Honorary and Inaugural lectures

Using Chemistry to Observe and Manipulate Cells

Prof. Pablo Rivera Fuentes, Laboratory of Chemical and Biological Probes (SB/ISIC)

Biology is a complex and fascinating chemical system. To understand how this complex system behaves in both health and disease, our lab develops and implements chemical tools that allow us to detect and modify the biochemical processes that occur in living cells. One part of our efforts is focused on imaging the activity of enzymes one molecule at a time. This level of resolution is necessary to understand how these biological catalysts are organized and perform their tasks within the highly compartmentalized environment of the cell. Another branch of our research is centered on perturbing certain equilibria in cells. The goal of this project is to learn about how cells sense and respond to stimuli, for example in diseased states. This research relies on interdisciplinary approaches that combine synthetic chemistry, spectroscopy, biophysical methods, and cell biology to reveal the molecular details of essential biological processes.

Bio:
Pablo Rivera Fuentes was born in 1984 in Mexico City. He received a BSc (2008) degree in chemical engineering from the National Autonomous University of Mexico. He obtained his MSc (2009) and PhD (2012) degrees in chemistry from ETH Zurich, working under the supervision of Prof. François Diederich. Funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF), he carried out postdoctoral research at Massachusetts Institute of Technology with Prof. Stephen J. Lippard (2012-2014). He subsequently worked at the University of Oxford with Prof. Harry L. Anderson (Department of Chemistry) and Prof. Christian Eggeling (Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine). He started his independent career as non-tenure-track assistant professor at ETH Zurich in October, 2015, and became tenure-track assistant professor of chemical biology at EPF Lausanne in August, 2019.
 


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Particle hunt: looking for the rare and invisible

Prof. Lesya Shchutska IPHYS LPHE-LS

Scientific path in particle physics started for Lesya Shchutska during a bachelor and a master within the LHCb experiment group led by Prof. Andrey Golutvin at Moscow’s Institute for Theoretical and Experimental Physics (ITEP). During her PhD, she worked on developing a new detector for a balloon-borne experiment, graduating from EPFL in the group of Prof. Tatsuya Nakada in 2012. Exploring new ways for new physics searches, and especially for dark matter particle searches, Lesya joined the CMS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) by coming to the University of Florida group, and later to the ETH Zürich, and concentrated her research on looking for Supersymmetric particles decaying to leptons. In addition, she worked on the R&D for the future fixed target facility at CERN – SHiP (Search for Hidden Particles).
Lesya Shchutska Bio:
Lesya Shchutska’s main research interest lies in a future discovery of new particles, as e.g. dark matter nature, the sizeable matter-antimatter asymmetry and the neutrino masses are not predicted by the standard model of particle physics. One of the most elegant and compelling extensions of the standard model was proposed by Prof. Mikhail Shaposhnikov at EPFL. This theory already inspired the design of a new facility at CERN (SHiP), and led many experimentalists to hunt for heavy neutrinos – invisible and noninteracting siblings of very light standard model neutrinos. With a recently awarded ERC Starting Grant, Lesya Shchutska is now looking for the signs of these particles in the huge dataset delivered by the LHC.
Joining EPFL, Lesya came back to the LHCb Collaboration at CERN at the most exciting times. Currently, LHCb might be seeing a difference in interactions of three families of charged leptons. If confirmed, this will be the first sign of physics beyond the standard model at the LHC. The LHCb detector also provides means to look for long-lived heavy neutrinos produced in the decays of B mesons, a task almost impossible in the other experiments, and which is especially exciting as it unveils a favorable region for these new particles masses. Already at EPFL, Lesya is set out to measure the known neutrinos produced in the LHC collisions, by helping to build and operate a new dedicated experiment – SND@LHC. These elusive particles already brought a lot of surprises in the past, while remaining the least studied known elementary particles – this offers a new ground for testing standard model of particle physics beyond what’s achieved up to now.
 


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Piezoelectric thin films: key materials for micro and communications technology

Prof. Paul Muralt, EPFL

After 20–30 years of research and development, micro devices based on piezoelectric thin films are now finding applications in several markets, such as RF filters for mobile phones and high-resolution ink jet printing. Many more applications are in the emerging phase. The advantages of piezoelectric coupling in electro-mechanical systems are now recognized by a growing community of microsystems engineers. This talk will begin with a short overview of the field including my own research, outlining some of the challenges in growing thin films of PZT and AlN-ScN alloys. I will then discuss applications at RF frequencies in the lower GHz range as used for signal transmission in mobile communications. This is a particularly promising and important application, since sound waves at these RF frequencies can be trapped within a few micrometers – meaning resonators can be designed that are about 100 times smaller than if the electromagnetic waves are trapped directly. In addition, the acoustic quality of selected piezoelectric materials is so high that no other method can compete at these small dimensions. This new microsonics technology will be essential for smart phones and 5G networks. I will draw on my own research to explain recent developments in this field. In addition to communications applications, I will also discuss a number of new sensor applications. The most interesting are the wireless ones that do not need a power supply.

Bio:

Paul Muralt is an honorary professor at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) in Lausanne, Switzerland. He holds a PhD in incommensurate phase transitions from the Institute of Solid State Physics at ETH Zurich (1984). He began his career at the IBM Research Laboratory in Zurich, where he developed a pioneering electric surface potential mapping method using STM. He then worked at the Free University of Berlin and at a thin-film coating manufacturer (Balzers) before joining the Ceramics Laboratory at EPFL’s Materials Science Institute in 1993. Muralt leads a research group on electroceramic thin films for micro- and nanotechnology, and is particularly well known for his work in processing, functional characterization and MEMS applications for piezoelectric and pyroelectric thin films such as PbZrTiO3, AlN and AlScN. He has authored or co-authored over 250 journal articles that together have been cited 14,000 times. He has taught classes on thin film deposition, micro- and nanostructuration and surface analysis, and an introduction to ceramics. An IEEE Fellow, Muralt received the outstanding achievement award at the 2005 International Symposium of Integrated Ferroelectrics and the C.B. Sawyer award for innovation in materials at the 2016 IEEE International Frequency Control Symposium. He served as co-chair of the MRS spring meeting in 2008, and in 2019 was the General Chair of a large joint conference in Lausanne that included the IEEE International Symposium on Applications of Ferroelectrics.

Program:

  • Introduction from Prof. Harm-Anton Klok, Institute of Materials Science and Engineering Director
  • Honorary Lecture from Prof. Paul Muralt - « Piezoelectric thin films: key materials for micro and communications technology”
Registration:
https://go.epfl.ch/muralt

 
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