Prof. Dr. Wilfried Haeberli headed the Glaciology, Geomorphodynamics and Geochronology Unit until 2012. He's research concentrated on glaciers and permafrost in high mountain areas, in particular in context of climate change but also related to natural hazards, environmental monitoring, slope movement and environmental reconstructions. He was the driving force for establishing the World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS) and Permafrost Monitoring Office Service (PERMOS) in its present form.
Prof. Dr. Hans Elsasser was appointed professor at the University of Zurich in 1987, where he headed the Economic Geography Unit. Hans Elsasser was always committed to transdisciplinarity and assumed social responsibility reaching well beyond the walls of the university. After his retirement in 2009, he remained president of the Senior Citizens’ University until 2016. Senioren-Universität
Prof. Dr. Klaus Itten studied and gained his doctorate at the Department of Geography of the UZH and did his post-doc at NASA. He was one of the five Swiss selected as candidates to become ESA astronauts. But it was Claude Nicollier who went into space, and Klaus Itten habilitated and pursued an academic career. He took over the Remote Sensing Laboratories from Harald Haefner and headed it until 2009.
Prof. Dr. Kurt Brassel: Until his retirement in 2005, Kurt Brassel was the Head of Geographic Information Analysis. He not only founded and headed the first GIS Division in Switzerland at the University of Zurich, he also played a prominent role in the development and establishment of GIS research throughout Continental Europe.
Prof. Dr. Harold Haefner: Since his inauguration in 1971 Harold Haefner engaged in applied remote sensing. In 1986, he founded the Remote Sensing Laboratories at the Department and headed it until 2000. This research centre is now one of the leading remote sensing institutes in Europe.
Prof. Dr. Albert Leemann is a Human Geographer who built up research in developing countries at the Department with a special interest in Indonesia. His research was characterized by great cultural empathy. After 24 years as a teacher, he joined the University of Zurich in 1978 and retired in 1995 as Head of Human Geography.
Prof. Dr. Gerhard Furrer († 2013) had already been Professor of Geography for ten years, when he was appointed Head of Physical Geography and Head of Department in 1978. In his vision Geography was seen as one entity and he engaged in a broad spectrum of themes and methods, which are still significant for the Department. He retired in 1993.