A transformative experience in a top research institution

August 6, 2022. 18:48. Air Canada flight AC421 arrives at Toronto Pearson International Airport. Descending from the plane, I set foot on Canadian soil for the first time in over three months. Same me, but with some notable differences. Looking back, it’s easy to see how my experience this summer could be described as “life-changing.” While I am not fond of the term, I have no doubt that my time in Switzerland has been transformative. As I unpack my gains, literally and metaphorically, over the next couple of weeks, my growth as a researcher and person will become only more apparent.  

First, let us unpack the big question. Why Switzerland?

Switzerland has a strong education system and Swiss universities score highly on international rankings. My host institution, EPFL (the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne) is world-renowned for its research and the diversity of its student body.

While at the EPFL, I worked in the Laboratory of Electrophiles and Genome Operation (LEAGO) under the supervision of Prof. Yimon Aye. My research investigated the mechanism by which endogenous electrophilic chemical modification of a nuclear protein elicits reduced protein local translation. Detailed understanding of this biomolecular chemistry promises to accelerate the discovery of new drugs to treat human malignancies, including cancer.



Outside the lab, I spent weekends in Lausanne, in Switzerland, or other countries in Europe. Through ThinkSwiss, I met a host of other interns in Switzerland, including the EPFL Excellence Research Internship Program and EPFL Summer in the Lab interns. I am proud to call them my colleagues, companions, and friends. Their diverse backgrounds have lent valuable perspective to my experiences.

My time in Switzerland has been incredible. Rather than telling you more about my journey, I encourage you to experience Switzerland yourself. Consider a research experience in Switzerland; I cannot recommend the ThinkSwiss Research Scholarship strongly enough.

Tony Hu

Biochemistry – EPFL ∞ University of Toronto

Switzerland on a Macro and Micro Scale

When you think of paradise, you don’t usually think of a landlocked country. Yet Switzerland is my perfect paradise and I had an amazing summer doing research in Lausanne. The Laboratory of Experimental Biophysics hosted my stay at EPFL where I researched mitochondrial dyes using super resolution microscopy. While I spent my research looking at cells on a micro level, I got to experience Switzerland on a macro scale. I became immersed in Swiss culture and had many opportunities to travel around the country.

My typical week would be Monday through Friday working in the lab and then heading to the mountains for the weekend. In the lab, I did a lot of cell culture work, imaging on a microscope, and then data analysis. I was able to hone-in my lab skills and learn new techniques. I also went to lab meetings, journal clubs, and most importantly, BBQs and aperos. I will cherish the friendships I made in lab and continue to stay connected with them after my trip. I had so much fun going for drinks after work and spending lunches talking about science, the outdoors, and each other’s culture from our home countries.

After the workweek, weekends were for exploring. I am from Colorado and love the outdoors, so I found mountain huts to be the perfect weekend activity. The Swiss Alpine Club has over 150 huts scattered throughout the country in remote areas. You have to hike, climb, or traverse glaciers to get to these huts perched high on mountains, but once you are there you are greeted by a warm welcome. The hut wardens provided dinner, breakfast, and a place to sleep. You sleep in dormitory-style beds with other mountain enthusiasts, so it made it easy to talk to new people with your same passion for the outdoors. I stayed at the Hörnlihütte, Rotstockhütte, Almgallerhütte, and Cabane FXB Panossiere as well as going to Chamonix, Menton, and Perouge, France. The Oeschinensee lake was another highlight!

Living in Lausanne had its own adventures and the beauty of Lac Léman never failed to impress me. Evenings after work often looked like walking down to the lake for a swim and ice cream. I also rode my bike to work along the lake and always found the roads to be safe, even during rush hour.

This opportunity helped not only shape me as a researcher, but my identity. Even though I was born in Zürich, I haven’t had many chances to go back and learn about where I am from. I was able to become immersed in Switzerland’s culture and practice speaking one of their national languages. I fell in love with the country and I will definitely come back to live here again. Switzerland’s charm will always have a hold on me and I am endlessly grateful for the experience the ThinkSwiss scholarship gave me. 

Caitlyn Mendik

Biophysics – EPFL ∞ University of Colorado Boulder

The Growth of a Lifetime in the Land that Married the Nature and the City

From walking along Lake Zurich at sunset; to eating gelato while watching the swans calmly float by; to munching on a “Brötchen” on the SBB train while admiring the picturesque scenery out the window; to hiking mountains in the company of friends (and cows); to admiring the incredible views of the Alps and beautiful lakes from the top of various peaks… My two-month summer stay in Switzerland was a dream come true, and the best summer of my life so far.

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Chalinee (Bam) Charoenwong

Economics University of St.Gallen ∞ Northwestern University

COVID-19 Impact on Retinal and Choroidal Microvasculature among Swiss Military Personnel

I was very fortunate to spend the summer of 2021 conducting clinical research at the University Hospital Zurich Department of Ophthalmology through the ThinkSwiss Research Scholarship. I collaborated with an incredible team of researchers to conduct an epidemiological study aiming to assess the impact of COVID-19 on retinal and choroidal microvasculature among Swiss military personnel.

 

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Sophia Sidhu

Epidemiology and Clinical Research University Hospital Zurich: Department of Ophthalmology ∞ Stanford University

Investigating Attacks on Encrypted Database Schemes

Thanks to ThinkSwiss, I got to spend my summer conducting research in the Applied Cryptography group at ETH Zurich.

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Francesca Falzon
Computer Science– ETH Zurich ∞ University of Chicago

This Says it All: I'm Extending My Stay for Another Two Years

Full of rewarding research experiences, countless adventures, and incredible friendships; I’ll never forget the three months I spent in Bern. I am an undergraduate student in chemistry at the University of Ottawa and applied to the ThinkSwiss program to do research in the Albrecht group at the University of Bern. Although my stay took place amidst the pandemic, any worries or uncertainties I had about my trip melted away as soon as I arrived.

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Nathalie Rowlinson
Chemistry– University of Berne ∞ University of Ottawa

From Cheese to the Sac Taxé: Countless First-Hand Experiences About Swiss Culture

Although this was not my first time in Switzerland, it was my first time fully immersing myself in Swiss culture. Two summers ago, I came to Lausanne, Switzerland with my undergraduate institution, Pepperdine University, to do an internship in Geneva. After two months of living in Switzerland, like every other tourist who has ever tried Cailler chocolate or a pain au chocolat for breakfast or taken the Intercity train from Lausanne to Geneva, I fell in love with Switzerland. But coming to Switzerland the second time around through the ThinkSwiss research scholarship allowed me to develop an even greater appreciation for Swiss culture. So, to also convince you to come for the first or tenth time, here are just a few of the things I learned about Switzerland from interning at the Cognitive and Affective Research Laboratory (CARLA) with Dr. Billieux and Dr. Stolz.

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Juan Carlos Hugues
Psychology – University of Lausanne ∞ Pepperdine University

Magnetic Thin Films, Stunning Hikes, and More

Thanks to the ThinkSwiss program, I was able to spend the summer of 2021 working in Professor Pietro Gambardella’s research group in the Department of Materials at the ETH Zurich. I worked on magnetic thin films, which play a key role in the development away from traditional semiconductor-based computational devices and toward more efficient new technology for computationally demanding tasks, such as neuromorphic computing. I felt very welcomed by everyone in the group and was able to start working right away. I was impressed by the combination of state-of-the-art equipment and custom-built parts to meet the needs of every researcher. Despite the exhausting bike ride up the steep Hönggerberg in the morning, I enjoyed every day of my stay and learned so much about the measurement technique I was using.

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Robin Klause
Materials Science & Engineering – ETH Zurich ∞ University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Eurocup, Lab Bonding, and Extracellular Vesicles

After spending six months in Switzerland from February to July 2021, I have already booked my return flight to Zurich. On weekdays, I spent my time at ETH Zurich researching extracellular vesicles (EVs), lipid membrane vesicles endogenously produced by cells to transport proteins, RNA, and other molecules between cells. These characteristics make EVs an excellent candidate for drug delivery, but we do not yet understand the biogenesis of EVs, which was what my worked focused on. I was researching how to optimize EV production through different bioreactor settings, and developed methods of purification through chromatography and quantification methods using flow cytometry. Despite my short time in the lab, I felt fully integrated and was happy to spend time on the weekend to culture the cells.

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Hannah Boyce
Chemical Engineering – ETH Zurich ∞ Northeastern University

Switzerland: The Land of Science and Scenery

This summer I researched a supramolecular self-assembled triaxial weave at ETH Zürich in the Wennemers Group.

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Haley Wellman
Chemistry – ETH Zurich ∞ Northwestern University

More than a 3-Month Project: A Lifetime Lesson

While searching for research opportunities off campus, I found myself in a somewhat limited position due to the fact that I am not a US citizen. Though I’m studying at an undergraduate program at an American university, I am an international student from Vietnam. There are plenty of summer research programs in the US, but they require applicants to be Americans, so I could not apply to any. However, thanks to ThinkSwiss Scholarship’s inclusiveness to all nationalities, I got a valuable opportunity to do research outside my university and even outside the US. This gave me the chance to explore Switzerland, the eighth country I have traveled to, and Europe, a third continent that I had not truly experienced before.

