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Image: ESO, R. Fosburymore

From the physics lab to the politics lab

Anyone who studies physics does not usually have a political career in mind. That was also the case for Barbara Schaffner - and then it turned out differently: Today, the 55-year-old brings her scientifically trained thinking to energy and transport policy as a member of the National Council.

Barbara Schaffner

The video portrait can be found at the bottom.

After her school years in Anglikon and Wohlen (AG), Barbara Schaffner took the academic route: she studied physics at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich and specialized in medical physics in a postgraduate course. At the Paul Scherrer Institute, a major research institute of the ETH Domain in Villigen (AG), she wrote her doctoral thesis on the therapeutic benefits of proton beams used to combat cancer tumors. She then worked for almost ten years in Baden at a medical technology company.

"But then the climate crisis intervened," Barbara Schaffner recounts with a grin. She made a new start in her career with an ETH master's degree in energy sciences. From then on, she managed photovoltaic projects and later became self-employed with an office for energy consulting.

At the same time, she brought her expertise into politics as the voice of the Green Liberal Party, of which she has been a member since its founding in 2004. From 2011, she was a member of the Zurich Cantonal Council, and since 2018 she has been the mayor of Otelfingen, a community of 3,000 people in the Zurich Unterland region. A year later, she made the leap to Bern to the National Council; a mandate that she seeks to defend in the elections in the fall of 2023. Her work focuses on energy and transport policy.

The switch from physics to politics may seem surprising. But perhaps it is also an expression of the fact that the mother of two grown-up children has always been ready to tackle new things in her life. She planned her own home in accordance with the energy-efficient MINERGIE standard and later - after studying energy sciences at the ETH - built a photovoltaic system on the roof herself. Her enthusiasm for sailing took her as far as the islands of the Southwest Pacific. Twice she sailed across the Atlantic as the responsible skipper of a sailing yacht.

Author: Bendikt Vogel

Some personal questions to Barbara Schaffner:

Where would you like to live?
In a warm place with a lot of green and water.

What is perfect earthly happiness for you?
Sitting on the bow of a sailing ship and watching dolphins.

What mistakes are you most likely to excuse?
Misfortunes

What is the greatest misfortune for you?
Losing loved ones

Your favorite figure in history?
Nelson Mandela

Your favorite thing to do?
Wandering through my garden

Your favorite flower?
Ball thistle

Your favorite bird?
My Appenzeller bearded chickens

What do you detest the most?
Deceit and intrigue

What natural gift would you like to possess?
To fly like a bird

How would you like to die?
Before my children

Your motto?
One should not want to foresee the future, but make it possible. (Antoine de Saint-Exupéry)

Barbara Schaffner

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