News 2013

Publication Dec 13, 2013

Reverses - conversations on the natural and the artificial

In an increasingly technically shaped environment, many people seek a counterworld. Nature serves them as a refuge and as projection surface - but the enthusiastic glimpse on "the natural" is not immune against glorification. Because it is due to the technological achievements that we can enjoy the beautiful parts of nature, without overly having to fear the dangers. The Swiss Academy of Sciences (SCNAT) has used this ambivalent view on the natural and its ostensible antithesis, the artificial, as an opportunity for a fundamental debate on the subject matter: experts enter into a dialogue in four dialogic interviews that deal with the topic from most diverse perspectives.

To the webseite and free download of the book

EASAC Dec 10, 2013

Thierry Courvoisier elected Vice-President of European Academy association

Thierry Courvoisier, President of the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences, has been elected Vice-President of the European Academies Science Advisory Council (EASAC) by its 27 members for the years 2014-2016. Comprising the national science academies of the EU Member States as well as Switzerland and Norway, EASAC provides scientific advice to the EU's policy organs.

EASAC website

Publication Dec 4, 2013

The new issue of the research magazine «Horizons» by mail or for download

- Little participation from the social sciences and humanities in the energy transition – is a change of thinking necessary in the institutions and in politics?
- What are the arguments pro and contra private research funding?
- Twitter and Researchgate: suitable places for scientific discourse?
- What drives a climate researcher into the public?
- Is Fracking better than its reputation?

Download Horizons (German, pdf, 6MB; French, pdf, 6MB)
Subscribe to Horizons

Prix de quervain Nov 7, 2013

Prix de Quervain 2013: alpine plants do not grow faster because of increasing carbon dioxide emissions

In high mountains, the air is thin: is it therefore to the advantage of alpine plants if carbon dioxide concentration continues to increase? No, writes Nicole Inauen from the Botanical Institute at the University of Basel in her doctoral thesis, for which she has been awarded the Prix de Quervain 2013. Also honoured was Lena Hellmann from the WSL Birmensdorf, whose Master thesis deals with Arctic driftwood on the polar see coasts. The Swiss Committee for Polar and High Altitude Research awarded the prizes on the occasion of a symposium in the Alpine Museum in Berne on 6 November.

Press release (in German)

Publication Oct 31, 2013

Water in Switzerland

Water is seldom rare in Switzerland and usually harmless healthwise. Through new consumption patterns, climate change and decisions in terms of energy policy, both availability and usage of water undergo changes, the Swiss Hydrological Commission of the SCNAT in a Factsheet that has just been released. It describes the water cycle in Switzerland and reveals the challenges and courses of action. A more detailed version has also appeared under the title 
«Water in Switzerland – an Overview».

Factsheet (German: pdf; French: pdf; 2.4 MB)
Long version (German: pdf; French: pdf; 9.4 MB)

transdisciplinary research Oct 18, 2013

Bestowal of the «swiss-academies award for transdisciplinary research»

On Monday, 21 October 2013, the «swiss academies award for transdisciplinary research» to the amount of CHF 75,000 in total will be bestowed in the context of the «Swiss Inter- and Transdisciplinarity Day 2013». This year, the project «Mountland» of the ETH Domain wins the Science Prize over CHF 50,000. Two young researchers from the University of St Gallen are honoured for their transdisciplinary works with CHF 10,000 each. The direction of the National Centre of Competence in Research «North-South» is honoured with CHF 5,000 for affirming transdisciplinary research and for its commitment to further develop that kind of research.

Further information
Press release (GermanFrench)

For women in science Oct 10, 2013

Two female researchers obtain a bursary «For Women in Science»

For the third time, two female reserachers receive a bursary L'Oéral Switzerland «For Women in Science» in support of their research projects. The researchers honoured in 2013 are Dr Olesya Panasenko and Dr Laura Rodriguez Lorenzo. The funding programme, jointly introduced in 2008 by the Swiss National Commission for UNESCO and the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences, supports female research careers in Switzerland.