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Thinh Nguyen
Astronomy– University of Geneva ∞ Villanova University

ThinkSwiss, Act Swiss

The opportunity to study in Switzerland during these challenging times, thanks to the ThinkSwiss Research Scholarship, has been a real blessing. At the University of Lausanne (UNIL), I had the chance to collaborate with some great colleagues and professors in the field of archaeology and ancient history, who welcomed me with open arms.

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Francesco Cassini
Archeology and Ancient History– University of Lausanne ∞ Columbia University

Receiving the ThinkSwiss Scholarship Was Like a Sign that Things Were Starting to Look Up

I wasn’t sure what awaited me in Switzerland this past summer in a post-COVID world. As, one-by-one, everything was cancelled or closed in 2020, receiving the ThinkSwiss scholarship was like a sign that things were starting to look up.

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Olivia Plumb
Mechanical Engineering – EPFL BioRob ∞ Georgia Institute of Technology

Extracting Climatic Information from Wood Anatomy

I spent two months during the summer of 2021 at the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow, and Landscape Research (WSL). While at WSL, I learned valuable lessons in the dendrosciences and built a skill set that I otherwise could not have attained. Finally, I engaged with highly regarded scientists in my field and gained from these academic exchanges. Working in an environment where scientists from all over the world come together to find societal solutions inspired me as a young scientist who will soon be entering a career in applied research. This research visit was a significant milestone in my life and was foundational in developing a strong network of researchers for future collaborations on global environmental issues.

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Judith Avila
Hydrology/Hydroclimatology– Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL) ∞ University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

A Half-Year of Hiking, Harmony, and... Herpes?

Through the ThinkSwiss Research Scholarship, I spent February-July 2021 working with Prof. Dr. Cornel Fraefel at the Institute of Experimental Virology at the University of Zurich. My project studied the replication of herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1), the virus that causes oral herpes, inside infected cells. Specifically, I used a very fancy confocal microscope to look within individual nuclei and measure cellular influences on the formation and maintenance of viral replication compartments. This research has the potential to uncover novel antiviral targets for HSV-1 infection, which currently has no cure. I was welcomed with open arms into my research community and entrusted with great responsibility for my project, managing my own experimental design and data analysis as well as contributing to lab meetings. I really appreciated the culture of work-life balance in my lab, and I grew close with my coworkers from the Institutes of Virology and Parasitology, sitting and chatting outside the building for hours on Friday evenings and watching the Euro 2020 football tournament together in the seminar room. On top of developing new skills and gaining independence in the lab, I developed proficiency as a culturally adaptable scientist and person during my six months in Switzerland, which will be extremely valuable moving toward a research career.

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Brian Best
Biology– University of Zurich ∞ Northeastern University, Boston

Switzerland's Scales

Switzerland is a country of scales. Despite being one of Europe’s smaller nations, Switzerland boasts an impressive number of the continent’s tallest peaks. For centuries, these iconic mountains have been both awe-inspiring and terrifying to citizens and tourists alike. Mary Shelley’s classic Frankenstein detailed the immense power of “the mighty Alps” which appeared as if they ought to belong “to another earth” when seen through the eyes of a Genevan. Yet notably brave world traveler Anthony Bourdain admitted to having a “morbid fear” of Switzerland’s alpine vistas and pristine lakes.

The Switzerland that I found certainly wasn’t bereft of these classic and imposing sights. Heart-pounding hikes which covered elevation that was best measured in kilometers led to some of the most spectacular scenes that I have ever witnessed. But perhaps the most baffling scales that I saw would not have been included in a classic novel or in an episode of Parts Unknown.

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Thomas Satterthwaite
Physics – CERN - ATLAS Experiment ∞ Harvard University, Cambridge

Asymmetric Organocatalysis and Unforgettable Experiences Outside the Lab

I am Hayato Shiotsu, a junior studying chemistry at Harvard. From February to July of 2021, I was fortunate to receive the ThinkSwiss Research Scholarship, which allowed me to take a gap semester to pursue a research project as an invited visiting student at the Wennemers Group in the Laboratory of Organic Chemistry at ETH Zurich. 

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Hayato Shiotsu
Chemistry – Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich ∞ Harvard University, Cambridge

Weekdays in the 3D Printing Lab & Weekends in the Mountains

I received the ThinkSwiss scholarship for my research in 3D Printing of Orthopedic Implants at a chaotic moment, in the midst of the COVID-19 lockdown. While trying to finish my Ph.D. as the pandemic was going on and with all the travel restrictions in place, I was not sure how my planned research trip would work. But thanks to the experienced ThinkSwiss family, who helped and supported me through my journey this fall, the research trip was still possible. I spent two months at the 3D Print Lab at the University Hospital of Basel, where I had also previously conducted research.

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Cemile Basgul
Biomedical Engeneering – Univeristy Hospital of Basel ∞ Drexel University, Philadelphia

Traditional Farmer's Markets and Neuroengineering: How I Fell in Love with Switzerland

It is hard to say goodbye to Switzerland. All the worries I had before my stay disappeared immediately in my immediate attachment to this wonderful place, and I already look forward to returning.

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Rongrong Liu
Cognitive & Computer Science – École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) ∞ University of California, San Diego

A Tale of Interdisciplinary Research, Friendships, and Breathtaking Landscapes

The two weeks I spent at the University of Bern for the International Bachelor School program greatly exceeded my hopes and expectations. I was uncertain about what to expect, but my time spent in the lively city of Bern proved to me what may be one of the best decisions I made for myself. By working closely with groups of students and leaders from all over the world on matters regarding climate change, I had the opportunity to understand and engage in this matter from a range of disciplines. The interdisciplinary aspect of climate change, from science to policymaking, demonstrated how multi-layered this issue is. I learned very quickly that mitigating climate change and protecting the planet we live on requires all hands on deck.

Read more

Rong Gao
Physics – University of Bern ∞ University of Toronto

Unexpected Findings: Switzerland through the Archive

Although this summer began with international travel appearing close to impossible, as Covid-19 forced many plans to be cancelled or postponed, I was lucky to be able to use the ThinkSwiss Research Scholarship to spend three months, from June to August 2020, at the University of Zurich (UZH).

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Anne Schult
History – University of Zurich ∞ New York University

From Political Science to Environmental Law: Changing the Outlook on Life

Very infrequently have I had an experience that has completely changed my outlook on life. I cannot stress how much the 2019 Bern University Climate Change Summer school was one of those experiences. As a political science major who wants to become a lawyer specializing in environmental law, this program could not have been better suited to my interests. Not only did I learn more about how current environmental policy affects climate change, I was also able to participate in a workshop focused on the World Trade Organization. Over the course of the workshop, I learned how its legal proceedings influence environmental trade and analyzed a legal case in its entirety. Even if I am not yet a law student, I feel much more prepared to choose a legal track that could help me reach my professional goals.

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Leopoldo Navarrete
Political Science – University of Bern ∞ University of California, Merced

Domestic Implementation of International Human Rights Law

The Lucerne Academy for Human Rights Implementation at the University of Lucerne is a three-week program that focuses on the domestic implementation of international human rights law. Each year the academy is organized around a central theme, this year’s was business and human rights. I was incredibly excited about the theme as I only had preliminary knowledge surrounding the topic.

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Emily Williams
Human Rights – University of Lucerne ∞ St. Thomas University

Protecting Vulnerable Populations against Diseases caused by Climate Change

My attendance at the 2019 Climate Change Research Summer School at the University of Bern, generously funded by the ThinkSwiss scholarship program, was inarguably the highlight of my summer. Upon arriving in Switzerland, I was overwhelmed by the Alpine landscapes and the beautifully conserved Swiss heritage – but the experience I would have for the following two weeks was much more than feeling like a protagonist of Heidi.

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Suehyun Cho
Global Health – University of Bern ∞ University of Toronto

Computational Modeling Defining Developmental Mechanisms of the Lungs

This past summer, I was very grateful to receive the ThinkSwiss Research Scholarship provided by the Embassy of Switzerland. This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to research at a top university in Switzerland has shaped my scholarly and cultural perspective of the world. 

I interned in Dr. Dagmar Iber’s Computational Biology Group at the ETH Zürich in Basel, Switzerland. My research involved combining high-end imaging technologies and computational modeling to define basic developmental mechanisms of the lungs (lung organogenesis). This experience contrasted greatly with my research in the US, which was in an oncology wet lab. Despite having had no previous experience in this research area, through the mentorship of the posdoc Dr. Aleksandra Sapala I was able enhance my skills in basic image analysis and computational modelling, and also learn about the mechanics and physics behind cellular growth of lungs in just 3 months!

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Alay Shah
Computational Biology – Swiss Federal Institute of Technology ETHZ ∞ University of Texas, Austin

A Swiss Science Soirée and the Fine Art of Frolicking with Failure

On clear summer mornings the turquoise lake burst out from below the rippling deep green hills, its circumference sprinkled with the majestic snow-capped peaks of the Burnese Alps, as I whipped around the bend and zipped downhill on my bicycle.

