Hansjörg Wyss


Hansjörg Wyss currently serves as Chairman of The Wyss Foundation. An active philanthropist, Hansjörg’s giving fosters new ideas, new tools, and new collaborations in areas from education and the arts to economic opportunity, conflict resolution, and land conservation. In 1998, he established the Wyss Foundation, which has invested more than $175 million to help local communities, land trusts and non-profit partners conserve nearly 14 million acres of land in the American West for future generations to explore and enjoy.

Hansjörg remains highly engaged in supporting medical research, education and training. He is a founder of the AO Foundation, a medically guided nonprofit led by an international group of surgeons who specialize in the treatment of trauma and disorders of the musculoskeletal system. Hansjörg has also endowed chairs at a wide range of universities and hospitals, including Clemson University, the University of Washington, the University of Mississippi, the University of Maryland, the University of South Alabama, and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

In 2009, Mr. Wyss contributed $125 million to Harvard University – the largest in the university’s history – to establish the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering. That gift was followed by a second of the same amount in 2013. The Institute “seeks to solve some of the world’s most complex challenges in the healthcare and environment by drawing inspiration from nature’s design principles. In addition to uncovering new knowledge about how nature builds, controls, and manufactures, the Institute measures success in the ability of its faculty and staff to translate their discoveries into products that can have near-term impact.” It is this Institute at Harvard that is the model for the Wyss Center for Bio- and Neuro- Engineering at Campus Biotech in Geneva.

Recently, he contributed $120 million to ETH Zurich and the University of Zurich to found a translational research center at the interface of medicine, science and engineering: the Wyss Zurich. Through an interdisciplinary approach, the new center aims to accelerate the development and application of innovative medical therapies and groundbreaking robotic systems.

Detlef Günther


Detlef Günther was born in Köthen (Germany) in 1963. He obtained his Diploma degree in Chemistry (1987) and Dr. rer.nat. in Analytical Chemistry (1990) from the Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg (Germany) under supervision of Professor L. Moenke-Blankenburg. After carrying out postdoctoral studies in the Plant Biochemistry Institute in Halle (Germany), in the Earth Science Departments of Memorial University Newfoundland (Canada) and ETH Zurich, he became Assistant professor at the Department of Chemistry at ETH Zurich. He was promoted to Associate Professor for Trace Element and Micro Analysis in 2003 and became Full Professor in 2008 in the Department of Chemistry and Applied Sciences. He chaired the Department from 2010 until 2012.

His research is focused on instrument and method development for high spatially resolved trace element analysis and isotope ratio determinations using laser ablation and inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. His work is documented in more than 350 research articles and has been recognized by the Ruzicka Award (2002), the European Award for Plasma Spectrochemistry (2003), the Fresenius Award (2007), the Lester Strock Award (2007), and the Simon-Widmer Awards (2015). He has been “Einstein Fellow” (2013-2015, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany) and received the “Thousand Talent Fellowship” in 2013 (Wuhan University, China). In 2014 he was elected as member of the German National Academy of Science Leopoldina. Since 2015 he serves as Vice President for Research and Corporate Relations at ETH Zurich.

Michael Hengartner


Michael Hengartner, a Swiss-Canadian citizen, was born in St. Gallen, Switzerland in 1966 and grew up in Québec City, Canada. He studied biochemistry at the Université Laval in Québec City. After earning his PhD at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with Nobel laureate H. Robert Horvitz, he was head of a research group at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in the USA from 1994 to 2001.

In 2001, he was appointed professor for molecular biology at the newly created Ernst Hadorn Chair at the Institute of Molecular Life Sciences, University of Zurich. From 2009 to 2014, he acted as dean of the Faculty of Science. Michael Hengartner holds an Executive MBA from IMD Lausanne and is the recipient of several awards for his groundbreaking research on the molecular basis of apoptosis, among them the Swiss National Latsis Prize.

Joël Mesot


Joël Mesot, President of ETH Zurich, took up his new responsibility on 1 January 2019. Prior to his appointment, he served for more than 10 years as the Director of the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI), the largest publicly funded research institute in Switzerland. In addition, Dr. Mesot has been a full professor in physics, both at ETH Zurich and EPF Lausanne. Since July 2010, he has also served as a member of the ETH Board.

Dr. Mesot studied physics at ETH Zurich and earned his doctoral degree in the field of solid state physics using neutron scattering, both at ETH and the Institute Laue-Langevin (France). Following his first position at the PSI, he spent several years at the Argonne National Laboratory in the USA, where he specialized in synchrotron techniques. In 1999, he returned to Switzerland to head the ETH and PSI’s joint laboratory for neutron scattering.

For his scientific achievements, Dr. Mesot has received several awards, among which the Swiss Physical Society’s IBM Award in 1995 and ETH Zurich’s Latsis Prize in 2002. He is also part of several national and international advisory boards, among them the Swiss Innovation Park’s Foundation Board and the Senate of the Helmholtz Association.

Felicitas Pauss


Felicitas Pauss was elected professor for experimental particle physics at ETH Zurich in 1993. Her research activities focused on two main topics: particle physics at the high-energy frontier at particle accelerators and astro-particle physics.

Since the early 1990’s she participated in the CMS experiment at CERNs LHC and played a leading role in the design and construction of the CMS detector. The discovery of the Higgs Particle in 2012 provided the experimental basis for the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physics.

Felicitas Pauss has held various management positions at CERN and at ETH Zurich and is a member of numerous national and international scientific committees and advisory boards. She has received several awards, among which the Cross of Honor for Sciences and Arts 1st Class of the Republic of Austria, and an Honorary Doctor degree from the Technical University of Vienna. She is an elected member of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina and the European Academy of Sciences and Arts.

Michael E. Schaepman


Prof. Dr. sc. nat. Michael E. Schaepman studied geography with minors in computer science and experimental physics at the University of Zurich and earned his doctoral degree at the same University in a joint collaboration between geography and physics focusing on reflectance spectroscopy. Following a postdoctoral stay at the University of Arizona, USA and projects with the European Space Agency (ESA), he was appointed full professor of geoinformation-science at Wageningen University (The Netherlands) in 2003, scientific manager of the Center for Geoinformation-Science at Wageningen UR in 2005, and full professor of remote sensing at the University of Zurich in 2009. In 2014, he served as vice-Dean, and from 2016-2017 as Dean of the Faculty of Science. Finally, he assumed post as Vice President of Veterinary Medicine and Science in 2017.

Michael Schaepman’s interest focuses on quantitative, physically based modelling and measurements of light-matter interactions using airborne and satellite remote sensing. He contributes substantially to the measurement of global biodiversity, allowing to develop global policy for the environment. He serves on many international panels related to Earth observation, including those of ESA, NASA as well as national and multinational organizations. He is co-founder of one of the largest privately owned software development companies in Switzerland.