Leçons d’honneur et inaugurales

A roulette with curves and surfaces

Professor Juhan ARU - MATH RGM

If you need to choose between two equal options, you can toss a coin. If you need to choose between six of them, you roll a dice. If your life decisions have more facets, you can ask for help from a roulette. We all know what it means to uniformly randomly pick a number from one to ten, or to open the book from a random spot. But what does it mean to pick a random curve, or a random surface? How do such objects look like, are they beautiful? And why should we care about these random objects, why should we care, at all?
Juhan Aru was born in Estonia, has bachelor and master degrees in mathematics from University of Cambridge and a master's degree in interdisciplinary life sciences from Université Paris Descartes. He obtained his PhD in mathematics from ENS Lyon, and spent three years as a post-doc in ETH Zurich. In January 2019 he joined EPFL as a tenure-track assistant professor in mathematics.
He is interested in how to mathematically describe and study systems where geometric structure and randomness interact. The mathematical field studying such phenomena lies at the interface of probability theory, analysis and mathematical physics. More precisely, he studies random curves (SLE curves), height functions (Gaussian free field) and other random geometric structures (e.g. Gaussian multiplicative chaos), often with roots in the phenomena of
statistical physics.
He has also done some work in neurosciences, written a mathematics book for high-school students and has taken part in constructing a computer-based statistics curriculum for high schools.
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Engines of Discovery

Prof. Leonid Rivkin EPFL - PSI LPAP Introduction Prof. Tatsuya Nakada

After the first hundred years accelerators have come of age.These modern instruments of science and the associated technologies are at the heart of research that spans from the infinitely small to the infinitely large. Switzerland is host to two leading centers of accelerator science and technology, CERN and PSI.
They belong to the handful of top scientific organizations with a worldwide impact that goes far beyond particle physics, and benefits all areas of natural sciences as well as industry. A brief overview of the recent achievements and of future developments will be presented.
L. Rivkin was born in Odessa in 1954. Studied physics in Novosibirsk and Cambridge USA, graduating from Harvard University with AB in Physics in 1978. PhD in Physics from Caltech in 1985. Worked on several accelerator projects at Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, followed by a year at LEP, CERN, Geneva.
He joined the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) in 1989 and worked on the design, construction and commissioning of the Swiss Light Source. 
Since 2006 he has been the Head of the Department of Large Research Facilities at PSI and professor of particle accelerator physics at EPFL.
He has been serving as PSI Deputy Director since 2017.
Currently serving on several international advisory committees and a Fellow of the American Physical Society
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From one century to another - lessons learned from the SSV launching

William Pralong

Registration required : go.epfl.ch/pralong

William F. Pralong studied medicine in Geneva and obtained his doctorate on the biophysics of transport systems in the peripheral nervous system at the Department of Pharmacology, CMU, University of Geneva (1981-1986, Prof. Ralf Straub). He then pursued a research career on diabetic neuropathy, and on the molecular physiology and signal transduction of insulin secretion, at the Institute of Clinical Biochemistry of the Department of Internal Medicine UNIGe (Profs Albert Renold, Class Wollheim and Francis Waldvogel). During his years of research as senior scientist, he developed numerous academic and international collaborations (Queen Mary & Westfield College, London (1 y exchange with Geneva), Paris VII, Budapest, Siena, Philadelphia, UCSD, and ETHZ) and with the industry. During this same period, he also actively participated with UNIGe's Research Unit in Medical Education in the reform of the bachelor-master curriculum in medicine towards a problem-based education.
In 1996, he was recruited by Prof. Bernard Thorens, co-founder with Patrick Aebischer of ModexTherapeutics, to join the start-up for the development of an artificial pancreas in humans.
In 2000 he is called by Patrick Aebischer to accompany him at EPFL to create a new curriculum in Bioengineering and Biotechnology. Because of ISREC arrival at EPFL and the creation of the Global Health Institute, the teaching programme had to be recomposed into a curriculum in Life Sciences and Technology with two masters, one more oriented in Life Sciences and Technology, and the other one in Bioengineering in collaboration with the STI School. Appointed Adjunct Professor in 2004 he will be acting as Section Director for 10 years. In 2010 he was mandated by EPFL Direction and the Dean of FSV, Didier Trono to setting up, in collaboration with the Universities of Lausanne and Geneva, the first Passerelle-Médecine , which was successfully opened in 2011.
William-F. Pralong was actively involved in teaching (propaedeutic courses in Biology for SV and Introduction to Biology for Chemistry + Scientific Police, Biomaterials (MTX), Physiology by Systems, Artificial Organs and Systems, Pharmacology and Pharmacokinetics, and a SHS course, Health A wit the CDH. He is still participating today to teaching at the HES-SO and at the “Sitem-Insel” – the Institute for Translational and Entrepreneurial Medicine in Bern.
He served also the EPFL community by chairing the teaching commission of the CDH (2008-2013). He was also active as a member of the CCE, EPFL's best thesis award committee, the Innogrants Committee, the PPUR Committee, and the EPFL HREC Ethics Committee. From 2008 to 2010, he represented EPFL in Bern on the consultation committee for the drafting of the new Law on Human Research (LRH) and on the cantonal steering committee for the Harmos reform for education.
In September 2013 he was appointed to the EPFL Direction as Delegate for EPFL Quality Assurance and Accreditation. Together with Michel Jaccard, he organized in 2014-2015 the quality audit of EPFL according to the LAU, and the accreditation of all its engineering programmes by the Swiss OAQ and the French “Commission des Titres d’Ingénieur” (Cti). During his mandate he organized a close to complete cycle of EPFL Schools and Colleges evaluations (except FSB). He has served EPFL in this function until August of this year, time of his retirement.
Currently he sits since 2015 and until 2023 at the Swiss Accreditation Council in Bern where he is also chairman of the sub-commission for the accreditation of medical professions. He is an active member of the board of the Swiss Institute of Health Law in Neuchâtel (IDS). Finally, since December 2018, he has taken over the Vice Presidency of the Cantonal Ethics Committee for Human Research, which brings together the cantons of Vaud, Valais, Fribourg and Neuchâtel for clinical trials authorization and supervision.

