Louis Schlapbach's successor appointed

Federal Council appoints Gian-Luca Bona as director of Empa

Mar 25, 2009 | MICHAEL HAGMANN
Gian-Luca Bona (born 1957) will be the new director of the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Testing and Research (Empa). The Federal Council chose the internationally recognised Swiss physicist and research manager because of his excellent achievements in materials and surface science and because of his strategic know-how in technology development and transfer. Bona will start as Empa director on 1 September 2009, taking over from retiring Professor Louis Schlapbach (born 1944). From 1 April 2009 to 31 August 2009, Dr. Peter Hofer (born 1947) will serve as interim director of Empa.

Peter Hofer, Gian-Luca Bona, Louis Schlapbach


With this appointment, the Federal Council follows the proposal of the ETH Board, the strategic management and appointment body of the ETH Domain. Gian-Luca Bona was born on 9 May 1957 in St. Gallen and is a citizen of the Swiss municipality of Molinis (canton of Graubünden). After studying physics at ETH Zurich, Bona completed his doctoral dissertation in 1987 on the topic of surface magnetism phenomena. After receiving his doctorate, Bona moved to the IBM research laboratory in Rüschlikon (canton of Zurich), where he worked from 1998 as research manager in photonics (optical technologies).

  In 2004, Bona took over a unit of 150 researchers at the IBM Almaden research centre in San Jose, California (USA), as research functional manager. Since 2008, Bona has worked as director of the IBM centre in Tucson, Arizona (USA), where he is responsible for the development of new tape storage solutions. In this position, he serves as the senior manager of a worldwide group of IBM research and development departments with a total of 350 staff members. Bona's responsibilities also included a strategic reorientation of materials research at IBM.
Gian-Luca Bona has an outstanding international scientific reputation thanks to more than 100 scientific publications in materials and surface research as well as in photonics and opto-electronics.
During the appointment process, Gian-Luca Bona convinced the selection body with his interdisciplinary thinking, his international network in academia and the private sector, and his vision for the strategic development of Empa as a bridge between application-oriented basic research and industrial research, in addition to its role as a strong partner in the research and innovation system of Switzerland.

Peter Hofer will serve as interim director of Empa until the end of August 2009
The Federal Council has appointed Gian-Luca Bona for a term through 31 August 2013. Because of his ongoing commitments, Gian-Luca Bona will begin his new position as Empa director on 1 September 2009. From 1 April 2009 to 31 August 2009, Dr. Peter Hofer (born 1947) will therefore serve as interim director of Empa. Peter Hofer is a renowned expert in air pollution control and has been deputy director of Empa since 2006. Since 2007, Hofer has managed the new research programme on natural resources and pollutants.


The Federal Council would like to express its gratitude for the achievements of Professor Louis Schlapbach, who will retire as Empa director on 31 March 2009, and who since 2001 has successfully implemented the strategic new orientation and transition of Empa from a materials testing institute to a modern, interdisciplinary research and services institution for materials science and technology development.