New director for the Adolphe Merkle Institute

In agreement with the University of Fribourg, the board of the Adolphe Merkle Foundation has appointed Prof. Ullrich Steiner as the new director of the Adolphe Merkle Institute. He replaces Prof. Christoph Weder, who is stepping down after 12 years at the helm. Prof. Michael Mayer will take over the position of Institute vice-director.

As of May 1, Ullrich Steiner will take over as director of the Adolphe Merkle Institute (AMI), which is part of the University of Fribourg’s Faculty of Science and Medicine. The current director, Prof. Christoph Weder, will pursue his research activities as the head of the AMI Polymer Chemistry & Materials group.

The new director, Ullrich Steiner, is the AMI Chair of Soft Matter Physics since 2014. He studied at the University of Konstanz, then at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel (Ph.D., postdoc) and at the University of Strasbourg (postdoc). In 1999, he was appointed Professor of Polymer Chemistry at the University of Groningen (Netherlands), before becoming Professor of Materials Physics at the University of Cambridge.

Michael Mayer, the new vice-director, has been the AMI Chair of Biophysics since 2015. He studied at the Technical University of Munich, Harvard University, and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL). Prior to his appointment in Fribourg, he was an associate professor at the University of Michigan.

International reputation built in 12 years
The outgoing director Prof. Christoph Weder has led the Institute for more than 12 years with great passion and commitment, and will now turn his entire focus to his research activities. The AMI is now internationally recognized as a leading research institute in the field of nanotechnology, with collaborations worldwide.

The AMI currently employs around 100 researchers, repeatedly impressing with groundbreaking results since its creation. The board of the Adolphe Merkle Foundation and the rectorate of the University of Fribourg would like to thank Christoph Weder for his tireless commitment to AMI, and wish him further joy and satisfaction in his research activities. They also wish Ullrich Steiner and Michael Mayer every success in their new tasks, and assure them of their full support.

About the Foundation
The Adolphe Merkle Foundation was established in 2007 by the Fribourg industrialist whose name it bears. With a capital of CHF 100 million, its mission is to promote research and teaching at the University of Fribourg. This private donation, at the time the largest of its kind in favor of a Swiss university, enabled in particular the creation of a new research institute with an international reputation in the field of nanomaterials, the Adolphe Merkle Institute, and to support other activities within the Faculty of Science and Medicine (FRIMAT) as well as  the Faculty of Humanities (Institute of Multilingualism).

Photo: Scott Capper