Sound like a rêverie? This was just my daily bike commute from my dreamy residence at the hilltop Neuchâtel Botanical Garden Villa to the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) Photovoltaic Laboratory (PV-Lab) during my ThinkSwiss 2019 Internship. The sizzling sunbeams that beat upon me during my ride were the same sort of sunbeams that I summoned with semiconductors that summer.

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Rachel Woods-Robinson
Materials Physics – École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) ∞ University of California, Berkeley

A Life Changing Experience

With the support of the ThinkSwiss Research Scholarship, I spent this past summer in Prof. Dr. Johann Kolar’s Power Electronics System Laboratory at ETH Zurich. Power electronics are ubiquitous to our modern, electrified economy, yet remain largely unknown to the public. They are the “brick” that charges your phone and laptop, the key to integrating solar and wind power into the grid, and the foundation of both electric vehicles and cloud computing. In short, every single electric device, in some way, relies on the efficiency, size, and reliability of power electronics. Over the summer, my work focused on power supplies for data centers (which are expected to consume 20% of the world’s electricity by 2030), the physical properties and limitations of next-generation materials for power semiconductors, and circuits for solar inverters and electric vehicle motors.

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Grayson Zulauf
Electrical Engineering – Swiss Federal Institute of Technology ETHZ ∞ Stanford University

Laboratory For Synchrotron Radiation

This fall I had the opportunity to spend three months working at the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) in Villigen, less than an hour north of Zurich, in the group of Prof. Helena van Swygenhoven. Her research group has a few very unique capabilities that made my exchange incredibly productive, interesting, and beneficial to my PhD research. First is the custom built metal 3D printer constructed by PhD student Samy Hocine, which has the ability to print very small structures (less than 1x1cm) for research purposes. Second is the access to the Swiss Light Source, a powerful synchrotron used to study many different research projects. While in Switzerland I was granted beam time at the synchrotron for two different weeks: the first to use a larger x-ray beam to investigate the printing process through melting and solidification, and the second to use a much smaller, more focused x-ray beam to understand the spatial variation of the printing process. Between my offline and online 3D printing, I was able to further my PhD work and establish valuable connections with this team of experts that I will continue to use in the future.

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Jennie Glerum
Materials Science and Engineering – Paul Scherrer Institute ∞ Northwestern University

Personality Assessment Research and Exploring Unparalleled Natural Beauty

Thanks to the Think Swiss scholarship, I was able to work with Dr. Willibald Ruch at the Personality and Assessment lab at the University of Zurich. This lab studies personality psychology through the lens of positive psychology and has a strong focus on test construction.

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Alexa Zielinski
Psychology and Creative Writing – University of Zurich ∞ University of Michigan

The Best Summer I Ever Had

The summer researching in Switzerland sponsored by ThinkSwiss is the best summer I have ever had. I gained substantial knowledge and skills, went on amazing hikes and travels, learned and experienced many cultures, and made so many great friends.

I conducted research under Prof. Dr. Laura Heyderman at the Laboratory for Mesoscopic Systems, a lab in the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) and ETH Zurich, with most of my work done at PSI. My project was on an antiferromagnet (AFM)-like square lattice built from chirally coupled nanomagnets. I designed sample geometries and demagnetization protocols, used magnetic force microscopy and magneto-optic Kerr effect microscopy for characterization, and developed a suite of recognition, calculation and simulation MATLAB programs to understand the energetic contributions.

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Xuequiao Wang
Materials Science and Engineering – Paul Scherrer Institute/ ETHZ ∞ Georgia Institute of Technology

Solving Ribonucleic Acids For Future Cancer Treatments

My name is Jevon Marsh and I am a Canadian student of chemistry. Over the summer of 2019, I was grateful to have received the ThinkSwiss scholarship, which provided me with the amazing opportunity to call Zürich my home and to contribute to the advancement of a really cool project. My research involved solving a unique structure formed by ribonucleic acids (known as guanine quadruplexes) using Nuclear Magnetic Resonance spectroscopy; by solving and characterizing this structure, we have provided a new therapeutic target that can be used to treat various forms of cancers in the future. From start to finish, my host lab provided oversight for my work and taught me important techniques and skills that will prove beneficial to my future career in research. I also spent an entire week at the International Conference in Biological Inorganic Chemistry (ICBIC-19) in Interlaken, which provided me with a chance to explore the many topics in my field, and network with professionals from all over the world. The kindness and generosity of the researchers in my lab and even those in the city really made my summer enjoyable… and made it feel like a home away from home!

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Jevon Marsh
Supramolecular and Biological Chemistry – University of Zurich ∞ Queen's University

Research on Kindergartners' Self-Regulation

My Think Swiss journey started two summers ago in Zürich when I was a co-facilitator of a workshop for a Special Interest Group conference with the European Association of Learning and Instruction. Within the first couple of hours of being in Zürich, I made a call to my parents to tell them that I had never felt so at home in a new city – and I’ve lived in a few cities! I told them that one day, I would live there. Only a few months later, I received an email with details about the Think Swiss scholarship. It was the first time I had ever heard of the program and I felt like it was made just for me.

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Kelsey Losenno
Educational Science – University of Zurich ∞ McGill University

A Life In Three Months

Thank you to the Embassy of Switzerland for the incredible opportunity of a lifetime. During my stay at the University of Fribourg, I worked with Dr. Raphael Berthele collecting data for a project on narrative fiction and language. My research project examined whether reading a story in a second (foreign) language impacts narrative transportation, which is the extent to which an individual feels “transported” into a fictional world. Fribourg was the perfect place to recruit participants because the majority are native French speakers with German, Italian, or English as foreign languages. My host supervisor provided a fresh new perspective on multilingualism research. We had wonderful conversations about Open Science, the dissemination of research to the general public, and the importance of taking into account the linguistic context when conducting research.

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Ashley Chung-Fat-Yim
Cognitive Psychology and Psycholinguistic – University of Fribourg ∞ York University

Nephrology, Friends and Exploration

This past summer, I was blessed with the opportunity to intern in a nephrology lab at the University of Zürich’s Institute of Physiology.

What immediately struck me was how open and welcoming my lab was. We all gathered to have lunch every day, had frequent brunches, and even did an outing to the Swiss Alps in Interlaken. The conversations I had with my colleagues at the lab also gave me a more global perspective and made me more aware of the importance of having cultural diversity in any setting. While there, I was able to take on a research project alongside other students and faculty from around the world and gained exposure to a plethora of new techniques and technologies. My mentor was supportive and willing to show me the ropes and answer my slew of questions. One of the lab members from our IT group also gave me weekly mini-German lessons, which were quite fun and helped me to integrate into the community.

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Kathy Ding
Nephrology – Institute of Physiology – University of Zürich ∞ University of California, Berkeley

Working On A Potential Alzheimer's Treatment

I am an undergraduate studying computer science and biology at MIT. This summer ThinkSwiss funded my work, as a part of its summer research program, in the Gräff Lab at EPFL studying neuro-epigenetics. The work was interesting and varied—from computational analyses, to molecular validation techniques, to imaging. I learned a lot; and working on a potential Alzheimer’s treatment was very exciting! Everyone in the lab was welcoming and helpful—I couldn’t have asked for a better work environment. The ThinkSwiss program combined cutting-edge research, Friday afternoon seminars, and social activities. Living together with the rest of the students also fostered long-lasting friendships. From cooking together most evenings, to kayaking on Lake Geneva, to movie nights, to watching fireworks on Swiss National Day, our program really bonded together.

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Fatima Gunter
Neuro-Epigenetics – Summer Research Program – EPFL ∞ Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Confronting Climate Change – From Science To Policy

The Summer School program at the University of Bern organized by the Oeschger Center for Climate Change Research and the World Trade Institute. Sounds pretty daunting right? I remember being both excited and nervous when I found out that I was one of the 36 participants selected to travel to Bern. Entitled “Confronting Climate Change – from Science to Policy,” the summer school consisted of a series of keynote lectures and workshops on various areas of expertise, culminating in a simulation negotiation. Meeting my fellow participants, who stayed in the same residential building, started off the two weeks on the perfect note. It was incredible to hear from people from countries including Italy, Canada, South Africa, the United States, Germany, and India. I strongly feel I made some friends for life. They made my experience thoroughly enjoyable.

We were split into 9 workshops, with each group assigned to a specific topic according to their area of expertise. Although intense at times, I found myself astonished at how simply the professors explained some complex concepts, some of whom even worked with the World Trade Organization (WTO).  Among the many highlights from the program, the trip to Jungfraujoch was one that will live long in our memories. We were given the chance to visit the research station at an altitude of about 3000 feet, where researchers from around the world conduct experiments and record data. To witness first-hand the impact of climate change on the glaciers there left an impression in our minds that is hard to shake.

