Institute of Science and Technology, Austria
|Institute of Science and Technology, Austria|
The Institute of Science and Technology Austria, popularly known as IST Austria, is an institute of basic research located in Klosterneuburg, close to Vienna (Austria). The draft concept was developed by the Austrian physicist Anton Zeilinger in 2002. Preparation work started in 2007. The concept includes
- a focus on science and technology
- an interdisciplinary approach
- an independent and long-term strategy
- the entitlement to award PhDs
Models for IST Austria are internationally renowned institutions such as the Weizmann Institute (Rehovot, Israel) and the Rockefeller University (N.Y., USA). First class, curiosity-driven research is the core value of the concept. Scientists are encouraged to pursue their own goals and their own ideas (not restricted by government or economic interest). According to the development plan 40 to 50 research groups with approximately 500 scientists should be working on the campus by the year 2016, and 90 to 100 groups by 2026. The language at the institute is English.
The decision of the Austrian government in Spring 2006 to establish IST Austria caused some controversy within the scientific community due to the lack of proper planning and independence from political influence. An international committee was then invited to develop recommendations for the establishment of the research institute. The members of the committee, Haim Harari (President of the Weizmann Institute, 1988–2001), Olaf Kübler (President of ETH Zurich, 1997–2005) and Hubert Markl (President of the Max Planck Society, 1996–2002), developed a blueprint which served as the basis of legislation that was passed in parliament with the support of the then ruling parties ÖVP and BZÖ plus the then oppositional SPÖ. The compliance of the recommendations of the committee led to rising support for the project from the scientific community and the public. Preparation work by the administration team started in 2007 on the site of a former psychiatric hospital in the Vienna Woods in the province of Lower Austria.
Positions for the first president, professors and tenure track professors were advertised in Autumn 2007. In July 2008 the German neurobiologist Tobias Bonhoeffer declined an offer to become the first president of the IST Austria. On December 4, 2008 the computer scientist Thomas Henzinger was appointed to this function effective September 1, 2009.
In January 2011 the Scientific Board organized the first independent evaluation of the new institute. The review panel consisted of six internationally renowned scientists who also have considerable experience in science management. The reviewers include two Nobel laureates and former or current presidents of some of the most successful research institutions in the world: the California Institute of Technology, the Rockefeller University, the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology, and the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center. The panel represents broadly the natural and engineering sciences, beyond the research areas that are currently present at IST Austria.
In March 2011 the evaluation committee came to the result that the IST Austria is on its way to become a leading research institution with an international reputation. IST Austria is about to set new benchmarks for both research and training that will not only be important on the national level but also within Europe generally and even more widely. They pointed out that the trajectory of development of all of the elements of this institution is toward making an organization of clear excellence that will be recognized throughout the world, but continued governmental support is a necessary condition.
In February 2012 IST Austria announced that prolonging the first funding phase until 2016 further financing of IST Austria had been secured until 2026. An agreement between the Republic of Austria and the province of Lower Austria was passed in the respective parliaments in July 2012, ensuring continued financing for IST Austria from 2017 to 2026. The Republic of Austria will provide up to € 99 Mio each year to IST Austria, one third of which will be dependent on the successful acquisition of third-party research grants and the fulfillment of research-immanent quality criteria. The province of Lower Austria will provide € 368 Mio from 2017 to 2026 for the infrastructure, buildings and operation of the IST Austria campus. This financing will allow IST Austria to grow to 90 to 100 research groups with up to 1000 scientists by 2026.
The Board of Trustees is the supreme body of IST Austria. It consists of seven scientists, nominated by science funding and advisory institutions, and seven representatives of the public, nominated by federal and provincial institutions, Thomas A. Henzinger being the president , Claus Raidl being the chairman and Anton Zeilinger vice-chairman.
