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Prix Schläfli 2022 award for the four best dissertations in natural sciences

Using language models to facilitate chemical syntheses, improve the understanding of large earthquakes, decipher the fundamentals of cell biological processes, produce single photons for protected data transfers – the Swiss Academy of Sciences (SCNAT) is awarding the Prix Schläfli 2022 to the four most important insights of young researchers at Swiss universities. Luca Dal Zilio (Geosciences), Anna-Katharina Pfitzner (Biology), Philippe Schwaller (Chemistry) und Natasha Tomm (Physics) receive the prize for findings in their dissertations. The Prix Schläfli was first awarded as early as 1866.

Prize-winners Prix Schläfli 2022 (from upper left): Philippe Schwaller, Natasha Tomm, Anna-Katharina Pfitzner, Luca Dal Zilio

Luca Dal Zilio – A cautious prophet

Large earthquakes are once-in-a-century events with devastating consequences. At the ETH Zurich, Luca Dal Zilio has developed a model that describes the development of such events both temporally and geographically, and which could therefore become important for risk prevention.

Anna-Katharina Pfitzner – Seeking fundamental answers

Small biological building blocks are her thing: biologist Anna-Katharina Pfitzner has researched at the University of Geneva a mechanism that is key to many processes in cell biology.

Philippe Schwaller – making chemistry with linguistic algorithms

How do you use artificial intelligence to simulate chemical processes? At the IBM Research Centre and the University of Bern, Philippe Schwaller has developed a program that has been named the best of its kind by an independent research group.

Natasha Tomm – the photon trainer

Her work could help give data transfers more protection against being hacked: during her dissertation at the University of Basel, Natasha Tomm (co-)developed a super-efficient source of individual photons.


  • Geosciences