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Ananth Shankar
Confronting Climate Change – from Science to Policy– University of Bern ∞ University of Massachusetts Amherst

Six Weeks In Geneva Studying European Paleofloods

This past summer, I had one of the most enriching and memorable experiences living abroad for six weeks in Geneva, Switzerland where I was a guest researcher at the University of Geneva working with the Institute of Environmental Sciences C-CIA lab group. As a visitor to the C-CIA lab group, I had the opportunity to collaborate with Dr. Markus Stoffel, Dr. Juan Ballesteros Canovas, and an amazing team of PhD and Master’s students from all across the world. During my visit, I created a meta-database of European paleoflood case studies, which is a direct extension of my thesis research, “Holocene paleofloods and their relevance to flood mitigation, risk assessment, and policy.” This database will be a valuable resource to European hydrologists, policymakers, statisticians and stakeholders in making decisions about flood risk and mitigation in Europe. This data will also greatly improve and expand the Past Global Changes (PAGES) working group database on floods.

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Amanda Hefner
Institute of Environmental Sciences C-CIA Lab - University of Geneva ∞ University of Minnesota

Gaining Independence as a Scientist

This summer, I had the opportunity to work at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) for 8 weeks as an undergraduate research intern in a biology lab. I am immensely grateful for funding from the SwissThink organization and from the Columbia University Center for Career Education’s Summer Funding Program.

The 2019 Summer Research Program consisted of fellow students from all over the world, including Turkey, Belgium, Pakistan, China, and Russia. Whether through deep conversation or through travel, every day included some form of cultural immersion. I also gained a huge appreciation for nature and the great outdoors. Some of my best memories included group hikes and water activities.

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Allison Hung
Biochemistry – Summer Research Program – Swiss Federal Institute of Technology EPFL ∞ Columbia University

© ThinkSwiss 2020

Traditional Farmer's Markets and Neuroengineering: How I Fell in Love with Switzerland

It is hard to say goodbye to Switzerland. All the worries I had before my stay disappeared immediately in my immediate attachment to this wonderful place, and I already look forward to returning.

Read more

Rongrong Liu
Cognitive & Computer Science – École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) ∞ University of California, San Diego

A Tale of Interdisciplinary Research, Friendships, and Breathtaking Landscapes

The two weeks I spent at the University of Bern for the International Bachelor School program greatly exceeded my hopes and expectations. I was uncertain about what to expect, but my time spent in the lively city of Bern proved to me what may be one of the best decisions I made for myself. By working closely with groups of students and leaders from all over the world on matters regarding climate change, I had the opportunity to understand and engage in this matter from a range of disciplines. The interdisciplinary aspect of climate change, from science to policymaking, demonstrated how multi-layered this issue is. I learned very quickly that mitigating climate change and protecting the planet we live on requires all hands on deck.

Read more

Rong Gao
Physics – University of Bern ∞ University of Toronto

Unexpected Findings: Switzerland through the Archive

Although this summer began with international travel appearing close to impossible, as Covid-19 forced many plans to be cancelled or postponed, I was lucky to be able to use the ThinkSwiss Research Scholarship to spend three months, from June to August 2020, at the University of Zurich (UZH).

Read more

Anne Schult
History – University of Zurich ∞ New York University

From Political Science to Environmental Law: Changing the Outlook on Life

Very infrequently have I had an experience that has completely changed my outlook on life. I cannot stress how much the 2019 Bern University Climate Change Summer school was one of those experiences. As a political science major who wants to become a lawyer specializing in environmental law, this program could not have been better suited to my interests. Not only did I learn more about how current environmental policy affects climate change, I was also able to participate in a workshop focused on the World Trade Organization. Over the course of the workshop, I learned how its legal proceedings influence environmental trade and analyzed a legal case in its entirety. Even if I am not yet a law student, I feel much more prepared to choose a legal track that could help me reach my professional goals.

Read more

Leopoldo Navarrete
Political Science – University of Bern ∞ University of California, Merced

Very infrequently have I had an experience that has completely changed my outlook on life. I cannot stress how much the 2019 Bern University Climate Change Summer school was one of those experiences. As a political science major who wants to become a lawyer specializing in environmental law, this program could not have been better suited to my interests. Not only did I learn more about how current environmental policy affects climate change, I was also able to participate in a workshop focused on the World Trade Organization. Over the course of the workshop, I learned how its legal proceedings influence environmental trade and analyzed a legal case in its entirety. Even if I am not yet a law student, I feel much more prepared to choose a legal track that could help me reach my professional goals.

Read more

Leopoldo Navarrete
Political Science – University of Bern ∞ University of California, Merced

Domestic Implementation of International Human Rights Law

The Lucerne Academy for Human Rights Implementation at the University of Lucerne is a three-week program that focuses on the domestic implementation of international human rights law. Each year the academy is organized around a central theme, this year’s was business and human rights. I was incredibly excited about the theme as I only had preliminary knowledge surrounding the topic.

Read more

Emily Williams
Human Rights – University of Lucerne ∞ St. Thomas University

Protecting Vulnerable Populations against Diseases caused by Climate Change

My attendance at the 2019 Climate Change Research Summer School at the University of Bern, generously funded by the ThinkSwiss scholarship program, was inarguably the highlight of my summer. Upon arriving in Switzerland, I was overwhelmed by the Alpine landscapes and the beautifully conserved Swiss heritage – but the experience I would have for the following two weeks was much more than feeling like a protagonist of Heidi.

Read more

Suehyun Cho
Global Health – University of Bern ∞ University of Toronto

Computational Modeling Defining Developmental Mechanisms of the Lungs

This past summer, I was very grateful to receive the ThinkSwiss Research Scholarship provided by the Embassy of Switzerland. This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to research at a top university in Switzerland has shaped my scholarly and cultural perspective of the world. 

I interned in Dr. Dagmar Iber’s Computational Biology Group at the ETH Zürich in Basel, Switzerland. My research involved combining high-end imaging technologies and computational modeling to define basic developmental mechanisms of the lungs (lung organogenesis). This experience contrasted greatly with my research in the US, which was in an oncology wet lab. Despite having had no previous experience in this research area, through the mentorship of the posdoc Dr. Aleksandra Sapala I was able enhance my skills in basic image analysis and computational modelling, and also learn about the mechanics and physics behind cellular growth of lungs in just 3 months!

Read more

Alay Shah
Computational Biology – Swiss Federal Institute of Technology ETHZ ∞ University of Texas, Austin

A Swiss Science Soirée and the Fine Art of Frolicking with Failure

On clear summer mornings the turquoise lake burst out from below the rippling deep green hills, its circumference sprinkled with the majestic snow-capped peaks of the Burnese Alps, as I whipped around the bend and zipped downhill on my bicycle.

Sound like a rêverie? This was just my daily bike commute from my dreamy residence at the hilltop Neuchâtel Botanical Garden Villa to the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) Photovoltaic Laboratory (PV-Lab) during my ThinkSwiss 2019 Internship. The sizzling sunbeams that beat upon me during my ride were the same sort of sunbeams that I summoned with semiconductors that summer.

Read more
Rachel Woods-Robinson
Materials Physics – École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) ∞ University of California, Berkeley

A Life Changing Experience

With the support of the ThinkSwiss Research Scholarship, I spent this past summer in Prof. Dr. Johann Kolar’s Power Electronics System Laboratory at ETH Zurich. Power electronics are ubiquitous to our modern, electrified economy, yet remain largely unknown to the public. They are the “brick” that charges your phone and laptop, the key to integrating solar and wind power into the grid, and the foundation of both electric vehicles and cloud computing. In short, every single electric device, in some way, relies on the efficiency, size, and reliability of power electronics. Over the summer, my work focused on power supplies for data centers (which are expected to consume 20% of the world’s electricity by 2030), the physical properties and limitations of next-generation materials for power semiconductors, and circuits for solar inverters and electric vehicle motors.

Read more
Grayson Zulauf
Electrical Engineering – Swiss Federal Institute of Technology ETHZ ∞ Stanford University

Laboratory For Synchrotron Radiation

This fall I had the opportunity to spend three months working at the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) in Villigen, less than an hour north of Zurich, in the group of Prof. Helena van Swygenhoven. Her research group has a few very unique capabilities that made my exchange incredibly productive, interesting, and beneficial to my PhD research. First is the custom built metal 3D printer constructed by PhD student Samy Hocine, which has the ability to print very small structures (less than 1x1cm) for research purposes. Second is the access to the Swiss Light Source, a powerful synchrotron used to study many different research projects. While in Switzerland I was granted beam time at the synchrotron for two different weeks: the first to use a larger x-ray beam to investigate the printing process through melting and solidification, and the second to use a much smaller, more focused x-ray beam to understand the spatial variation of the printing process. Between my offline and online 3D printing, I was able to further my PhD work and establish valuable connections with this team of experts that I will continue to use in the future.

Read more

Jennie Glerum
Materials Science and Engineering – Paul Scherrer Institute ∞ Northwestern University

Personality Assessment Research and Exploring Unparalleled Natural Beauty

Thanks to the Think Swiss scholarship, I was able to work with Dr. Willibald Ruch at the Personality and Assessment lab at the University of Zurich. This lab studies personality psychology through the lens of positive psychology and has a strong focus on test construction.

