Rolf Holderegger becomes new Director of WSL

At the request of the ETH Board, the Federal Council has appointed Rolf Holderegger as the new Director of the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL. The biologist will take office on 1 October, 2024.

Rolf Holderegger is currently head of the Biodiversity and Conservation Biology research unit at WSL and adjunct professor in the Department of Environmental Systems Science at ETH Zurich. The 59-year-old is fascinated by the great societal significance of WSL. "It is important to me to offer authorities, politicians, professionals and society science-based recommendations and solutions for pressing environmental problems," he says, explaining his motivation for the new role. "That's why I want - in collaboration with the other institutions of the ETH Domain - to set up WSL in such a way that it can fulfill these tasks as well as possible".

Combining research and implementation

Holderegger is already pursuing similar goals as head of a research unit. He and his team of over sixty staff members study the diversity of life in its various forms, from genetic diversity to the diversity of species and habitats and their interactions. In doing so, he demands and promotes research at the highest level as well as applied science and outreach in equal measure: In collaboration with partners such as the federal government, cantons and municipalities, Rolf Holderegger and his research unit develop scientific foundations for management strategies to protect biodiversity and natural resources in Switzerland and internationally.

Professional stations

Rolf Holderegger studied biology at the University of Zurich, where he obtained his doctorate in 1997. He then worked for two years as a postdoc at the University of St Andrews in Scotland. Rolf Holderegger also worked as a high school teacher and as a consultant in the field of nature conservation before taking up a position as deputy head of the Ecological Genetics Section at WSL in 2001. In 2006 Rolf Holderegger was promoted to head of the Ecological Genetics and Evolution research unit at WSL and in 2009 he was appointed adjunct professor at the Department of Environmental Systems Science at ETH Zurich. He has headed the Biodiversity and Conservation Biology research unit at WSL since 2011. He was a member of the WSL Directorate from 2011 to 2023 and served as Deputy Director for just over a year in 2020 following the unexpected death of the then WSL Director. Since 2023, he has headed the "Translational Centre Biodiversity Conservation", which builds a bridge between research in biodiversity and nature conservation and practical application for the entire ETH Domain. His research projects have been supported by the European Union, the SNSF, Innosuisse, the FOEN, the cantons and municipalities, the ETH Domain and various foundations.

Rolf Holderegger will take up his new post on 1 October 1, 2024. He replaces deputy director Christoph Hegg who has led WSL since the resignation of Beate Jessel at the end of July 2023.

Always up to date: Subscribe to the WSL Newsletter



WSL and SLF provide image and sound material free of charge for use in the context of press contributions in connection with this media release. The transfer of this material to image, sound and/or video databases and the sale of the material by third parties are not permitted.