Evaluation of IST Austria recognizes achievements and recommends long-term government commitment

The recent, third evaluation of IST Austria covered the period 2016-2019. The review of the Institute was carried out by an international team of scientists headed by Serge Haroche, 2012 Nobel laureate in physics. Their report was delivered to the Institute’s Board of Trustees as well as to the Austrian government and parliament in June 2020.

Campus IST Austria © Reiner Riedler/IST Austria
Campus IST Austria © Reiner Riedler/IST Austria

The review focused on the Institute’s scientific achievements, general development, hiring strategy, research portfolio, graduate school, scientific and administrative support structures, efforts in technology transfer and science education, internal organization, and plans for the future. The overall conclusion was that IST Austria is following a positive trajectory. It states: “The initial vision was the right one and IST Austria is an example to follow for other countries wishing to develop ‘blue sky’ science based on excellence.”

The main findings and recommendations of the report are:

  • The panel recognized that the Institute is on track to reach the goals set by the Austrian Government and the state of Lower Austria. The report applauded the Institute’s achievements in such a short time, having been established only ten years ago.
  • The panel recommended that the Institute keep growing at its current pace to reach a faculty of 90 PIs by 2026 and 150 PIs by 2036. In order for the Institute to achieve these milestones as well as the goal of becoming an international leader in basic research, the Austrian Government and the state of Lower Austria must remain committed to supporting IST Austria.
  • The panel commended Tom Henzinger, President of IST Austria, as well as the management and administration members for leading the Institute through a period of rapid dynamic growth with vision, energy, and conviction.
  • The panel recommended intensifying efforts to build a research hotspot in chemistry and pursue efforts to increase the female to male ratio in the faculty, especially in the fields of mathematics, physics, and computer science.

In addition, the report commented on the Graduate School of IST Austria: “To build a strong first rate academic institution the quality of the students is also very important. The committee recognizes the efforts made by IST Austria to recruit high quality students worldwide. Our exchange with the students has shown to us that they are in general very happy to be trained at IST Austria.”

Members of the international evaluation committee:

Professor Serge Haroche (Panel Chair)
Collège de France
Nobel Prize in Physics 2012

Professor John Ball
Heriot-Watt University

Professor Maria Leptin
Director of EMBO

Professor Helmut Schwarz
TU Berlin

Professor Robert Tarjan
Princeton University
Turing Award 1986

Professor Richard Tsien
New York University

Professor Ada Yonath
Weizmann Institute of Science
Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2009

Download the IST Austria Evaluation Report 2019