Read more

Alexa Zielinski
Psychology and Creative Writing – University of Zurich ∞ University of Michigan

The Best Summer I Ever Had

The summer researching in Switzerland sponsored by ThinkSwiss is the best summer I have ever had. I gained substantial knowledge and skills, went on amazing hikes and travels, learned and experienced many cultures, and made so many great friends.

I conducted research under Prof. Dr. Laura Heyderman at the Laboratory for Mesoscopic Systems, a lab in the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) and ETH Zurich, with most of my work done at PSI. My project was on an antiferromagnet (AFM)-like square lattice built from chirally coupled nanomagnets. I designed sample geometries and demagnetization protocols, used magnetic force microscopy and magneto-optic Kerr effect microscopy for characterization, and developed a suite of recognition, calculation and simulation MATLAB programs to understand the energetic contributions.

Read more

Xuequiao Wang
Materials Science and Engineering – Paul Scherrer Institute/ ETHZ ∞ Georgia Institute of Technology

Solving Ribonucleic Acids For Future Cancer Treatments

My name is Jevon Marsh and I am a Canadian student of chemistry. Over the summer of 2019, I was grateful to have received the ThinkSwiss scholarship, which provided me with the amazing opportunity to call Zürich my home and to contribute to the advancement of a really cool project. My research involved solving a unique structure formed by ribonucleic acids (known as guanine quadruplexes) using Nuclear Magnetic Resonance spectroscopy; by solving and characterizing this structure, we have provided a new therapeutic target that can be used to treat various forms of cancers in the future. From start to finish, my host lab provided oversight for my work and taught me important techniques and skills that will prove beneficial to my future career in research. I also spent an entire week at the International Conference in Biological Inorganic Chemistry (ICBIC-19) in Interlaken, which provided me with a chance to explore the many topics in my field, and network with professionals from all over the world. The kindness and generosity of the researchers in my lab and even those in the city really made my summer enjoyable… and made it feel like a home away from home!

Read more

Jevon Marsh
Supramolecular and Biological Chemistry – University of Zurich ∞ Queen's University

Research on Kindergartners' Self-Regulation

My Think Swiss journey started two summers ago in Zürich when I was a co-facilitator of a workshop for a Special Interest Group conference with the European Association of Learning and Instruction. Within the first couple of hours of being in Zürich, I made a call to my parents to tell them that I had never felt so at home in a new city – and I’ve lived in a few cities! I told them that one day, I would live there. Only a few months later, I received an email with details about the Think Swiss scholarship. It was the first time I had ever heard of the program and I felt like it was made just for me.

Read more

Kelsey Losenno
Educational Science – University of Zurich ∞ McGill University

A Life In Three Months

Thank you to the Embassy of Switzerland for the incredible opportunity of a lifetime. During my stay at the University of Fribourg, I worked with Dr. Raphael Berthele collecting data for a project on narrative fiction and language. My research project examined whether reading a story in a second (foreign) language impacts narrative transportation, which is the extent to which an individual feels “transported” into a fictional world. Fribourg was the perfect place to recruit participants because the majority are native French speakers with German, Italian, or English as foreign languages. My host supervisor provided a fresh new perspective on multilingualism research. We had wonderful conversations about Open Science, the dissemination of research to the general public, and the importance of taking into account the linguistic context when conducting research.

Read more

Ashley Chung-Fat-Yim
Cognitive Psychology and Psycholinguistic – University of Fribourg ∞ York University

Nephrology, Friends and Exploration

This past summer, I was blessed with the opportunity to intern in a nephrology lab at the University of Zürich’s Institute of Physiology.

What immediately struck me was how open and welcoming my lab was. We all gathered to have lunch every day, had frequent brunches, and even did an outing to the Swiss Alps in Interlaken. The conversations I had with my colleagues at the lab also gave me a more global perspective and made me more aware of the importance of having cultural diversity in any setting. While there, I was able to take on a research project alongside other students and faculty from around the world and gained exposure to a plethora of new techniques and technologies. My mentor was supportive and willing to show me the ropes and answer my slew of questions. One of the lab members from our IT group also gave me weekly mini-German lessons, which were quite fun and helped me to integrate into the community.

Read more

Kathy Ding
Nephrology – Institute of Physiology – University of Zürich ∞ University of California, Berkeley

Working On A Potential Alzheimer's Treatment

I am an undergraduate studying computer science and biology at MIT. This summer ThinkSwiss funded my work, as a part of its summer research program, in the Gräff Lab at EPFL studying neuro-epigenetics. The work was interesting and varied—from computational analyses, to molecular validation techniques, to imaging. I learned a lot; and working on a potential Alzheimer’s treatment was very exciting! Everyone in the lab was welcoming and helpful—I couldn’t have asked for a better work environment. The ThinkSwiss program combined cutting-edge research, Friday afternoon seminars, and social activities. Living together with the rest of the students also fostered long-lasting friendships. From cooking together most evenings, to kayaking on Lake Geneva, to movie nights, to watching fireworks on Swiss National Day, our program really bonded together.

Read more

Fatima Gunter
Neuro-Epigenetics – Summer Research Program – EPFL ∞ Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Confronting Climate Change – From Science To Policy

The Summer School program at the University of Bern organized by the Oeschger Center for Climate Change Research and the World Trade Institute. Sounds pretty daunting right? I remember being both excited and nervous when I found out that I was one of the 36 participants selected to travel to Bern. Entitled “Confronting Climate Change – from Science to Policy,” the summer school consisted of a series of keynote lectures and workshops on various areas of expertise, culminating in a simulation negotiation. Meeting my fellow participants, who stayed in the same residential building, started off the two weeks on the perfect note. It was incredible to hear from people from countries including Italy, Canada, South Africa, the United States, Germany, and India. I strongly feel I made some friends for life. They made my experience thoroughly enjoyable.

We were split into 9 workshops, with each group assigned to a specific topic according to their area of expertise. Although intense at times, I found myself astonished at how simply the professors explained some complex concepts, some of whom even worked with the World Trade Organization (WTO).  Among the many highlights from the program, the trip to Jungfraujoch was one that will live long in our memories. We were given the chance to visit the research station at an altitude of about 3000 feet, where researchers from around the world conduct experiments and record data. To witness first-hand the impact of climate change on the glaciers there left an impression in our minds that is hard to shake.

Read more

Ananth Shankar
Confronting Climate Change – from Science to Policy– University of Bern ∞ University of Massachusetts Amherst

Six Weeks In Geneva Studying European Paleofloods

This past summer, I had one of the most enriching and memorable experiences living abroad for six weeks in Geneva, Switzerland where I was a guest researcher at the University of Geneva working with the Institute of Environmental Sciences C-CIA lab group. As a visitor to the C-CIA lab group, I had the opportunity to collaborate with Dr. Markus Stoffel, Dr. Juan Ballesteros Canovas, and an amazing team of PhD and Master’s students from all across the world. During my visit, I created a meta-database of European paleoflood case studies, which is a direct extension of my thesis research, “Holocene paleofloods and their relevance to flood mitigation, risk assessment, and policy.” This database will be a valuable resource to European hydrologists, policymakers, statisticians and stakeholders in making decisions about flood risk and mitigation in Europe. This data will also greatly improve and expand the Past Global Changes (PAGES) working group database on floods.

Read more

Amanda Hefner
Institute of Environmental Sciences C-CIA Lab - University of Geneva ∞ University of Minnesota

Gaining Independence as a Scientist

This summer, I had the opportunity to work at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) for 8 weeks as an undergraduate research intern in a biology lab. I am immensely grateful for funding from the SwissThink organization and from the Columbia University Center for Career Education’s Summer Funding Program.

The 2019 Summer Research Program consisted of fellow students from all over the world, including Turkey, Belgium, Pakistan, China, and Russia. Whether through deep conversation or through travel, every day included some form of cultural immersion. I also gained a huge appreciation for nature and the great outdoors. Some of my best memories included group hikes and water activities.

Read more

Allison Hung
Biochemistry – Summer Research Program – Swiss Federal Institute of Technology EPFL ∞ Columbia University

© ThinkSwiss 2020

Traditional Farmer's Markets and Neuroengineering: How I Fell in Love with Switzerland

It is hard to say goodbye to Switzerland. All the worries I had before my stay disappeared immediately in my immediate attachment to this wonderful place, and I already look forward to returning.

Read more

Rongrong Liu
Cognitive & Computer Science – École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) ∞ University of California, San Diego

A Tale of Interdisciplinary Research, Friendships, and Breathtaking Landscapes

The two weeks I spent at the University of Bern for the International Bachelor School program greatly exceeded my hopes and expectations. I was uncertain about what to expect, but my time spent in the lively city of Bern proved to me what may be one of the best decisions I made for myself. By working closely with groups of students and leaders from all over the world on matters regarding climate change, I had the opportunity to understand and engage in this matter from a range of disciplines. The interdisciplinary aspect of climate change, from science to policymaking, demonstrated how multi-layered this issue is. I learned very quickly that mitigating climate change and protecting the planet we live on requires all hands on deck.

