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ISTA Alumni Award for Alexander Kolesnikov

ISTA President Martin Hetzer with the 2023 ISTA Alumni Award winner Alexander Kolesnikov © Anna Stöcher | ISTA

The ISTA Alumni Award 2023, given to excellent former ISTA researchers, was presented during the Graduation Ceremony of the ISTA Graduate School at the end of June. Awardee Alexander Kolesnikov is a great example of what the future can hold for excellent PhD students after graduating from ISTA: he received his doctorate in 2018, is currently working at Google Research in Zurich.

Already during his PhD, Kolesnikov focused on the design of computer systems that can automatically learn to parse and understand visual information, like images or videos. “The crux of my research lies in enhancing the efficiency with which computers learn to interpret visual data from examples,” Kolesnikov explains. What he has begun at ISTA’s Lampert group focusing on machine learning and computer vision, he is still pursuing at Google now—and that very successfully, as his former supervisor Christoph Lampert points out:  “Not even five years after his PhD, Alexander has become a highly cited scholar in his field. He has made an astonishing number of influential contributions to computer vision, most notably the creation of machine learning algorithms, so called Vision Transformers. These have now become the foundation of most state-of-the-art computer vision models, both academic and well as commercial.”

This is one of the many reasons making Kolesnikov a worthy winner of the alumni award, which he received at the ceremony this Thursday. And the appreciation clearly is mutual. “I am deeply honored to receive the ISTA Alumni Award,” Kolesnikov said. “This recognition holds special significance for me, as ISTA has played a pivotal role in shaping me as a scientist.”

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