Thanks to PRIMA: 18 women researchers on the path to a professorship

Leading a research project with the own team for five years – a grant from the PRIMA funding scheme makes it possible. In the fourth call, 18 out of 141 applicants were successful.

Women are still heavily underrepresented at professorial level across Swiss higher education institutions. To counter this, the SNSF has devised the PRIMA funding scheme, which promotes excellent women researchers who show great potential. They will be employed at least at the level of group leader or assistant professor at a Swiss higher education institution.

25 million francs for salaries and project costs

18 successful researchers will each receive 1.4 million francs on average. The grant will cover their own salaries and the salaries of their team as well as other project costs during the five-year funding period. In total, the SNSF is investing 25 million francs in the selected PRIMA projects.

Among the grantees is Madlen Kobi (University of Fribourg). She will look into how building materials are reused and recycled in European cities to reduce the ecological footprint. Sonja Lehtinen (ETH Zurich) will investigate how different bacterial strains compete with each other and develop antibiotic resistance in an environment where many transmissions take place, namely a nursery.

Katharina Gapp, a developmental biologist at ETH Zurich: "The PRIMA grant allows me to be a role model for my kids and other kids, showing them that women can have an inspiring career and a family as well."

Application numbers continue to rise

The 141 applications represent a 7 per cent increase compared to last year. "This is evidence of the great interest in funding opportunities for women at this career level," says Gabriele Rippl, president of the Specialised Committee Careers of the National Research Council. "Winning a grant as prestigious as PRIMA increases the chances for a tenured professorship."

The fifth call has been open since 1 August 2021. Project proposals can be submitted until 1 November 2021.