Dominik Hangartner receives the National Latsis Prize 2019

At a ceremony in Bern, political scientist Dominik Hangartner received the 2019 National Latsis Prize, worth 100,000 francs.

Dominik Hangartner (39) was awarded the 2019 National Latsis Prize for his outstanding empirical research on the effects of immigration policies. He is a political scientist and holds professorships at ETH Zurich and the London School of Economics. The SNSF has funded several of his projects. He is also the leader of a four-year project at NCCR "On the move" which will be completed in 2022. The SNSF confers the prize annually on behalf of the Latsis Foundation in Geneva. The 36th award ceremony took place at the Rathaus in Bern on 16 January 2020.

"Dominik Hangartner's research is directly relevant to society because he has developed an algorithm that improves refugees' chances of finding a job," says Matthias Egger, president of the SNSF Research Council. "His work is also exemplary in that he makes sure the code of this algorithm is freely available to all researchers. This marks a step forward for both science and society."

In his laudatory speech, political scientist and SNSF research councillor Ioannis Papadopoulos emphasised how special Dominik Hangartner's approach is: "His great intellectual achievement is that he has been able to make his scientific insights available to decision-makers, thereby helping them to develop effective measures." He added that this was exceptional because most research is only known to other academics, and the politically most influential scientists are not necessarily those enjoying the best reputation among their peers. But in the work of Dominik Hangartner, scientific excellence and social impact go hand in hand.

This rare combination was also praised by Barbara Büschi. She is deputy director of the State Secretariat for Migration, with which Hangartner is working together. "He knows how to develop projects that meet the needs of both the authorities and migrants. His proposals are easily implemented and they quickly make a difference."

At the right time

Pierre Alain Schnegg, vice president of the government of the canton of Bern, believes that the research and problem-solving approach of Hangartner's team come at the right time: "In the coming years, many people who have reached Switzerland as part of migration flows will be leaving federal institutions. Subsequently, cantonal and local authorities will assume responsibility for them. It is our aim to help these migrants to swiftly integrate into society and the job market." He added that the work of Hangartner and his team laid the scientific foundation for better outcomes.

Simon Gächter, economist and winner of the 2004 National Latsis Prize, described how researchers are guided by their scientific curiosity and hope that others will find their results interesting. Through a series of experiments that studied cooperation and punishment, he was able to challenge the theoretical model of “homo economicus”, whose behaviour is purely rational and always motivated by selfishness. "The Latsis Prize was a great recognition and motivated me to pursue my line of research."

Dominik Hangartner also sees the Latsis Prize as recognition for his work and hopes that "we will be able to propose and test a solution to every documented problem in migration policies - if only a partial solution. If we embrace this programme, it is very unlikely that we will run out of work."

For young researchers

The National Latsis Prize is one of the most prestigious academic awards in Switzerland, honouring outstanding achievements by researchers up to the age of forty who work in Switzerland.