Swiss Federal Council, 09 December 2011

The Federal Council has appointed Professor Konrad Steffen as the new Director of the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL. The 59-year-old Konrad Steffen is currently a professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder, Colorado, USA, and Director of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences CIRES. He will take office as Professor James W. Kirchner’s successor no later than 1 July 2012. With the appointment of Konrad Steffen, the Federal Council acceded to an application submitted by the ETH Board.

Prof. Konrad Steffen, new WSL Director (Copyright: Simon Steffen)

Konrad Steffen’s research focuses on the climatic interaction of polar and alpine areas, which he examines with the help of terrestrial, airborne/satellite-based measuring methods, as well as climate models, and on the dynamic reaction of ice sheets to global warming and their influence on the global sea level. He has been Full Professor in the Geography Department of the University of Colorado in Boulder, USA, since 1997. Since 2002, he has headed the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, which is jointly funded by the University of Colorado and the American National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, employs 640 staff and operates on an annual budget of USD 64m.

Konrad Steffen (dual Swiss and US nationality) read natural sciences at the ETH Zurich, where he was awarded a doctor’s degree for a thesis about the surface temperature distribution on ice-free surfaces of the Arctic. His started his academic career in 1985, as a Senior Assistant at the ETH Zurich’s Climate Research Group, interrupted by guest stays at CIRES and as Visiting Professor at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. Since 1991, he has been pursuing his research at CIRES.

James W. Kirchner has been at the helm of the WSL since 1 August 2007. Under his leadership, the WSL has been able to further strengthen its internationally recognised position in environmental and sustainability research and to extend its activities for the benefit of the environment and of society in Switzerland.



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