Austrian Scientists & Scholars
in North America

ASciNA Leadership

ASciNA Leadership

ASciNA is governed by the Board of Directors (Vorstand), which is composed of elected officers and chapter presidents, while past presidents provide continuity. Our board members are distinguished Austrian scientists and scholars, living or having lived and worked in the United States, Canada, or Mexico – most of them for a decade or more.

Dietrich Haubenberger President
Dr. Dietrich Haubenberger received his medical degree and training as a neurologist at the Medical University of Vienna, Austria, followed by a tenure track position to become Associate Professor of Neurology in 2014. Dr. Haubenberger’s research focuses on the area of movement disorders, where he is an expert in tremor disorders. He published in the field of clinical genetics, neurophysiology, outcome measures research, as well as clinical trials. From 2008-2011, Dr. Haubenberger completed a clinical research fellowship at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH, located in Bethesda, MD) conducting IND-regulated clinical trials in patients with Essential Tremor. Dr. Haubenberger returned to NINDS in 2014 as Assistant Clinical Director for Clinical Research, and built up and directed the NINDS Clinical Trials Unit. In 2019, Dr. Haubenberger transitioned into a Clinical Development role in the biopharmaceutical industry, where he is now leading drug-development programs for neurological diseases at Neurocrine Biosciences in San Diego, CA. Within ASciNA, Dietrich lead the Greater Washington DC Chapter from 2008-2011 and was involved in the inception and development of the ASciNA Mentoring Program. Dietrich, who also holds a Masters Degree for Clinical Research from Duke University, lives with his family in San Diego, CA.

Thomas Wallner

Vice-President and Chapter Co-President, Mid West and Chicago

Dr. Thomas Wallner is a Principal Investigator and Manager of the Fuels, Engine and Aftertreatment Research Section at Argonne National Laboratory’s Center for Transportation. In this role Thomas and his team plan, perform and analyze work for research projects on engine and combustion topics spanning a range of fuels including hydrogen and natural gas, gasoline and alcohol fuels as well as diesel fuel and its alternatives. Before joining Argonne in 2005, Thomas worked for the Institute for Internal Combustion Engines and Thermodynamics at Graz University of Technology, where he also graduated with a MS (Dipl-Ing.) in 2001 and a PhD (Dr. tech.) in 2004 in Mechanical Engineering.

Since 2009 Dr. Wallner is also part of the adjunct faculty at Michigan Technological University. As Assistant Professor in the Mechanical Engineering – Engineering Mechanics Department he supervises and mentors students for the masters’ as well as doctoral research work. Dr. Wallner has published more than 50 peer-reviewed technical papers and holds a European Patent on Hydrogen Injection Strategies. Thomas is also an active member of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) and recipient of SAE’s Forest R. McFarland and Lloyd L. Withrow Distinguished Speaker Award. Dr. Wallner currently serves as an Associate Editor for SAE’s International Journal of Engines and vice chair of SAE’s Powertrains, Fuels and Lubricants Activity.

Thomas was born and raised in Graz/Austria, currently serves as ASciNA’s Vice-President and is also the Chapter Head for the Chicago Chapter of the Austrian Scientists and Scholars in North America (ASciNA).

Peter Ertl

Vice-President and Chapter Co-President, Austria (Alumni

Initially, Peter Ertl studied Food Sciences and Biotechnology at theUniversity of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna, Austria. In 1997 Dr. Ertl entered a Ph.D. program in Chemistry at the University of Waterloo (Ontario, Canada) focusing on biosensor and bioassay development for the rapid identification of microorganisms. Following the completion of his Ph.D. in 2001, he worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California at Berkeley (CA, US) developing capillary electrophoresis chips (CE) for DNA analysis and fragment sizing. In 2003, he co-founded RapidLabs Inc. (Kitchener Ontario, Canada) a medical diagnostic device company in the field of antibiotic susceptibility testing where he worked as Director of Product Development until 2005. He then joined the AIT Austrian Institute of Technology, Vienna Austria where he currently heads the Cell Chip research group at the Biosensor Technologies Department. He lectures various courses at the Technical University Vienna, University of Life Sciences Vienna and University of Applied Sciences. In 2011 he was appointed Adj. Assoc. Prof. (habilitation) in the field of Nanobiotechnology at the University of Life Sciences Vienna. In 2012 Dr. Ertl was awarded Fulbright Visiting Scholar at  the Department of Chemistry of the University of California at Berkele, while in 2013 and 2014 he was invited Visiting Scientist at the Nangyang Technological University, Singapore and the Medical Center of UC SanFrancisco. 

