• 21.05.2019
  • Press release
  • Swiss Academy of Sciences

SCNAT honours the four best dissertations in sciences

Prix Schläfli in Chemistry, Physics, Biology and Geosciences

Pokale Prix Schläfli
Image: SCNAT
Pokale Prix Schläfli
Pokale Prix Schläfli (Image: SCNAT)

Controlling the amount of phosphate in cells, the processes involved in catalysts, land use in Madagascar and a paradox of quantum physics – these are the topics for which the Swiss Academy of Sciences (SCNAT) has awarded the Prix Schläfli 2019 to the four most important insights gained by young researchers at Swiss universities. Murielle Delley (Chemistry), Matteo Fadel (Physics), Rebekka Wild (Biology) and Julie Zähringer (Geosciences) receive the prize for the findings arrived at in their dissertations. For the first time, six of the candidates for the Prix Schläfli in Physics were also selected to participate in the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting.

Through her dissertation at ETH Zurich, Murielle Delley deepened her understanding of how certain catalysts, such as those used in polyethylene production, work. At the University of Basel, Matteo Fadel was able to experimentally prove a quantum mechanical paradox in a multi-particle system for the first time. Rebekka Wild at the University of Geneva clarified the structure and function of a unit in biological cells that contributes to regulating phosphate concentration. In her dissertation at the University of Bern, Julie Zähringer analysed how land use is changing on the margins of protected areas in Madagascar, using satellite images and around 1200 interviews.

At the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting

The Prix Schläfli is awarded annually to the four best dissertations in the natural sciences. The prize has been awarded since 1866. Switzerland's candidates for the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting are now also selected from among the candidates for the Schläfli Prize; in 2019, these were chosen from the Physics candidates. This annual event is attended by 30 to 40 Nobel Prize winners, who hold discussions with young researchers.

  • Associations

Rebekka Wild: Prix Schläfli Biologie 2019
  • 21.05.2019
  • Swiss Academy of Sciences
  • News

Rebekka Wild - On protein and other structures

On a beautiful spring day such at ETH Hönggerberg, we sit outside at the café to talk. Rebekka Wild seems very relaxed, as if she had nothing more important to do than enjoy the sun. However, appearances are deceptive: she works pretty much 150 per cent of a normal working day, reads specialist literature in the evenings - and yes, sometimes even a book.
Julie Zähringer (Prix Schläfli 2019) unterwegs ins Studiendorf Navana mit einer Piroge
  • 21.05.2019
  • Swiss Academy of Sciences
  • News

Julie Zähringer - Bringing the extremes together

There is a small moment of confusion in our conversation with Julie Zähringer, which says a lot about her research and its particular challenges. She explained that she had done research "in an area" in which there was hardly any prior knowledge. By this, she did not mean a subject area, but a very concrete, physical one: Zähringer has worked on the margins of various nature reserves in Madagascar, where the local population is often caught in a mishmash of different national and international interests. So we are talking about geographical regions, and thus also about the people who live in them. We are therefore also talking about politics, local economies, and historically charged situations.
Murielle Delley: Prix Schläfli Chemie 2019
  • 21.05.2019
  • Swiss Academy of Sciences
  • News

Murielle Delley - the privilege of life-long learning

When asked about her motivation to study chemistry, Murielle Delley explains that she has always wanted to know how things work. When it came to understanding what was happening around us - everyday science, so to speak - she was more attracted to chemistry than to physics, for example. Well, that was originally the case. Over the years she naturally also turned to more specific, less everyday problems, most recently the surfaces of catalysts.
Matteo Fadel: Prix Schläfli 2019 Physik
  • 21.05.2019
  • Swiss Academy of Sciences
  • News

Matteo Fadel - Paradoxical entanglements

A labyrinth of mirrors, a shiny pot, countless cables and digital displays. Visiting Matteo Fadel at his workplace at the University of Basel, he first takes us to the laboratory where he tracks strange quantum phenomena. Somewhere in the midst of all this apparatus, several hundred atoms are trapped and brought into a state that still causes physicists a lot of headaches today.
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