At its meeting on March 6-7, 2019, the ETH Board appointed Prof. Dr. Louise Harra as an affiliated professor of solar astrophysics at the Physics Department of ETH Zurich. At the same time she was appointed Director of the Physical-Meteorological Observatory Davos/World Radiation Center (PMOD/WRC) by the foundation «Schweizerisches Forschungsinstitut für Hochgebirgsklima und Medizin Davos» (SFI). Switzerland is thus making an important contribution to leading research in solar physics, satellite technology and global climate observation.

Prof. Dr. Louise Harra (*1969) holds a doctorate in physics from Queens University Belfast (Ireland) and is currently a professor at University College London (UK). She is an international luminary in the field of solar physics. Her research focuses on the triggering of solar eruptions and coronal mass ejections as well as solar wind formation and propagation. Solar activity and the resulting high-energy particle radiation influence the Earth’s electromagnetic shield and climate. Louise Harra sets strong accents in instrument construction, especially in space travel. She is currently Principal Investigator of the Hinode EUV Imaging Spectrometer (EIS) and Co-Principal Investigator of the EUV Imager in the context of the future ESA Solar Orbiter Mission 2020.

As the new Director of the Physical-Meteorological Observatory Davos/World Radiation Center and affiliated Professor of Solar Astrophysics at the Physics Department of ETH Zurich, Prof. Harra will be responsible for the development of the new ESA Solar Orbiter Mission 2020. Harra will further strengthen the Institute’s outstanding position in satellite and ground-based solar research and the long-term measurement of solar radiation and contribute to teaching and research at ETH Zurich. With the development and calibration of radiation measuring devices, the World Radiation Center in Davos has been ensuring for around 50 years on behalf of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) that radiation measurements in meteorological observation networks worldwide are carried out on a uniform basis and that climate-relevant trends can thus be clearly identified.

Prof. Harra will take up her new position on June 1, 2019. As the new director of the PMOD/WRC in Davos, she succeeds Prof. Dr. Werner Schmutz, who has successfully headed the institute since 1999 and will retire at the end of May 2019. With this dual function as Director of PMOD/WRC and as affiliated professor at the Physics Department of ETH Zurich, numerous synergies can be exploited and the scientific competence in radiation and climate issues, in solar physics and in the construction of space experiments can be further strengthened on both sides and new subject areas tackled.

Source: SFI media release of March 8, 2019