Franz Franchetti

Immediate Past President and Chapter President, Pennsylvania
 

Franz Franchetti is a Professor with the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. He received the Dipl.-Ing. (M.Sc.) degree in Technical Mathematics and the Dr. techn. (Ph.D.) degree in Computational Mathematics from the Vienna University of Technology in 2000 and 2003, respectively. In 2006 he was member of the team winning the Gordon Bell Prize (Peak Performance Award) and in 2010 he was member of the team winning the HPC Challenge Class II Award (most productive system). In 2013 he received the CIT Dean’s Early Career Fellowship awarded by the College of Engineering of Carnegie Mellon University. Dr. Franchetti’s research focuses on automatic performance tuning and program generation for emerging parallel platforms and algorithm/hardware co-synthesis. He targets multicore CPUs, clusters and high-performance systems (HPC), graphics processors (GPUs), field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs), FPGA-acceleration for CPUs, and logic-in-memory and 3DIC chip design. He leads three DARPA projects in the BRASS, HACMS and PERFECT programs and is PI/Co-PI on a number of federal and industry grants. Since 2011 he is CTO of SpiralGen, Inc., a Pittsburgh area technology startup he co-founded in 2009. Franz has been playing the electric guitar on-stage in various rock bands since 1993. Watch him perform live or visit Wr. Neustadt’s newcomer festival SCHMU, where he performed and served as stage engineer. He is ASciNA President and leads the Western Pennsylvania chapter of Austrian Scientists and Scholars in North America (ASCiNA).

Günter Lepperdinger

Treasurer
 

Dr. Günter Lepperdinger is co-founder of ASciNA. He is at the center of the Austrian ASciNA activities. Further, he is organizing the ASciNA Awards. For his years of service and his tireless leadership he received the ASciNA Champions Award, which was awarded as a surprise during the Celebration of 10 Years of ASciNA.

Günter Lepperdinger is Full Professor at the University of Salzburg. He holds a PhD in Biochemistry, is a developmental biologist by training and has worked in Biogerontology with specialization on Stem Cell Ageing since 2002 at “The Inst. for Biomedical Aging Research” in Innsbruck, Austria. He recently moved to Salzburg University to chair the Stem Cell Biology and Healthy Longevity Research Unit. He is Editor to Karger’s “Gerontology”, furthermore serving as an Editorial Board Member for many international scientific journals and engaged in European research projects on Aeging (e.g. MOPACT) and Tissue Engineering (e.g. VASCUBone). 

Hubert Zajicek

Past President and Chapter President, South West
 

Dr. Hubert Zajicek is past-president of ASciNA. He also was a co-founder and founding board member of ASciNA, serving in many different capacities. He is CEO, co-founder and partner at Health Wildcatters, a top ranked seed stage healthcare accelerator in Dallas. He previously was managing director – medical technology of NTEC (North Texas Enterprise Center) – Medical Technology in Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas and organizer of the regions‘ largest medical technology investment conference every year. Before joining NTEC he held a faculty position in the Department of Internal Medicine – Nephrology and Cell Biology at UT Southwestern, where he also was a post-doctoral NIH-fellow. Hubert received his Doctorate in Medicine (M.D.) from the University of Vienna, School of Medicine (1996), and his Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) from the Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University in 2006.

Gregor Kos

Secretary and Chapter President, Montreal and Eastern Canada
 

I am a researcher and lecturer at at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada.

My research focuses on the analysis and modelling of instrumental, observational data (air quality, occurrence of air, water and soil contaminants such as mercury and  (bio)organics). My current research focus is on predictive modelling using machine learning methods, all of which I do with R and Matlab.

I teach Analytical and Environmental Chemistry, Thermodynamics and Advanced Data Analysis at Concordia.

 Follow me on Twitter

Eva Schernhammer

Past President, Controller
 

DDr. Eva Schernhammer founded in 2001 – coinciding with the formation of a group of Austrian scientists in Washington DC – the inaugural ASCINA Chapter in Boston together with Dr. Wolfgang Winkelmayer. Soon after, they and the growing group of Ascina members in Boston put together the association statutes and launched in June 2002 the North America-wide association „ASCINA“ (with her as one of the founding members). Together with Wolfgang Winkelmayer she established in Boston for the first time the „monthly scientific talks“ followed by socializing in a local pub – today integral part of all ASCINA Chapters. After having chaired the Boston Chapter for several years, from 2005-2008 she was elected the first female president of all ASCINA.

