Moves & Milestones

In its "moves & milestones" section, bridges presents career steps and other outstanding events in the professional lives of Austrian scientists and scholars in the US and Canada.

bridges vol. 38, August 2013 / News from the Network: Austrian Researchers Abroad


Carl Djerassi
Photo of Carl Djerassi.received an honorary doctorate from the University of Applied Arts Vienna, on April 23, for his engagement in arts and culture throughout the past decades. He also received an honorary doctorate (Dr. scientiae psychotherapiae, Hon.) on April 29 from the Sigmund Freud University Vienna, as well an honorary doctorate (Dr. of Humane Letters, Hon.) from the American University of Bulgaria on May 11.

Carl Djerassi, emeritus professor of chemistry at Stanford University, is one of two American chemists to have been awarded both the National Medal of Science (for the first synthesis of a steroid oral contraceptive – "the Pill") and the National Medal of Technology (for promoting new approaches to insect control).

For the past quarter century, he has turned to fiction writing, mostly in the genre of "science in fiction," whereby he illustrates, in the guise of realistic fiction, the human side of scientists and the personal conflicts faced by scientists in their quest for scientific knowledge, personal recognition, and financial rewards. In addition to his poetry collection, he embarked in 1997 on a trilogy of "science-in-theatre" plays, followed by many prizes and honors. He is also the founder of the Djerassi Resident Artists Program near Woodside, California, which provides residencies and studio space for artists in the visual arts, literature, choreography and performing arts, and music.

Find more about Djerassi receiving his Honorary Doctorate at the University of Applied Arts Vienna, at:

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Ulrike Diebold
Photo of Ulrike Diebold.received the Wittgenstein Prize 2013 for her research in surface physics. The €1.5 million prize, which is sponsored by the Ministry of Science and administered by the Austrian Science Fund, is the most prestigious research award in Austria.

Diebold studied engineering physics at the Vienna University of Technology (TU Wien), where she also received her Ph.D. in 1990. After a three-year postdoctoral fellowship at Rutgers University in New Jersey, she assumed a faculty position at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana. She was promoted to full professor in 2001 and appointed to an endowed chair in 2006. Diebold returned to Austria in 2010 and is now a full professor at the TU.

In addition to the Wittgenstein Prize, Diebold has received several other awards for her academic work, including an NSF Career grant, an NSF Special Creativity Award, and an ERC Advanced Grant. She also received the Adamson Award from the American Chemical Society earlier this year for distinguished service in surface chemistry.

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Stefan L. Ameres
Photo of Stefan L. Ameres.received the FWF "Start-Preis" 2013 (1.2 Million Euro over six years) and an ERC Starting Grant (1.5 Million Euro over five years) for his work on the molecular characterization of the microRNA lifecycle. With these awards, his lab is working to understand how distinct small RNA profiles are established and maintained to coordinate the expression of more than half of all protein-coding genes in flies and mammals.

Born in 1978 in Munich, Stefan Ameres studied biology in Erlangen, Germany, and received his Ph.D. in 2006 at the Max F. Perutz Laboratories of the University of Vienna. After spending time as a postdoc at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, he started his own lab in 2012 at the Institute of Molecular Biotechnology of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna.

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Clemens Heitzinger
Photot of Clemens Heitzinger.received the "Start-Preis" 2013 (1.2 Million Euro) for his work dealing with mathematical models and simulation tools for new applications in nanotechnology.

Heitzinger, born in 1974, studied technical mathematics in Linz, Austria, and received his Ph.D. in 2002 from the Technical University of Vienna. After research fellowships in the US at Arizona State University (ASU) and Purdue University, he became a visiting professor at ASU and Stanford University. Since 2010, Heitzinger has been a senior research associate in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics at Cambridge University.

Currently he is a principal investigator at the Austrian Institute of Technology (AIT) and, with his START-Project, switches to the faculty of mathematics at the University of Vienna.

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Peter Zoller
Photo of Peter Zoller.received the 2013 Wolf Prize in Physics (together with Prof. Ignacio Cirac, Max Planck Institute, Germany) for groundbreaking theoretical contributions to quantum information processing, quantum optics, and the physics of quantum gases.

Zoller is professor of theoretical physics at the University of Innsbruck and also holds the position of scientific director at the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information (IQOQI) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences.

He has written major works on the interaction of laser light and atoms. In addition to fundamental developments in quantum optics, he has made major contributions in the field of quantum information. The model of a quantum computer, suggested by him and Ignacio Cirac in 1995, is based on the interaction of lasers with cold ions confined in an electromagnetic trap. The principles of this idea have been implemented in experiments over recent years, and it is considered one of the most promising concepts for the development of a scalable quantum computer. Zoller and his research colleagues have also managed to link quantum physics with solid-state physics. One of his suggestions has been to build a quantum simulator with cold atoms.

