Green light for 321 projects on self-chosen topics

© Constantine Johnny

Topics range from artistic climate projects to new therapies for prostate cancer. Over a period of 1-4 years, the SNSF will fund the research projects with an average of approx. CHF 700,000 each from its "project funding" pot.

Fridays for Future, climate crisis, net zero – the debate about climate change and sustainability moved into the mainstream of society a few years ago. In increasingly diverse ways, researchers are trying to effectively communicate environmental facts in collaboration with artists. Yvonne Schmidt from the Bern University of Applied Sciences and her team will look at climate art projects in Switzerland. At the intersection of artistic research, ecological arts and human geography, they explore the question: what makes social change towards greater sustainability possible?

The largest SNSF funding scheme

Yvonne Schmidt's project is one of 321 that received an SNSF project funding grant this spring. Each year, there are two calls for project funding, the SNSF's largest funding scheme. About half of the SNSF budget is invested in this scheme. "We are pleased to be able to support so many researchers with their self-chosen topics in this call and are looking forward to the results," says Thomas Werder Schläpfer, member of the Executive Board. After a stringent evaluation process, the SNSF selected the 321 projects out of 867 submitted applications. In total, it is investing 223 million francs.

For experienced researchers

Project funding is open to established researchers in all disciplines. 37% of the approved projects are in the life sciences, 34% in mathematics, engineering and the natural sciences, and 29% in the social sciences and humanities.

15% of the project leaders awarded a grant are under 40 years of age, and 50% under 50. Most researchers work at universities (60%); 26% work in the ETH Domain, 9% at universities of applied sciences or universities of teacher education, and 5% at other institutions.

More women in life sciences and MINT disciplines

At 39%, the share of female grantees in the social sciences and humanities remains at the same level as in previous years. In the life sciences and in mathematics, natural sciences and engineering, the share increased slightly to 32% and 22%, respectively. Across all disciplines, the share of women grantees (31%) roughly equals that of the applications submitted by women (30%).

38.5% of the female researchers participating in the call were successful with their application, giving them a slightly higher success rate than the men (36.4%).

Funded projects of researchers and their teams – further examples

Life sciences

  • What role do intestinal bacteria play in the development of prostate cancer? Andrea Alimonti (Institute for Oncological Research Bellinzona) is investigating this question in an attempt to develop new therapeutic approaches.
  • Complex tissues and organs are formed in an organism from individual cells. Prisca Liberali (Friedrich Miescher Institute Basel) is researching how exactly this works.

Mathematics, natural and engineering sciences

  • Urban soils are an important resource and can provide numerous ecosystem services. For example, they have the capacity to regulate water and heat. With better knowledge and targeted management of these soils, their ecosystem services could be used more effectively. This is the topic of Géraldine Bullinger-Weber's project (University of Applied Sciences Western Switzerland).
  • Christoph Studer (ETH Zurich) is researching new methods related to positioning systems that are device-independent. These systems make it possible to locate a spot even indoors or in densely populated areas.

Social sciences and humanities

  • The corona pandemic has shown: the smooth interplay of science and health policy is crucial in fighting dangerous infectious diseases. Marcel Weber (University of Geneva) examines this connection from a philosophy of science and political philosophy perspective and makes recommendations for the future.