From the very beginning, the ASCINA Chapter in Boston established itself as the most prosperous and member-strong Chapter within ASCINA, and became the main driving force for Ascina’s agenda in the early years of the association. Under the presidency and the initiative of Wolfgang Winkelmayer, the member database had grown to a remarkable extent. This won ASCINA, the first and only club of Austrian scientists in North America, attention and gave it importance to the Republic of Austria, paving the way for several important decisions, under the presidency of Eva Schernhammer. At the initiative of Eva Schernhammer and thanks to her persistent lobbying, the ASCINA Award was established in 2008, sponsored by the Austrian Ministry of Science (BMWF). The first ASCINA prizes, endowed with 20,000.- EUR, were subsequently awarded on 10 November 2008, by Minister Hahn and Eva Schernhammer. Furthermore, under Eva’s presidency, club membership was formalized (i.e. various levels of ASCINA membership, as well as the introduction of a membership fee), and the ASCINA mentoring program, which was based on an idea by Werner Olipitz and set up personally by him, was initiated. A virtual secretariat was established (also sponsored by the Austrian Ministries, at that time BMVIT/brainpower), which allowed to expand the membership database, send out an annual newsletter, establish additional Chapters, and, in 2008, organize the second major ASCINA Conference in Vienna. During the last year of her presidency, Peter Nagele became Vice-President and actively supported Eva Schernhammer, allowing that a seamless transfer of responsibilities could be carried out with the end of 2008.

In 2009/2010 Eva Schernhammer spent a sabbatical at UCLA in Los Angeles, and at that time took over the Presidency of the Chapter “South Pacific”, which was able to regroup and, with new impetus, continued to thrive.

After several years of clinical work at SMZ-South (at that time the Kaiser-Franz-Josef Hospital) in Vienna, with a focus on oncology, Eva Schernhammer, who is an alumna of the Medical University of Vienna (MD 1992), received her doctorate in Epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and, since 2003, was full-time faculty at Harvard Medical School/HSPH. Since 2015, she is Professor of Epidemiology and Head of the Department of Epidemiology at the Medical University of Vienna, while maintaining active research programs at Harvard. In addition to her MD (Medical University of Vienna, 1992) and Doctor of Public Health, Epidemiology (DrPH, 2003 Harvard School of Public Health), she also holds an MPH (Harvard School of Public Health, 2000) and MSc (Psychology, University of Vienna, 2003). In 2005, Dr. Eva Schernhammer received her Habilitation in Public Health/Social Medicine (Medical University of Vienna). In October 2011, she successfully completed her check-ride over the Malibu Hills and obtained the „Private Pilot License“ from Encore Flight School in Van Nyus, California.

Stefan Dollinger Vice Secretary

Eva Fast

Chapter President, Greater Boston

Dr. Fast originally came to Boston in 2005 to perform research in Developmental Biology for my Diploma thesis at the Dana-Farber Cancer insitute. After she graduated with a Dipl-Ing (FH) in Biotechnology from the University of Applied sciences (Fachhochschule) Krems she returned to Boston and completet a PhD in Biology at Boston University. After her graduation in 2013 she started Post-doc at Harvard University. she has been a participant at various ASCINA meetings, science talks as well as the mentoring program.  Since 2013 she is the head of the ASCINA Greater Boston Chapter.

Peter Nagele

Past President and Chapter President, Mid West and Chicago

Dr. Peter Nagele ist Gründung- und langjaehriges Vorstandsmitglied von ASCINA. Von 2008 bis 2011 bekleidete er das Amt des Präsidenten. Er arbeitet seit 2005 Anästhesist und klinischer Forscher an der Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, und leitet dort eine klinische Forschungsgruppe. Seine Forschung konzentriert sich auf kardiale Komplikationen von chirurgischen Patienten und genetische Risikofaktoren. Ein zweiter Schwerpunkt ist der von ihm entdeckte Ansatz, Patienten mit schwerer, therapieresistenter Depression mittels Lachgas zu behandeln, was innerhalb von wenigen Stunden zu einer deutlichen Verbesserung der depressiven Symptome fuehrt.

Er hat an der Uni Innsbruck Medizin studiert und seine Facharztausbildung in Anaesthesiologie und Intensivmedizin am AKH Wien abgeschlossen. 2005 habilitierte sich Peter Nagele an der Medizinischen Universität Wien und ist seither in den USA. 

