2018 Alumni Awards and Honoris Causa Doctorates
At EPFL’s 2018 graduation ceremony, the EPFL Alumni club gave out Alumni Awards to two former students who have had outstanding careers: Pauline Baumgartner-Harris and Déborah Heintze. The School also awarded two Honoris Causa degrees – one to Martine Clozel, a medical doctor, and the other to Yann LeCun, the computer scientist who heads up artificial intelligence research at Facebook.
2018 Alumni Awards
Pauline Baumgartner-Harris (CH ‘97)
Baumgartner-Harris, who grew up in Paris, was always interested in science and decided to follow in the footsteps of her father – a graduate of EPFL’s predecessor school, EPUL. She obtained a chemical engineering degree from EPFL in 1997. After completing an internship at an intellectual property consulting firm in London, she decided to pursue a career in this field and spent four years in the patents department of Firmenich. In 2002 she became a licensed European patent attorney and in 2004 was appointed Firmenich’s global technology marketing manager, where her role included developing a marketing strategy and serving as the interface between innovation, customers and R&D. Backed by this hands-on business experience, she returned to intellectual property, but this time at Nestlé where she managed IP for the ice-cream business, based at the company’s headquarters in Vevey. In 2013 she returned to Firmenich to implement the firm’s open innovation strategy, setting up a number of strategic partnerships. She was appointed vice president of intellectual property in 2016 and now heads a ten-person team.
Déborah Heintze (SV ‘12)
Déborah Heintze spent her childhood in Lausanne where she was passionate about math and sports. She obtained a Bachelor’s degree in life sciences and technology at EPFL and then spent a year at the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology in Boston. Returning to EPFL, she graduated with a Master’s degree in bioengineering in 2012. Although she had originally planned to follow a conventional career path, she was given the opportunity to help launch a new business: Lunaphore Technologies, an EPFL spin-off whose revolutionary technology can slash the time needed to diagnose cancer cells from a few hours to a few minutes. She is now Lunaphore’s COO and manages a 30-person team. Her responsibilities include supply-chain management, regulatory affairs, sales & marketing and business development. In 2018, Lunaphore raised 5.3 million francs in capital, formed a number of strategic partnerships and was ranked #3 in the Top 100 Swiss Startups. That year Heintze also made it into the Forbes 30 Under 30 list for Switzerland.
2018 Honoris Causa Doctorates
A medical doctor by training, Clozel is currently the chief scientific officer of Idorsia, a biopharmaceutical company that develops new drugs for innovative therapeutic treatments.