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«The Beauty of Micro-Optics »

Prof. Hans Peter Herzig

« The beauty of micro-optics » raconte l'histoire d'une technologie qui remonte à plus de 2000 ans. Avec l'invention de l'holographie en 1947, cette technologie fait un grand pas en avant. L’holographie est en effet à l'origine de nombreuses idées de recherche pour réaliser des composants optiques holographiques. Dans les années 80, les progrès de la lithographie optique permettent la production industrielle de composants optiques hautement performants, qui jouent un rôle important dans la technologie moderne. Ces composants micro-optiques étaient alors appelés éléments optiques holographiques, hologrammes générés par ordinateur, kinoformes, optiques binaires, optiques diffractives, réseaux à ordre zéro etc... Ces composantes ont été « réinventés » récemment et renommés « metasurfaces ».
Le titre « The beauty of micro-optics » a plusieurs sens. Il fait référence aux éléments colorés, aux méthodes de fabrication élégantes, à la grande liberté de conception et aux perspectives futures pour la miniaturisation des systèmes optiques.

Après des études de physique à l`ETH à Zurich, Hans Peter Herzig a travaillé comme collaborateur scientifique au sein de l’entreprise Kern à Aarau. Il s’agit à ce moment de son premier contact avec le domaine de l’optique. Au printemps 1983, il rejoint le groupe de recherche du Professeur Dändliker pour commencer une thèse de doctorat sur le sujet des hologrammes générés par ordinateur.
Au fil des années, Hans Peter Herzig se taille une réputation de pionnier dans le domaine de la micro-optique. Un succès auquel le programme prioritaire Suisse OPTIQUE des années 90 a grandement contribué. De nombreuses startups, comme p.ex SUSS MicroOptics, sont nées de ce programme. Un point marquant de cette recherche a été la collaboration avec la compagnie ZEISS en Allemagne.
Pendant une décennie, Hans Peter Herzig et son équipe ont étudié l'utilisation de la micro-optique dans des systèmes d'éclairage innovants pour la lithographie par ultraviolets profonds (DUV). Par conséquent, leurs concepts ont été intégrés dans des machines de lithographie dans le monde entier. Cette technologie est à la base de la production de la microélectronique.
En 2002, Hans Peter Herzig a reçu un appel en tant que professeur à l’Université de Stuttgart. Pour le garder à l’Université de Neuchâtel, où il occupait un poste de maître assistant, il a été nommé professeur ordinaire.
A Neuchâtel, le laboratoire de Hans Peter Herzig mène des recherches sur les microsystèmes optiques pour des applications en lithographie, microfluidique et MEMS optiques. En collaboration avec l'Imperial College de Londres, son équipe développe une technologie révolutionnaire, promettant des disques de mémoire optique à grande capacité. Cette technologie est connue sous le terme MODS (Multiplexed Optical Data Storage). Ils présentent pour la première fois en 2006 des résonateurs à cristal photonique réglés mécaniquement. Ils développent aussi un microscope à champ proche, unique en son genre, qui permet la mesure simultanée de l'amplitude, de la phase et de la polarisation d'un champ optique.
En 2009, le laboratoire OPT, avec les autres groupes IMT de Neuchâtel, a été transféré à l'EPFL. Depuis, Hans Peter Herzig a concentré ses recherches sur les ondes de surface de Bloch (BSWs), et a travaillé sur une méthode prometteuse pour des futurs microsystèmes photoniques.
En plus de son intérêt pour la science, Hans Peter Herzig a toujours été actif pour la communauté optique. Pendant 9 ans, il a été vice-président de la Société Suisse d'Optique et de Microscopie (SSOM) en charge de la section optique. Il a également rejoint le comité de direction de la Société Européenne d'Optique (EOS) et été son président en 2008.


  • Introduction par Prof. Christian Enz, Directeur de l'Institut de Microtechnique
  • Leçon d'honneur du Prof. Hans Peter Herzig - « The beauty of micro-optics »

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