Thomas Willwacher: inaugural lecture
On 11 May, Professor Thomas Willwacher gave his inaugural lecture entitled: "Feynman diagrams in algebra and topology". He has been associate professor at the Department since May 2016.
Laudatio by Peter Bühlmann, Head of Department:
Dear Rector, dear Vice President, dear Thomas, fellow colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,
I am delighted to welcome you all to Thomas Willwacher’s inaugural lecture. Thomas Willwacher was born in Freiburg im Breisgau. He studied Physics at the ETH Zurich; then, also at the ETH, he obtained a doctorate under the supervision of Giovanni Felder in 2009. After three years as a Junior Fellow at the Society of Fellows at the Harvard University, he became assistant professor of mathematics at the University of Zurich in 2013. In Mai 2016, he returned to his alma mater as professor of mathematics at the Department of Mathematics at ETH Zurich.
Thomas Willwacher carries out research across the whole spectrum of mathematics, focusing in particular on algebra, geometry and topology, often with a link to mathematical physics. His work is fundamental, groundbreaking and has a highly visible influence. His discovery of the unexpected close connection between the graph cohomology in the quantum field theory and the Grothendieck-Teichmüller group in algebra was especially honoured in January 2017 at the "Séminaire Bourbaki" in Paris. Remarkable are also his interest and his scientific work in the field of three-dimensional digital image processing, a completely different and applied field where he is co-owner for four patents! Thomas Willwacher has won various major awards for his research, including the EMS Prize in 2016 and just recently a ERC Starting Grant.
Thomas Willwacher is an exceptionally innovative and brilliant scientist, and a very engaging person. He will be a great asset to our Department: we are most grateful to have him as a colleague at ETH!