• 19.05.2020
  • Press release
  • Swiss Academy of Sciences

Prix Schläfli 2020 for the best four PhDs in science

Winners of the Prix Schläfli 2020
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Winners of the Prix Schläfli 2020
Winners of the Prix Schläfli 2020

The orbits of dwarf galaxies, forces in materials such as Teflon, tracing history through pollen, a new protective layer at root tips – these are the topics for which the Swiss Academy of Sciences (SCNAT) has awarded the Prix Schläfli 2020 to the four most important insights gained by young researchers at Swiss universities. Alice Berhin (Biology), Oliver Müller (Astronomy), Robert Pollice (Chemistry) and Fabian Rey (Geosciences) receive the prize for the findings arrived at in their dissertations. Four of the candidates for the Prix Schläfli award were also selected as Young Scientists at the internationally prestigious 70th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting.

Alice Berhin discovered a completely new structure of plant roots in her dissertation at the University of Lausanne – a 21st century sensation. In his dissertation at the University of Basel, Oliver Müller showed that dwarf galaxies can also move around their parent galaxies in an orderly fashion, thus challenging the standard model of cosmology. In his dissertation at ETH Zurich, Robert Pollice analysed how materials such as perfluoroalkanes, including Teflon, hold together – a first step towards reducing environmental pollution and health risks. In his dissertation at the University of Bern, Fabian Rey described the land use and vegetation history of the Burgäschi and Moos lakes from the Bernese region of the Swiss Plateau more precisely than ever before. For this purpose, he analysed hundreds of thousands of pollen grains.

The Prix Schläfli is awarded annually to the four best dissertations in the natural sciences. This prize has been awarded since 1866. Since 2019, Switzerland's candidates for the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting are now also nominated from among the candidates for the Schläfli Prize award. The annual event is attended by 30 to 40 Nobel Prize winners, who hold discussions with young researchers. The meeting planned for 2020 was postponed to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Fabian Rey, Prix Schläfli 2020
  • 19.05.2020
  • Swiss Academy of Sciences
  • News

Fabian Rey – Tracing history through pollen

Fabian Rey has examined hundreds of thousands of pollen grains in his work analysing the history of land use and vegetation more precisely than ever before. This got him the Prix Schläfli award in Geosciences.
Oliver Müller, Prix Schläfli 2020
  • 19.05.2020
  • Swiss Academy of Sciences
  • News

Oliver Müller – Dwarf galaxies are quite orderly after all

He challenged the standard model of cosmology in his dissertation by demonstrating that dwarf galaxies have not invariably chaotic motions, but can also orbit around the main axis of their parent galaxy in an orderly fashion. This got Oliver Müller the Prix Schläfli award in Astronomy.
Alice Berhin, Prix Schläfli 2020
  • 19.05.2020
  • Swiss Academy of Sciences
  • News

Alice Berhin – A new chapter in plant anatomy

People thought that there was nothing new to be discovered in plant anatomy. Au contraire, Alice Berhin discovered a kind of protective layer on the root tips of seedlings. This got her the Prix Schläfli award in Biology.
Robert Pollice, Prix Schläfli 2020
  • 19.05.2020
  • Swiss Academy of Sciences
  • News

Robert Pollice - What holds the world together

He won medals at international chemistry olympiads even as a teenager. Now Robert Pollice adds to his collection the Prix Schläfli in Chemistry, for researching material properties that are, amongst other things, important in nanomedicine.
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Swiss Academy of Sciences