Press release (in Germanin French)
Further information

prix média Sep 20, 2013

Laureates of Prix Média 2013

On Thursday, 26 September, the «Prix Média Swiss Academies» to the amount of CHF 40,000 in total will be awarded in the context of the congress ScienceComm'13 in La Chaux-de-Fonds. Honoured for their successful knowledge transfer are Martin Läubli (Engineering Sciences), Alan Niederer (Medicine), Reto U. Schneider (Humanities and Social Sciences) and Etienne Dubuis (Natural sciences).

Press release (in Germanin French)
Further information

Balzan Prize Foundation Sep 9, 2013

Balzan Prize winners 2013

The International Balzan Prize Foundation awards four annual prizes to people or organisations who have made outstanding achievements in the humanities, natural sciences, culture as well as for endeavours for peace and the brotherhood of man. The amount of each of the four 2013 Balzan Prizes is CHF 750,000, half of which must be destined to research work.

The Balzan Prize winners of 2013 were proclaimed today in a public announcement:

- Alain Aspect, France, for Quantum Information Processing and Communication
- Manuel Castells, Spain, for Sociology
- Pascale Cossart, France, for Infectious diseases: basic and clinical aspects
- André Vauchez, France, for Medieval History

Further information

factsheet Sep 5, 2013

Genetically modified crops and their significance for Swiss agriculture

Swiss agriculture is expected to produce more and with the same quality and with a lower environmental impact than so far. To achieve these goals of agrarian policy, new agricultural methods and technologies are important. To accomplish the agrarian goals, the breeding and cultivation of genetically modified crops could make a contribution. Their usage in research and food production is currently hindered by legislation.

Download Factsheet: German, French, Italian, English
Further information (German; French)

Publication Sep 4, 2013

Promote MINT skills to strengthen the educational, economic and business location Switzerland

How can the MINT skills be promoted so as to strengthen the educational, economic and business location Switzerland? This was the central theme of the second conference in the series «Future Education Switzerland» that took place in Basel on 23-24 October 2012. The conference proceedings contain the written contributions by the speakers and the results from the group discussions that were conducted in the context of the participatory meeting.

Download conference proceedings (German)

factsheet Aug 12, 2013

Green alders overgrow the alps

Scrub of green alders overgrow alpine pastures that are no longer used. This leads to a decrease of biodiversity, the soils acidify and the protection from erosion and avalanches is poorer compared to reafforestation. A Factsheet just published by the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences call attention to this acuate danger.

Factsheet (GermanFrench)
Press release (GermanFrench)

Symposium Jul 15, 2013

Registration for ScienceComm'13 is open

From now on you can register for the congress ScienceComm'13 on the topic «Challenges and Limits of Science Communication» that will take place in La Chaux-de-Fonds on 26-27 September. As in the last two years, when some 200 participants attended the congress in Biel/Bienne and Rapperswil, we can again present you  a large spectrum of projects and topics. During the congress, the Prix Média will be awarded on 26 September at 16h.

Further information

statement Jun 27, 2013

Agrarian policy 2014-17 will fail to meet environmental objectives

The Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences welcome the general direction of the agrarian policy 2014-17. The Academies consider the new contributions for ressource efficiency, production systems and landscape quality that promote biodiversity as well as the reinforced incentives for qualitatively valuable biodiversity feed surfaces, in particular, as important innovations. The modifications are not sufficient to meet the «Environmental Objectives for Agriculture».

Statement (German)
Press release (GermanFrench)

International Jun 17, 2013

Heinz Gutscher in Scientific Committee of Future Earth

Heinz Gutscher was selected by the International Council for Science (ICSU) and the International Social Science Council (ISSC) as a member of the Future Earth Scientific Committee for the period 2013-2015. Future Earth is a new 10-year international research initiative that will develop the knowledge for responding effectively to the risks and opportunities of global environmental change and for supporting transformation towards global sustainability. This committee, composed of 18 researchers from all disciplines and from across the globe, will provide scientific guidance on all Future Earth activities.