- Catherine Cesarsky (Directeur de recherche à la Direction des Sciences de la Matière (DSM), CEA-Saclay)
- Alice Dautry (President Institut Pasteur, Paris)
- Haim Harari (former President Weizmann Institute, Rechovot)
- Eric R. Kandel (Columbia University New York, Nobel laureate Medicine 2000)
- Olaf Kübler (former President ETH Zurich)
- Kurt Mehlhorn (Director, Max-Planck Institute, Saarbrücken)
- Wolfgang Schürer (Chairman of the Foundation Lindau Nobelprizewinners Meetings and Vice-President of the Council for Lindau Nobel Laureates Meetings, Lindau, Germany)
- Ernst-Ludwig Winnacker, (Secretary General, Human Frontier Science Program)
- Anton Zeilinger (Vienna University)
- Martin Nowak (Harvard University, Director of the Program for Evolutionary Dynamics)
- Alexander Hartig (Board member Constantia Industries AG)
- Gisela Hopfmüller (former department head „Knowledge and Contemporary History“ at Austria’s public broadcasting corporation ORF
- Peter Layr (Member of the Executive Board EVN, Maria Enzersdorf)
- Claus Raidl (President OeNB)
- Wolfgang Ruttensdorfer (Member of the Supervisory Board, Vienna Insurance Group, Vienna)
- Elisabeth Stadler (CEO, ERGO Austria International AG, Vienna)
IST Austria is one of the few research institutes world-wide that is entitled to award a PhD degree. The single, interdisciplinary PhD program has a focus on biology, computer science, mathematics, neuroscience, and physics and is open to applicants from all over the world holding either a BS or MS degree (or equivalent). All participants are selected in an annual, institute-wide admissions process that assesses their research potential. Applicants must apply by mid-January for their studies to start in September. Short-listed candidates are invited on campus for interviews in March.
The PhD program is divided into two distinctive phases: In phase 1 students do rotations, take courses in and outside their field, find a supervisor, and sit a Qualifying Exam. In phase 2 students contribute to the research of one or more scientific groups. They are employed by the Institute and paid at an internationally competitive level. The language of research and instruction at IST Austria is English. The length of the doctoral studies depends on previous degrees and individual progress, and will on average last four to five years.
Other notable scientists
The Scientific Board, chaired by Kurt Mehlhorn, oversees the search for the scientists and will eventually develop a full Professorial Committee. In early 2009 the evolutionary biologist Nick Barton was the first professor to be appointed. In September 2012, three years after the official launch, the faculty has grown to 28 professors and assistant professors:
- Nick Barton, evolutionary biologist
- Eva Benkova, developmental biologist
- Jonathan Bollback, evolutionary biologist
- Tobias Bollenbach, specialist in biological physics
- Krishnendu Chatterjee, specialist in game theory
- Sylvia Cremer, evolutionary biologist
- Jozsef Csicsvari, specialist in systems neuroscience
- Herbert Edelsbrunner, specialist in computational geometry
- Laszlo Erdös, Mathematical physicist
- Jiri Friml, developmental biologist
- Călin Guet, specialist in systems biology
- Carl-Philipp Heisenberg, developmental biologist
- Thomas Henzinger, specialist in software verification
- Simon Hippenmeyer, specialist in developmental neurobiology
- Björn Hof, specialist in fluid dynamics
- Harald Janovjak, specialist in biological physics
- Peter Jonas, neurophysiologist
- Vladimir Kolmogorov, specialist in computer vision and graph algorithms
- Christoph Lampert, specialist in computer vision and machine learning
- Krzysztof Pietrzak, specialist in cryptography
- Robert Seiringer, Mathematical physicist
- Ryuichi Shigemoto, specialist in molecular neuroscience
- Daria Siekhaus, specialist in cell biology and developmental biology
- Michael Sixt, specialist in cell motility
- Gašper Tkačik, Theoretical physicist
- Caroline Uhler, Statistics
- Uli Wagner, specialist in discrete geometry and computational geometry
- Chris Wojtan, specialist in computer graphics
- Baltimore, David. "2011 Evaluation of the Institute of Science and Technology Austria".
- IST Austria, press release. "High-ranking evaluation committee gives IST Austria excellent grade". Retrieved May 2011.
- IST Austria Website. "Future of IST Austria secured". Retrieved 2012-09-03.
- Federal Ministry of Finance. "FUTURE OF IST AUSTRIA ON A SOLID FOUNDATION". Retrieved 2012-09-03.
- IST Website. "Faculty". Retrieved 2012-09-03.
- Official webpage IST Austria
- Article from Bridges, e-zine published by the Office of Science and Technology
- Article from Nature on first steps of appointing scientists