Zoller has received numerous awards for his achievements. These include the Max Planck Medal (2005), the Dirac Medal (2006), the Benjamin Franklin Medal (2010), and now the Wolf Prize. He is a member of several national academies, including the United States National Academy of Sciences, and holds a €10 million ERC Synergy Grant, which he received in 2012 together with Ehud Altman, Immanuel Bloch, and Jean Dalibard, for their project on "Ultracold Quantum Matter."


Pascale Ehrenfreund
Photo of Pascale Ehrenfreund.will assume the presidency of the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) beginning in September 2013. The purpose of the FWF is to support the ongoing development of Austrian science and basic research at a high international level. The FWF plays a key role in the development of the Austrian science and research landscape.

Ehrenfreund is also a research professor of space policy and international affairs at the Center for International Science and Technology Policy at George Washington University, Washington, DC. She is lead investigator of the NASA Astrobiology Institute and involved in several international space missions. Her activities in science policy focus on the promotion of international cooperation and interdisciplinary research.

Ehrenfreund holds a master's degree in molecular biology from the University of Vienna, a Ph.D. in astrophysics from the University Vienna/Univ. Paris VII, and a master's degree in management & leadership from Webster University.

She has also been present in outer space since 1999, as the asteroid "9826 Ehrenfreund 2114 T-3" bears her name.

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Katharina Piechocki
Photo of Katharina Piechockiholds the position of assistant professor in the Department of Comparative Literature at Harvard University, as of July 2013.

Piechocki received her Ph.D. at New York University in 2013 and a doctorate at Vienna University in 2009. Her main areas of research and teaching are European renaissance and baroque literature, as well as world cinema. Her interests include cartography, translation studies, theories of world cinema, gender studies, opera, and theater.

Piechocki investigates the interstices between West and non-West, the boundaries of early modernity, and the borders of early modern Europe. Her research languages include: Italian, French, German, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, Latin, Ancient Greek, and Arabic.


Susanne Koch
jPhoto of Susanne Koch.oined the group of Assistant Prof. Peter Hosemann in the Department of Nuclear Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, as a research scholar.

The research topic for her sabbatical, "fundamental research on LME," is a complementary and essential area for her research group on "hazardous-element-free materials" at the Institute for Nonferrous Metallurgy, Montanuniversität Leoben, Austria. Koch's research focus lies in aluminum alloy and copper alloy design and development.

Her work focuses on developing new environmentally friendly alloy compositions to mitigate hazardous heavy metal contamination during further materials processing by implementing state-of-the-art research methods. Her approach was honored by the Josef Krainer-Förderungspreis 2011, an award for excellent scientific achievements from the federal state of Styria, Austria.

Koch is an assistant professor at the Institute for Nonferrous Metallurgy, Montanuniversität Leoben, Austria (, where she received her Ph.D. in 2010.

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Johannes Ledolter
Photo of Johannes Ledolter.has published a new book: Data Mining and Business Analytics with R (Wiley, May 2013, ISBN: 978-1-118-44714-7).

To correctly understand and extract valuable information from the large amounts of data gathered in businesses today, researchers need to use appropriate and easily accessible computational and analytical tools. This book showcases the powerful computing capabilities of freely available R software for the analysis, exploration, and simplification of large high-dimensional datasets.

Ledolter is the C. Maxwell Stanley Professor of international operations management and professor of statistics and actuarial science at the University of Iowa, as well as professor of statistics at the WU in Vienna. Following his Ph.D. studies in Austria and the US, his academic career led him to numerous guest professor- and research fellowships at highly respected universities in the US.

For more information on Data Mining and Business Analytics with R, see:,subjectCd-STB0,descCd-authorInfo.html

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Hartmut Stecher
Photo of Hartmut Stecher.observed the first anniversary of his US-based biomedical consulting firm, Cancer Treatment Navigator, LLC, in June 2013.

Cancer Treatment Navigator provides consultation services for patients, patient organizations, hospitals, private practices, companies, and other firms in the biomedical sector.

Stecher moved to the US in 1997 for postdoctoral studies in biochemistry/signal transduction and medical genetics at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle, WA. Since then he has worked as a preclinical and clinical scientist and medical-affairs specialist with increasing responsibilities in both academia and industry. Before starting Cancer Treatment Navigator, Stecher was the senior director and head of Medical Affairs at Seattle Genetics, a biotech company specializing in antibody technologies for the treatment of cancer.

Stecher graduated from the Technical University of Graz in the fields of microbiology, biochemistry, and bioprocess technology and holds a graduate degree in engineering and a doctorate in technical science.

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