Read more

Rong Gao
Physics – University of Bern ∞ University of Toronto

Unexpected Findings: Switzerland through the Archive

Although this summer began with international travel appearing close to impossible, as Covid-19 forced many plans to be cancelled or postponed, I was lucky to be able to use the ThinkSwiss Research Scholarship to spend three months, from June to August 2020, at the University of Zurich (UZH).

Read more

Anne Schult
History – University of Zurich ∞ New York University

From Political Science to Environmental Law: Changing the Outlook on Life

Very infrequently have I had an experience that has completely changed my outlook on life. I cannot stress how much the 2019 Bern University Climate Change Summer school was one of those experiences. As a political science major who wants to become a lawyer specializing in environmental law, this program could not have been better suited to my interests. Not only did I learn more about how current environmental policy affects climate change, I was also able to participate in a workshop focused on the World Trade Organization. Over the course of the workshop, I learned how its legal proceedings influence environmental trade and analyzed a legal case in its entirety. Even if I am not yet a law student, I feel much more prepared to choose a legal track that could help me reach my professional goals.

Read more

Leopoldo Navarrete
Political Science – University of Bern ∞ University of California, Merced

Domestic Implementation of International Human Rights Law

The Lucerne Academy for Human Rights Implementation at the University of Lucerne is a three-week program that focuses on the domestic implementation of international human rights law. Each year the academy is organized around a central theme, this year’s was business and human rights. I was incredibly excited about the theme as I only had preliminary knowledge surrounding the topic.

Read more

Emily Williams
Human Rights – University of Lucerne ∞ St. Thomas University

Protecting Vulnerable Populations against Diseases caused by Climate Change

My attendance at the 2019 Climate Change Research Summer School at the University of Bern, generously funded by the ThinkSwiss scholarship program, was inarguably the highlight of my summer. Upon arriving in Switzerland, I was overwhelmed by the Alpine landscapes and the beautifully conserved Swiss heritage – but the experience I would have for the following two weeks was much more than feeling like a protagonist of Heidi.

Read more

Suehyun Cho
Global Health – University of Bern ∞ University of Toronto

Computational Modeling Defining Developmental Mechanisms of the Lungs

This past summer, I was very grateful to receive the ThinkSwiss Research Scholarship provided by the Embassy of Switzerland. This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to research at a top university in Switzerland has shaped my scholarly and cultural perspective of the world. 

I interned in Dr. Dagmar Iber’s Computational Biology Group at the ETH Zürich in Basel, Switzerland. My research involved combining high-end imaging technologies and computational modeling to define basic developmental mechanisms of the lungs (lung organogenesis). This experience contrasted greatly with my research in the US, which was in an oncology wet lab. Despite having had no previous experience in this research area, through the mentorship of the posdoc Dr. Aleksandra Sapala I was able enhance my skills in basic image analysis and computational modelling, and also learn about the mechanics and physics behind cellular growth of lungs in just 3 months!

Read more

Alay Shah
Computational Biology – Swiss Federal Institute of Technology ETHZ ∞ University of Texas, Austin

A Swiss Science Soirée and the Fine Art of Frolicking with Failure

On clear summer mornings the turquoise lake burst out from below the rippling deep green hills, its circumference sprinkled with the majestic snow-capped peaks of the Burnese Alps, as I whipped around the bend and zipped downhill on my bicycle.

Sound like a rêverie? This was just my daily bike commute from my dreamy residence at the hilltop Neuchâtel Botanical Garden Villa to the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) Photovoltaic Laboratory (PV-Lab) during my ThinkSwiss 2019 Internship. The sizzling sunbeams that beat upon me during my ride were the same sort of sunbeams that I summoned with semiconductors that summer.

Read more
Rachel Woods-Robinson
Materials Physics – École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) ∞ University of California, Berkeley

A Life Changing Experience

With the support of the ThinkSwiss Research Scholarship, I spent this past summer in Prof. Dr. Johann Kolar’s Power Electronics System Laboratory at ETH Zurich. Power electronics are ubiquitous to our modern, electrified economy, yet remain largely unknown to the public. They are the “brick” that charges your phone and laptop, the key to integrating solar and wind power into the grid, and the foundation of both electric vehicles and cloud computing. In short, every single electric device, in some way, relies on the efficiency, size, and reliability of power electronics. Over the summer, my work focused on power supplies for data centers (which are expected to consume 20% of the world’s electricity by 2030), the physical properties and limitations of next-generation materials for power semiconductors, and circuits for solar inverters and electric vehicle motors.

Read more
Grayson Zulauf
Electrical Engineering – Swiss Federal Institute of Technology ETHZ ∞ Stanford University

Laboratory For Synchrotron Radiation

This fall I had the opportunity to spend three months working at the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) in Villigen, less than an hour north of Zurich, in the group of Prof. Helena van Swygenhoven. Her research group has a few very unique capabilities that made my exchange incredibly productive, interesting, and beneficial to my PhD research. First is the custom built metal 3D printer constructed by PhD student Samy Hocine, which has the ability to print very small structures (less than 1x1cm) for research purposes. Second is the access to the Swiss Light Source, a powerful synchrotron used to study many different research projects. While in Switzerland I was granted beam time at the synchrotron for two different weeks: the first to use a larger x-ray beam to investigate the printing process through melting and solidification, and the second to use a much smaller, more focused x-ray beam to understand the spatial variation of the printing process. Between my offline and online 3D printing, I was able to further my PhD work and establish valuable connections with this team of experts that I will continue to use in the future.

Read more

Jennie Glerum
Materials Science and Engineering – Paul Scherrer Institute ∞ Northwestern University

Personality Assessment Research and Exploring Unparalleled Natural Beauty

Thanks to the Think Swiss scholarship, I was able to work with Dr. Willibald Ruch at the Personality and Assessment lab at the University of Zurich. This lab studies personality psychology through the lens of positive psychology and has a strong focus on test construction.

Read more

Alexa Zielinski
Psychology and Creative Writing – University of Zurich ∞ University of Michigan

The Best Summer I Ever Had

The summer researching in Switzerland sponsored by ThinkSwiss is the best summer I have ever had. I gained substantial knowledge and skills, went on amazing hikes and travels, learned and experienced many cultures, and made so many great friends.

I conducted research under Prof. Dr. Laura Heyderman at the Laboratory for Mesoscopic Systems, a lab in the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) and ETH Zurich, with most of my work done at PSI. My project was on an antiferromagnet (AFM)-like square lattice built from chirally coupled nanomagnets. I designed sample geometries and demagnetization protocols, used magnetic force microscopy and magneto-optic Kerr effect microscopy for characterization, and developed a suite of recognition, calculation and simulation MATLAB programs to understand the energetic contributions.

Read more

Xuequiao Wang
Materials Science and Engineering – Paul Scherrer Institute/ ETHZ ∞ Georgia Institute of Technology

Solving Ribonucleic Acids For Future Cancer Treatments

My name is Jevon Marsh and I am a Canadian student of chemistry. Over the summer of 2019, I was grateful to have received the ThinkSwiss scholarship, which provided me with the amazing opportunity to call Zürich my home and to contribute to the advancement of a really cool project. My research involved solving a unique structure formed by ribonucleic acids (known as guanine quadruplexes) using Nuclear Magnetic Resonance spectroscopy; by solving and characterizing this structure, we have provided a new therapeutic target that can be used to treat various forms of cancers in the future. From start to finish, my host lab provided oversight for my work and taught me important techniques and skills that will prove beneficial to my future career in research. I also spent an entire week at the International Conference in Biological Inorganic Chemistry (ICBIC-19) in Interlaken, which provided me with a chance to explore the many topics in my field, and network with professionals from all over the world. The kindness and generosity of the researchers in my lab and even those in the city really made my summer enjoyable… and made it feel like a home away from home!

Read more

Jevon Marsh
Supramolecular and Biological Chemistry – University of Zurich ∞ Queen's University

Research on Kindergartners' Self-Regulation

My Think Swiss journey started two summers ago in Zürich when I was a co-facilitator of a workshop for a Special Interest Group conference with the European Association of Learning and Instruction. Within the first couple of hours of being in Zürich, I made a call to my parents to tell them that I had never felt so at home in a new city – and I’ve lived in a few cities! I told them that one day, I would live there. Only a few months later, I received an email with details about the Think Swiss scholarship. It was the first time I had ever heard of the program and I felt like it was made just for me.

Read more

Kelsey Losenno
Educational Science – University of Zurich ∞ McGill University

A Life In Three Months

Thank you to the Embassy of Switzerland for the incredible opportunity of a lifetime. During my stay at the University of Fribourg, I worked with Dr. Raphael Berthele collecting data for a project on narrative fiction and language. My research project examined whether reading a story in a second (foreign) language impacts narrative transportation, which is the extent to which an individual feels “transported” into a fictional world. Fribourg was the perfect place to recruit participants because the majority are native French speakers with German, Italian, or English as foreign languages. My host supervisor provided a fresh new perspective on multilingualism research. We had wonderful conversations about Open Science, the dissemination of research to the general public, and the importance of taking into account the linguistic context when conducting research.

