The Prix Schläfli rewards the best Swiss PhDs in natural sciences. It is one of the oldest prizes in Switzerland. Since the first awarding in 1866, 119 young talents in different natural science disciplines have been distinguished.
The prize has the following aims:
- Promote young talents (promotion of young scientists and support of academic excellence) in the different natural science disciplines
- Highlight the importance of young scientists in the Swiss research landscape
Fabian Rey has examined hundreds of thousands of pollen grains in his work analysing the history of land use and vegetation more precisely than ever before. This got him the Prix Schläfli award in Geosciences.Image: Thomas Stadler
He challenged the standard model of cosmology in his dissertation by demonstrating that dwarf galaxies have not invariably chaotic motions, but can also orbit around the main axis of their parent galaxy in an orderly fashion. This got Oliver Müller the Prix Schläfli award in Astronomy.Image: Eva Schnider
People thought that there was nothing new to be discovered in plant anatomy. Au contraire, Alice Berhin discovered a kind of protective layer on the root tips of seedlings. This got her the Prix Schläfli award in Biology.Image: Alice Berhin
The orbits of dwarf galaxies, forces in materials such as Teflon, tracing history through pollen, a new protective layer at root tips – these are the topics for which the Swiss Academy of Sciences (SCNAT) has awarded the Prix Schläfli 2020 to the four most important insights gained by young researchers at Swiss universities. Alice Berhin (Biology), Oliver Müller (Astronomy), Robert Pollice (Chemistry) and Fabian Rey (Geosciences) receive the prize for the findings arrived at in their dissertations. Four of the candidates for the Prix Schläfli award were also selected as Young Scientists at the internationally prestigious 70th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting.
He won medals at international chemistry olympiads even as a teenager. Now Robert Pollice adds to his collection the Prix Schläfli in Chemistry, for researching material properties that are, amongst other things, important in nanomedicine.
Vier junge Forschende aus der Schweiz Franck Le Vaillant, Oliver Müller, Robert Pollice und Sabine Studer wurden auserkoren am international prestigeträchtigen 70. Lindauer Treffen der NobelpreisträgerInnen Ende Juni teilzunehmen. Die Akademie der Naturwissenschaft (SCNAT) nominiert jährlich geeignete Kandidatinnen und Kandidaten aus den jungen Forschenden, die für den Prix Schläfli nominiert worden sind.Image: Stéphane Guisard
The 69th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting dedicated to physics just ended. We had a great week of vivid discussions between 39 Nobel Laureates and 580 young scientists from 89 countries most of them Physicists but not only.
On a beautiful spring day such at ETH Hönggerberg, we sit outside at the café to talk. Rebekka Wild seems very relaxed, as if she had nothing more important to do than enjoy the sun. However, appearances are deceptive: she works pretty much 150 per cent of a normal working day, reads specialist literature in the evenings - and yes, sometimes even a book.
There is a small moment of confusion in our conversation with Julie Zähringer, which says a lot about her research and its particular challenges. She explained that she had done research "in an area" in which there was hardly any prior knowledge. By this, she did not mean a subject area, but a very concrete, physical one: Zähringer has worked on the margins of various nature reserves in Madagascar, where the local population is often caught in a mishmash of different national and international interests. So we are talking about geographical regions, and thus also about the people who live in them. We are therefore also talking about politics, local economies, and historically charged situations.
When asked about her motivation to study chemistry, Murielle Delley explains that she has always wanted to know how things work. When it came to understanding what was happening around us - everyday science, so to speak - she was more attracted to chemistry than to physics, for example. Well, that was originally the case. Over the years she naturally also turned to more specific, less everyday problems, most recently the surfaces of catalysts.
A labyrinth of mirrors, a shiny pot, countless cables and digital displays. Visiting Matteo Fadel at his workplace at the University of Basel, he first takes us to the laboratory where he tracks strange quantum phenomena. Somewhere in the midst of all this apparatus, several hundred atoms are trapped and brought into a state that still causes physicists a lot of headaches today.
Controlling the amount of phosphate in cells, the processes involved in catalysts, land use in Madagascar and a paradox of quantum physics – these are the topics for which the Swiss Academy of Sciences (SCNAT) has awarded the Prix Schläfli 2019 to the four most important insights gained by young researchers at Swiss universities. Murielle Delley (Chemistry), Matteo Fadel (Physics), Rebekka Wild (Biology) and Julie Zähringer (Geosciences) receive the prize for the findings arrived at in their dissertations. For the first time, six of the candidates for the Prix Schläfli in Physics were also selected to participate in the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting.
A fortune for the SSNS
Alexander Friedrich Schläfli from Burgdorf died in 1863 in Bagdad. He left his fortune to the Swiss Society for Natural Sciences (SSNS) on condition that the “Society will award an annual prize to any question in physical science – Physical science always comprised the Physics and Natural Sciences (according to proceedings 1917, page 97). (…) The selection and the amount are at the discretion of the named Society.”