In January 2010, the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Testing and Research (commonly known as Empa, German for "Eidgenössische Materialprüfungs- und Forschungsanstalt") appointed Michael Hagmann as its first Ombudsperson for PhD students.
Empa is a Swiss research institution for applied materials sciences and technology that supports about 160 PhD students. Hagmann earned his masters at the Laboratory for Experimental Immunology and PhD at the Institute for Molecular Biology of the University of Zurich and then did post-doctoral research at UC Santa Cruz. He then became a science journalist and worked for Discover magazine, the journal Science, and SonntagsZeitung. Hagmann has serves as the Communications Director for Empa since 2005.
As the Ombuds, Haggman’s primary task is to resolve serious conflicts between doctoral students and their supervisors at Empa and/or to mediate between the parties involved. According to the Empa Ombuds webpage, "The work carried out by the ombudsman’s office is strictly confidential, independent and neutral. It is not bound by directives and is not accountable to the Empa directorate." (Empa Ombudsperson, Communication, Hagmann Interview.)