Read more

Ashley Chung-Fat-Yim
Cognitive Psychology and Psycholinguistic – University of Fribourg ∞ York University

Nephrology, Friends and Exploration

This past summer, I was blessed with the opportunity to intern in a nephrology lab at the University of Zürich’s Institute of Physiology.

What immediately struck me was how open and welcoming my lab was. We all gathered to have lunch every day, had frequent brunches, and even did an outing to the Swiss Alps in Interlaken. The conversations I had with my colleagues at the lab also gave me a more global perspective and made me more aware of the importance of having cultural diversity in any setting. While there, I was able to take on a research project alongside other students and faculty from around the world and gained exposure to a plethora of new techniques and technologies. My mentor was supportive and willing to show me the ropes and answer my slew of questions. One of the lab members from our IT group also gave me weekly mini-German lessons, which were quite fun and helped me to integrate into the community.

Read more

Kathy Ding
Nephrology – Institute of Physiology – University of Zürich ∞ University of California, Berkeley

Working On A Potential Alzheimer's Treatment

I am an undergraduate studying computer science and biology at MIT. This summer ThinkSwiss funded my work, as a part of its summer research program, in the Gräff Lab at EPFL studying neuro-epigenetics. The work was interesting and varied—from computational analyses, to molecular validation techniques, to imaging. I learned a lot; and working on a potential Alzheimer’s treatment was very exciting! Everyone in the lab was welcoming and helpful—I couldn’t have asked for a better work environment. The ThinkSwiss program combined cutting-edge research, Friday afternoon seminars, and social activities. Living together with the rest of the students also fostered long-lasting friendships. From cooking together most evenings, to kayaking on Lake Geneva, to movie nights, to watching fireworks on Swiss National Day, our program really bonded together.

Read more

Fatima Gunter
Neuro-Epigenetics – Summer Research Program – EPFL ∞ Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Confronting Climate Change – From Science To Policy

The Summer School program at the University of Bern organized by the Oeschger Center for Climate Change Research and the World Trade Institute. Sounds pretty daunting right? I remember being both excited and nervous when I found out that I was one of the 36 participants selected to travel to Bern. Entitled “Confronting Climate Change – from Science to Policy,” the summer school consisted of a series of keynote lectures and workshops on various areas of expertise, culminating in a simulation negotiation. Meeting my fellow participants, who stayed in the same residential building, started off the two weeks on the perfect note. It was incredible to hear from people from countries including Italy, Canada, South Africa, the United States, Germany, and India. I strongly feel I made some friends for life. They made my experience thoroughly enjoyable.

We were split into 9 workshops, with each group assigned to a specific topic according to their area of expertise. Although intense at times, I found myself astonished at how simply the professors explained some complex concepts, some of whom even worked with the World Trade Organization (WTO).  Among the many highlights from the program, the trip to Jungfraujoch was one that will live long in our memories. We were given the chance to visit the research station at an altitude of about 3000 feet, where researchers from around the world conduct experiments and record data. To witness first-hand the impact of climate change on the glaciers there left an impression in our minds that is hard to shake.

Read more

Ananth Shankar
Confronting Climate Change – from Science to Policy– University of Bern ∞ University of Massachusetts Amherst

Six Weeks In Geneva Studying European Paleofloods

This past summer, I had one of the most enriching and memorable experiences living abroad for six weeks in Geneva, Switzerland where I was a guest researcher at the University of Geneva working with the Institute of Environmental Sciences C-CIA lab group. As a visitor to the C-CIA lab group, I had the opportunity to collaborate with Dr. Markus Stoffel, Dr. Juan Ballesteros Canovas, and an amazing team of PhD and Master’s students from all across the world. During my visit, I created a meta-database of European paleoflood case studies, which is a direct extension of my thesis research, “Holocene paleofloods and their relevance to flood mitigation, risk assessment, and policy.” This database will be a valuable resource to European hydrologists, policymakers, statisticians and stakeholders in making decisions about flood risk and mitigation in Europe. This data will also greatly improve and expand the Past Global Changes (PAGES) working group database on floods.

Read more

Amanda Hefner
Institute of Environmental Sciences C-CIA Lab - University of Geneva ∞ University of Minnesota

Gaining Independence as a Scientist

This summer, I had the opportunity to work at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) for 8 weeks as an undergraduate research intern in a biology lab. I am immensely grateful for funding from the SwissThink organization and from the Columbia University Center for Career Education’s Summer Funding Program.

The 2019 Summer Research Program consisted of fellow students from all over the world, including Turkey, Belgium, Pakistan, China, and Russia. Whether through deep conversation or through travel, every day included some form of cultural immersion. I also gained a huge appreciation for nature and the great outdoors. Some of my best memories included group hikes and water activities.

Read more

Allison Hung
Biochemistry – Summer Research Program – Swiss Federal Institute of Technology EPFL ∞ Columbia University

© ThinkSwiss 2020

It is hard to say goodbye to Switzerland. All the worries I had before my stay disappeared immediately in my immediate attachment to this wonderful place, and I already look forward to returning.

Read more

Rongrong Liu
Cognitive & Computer Science – École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) ∞ University of California, San Diego

A Tale of Interdisciplinary Research, Friendships, and Breathtaking Landscapes

The two weeks I spent at the University of Bern for the International Bachelor School program greatly exceeded my hopes and expectations. I was uncertain about what to expect, but my time spent in the lively city of Bern proved to me what may be one of the best decisions I made for myself. By working closely with groups of students and leaders from all over the world on matters regarding climate change, I had the opportunity to understand and engage in this matter from a range of disciplines. The interdisciplinary aspect of climate change, from science to policymaking, demonstrated how multi-layered this issue is. I learned very quickly that mitigating climate change and protecting the planet we live on requires all hands on deck.

Read more

Rong Gao
Physics – University of Bern ∞ University of Toronto

Unexpected Findings: Switzerland through the Archive

Although this summer began with international travel appearing close to impossible, as Covid-19 forced many plans to be cancelled or postponed, I was lucky to be able to use the ThinkSwiss Research Scholarship to spend three months, from June to August 2020, at the University of Zurich (UZH).

Read more

Anne Schult
History – University of Zurich ∞ New York University

From Political Science to Environmental Law: Changing the Outlook on Life

Very infrequently have I had an experience that has completely changed my outlook on life. I cannot stress how much the 2019 Bern University Climate Change Summer school was one of those experiences. As a political science major who wants to become a lawyer specializing in environmental law, this program could not have been better suited to my interests. Not only did I learn more about how current environmental policy affects climate change, I was also able to participate in a workshop focused on the World Trade Organization. Over the course of the workshop, I learned how its legal proceedings influence environmental trade and analyzed a legal case in its entirety. Even if I am not yet a law student, I feel much more prepared to choose a legal track that could help me reach my professional goals.

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Leopoldo Navarrete
Political Science – University of Bern ∞ University of California, Merced

Domestic Implementation of International Human Rights Law

The Lucerne Academy for Human Rights Implementation at the University of Lucerne is a three-week program that focuses on the domestic implementation of international human rights law. Each year the academy is organized around a central theme, this year’s was business and human rights. I was incredibly excited about the theme as I only had preliminary knowledge surrounding the topic.

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Emily Williams
Human Rights – University of Lucerne ∞ St. Thomas University

Protecting Vulnerable Populations against Diseases caused by Climate Change

My attendance at the 2019 Climate Change Research Summer School at the University of Bern, generously funded by the ThinkSwiss scholarship program, was inarguably the highlight of my summer. Upon arriving in Switzerland, I was overwhelmed by the Alpine landscapes and the beautifully conserved Swiss heritage – but the experience I would have for the following two weeks was much more than feeling like a protagonist of Heidi.

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Suehyun Cho
Global Health – University of Bern ∞ University of Toronto

Computational Modeling Defining Developmental Mechanisms of the Lungs

This past summer, I was very grateful to receive the ThinkSwiss Research Scholarship provided by the Embassy of Switzerland. This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to research at a top university in Switzerland has shaped my scholarly and cultural perspective of the world. 

I interned in Dr. Dagmar Iber’s Computational Biology Group at the ETH Zürich in Basel, Switzerland. My research involved combining high-end imaging technologies and computational modeling to define basic developmental mechanisms of the lungs (lung organogenesis). This experience contrasted greatly with my research in the US, which was in an oncology wet lab. Despite having had no previous experience in this research area, through the mentorship of the posdoc Dr. Aleksandra Sapala I was able enhance my skills in basic image analysis and computational modelling, and also learn about the mechanics and physics behind cellular growth of lungs in just 3 months!

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Alay Shah
Computational Biology – Swiss Federal Institute of Technology ETHZ ∞ University of Texas, Austin

A Swiss Science Soirée and the Fine Art of Frolicking with Failure

On clear summer mornings the turquoise lake burst out from below the rippling deep green hills, its circumference sprinkled with the majestic snow-capped peaks of the Burnese Alps, as I whipped around the bend and zipped downhill on my bicycle.