Future Earth website

Call for applications Jun 14, 2013

EURIAS offers 39 fellowships for 10-month residencies

The European Institutes for Advanced Study (EURIAS) Fellowship Programme is an international researcher mobility programme offering 10-month residencies in one of 16 participating Institutes. EURIAS Fellowships are mainly offered in the fields of the humanities and social sciences but may also be granted to scholars in life and exact sciences, provided that their proposed research project does not require laboratory facilities and that it interfaces with humanities and social sciences. The Programme welcomes applications worldwide from promising young scholars as well as from leading senior researchers. The deadline for applications is 5 July 2013.
Further information (pdf)

Publication Jun 4, 2013

Annual report 2012

The annual report 2012 of the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences is now available:

download (GermanFrench, 3.6 MB each)

Publication May 30, 2013

Authorship in scientific publications – Analysis and recommendations

Scientific publications do not only serve the communication of science – the numbers of publications or of citations are essentially determining career opportunities of scientists. Accordingly, clear guidelines are needed that may help deciding who will be on the author list and in what order. The Scientific Integrity Committee of the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences has summarized prevailing regulations and formulated recommendations for authorship in scientific publications. These should help to prevent authorship disputes and offer guidance in the event of conflicts.

Authorship in scientific publications (pdf)
Further information on scientific integrity

Statement May 15, 2013

Green genetic engineering: Academies welcome coexistence regulations

In their statement published on Wednesday, the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences in principle welcome the drafting of coexistence regulations for genetically modified and conventionally cultivated plants. The envisaged facilitation of research with genetically modified plans is justified scientifically. The insulation distances between fields with genetically modified and conventionally cultivated plants should be shaped more flexibly, for example by shortening them with buffer strips.

Press release (German; French)
Statement (German)
Report «Genetically modified crops and their relevance for a sustainable agriculture in Switzerland» (German; French)
Conference report (German)

Symposium May 3, 2013

The responsibility of experts in risk management: symposium on 24 May in Berne

The conviction of six seismologists after the devastating earthquake in L'Aquila (Italy) elicited fierce reactions among the science community. Natural hazards, epidemics, the safety of installations - experts are also consulted in Switzerland to assess risks. What responsibility do they assume thereby? Are they liable for their assessments?

Programme (German/French)

Publication Apr 2, 2013

Fact sheet: Environmental changes and migration in developing countries

In what way do global environmental changes and climate change, in particular, affect migration flows in and from developing countries? The Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences summarise the state of knowledge in a recently published fact sheet. Most studies suggest that Switzerland will not be rolled over by big waves of environmental refugees. Population movements triggered by climate factors mostly take place over short distances - within states and, to a lesser extent, among neighbouring states. The challenge for Switzerland is to provide assistance on site.

Download the fact sheet

Meeting scientific attachés Mar 28, 2013

Academic freedom as a factor of success

More than 60 persons from the diplomatic corps and responsible for science and innovation met this week in Berne. The diplomatic representatives accredited here convened with their Swiss counterparts, which promote the international interconnectedness of Switzerland on all five continents. Federal Councillor Johann Schneider-Ammann and other speakers cited academic freedom as a key factor for the success of the science location Switzerland. Together with the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences, the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation, the Swiss National Science Foundation and the Commission for Technology and Innovation invited to this event.

Walter Steinlin, President of the CTI
Martin Vetterli, President of the National Research Council of the SNSF
Thierry Courvoisier, President of the Swiss Academies (9MB)
Mauro Dell'Ambrogio, State Secretary in the SERI

Call for abstracts Mar 27, 2013

ScienceComm'13: Call for Abstracts

The congress ScienceComm connects the actors in science communication in Switzerland. The audience ranges from communication specialists, company representatives or politicians responsible for education to researchers. The congress is sponsored by the Foundation Science et Cité, the Swiss National Science Foundation and the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences. During two days (26 and 27 September 2013), presentations, workshops, a science beer garden and a market place are on offer. You are warmly invited to submit your abstract for this year's ScienceComm topic «Challenges and limits of science communication» until 5 April 2013.

