EDMX Alumni Testimonials

Dr. Antimo Marrazzo

My experience

I did my PhD with Prof. Nicola Marzari at the Laboratory of Theory and Simulations of Materials (THEOS), working on electronic-structure simulations of novel materials, with a focus on two-dimensional systems and topological insulators. I completed the PhD in November 2019 with a thesis on “Electronic Structure and Topology of Novel Materials” that won the EPFL EDMX Doctoral Program Thesis distinction (awarded to the top 8% PhD theses). During my PhD I had a lot of fun discovering novel exotic materials with quantum mechanical simulations, in particular I focused on materials where the inner electrons orbit at extremely high speed around the nucleus that one needs to include corrections due to Einstein’s special relativity to describe their electronic properties. These so-called topological materials have also exciting properties that could lead to low-consumption electronic and spintronic devices, in addition to being relevant to develop robust quantum computing platforms.
After the PhD, the pandemic hit the world and I stayed at EPFL until late summer 2020 for a short post-doc at THEOS where I started to explore and develop machine-learning techniques to accelerate electronic-structure calculations. After undergraduate studies in condensed-matter physics in Trieste (Italy, my home country) and a PhD in computational materials science at EPFL, I got very fond of machine learning and intrigued by the idea of applying my research background as a computational scientist in industry, so I spent a couple of months in the private sector working on predictive analysis and artificial intelligence for digital innovation. 
In the meantime, I got a position as a “junior” assistant professor (“RTDa”) in theoretical condensed-matter physics at the University of Trieste where I started in April 2021. Here, I carry out my independent research activity on novel quantum materials, electronic-structure theory and machine learning, in addition to teach at the university level.

I do not particularly feel entitled to give advices to anyone, although I can report on my personal experience. A PhD at EPFL EDMX has been a fantastic experience and opportunity, it changed my life (for the better!) and contributed substantially to define me both professionally and personally. As a PhD student at EDMX EPFL I could cultivate my creativity and live in an incredibly stimulating intellectual environment. Professional pathways after the PhD are very hard to predict in general and there is a lot of randomness and personal aspects involved, but a PhD at EDMX will likely lead you to a very interesting place, being that in industry, academia, education or entrepreneurship.

Dr. Christian Monachon

My experience

I earned my PhD working with Dr. Ludger Weber and Prof. Andreas Mortensen at the Laboratory of Mechanical Metallurgy in 2013. My PhD thesis’ main push was on understanding phonon transfer between metals and dielectrics, which awarded me the 2015 René Wasserman award. My thirst in further understanding phonon transport prompted me to get an early postdoc.mobility fellowship to go explore tunable thermal conductivity materials with Prof Chris Dames at the University of California, Berkeley. I then had the opportunity to come back in Switzerland to develop advanced electron microscopy tools dedicated to cathodoluminescence spectroscopy, which I took starting at Attolight AG in 2016. This position allows me to constantly expand my expertise in science and spectroscopy in particular, through customer interactions as well as SNF and EU funded projects. It also allows me to build an in-depth understanding of the semiconductor metrology and academic business markets.

My pieces of advice

They can be summarized in three statements:

  • Have a goal – but be flexible and change it according to what life gives you
  • Be curious and go see the world – it’s worth it!
  • Take every opportunity you have to intern and see new things professionally