ASciNA Leadership

ASciNA is lead by the board (Vorstand) consisting of the officers and chapter heads while the past presidents provide continuity. Our board members are distinguished Austrian scientists or scholars who live and work in the United States--most of them for a decade or more.

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 role as Medical Director for Early Clinical Development at a biotechnology company 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 Co-Head, 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).


Elisa Arthofer

Vice-President and Co-Chapter Head, Washington D.C.

Dr. Elisa Arthofer holds a BSc and MSc in Medical and Pharmaceutical Biotechnology from the University of Applied Sciences Krems, Austria, and received her PhD in Pharmacology and Neuroscience from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, as well as the National Institutes of Health, Maryland, USA. After training in research laboratories in Austria, Australia, Sweden, and the US, Elisa has focused her research in the field of immune oncology and gene editing. During a postdoctoral period at the George Washington University in Washington DC, Elisa worked on generating oncogenic P53 point mutations in human cancer cells by using CRISPR/Cas9 and was the first to successfully use this approach in the context of creating “clean” point mutations.
In 2019, Elisa transitioned into a role as Genome Editing Scientist for a biotech company in Maryland working on generating novel immunotherapies for cancer.

Away from the bench, Elisa is passionate about international communities and bringing people together. From 2017-2019, Elisa served as Treasurer and President for the George Washington University Postdoc Association. In 2019, Elisa joined the Montgomery County Biotech Program Advisory Committee to guide the development and the execution of establishing an innovative program to prepare students for opportunities along the biotechnology scientist and engineer career ladder. Elisa has been co-heading the ASciNA Washington DC Chapter since 2015 and is looking forward to establishing a strong and mutually-beneficial relationship with the Austrian community in Washington DC in her role as ASciNA Vice-President for Washington DC. 


Peter Ertl

Vice-President and Chapter Head, 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 Head, 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).

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 Head, 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 Head, 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

Dr. 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.


Monika C. Trebo

Vice-Secretary

Monika C. Trebo spent more than 13 years in Information Technology at the Stanford Genome Technology Center, Stanford School of Medicine.

A member since the ASciNA Bay Area Chapter’s inaugural meeting in 2002, Monika Trebo was elected to co-chair the Chapter in 2006. Together with Susanne Pangratz-Führer and Sonja Schmid, she was able to regroup the chapter, and to recruit and retain members. In 2013, she took over the Presidency of the Bay Area Chapter. The Chapter’s membership base quadrupled between 2006 and 2015, making this Chapter the second largest within ASciNA.

Monika Trebo engaged in fostering the interaction between ASciNA Bay Area and the Startup Community by co-organizing events with the (then) Austrian Innovation Center Silicon Valley.

As a member of the Board, she is in charge of the member database and works with the President to communicate the organization’s goals and achievements via the web site and social media.

She holds a Master’s degree from the University of Innsbruck, Austria.


Eva Fast

Chapter Head, 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 programm.  Since 2013 she is the head of the ASCINA Greater Boston Chapter.


Peter Nagele

Past President and Chapter Head, 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. 


Gerald Brandacher

Chapter Head, Washington, DC

Dr. Gerald Brandacher is scientific director of the Johns Hopkins Reconstructive Transplantation program. He is also an associate professor of surgery (PAR) in the Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

He is Past-President of the Austrian Society of Surgical Research, Board Member of the Composite Tissue Allotransplantation Working Group of the European Society of Organ Transplantation (ESOT), Co-chair of the American Society of Transplantation (AST) Vascular Composite Allotransplantation Advisory Council and is a Founding and Board Member of the American Society of Reconstructive Transplantation (ASRT).


Michael J. Fink

Chapter Head, 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.


Jürgen Haberleithner

Chapter Head, Mexico

Jürgen Haberleithner is a Professor and Researcher at an APEC Study Center (Official Research Center of APEC - Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation - member countries), at the University of Colima, Mexico. His profile is a hybrid between international academic and business development. He holds a PHD in International Affairs (Political Science), at the University of Vienna (Austria). His main fields of research are socio-economics, Labor Market Policy and International Scientific Cooperation. He is head of ASCINA Mexico and president of the Austrian-Spanish Society.


Nikolaus Hammler

Chapter Head, Bay Area

Nikolaus Hammler received his M.Sc. degree from Graz University of Technology. He is currently working on his PhD in the Department of Electrical Engineering at Stanford University. His research interests are integrated circuit design, communication systems, signal processing and IT security/cryptography.
He held positions at NXP Semiconductors, Maxim Integrated, ST Microelectronics, Xilinx and Apple.


Irene Maier

Chapter Head, 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).


Andreas Strebinger

Chapter Head, Toronto and South-Central Canada

Dr. Andreas Strebinger is Associate Professor of Marketing at the School of Administrative Studies, York University, Toronto. His research focuses on globalization, digitalization and growth strategies for brands. Currently, he is working on cross-cultural communication strategies as well as on customer acceptance of new technologies like AI- and Blockchain-Enabled Services.

He regularly teaches in the summer program of  the University of International Business and Economics, Beijing, and was a visiting professor/scholar at the Ohio State University, the University of Graz, and  the Vienna University of Economics and Business (WU Wien), his Alma Mater.

His research has received numerous awards, among others from the American Marketing Association, the German Brand Association, the Austrian Advertising Research Association and the European Journal of Marketing. Dr. Strebinger also worked on various projects with large and medium-sized companies as well as with charitable institutions in North America and Europe.


Alexandra Lieben

Chapter Head, 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.