertheless, her work helped establish the crucial technical and mathematical basis for applications to topological and geometrical questions. In recent years Bellwald has become interested in applied mathematics, particularly neuroscience, that can greatly benefit from these theoretical approaches.
In the context of the Human Brain Project, the analysis of very large amounts of data is a major challenge. This challenge requires mathematicians with extensive knowledge in topology.

As a mathematician with expertise in algebraic topology, her expertise brings innovative perspectives to the development of new applications in the structural analysis of data within the HBP.

Elison Matioli has been appointed to the tenure-track position of Assistant Professor of Electrical and Electronic Engineering in the School of Engineering (STI).
Elison Matioli’s knowledge of materials science, nanostructures and semiconductor devices represents a rare combination of expertise that will strengthen at EPFL the potential of research in the fields of power electronics and sustainable energy.

His work is at the interface of materials science, applied physics and electrical engineering. Elison Matioli specializes in advanced device modeling, the growth of semiconductors by metalorganic chemical vapour deposition (MOCVD), clean room manufacturing of the most advanced devices and nanostructures as well as the development of new characterization methods for optical and electronic devices.

Elison Matioli notably developed LEDs with a record efficiency of light extraction. At MIT, he extended his ideas of optics to the very different field of power electronics.

Karen Mulleners was appointed to the tenure track position of Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering in the School of Engineering (STI).
Karen Mulleners’ research focuses on complex unsteady flows and the dynamics of corresponding vortices. She applied the idea that unsteady hydro- or aerodynamic phenomena are best studied by analyzing the instantaneous vortex fields instead of resorting to quantities averaged over time.

In particular, she explores methods of effective analysis of the coherent structures in unsteady flows. This methodology bridges the gap between the development and interaction of vortices and technically relevant quantities, such as the aerodynamic forces and power that are generated, with interesting examples in the field of energy technologies such as the aerodynamics of rotor blades on a wind turbine.

Mohammad Khaja Nazeeruddin was named Adjunct professor, Lecturer and Researcher in the School of Basic Sciences (SB).
Mohammad Khaja Nazeeruddin is a renowned scientist in the field of solar cells with photosensitive pigment. He contributed significantly to the development of mesoscopic nanocrystalline films based on semiconductor oxides that enabled the production of a new generation of solar cells reaching a conversion rate of about 13%. His pioneering work aimed at the design of efficient sensitizers in the near infrared range has brought a revolutionary solution for the design of photovoltaic glass walls.

Mohammad Khaja Nazeeruddin’s recent projects propose to develop new inorganic-organic hybrid materials for the production of solar cells based on perovskites for conversion rates that reach up to 15%. His international reputation in research on renewable energy solutions will contribute to the success of the EPFL Valais Wallis outpost.

Idan Segev was named Adjunct Professor
Idan Segev is Professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Israel), David and Inez Myers Chair in Computational Neuroscience, Director of the Neurobiology Department and Co-Director of the “Max Planck - Hebrew University Center.”

Mathematical theory and modeling are key to dissecting and integrating the current plethora of experimental data in the field of neuroscience. A specific theoretical formalism enables the description of biophysical processes and the transmission of signals in nerve cells.

This formalism has changed dramatically in recent decades. The quantity of improvements and new innovations are due to the pioneering work of Idan Segev and his team at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Idan Segev is contributing significantly to the Human Brain Project (HBP). He is currently responsible for several activities such as cell modeling and scale transitions. Idan Segev is actively involved in the launch of the Theoretical Neuroscience Institute in Paris, under the auspices of the HBP, which will provide a crucial link between computational modeling, experimentation and theory.

Jiří Vaníček has been named Associate Professor in Theoretical Physical Chemistry in the School of Basic Sciences (SB).
Jiří Vaníček’s scientific interests revolve around the development of strong and effective theoretical methods for elucidating the quantum dynamics of nuclei and electrons, especially when subjected to ultra-short laser excitations. He is also interested in the processes of chemical kinetics at room temperature.

A second research area attempts to decipher the molecular biology of microRNAs by methods of bioinformatics and statistical biophysics.
Jiří Vaníček developed three algorithms to predict the properties of these microRNAs and their targets. These algorithms have been made available to the scientific community. In collaboration with experimental research groups, Jiří Vaníček validated these algorithms in complex biological processes, such as the discovery of the role of microRNAs in the maturation of red blood cells.

Oleg Yazyev has been appointed to the tenure track position of Assistant Professor of Theoretical Physics in the School of Basic Sciences.
Oleg Yazyev has earned an international reputation for his outstanding theoretical contributions on nanomaterials such as graphene and the new class of materials known as topological insulators. He was the first to develop a theory of magnetism in graphene induced by defects.

A second high-level contribution concerns the topological defects in the polycrystalline graphene. Oleg Yazyev predicted both the structure and its role in electronic transport phenomena well before their experimental observation was carried out the following year.

His theoretical work has attracted strong international attention due to its significant implications for the future technological applications of graphene. In addition, Oleg Yazyev is one of the first researchers to tackle the electronic structure of all new topological insulators with ab initio methods.

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