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Prof. Dr. Christian Zenger
Here’s My Story
In addition to teaching and researching future wireless systems, nuclear disarmament, and IoT- and hardware security (with a maximum focus on deep-tech practicality), I am fascinated by the challenge of knowledge transfer through industry collaborations and the founding of start-ups.
My start-up background in combination with my professorship enable me to pass on my experience to interested students according to the motto "support and challenge", to continuously optimize an intrinsic start-up mindset in the university ecosystem and to develop sustainable perspectives.
My research results in the field of Wireless Physical Layer Security have received several awards, e.g. by MIT as an innovator under 35, with the German IT Security Award (1st), the European Cyber Security Award (1st) and in 2019 I was nominated with PHYSEC by Minister Karliczek for the German Future Prize.
In order to make my research useful, together with Dr. Heiko Koepke (RUB Alumni of Economics) we founded the spin-off PHYSEC GmbH in 2016, which specializes in IoT security. Due to constant new innovations, we were able to expand our workforce to 50 employees without external investors and were ranked as No.1 in Germany. I am still active at PHYSEC as CEO.
Can you be a professor and CEO at the same time?
Many professors are founders and shareholders of one or two startups "on the side". Often there are overlaps and common interests between the work of the company and the research work. Many universities take great pride in being surrounded by a multitude of successful spin-off companies founded by employees or Alumni who love the university and want to give back if this is possible. And that's exactly what I do.
A fear is a conflict of interest between the two roles. We take a very close look and act transparently. I take the subject very seriously.
An other difficult question is how the time is divided between the tasks of the company and the university. In particular, an active deep-tech company like PHYSEC, if it is to be successful, is an extremely time-consuming and nerve-racking activity for its founders. So, at some point it will be impossible to have a satisfying full-time job as both a CEO and a full-time professor. If you try, you may fail at one or the other task.
For this reason, on the one hand, I very carefully matched the appointment as a professor with internal developments at PHYSEC, and on the other hand I made an agreement with the Ruhr University regarding part-time work, secondary employment, and IP regulations. Feel free to contact me for details.
Christian Zenger received the B.S. degree in communications and electrical engineering from the TH Cologne in 2010, the M.S. degree in communications and electrical engineering from the TH Cologne in 2012, the M.S. degree in computer science from the Hochschule Bonn-Rhein-Sieg, University of Applied Sciences in 2012, and the Dr.-Ing. (Ph.D.) degree in physical layer security from the Ruhr University Bochum in 2017 (summa cum laude). 2010 he was with Fraunhofer FKIE, Germany. 2012, he was with SPQR Labs, University of Massachusetts, USA. 2017 to 2021, he was a Post-doc with Ruhr University Bochum. Since 2016, he has been with PHYSEC, where he is co-founder and CEO.
Since 2023 Christian is Junior Professor at Ruhr University Bochum for Secure Mobile Networking. His current research interests include Wireless Sensing and Communications, Physical Cryptography, Physical Layer Security, Physical Disorder-based Security and Cyber-Physical System Security. His interests further include Technology Entrepreneurship, Interdisciplinarity, Convergence, and Cross-Industry Innovation. Dr. Zenger is recipient of the German IT-security Award, MIT Innovator under 35 Award, European Cyber-Security Award and several other awards.
Don’t hesitate to reach out!
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