Distinguished RWTH Fellows 2022


This year, the honorary title was awarded to Professor Frank Piller from Faculty 8 – the School of Business and Economics – and Professor Fabian Kießling from Faculty 10 – the Faculty of Medicine. The official award ceremony is expected to take place in spring 2022.

  Professor Frank Piller in front of chalkboard Copyright: © Marcus Gerards

Professor Piller

Professor Frank Piller is one of the leading international experts on innovation management, particularly in mass customization and open innovation. His current research focuses on the need for established companies to transform in the face of disruptive business model innovations by creating appropriate organizational structures and cultures.

Professor Piller has a track record of many exceptional research accomplishments that are also highly visible internationally. His research has received numerous awards, including the “Innovating Innovation” award from Harvard Business Review and McKinsey. Professor Piller has rendered outstanding services to the future viability of RWTH, and through his many years of dedicated service, he has greatly enhanced the University’s profile.

During his time as Vice-Dean of the School of Business and Economics between 2015 and 2021, he decisively shaped its embedding in RWTH’s strategy. Even before that, as speaker of the strategy group, he played a crucial role in establishing the School’s new structure with a focus on interdisciplinary areas. In the University’s bid to receive funding through Germany’s Excellence Initiative program, Frank Piller was an active representative of the School of Business and Economics throughout all application phases and during all inspections. He is the spokesperson of the IMF project house, a researcher in the Internet of Production cluster of excellence, and a member of the steering committee of the Production Engineering profile area.

In his research, Professor Piller acts as a link to connect the School’s interdisciplinary activities with other RWTH faculties and other research institutions while steadily and successfully driving the continuous development of RWTH into an integrated interdisciplinary university. He is currently the driving force behind a possible future DFG research training group in the field of “management in the age of hybrid intelligence.”

In teaching and learning, Frank Piller is a pioneer of innovative teaching concepts: As part of the Excellence Initiative, he was awarded a grant for his Flipping the Classroom teaching concept, which resulted in the world’s first MOOC (Massive Open Online Class) in 2013/14. In addition, due to his leadership qualities and exemplary implementation of the philosophy of a family-friendly university and a “place to be,” he was honored with a FAMOS-award for his family-friendly managing style in 2014.

  Professor Fabian Kießling Copyright: © Martin Braun

Professor Kießling

After studying medicine at Heidelberg University and obtaining his doctorate, Professor Fabian Kießling worked in various departments of the University Hospital and the German Cancer Research Center, or DKFZ, as part of his scientific and medical training, including as head of a junior research group for molecular imaging in the Department of Medical Physics in Radiology at the DKFZ.

In 2008, he accepted the call to the W3-level professorship for Experimental Molecular Imaging at RWTH Aachen University’s Faculty of Medicine. Since then, he has also been the director of the institute of the same name, which is part of the Helmholtz Institute for Biomedical Engineering working group at RWTH Aachen University. With colleagues from other teaching and research areas, Professor Kießling has since built a large interdisciplinary team. By closely linking the highly innovative technologies of engineering with the latest findings and methods of the life sciences and medicine, he develops new medical diagnostic and therapeutic approaches. Notable achievements include the development of special imaging techniques that allow non-invasive visualization of hair-thin blood vessels in tumors and other tissues and research into new concepts of theranostics and drug carrier transport in tumors. In recognition of these achievements, he was named a Fellow by the World Molecular Imaging Society in 2020.

Professor Kießling makes a significant contribution to RWTH Aachen University’s profile and future viability in research. Currently, he serves as the spokesperson for both the Faculty’s Medical Technology & Digital Life Sciences focus area and RWTH’s campus-wide Medical Sciences & Technology profile area. In addition, he founded the Comprehensive Diagnostic Center Aachen, CDCA for short, in 2018 and has been the spokesperson of the Strategy Board of RWTH Aachen University since 2020. His international visibility is evidenced by his various functions in international professional societies such as the Radiological Society of North America, RSNA for short, the European Society for Radiology, ESR for short, and the European Society for Molecular Imaging, ESMI for short.

The international expertise-ranking portal Expertscape furthermore named Professor Kießling among the top-rated world experts in the fields of Nanomedicine and Molecular Imaging in 2019, 2020, and 2021. In 2019 and 2020, he was also among the Clarivate Highly Cited Researchers, an award for publishing multiple, frequently cited articles that rank in the top 1 percent in terms of subject and annual citations on the Web of Science.