Further information

Publication Mar 19, 2013

New genetically modified plants to benefit Swiss cultivators ecologically and economically

Various genetically modified plants that are far developed or that are already cultivated abroad could contribute to an environmentally friendly and profit-yielding agriculture in Switzerland, too. These new varieties require, inter alia, less chemicals against pathogenic germs. Switzerland should not light-mindedly deny genetic engineering the potential to contribute to a sustainable agriculture and food security the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences write in the just released report «Genetically modified crops and their relevance for a sustainable agriculture in Switzerland» with contributions from more than 30 experts.

Report (in German, with preface and summary in French)
Press release (German; French)
Order printed copies

Publication Mar 5, 2013

Relaunch Horizons: «Construction site health»

Wit the current edition that focuses on «Construction site health», the Swiss research magazine «Horizons» presents itself in a graphically renewed dress. The magazine is jointly issued by the Swiss National Science Foundation and the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences. It appears four times per year and can be subscribed at no charge.

Current issue (German, pdf, 9.7MB; French, pdf, 9.5MB)
Subscribe to Horizons

Publication Mar 1, 2013

Open letter: no insidious ban on genetic engineering in Swiss agriculture

In an open letter, the Presidents of the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences address the National Council and the Council of States. They recount great disconcertment on the part of science concerning the Parliament's dealing with research insights that were gained in the National Research Programme 59 «Benefits and risks of the deliberate release of genetically modified plants».
The study concluded that genetically modified plants were not principally prone to more risks than conventionally cultivated crops. The discussions on the prolongation of the moratorium for the putting into circulation of genetically modified plants, the evidence based research results of the NRP 59 were not taken into account. Yet, bans on technologies may have far-reaching consequences for the future viability of a country, if this prevents the establishment of competencies.

Open letter (German; French)

Call for grant proposals Feb 19, 2013

For Women in Science: Call for grant proposals 2013

The programme «For Women in Science» aims at promoting scientific excellence and at encouraging women to envisage a scientific career. Every two years, one or two female postdocs will receive grants covering 12 to 24 months, each amounting to CHF 80'000 per year.
Last December, L'Oréal Switzerland together with the Swiss UNESCO commission and the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences launched the third edition of the promotional programme. Closing date for proposals is on 1 March 2013.

Further information (in German or French language)

statement Feb 11, 2013

Half-hearted counterproposal on the scholarship initiative

Wit the indirect counterproposal of the Federal Council on the scholarship initiative, the unequal treatment in the allocation of scholarships will not be overcome, but at most exacerbated, the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences fear. In their statement, they welcome the harmonisation of award criteria, while asking the legislature to initiate a harmonisation of the scholarship amounts by introducing minium rates.

Press release (German)
Statement (German)

Publication Jan 29, 2013

Statement on Energy Strategy 2050: An opportunity for Switzerland

The Swiss Academies of Arts and Science welcome the fundamental direction the Federal Council takes with their Energy Strategy 2050. In their response to the consultation, the Academies emphasize, however, that the energy turnaround must not be at the expense of climate goals. Because the energy turnaround may only be realised through the joint effort of society, politics and economy, the overall acceptance of the measures must be strengthened.

Media release (in German; in French)
Statement (in German)

International Jan 14, 2013

Engagement for the respect of human rights

In order to promote human rights in science, the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences instated Prof. Samantha Besson from the University of Fribourg as the Delegate for Human Rights. In that context, she will work for more respect of the human rights of researchers in their scientific activities.

Further information

New President Jan 7, 2013

Thierry Courvoisier is new President

Thierry Courvoisier is the new President of the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences. «Science must play a more prominent role in political decision-making», says the professor of astrophysics from the University of Geneva. «Finding solutions for national and global problems such as the energy supply of the future depends on successful collaboration between natural sciences and humanities, as exemplified in the work of the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences.»

Press release (German / French)

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