IDSIA USI-SUPSI professor is appointed to the Research Council of the SNSF

Institutional Communication Service

The Swiss National Research Foundation (SNSF) has appointed Fabrizio Grandoni, Professor of Approximation Algorithms at the Dalle Molle Institute for Artificial Intelligence USI-SUPSI (IDSIA), as a member of its Research Council in the Mathematics, Natural and Environmental Sciences Division. He will be in charge of theoretical computer science aspects, replacing Arjel Lenstra. Prof. Grandoni will start his appointment as of April 1, 2021.

We met with Prof. Grandoni for a brief interview.

What will be your assignment at the SNSF National Research Council and what job prospects do you plan to pursue?

"I will be part of Division II, which is responsible for evaluating projects submitted to the SNSF in Mathematics, Natural Sciences, and Engineering. Specifically, I will be primarily responsible for projects in Theoretical Computer Science but will participate in the discussion of all projects. I will work to better understand the current state of Theoretical Computer Science in Switzerland, including areas farther away from my current research interests so that I can assess the projects in all fairness. If given the opportunity, I would also like to contribute to some of the core goals of the SNSF. In particular, I will devote myself to the promotion of young researchers: drawing talent from around the world can be a strength for Switzerland in the future, as it has been in the past. Also, women's participation in the research areas mentioned above (and even more so in my specific area) is still too low in Switzerland, as in many other countries. For this reason, great opportunities for scientific and economic growth are being lost, so I will do my best to change this".

What are the most exciting aspects of this new role and the opportunities?

"I am driven and, at the same time, frightened by the idea of being involved in the evaluation of projects very far from my current and past research areas: I will have to expand my horizons, see things with a broader perspective. It will require hard work, but I think it will be a great opportunity for me to mature. In a way, I am also excited to contribute to scientific discovery through my role at SNSF. Switzerland has welcomed me by offering me the opportunity to do my work to the best of my ability, and I am happy to be able to reciprocate, at least in part."

How does this appointment fit into your career as a professor and researcher?

"The first years of my career were almost entirely dedicated to research and teaching. In recent years, however, I have begun to invest a lot of time in the service to my scientific community. For example, I have been, and I am, chairman of the programme committee of major European conferences, member of the programme committee of the conferences related to my research area, and member of the editorial board of important journals, always in the area mentioned above. Also, I have contributed and still contribute to the organisation of conferences, seminars and workshops. Finally, I perform regular work in evaluating projects, PhD theses and candidates for scientific positions of different nature. Working at the SNSF is another step in the direction of helping the scientific community as a whole, beyond my specific research work."

What are your next personal and professional goals?

"My main short-term goal is to do my job at the SNSF as best as I can. It will undoubtedly be very challenging, especially at the beginning. After that, I would like to strengthen my research group at IDSIA USI-SUPSI by seeking Swiss and European funding and attracting more and more valuable members. This second step, in particular, requires a lot of networking given the competition with other leading universities and research centres in Switzerland and the rest of Europe. Last but not least, I will do my best to offer my students courses of increasing quality and interest".