Cornelia Fermuller

Cornelia Fermueller

Chapter President, Washington, DC

Cornelia Fermüller is the President of the Washington DC chapter

Michael J. Fink

Chapter President, Greater Boston

Michael J. Fink is a postdoctoral research associate with George M. Whitesides at the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Harvard. His research investigates the influence of water in interactions of drug molecules with proteins, the role of fatty acids and its bacterial producers in the human gut, and methods for the storage of information in molecules.

Michael was born and raised in Vienna and obtained his undergraduate and graduate education in chemical engineering at TU Wien (Ph.D. 2013, biochemical engineering). He lives in Boston since August 2015.

Together with Magdalena Klemun (B.Sc. 2011, electrical engineering, TU Wien; now at MIT), Michael currently leads and coordinates the joint efforts of three Austrian student and ex-pat networks in the Greater Boston area (ASCINA, Harvard Club of Austria, TU Wien alumni club Boston). Magdalena and Michael aim to create a professional and social framework for exchange for all Austrians in Boston, to host eminent speakers from Austria for interesting events, and to promote the communication of our experiences abroad as a benefit for students and professionals back home.

Andreas Kurz

Chapter President, Mexico

Andreas Kurz is professor and researcher at the University of Guanajuato in Mexico. He is the head of the Masters program in Latin-American Literature. He studied Comparative Literature in Vienna and Latin-American Literature in Puebla – Mexico.

Irene Maier

Chapter President, Austria (Alumni)

Irene is working as a researcher at UCLA. She graduated from University of Vienna and was awarded an international L’Oréal-UNESCO fellowship for her work on the development of an optical immunochip biosensor for rapid allergen detection in complex food matrices and allergy diagnosis. She is interested in the molecular understanding of immune diseases and emphasizes on interactions between immunoglobulin-like protein structures and antigens. Irene did a postdoc at Caltech before she changed to UCLA. In her postdoctoral work with NASA she established broad cancer research projects with a team of international collaborators committed to high-level space biology.

Christine Marizzi

ASciNA Greater New York Chapter President

I graduated from the University of Vienna, Austria, with a Ph.D. degree in Genetics for investigating a unique stem-cell mutant of the plant model Arabidopsis thaliana. Since 2015, I direct the Urban Barcode Projectat Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory’s DNA Learning Center, a signature citizen science program around biodiversity in the NYC metropolitan area. My current position allows me to combine my extensive training in Genetics and Microbiology with my passion for science communication and outreach in a nonprofit environment. With 12+ years in national and international education, I dedicate my time, energy and intellect to build frameworks that help citizen scientists realize their greatest potential in STEM fields and provide traditionally under-represented minorities with multiple entry points to academic and professional careers in STEM disciplines.

My deep interest in biological systems and data visualization also led to several collaborations with artists and architects in Vienna, Tel Aviv, London and New York, designing custom visuals and hands-on activities for their events. Resulting artworks were exhibited widely, including the Architecture Biennale Venice (Italy), Vienna Science Festival (Austria), Aspen Ideas Festival (USA), the American Society for Microbiology (USA), and the School of Visual Arts New York (USA).

Bence Viola

Chapter President, Toronto and South-Central Canada

I am a paleoanthropologist focusing on the biological and cultural dynamics of the contacts between different hominin groups in the late Pleistocene.

To better understand these interactions, I use a combination of morphological, genetic and archaeological approaches. I concentrate on Central / Northern Asia and Central Europe, which are both areas where contacts between modern and archaic humans are thought to have taken place.

The probably most interesting region for this question are the Altai mountains of Southern Siberia, where we do not only find the easternmost Neanderthals, but also a group that we mostly know form its DNA, the Denisovans. I am currently working on the description of new Neanderthal and Denisovan fossils from this region, and am also involved in ancient DNA analyses of these remains. I also conduct new fieldwork at Sel’ungur cave in Kyrgyzstan, where excavations in the 1980s recovered the oldest human remains from Central Asia.

Central Europe is one of the regions where Neanderthals and modern humans probably met. Together with scientists from Germany, Austria and Hungary we are currently studying the late Neanderthals and first modern humans from this area, trying to understand when and how these contacts took place.

Alexandra Lieben

Chapter President, Pacific South

Alexandra Lieben is Deputy Director of the UCLA Burkle Center for International Relations and a recognized organizational & management consultant, specializing in systemic organizational development with emphasis on cultural diversity and inclusion.

Peter Hosemann

Chapter President, Bay Area

Peter Hosemann is the Chapter-Head of the ASciNA Chapter in the Bay Area