Sound like a rêverie? This was just my daily bike commute from my dreamy residence at the hilltop Neuchâtel Botanical Garden Villa to the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) Photovoltaic Laboratory (PV-Lab) during my ThinkSwiss 2019 Internship. The sizzling sunbeams that beat upon me during my ride were the same sort of sunbeams that I summoned with semiconductors that summer.

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Rachel Woods-Robinson
Materials Physics – École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) ∞ University of California, Berkeley

A Life Changing Experience

With the support of the ThinkSwiss Research Scholarship, I spent this past summer in Prof. Dr. Johann Kolar’s Power Electronics System Laboratory at ETH Zurich. Power electronics are ubiquitous to our modern, electrified economy, yet remain largely unknown to the public. They are the “brick” that charges your phone and laptop, the key to integrating solar and wind power into the grid, and the foundation of both electric vehicles and cloud computing. In short, every single electric device, in some way, relies on the efficiency, size, and reliability of power electronics. Over the summer, my work focused on power supplies for data centers (which are expected to consume 20% of the world’s electricity by 2030), the physical properties and limitations of next-generation materials for power semiconductors, and circuits for solar inverters and electric vehicle motors.

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Grayson Zulauf
Electrical Engineering – Swiss Federal Institute of Technology ETHZ ∞ Stanford University

Laboratory For Synchrotron Radiation

This fall I had the opportunity to spend three months working at the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) in Villigen, less than an hour north of Zurich, in the group of Prof. Helena van Swygenhoven. Her research group has a few very unique capabilities that made my exchange incredibly productive, interesting, and beneficial to my PhD research. First is the custom built metal 3D printer constructed by PhD student Samy Hocine, which has the ability to print very small structures (less than 1x1cm) for research purposes. Second is the access to the Swiss Light Source, a powerful synchrotron used to study many different research projects. While in Switzerland I was granted beam time at the synchrotron for two different weeks: the first to use a larger x-ray beam to investigate the printing process through melting and solidification, and the second to use a much smaller, more focused x-ray beam to understand the spatial variation of the printing process. Between my offline and online 3D printing, I was able to further my PhD work and establish valuable connections with this team of experts that I will continue to use in the future.

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Jennie Glerum
Materials Science and Engineering – Paul Scherrer Institute ∞ Northwestern University

Personality Assessment Research and Exploring Unparalleled Natural Beauty

Thanks to the Think Swiss scholarship, I was able to work with Dr. Willibald Ruch at the Personality and Assessment lab at the University of Zurich. This lab studies personality psychology through the lens of positive psychology and has a strong focus on test construction.

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Alexa Zielinski
Psychology and Creative Writing – University of Zurich ∞ University of Michigan

The Best Summer I Ever Had

The summer researching in Switzerland sponsored by ThinkSwiss is the best summer I have ever had. I gained substantial knowledge and skills, went on amazing hikes and travels, learned and experienced many cultures, and made so many great friends.

I conducted research under Prof. Dr. Laura Heyderman at the Laboratory for Mesoscopic Systems, a lab in the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) and ETH Zurich, with most of my work done at PSI. My project was on an antiferromagnet (AFM)-like square lattice built from chirally coupled nanomagnets. I designed sample geometries and demagnetization protocols, used magnetic force microscopy and magneto-optic Kerr effect microscopy for characterization, and developed a suite of recognition, calculation and simulation MATLAB programs to understand the energetic contributions.

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Xuequiao Wang
Materials Science and Engineering – Paul Scherrer Institute/ ETHZ ∞ Georgia Institute of Technology

Solving Ribonucleic Acids For Future Cancer Treatments

My name is Jevon Marsh and I am a Canadian student of chemistry. Over the summer of 2019, I was grateful to have received the ThinkSwiss scholarship, which provided me with the amazing opportunity to call Zürich my home and to contribute to the advancement of a really cool project. My research involved solving a unique structure formed by ribonucleic acids (known as guanine quadruplexes) using Nuclear Magnetic Resonance spectroscopy; by solving and characterizing this structure, we have provided a new therapeutic target that can be used to treat various forms of cancers in the future. From start to finish, my host lab provided oversight for my work and taught me important techniques and skills that will prove beneficial to my future career in research. I also spent an entire week at the International Conference in Biological Inorganic Chemistry (ICBIC-19) in Interlaken, which provided me with a chance to explore the many topics in my field, and network with professionals from all over the world. The kindness and generosity of the researchers in my lab and even those in the city really made my summer enjoyable… and made it feel like a home away from home!

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Jevon Marsh
Supramolecular and Biological Chemistry – University of Zurich ∞ Queen's University

Research on Kindergartners' Self-Regulation

My Think Swiss journey started two summers ago in Zürich when I was a co-facilitator of a workshop for a Special Interest Group conference with the European Association of Learning and Instruction. Within the first couple of hours of being in Zürich, I made a call to my parents to tell them that I had never felt so at home in a new city – and I’ve lived in a few cities! I told them that one day, I would live there. Only a few months later, I received an email with details about the Think Swiss scholarship. It was the first time I had ever heard of the program and I felt like it was made just for me.

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Kelsey Losenno
Educational Science – University of Zurich ∞ McGill University

A Life In Three Months

Thank you to the Embassy of Switzerland for the incredible opportunity of a lifetime. During my stay at the University of Fribourg, I worked with Dr. Raphael Berthele collecting data for a project on narrative fiction and language. My research project examined whether reading a story in a second (foreign) language impacts narrative transportation, which is the extent to which an individual feels “transported” into a fictional world. Fribourg was the perfect place to recruit participants because the majority are native French speakers with German, Italian, or English as foreign languages. My host supervisor provided a fresh new perspective on multilingualism research. We had wonderful conversations about Open Science, the dissemination of research to the general public, and the importance of taking into account the linguistic context when conducting research.

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Ashley Chung-Fat-Yim
Cognitive Psychology and Psycholinguistic – University of Fribourg ∞ York University

Nephrology, Friends and Exploration

This past summer, I was blessed with the opportunity to intern in a nephrology lab at the University of Zürich’s Institute of Physiology.

What immediately struck me was how open and welcoming my lab was. We all gathered to have lunch every day, had frequent brunches, and even did an outing to the Swiss Alps in Interlaken. The conversations I had with my colleagues at the lab also gave me a more global perspective and made me more aware of the importance of having cultural diversity in any setting. While there, I was able to take on a research project alongside other students and faculty from around the world and gained exposure to a plethora of new techniques and technologies. My mentor was supportive and willing to show me the ropes and answer my slew of questions. One of the lab members from our IT group also gave me weekly mini-German lessons, which were quite fun and helped me to integrate into the community.

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Kathy Ding
Nephrology – Institute of Physiology – University of Zürich ∞ University of California, Berkeley

Working On A Potential Alzheimer's Treatment

I am an undergraduate studying computer science and biology at MIT. This summer ThinkSwiss funded my work, as a part of its summer research program, in the Gräff Lab at EPFL studying neuro-epigenetics. The work was interesting and varied—from computational analyses, to molecular validation techniques, to imaging. I learned a lot; and working on a potential Alzheimer’s treatment was very exciting! Everyone in the lab was welcoming and helpful—I couldn’t have asked for a better work environment. The ThinkSwiss program combined cutting-edge research, Friday afternoon seminars, and social activities. Living together with the rest of the students also fostered long-lasting friendships. From cooking together most evenings, to kayaking on Lake Geneva, to movie nights, to watching fireworks on Swiss National Day, our program really bonded together.

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Fatima Gunter
Neuro-Epigenetics – Summer Research Program – EPFL ∞ Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Confronting Climate Change – From Science To Policy

The Summer School program at the University of Bern organized by the Oeschger Center for Climate Change Research and the World Trade Institute. Sounds pretty daunting right? I remember being both excited and nervous when I found out that I was one of the 36 participants selected to travel to Bern. Entitled “Confronting Climate Change – from Science to Policy,” the summer school consisted of a series of keynote lectures and workshops on various areas of expertise, culminating in a simulation negotiation. Meeting my fellow participants, who stayed in the same residential building, started off the two weeks on the perfect note. It was incredible to hear from people from countries including Italy, Canada, South Africa, the United States, Germany, and India. I strongly feel I made some friends for life. They made my experience thoroughly enjoyable.

We were split into 9 workshops, with each group assigned to a specific topic according to their area of expertise. Although intense at times, I found myself astonished at how simply the professors explained some complex concepts, some of whom even worked with the World Trade Organization (WTO).  Among the many highlights from the program, the trip to Jungfraujoch was one that will live long in our memories. We were given the chance to visit the research station at an altitude of about 3000 feet, where researchers from around the world conduct experiments and record data. To witness first-hand the impact of climate change on the glaciers there left an impression in our minds that is hard to shake.

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Ananth Shankar
Confronting Climate Change – from Science to Policy– University of Bern ∞ University of Massachusetts Amherst

Six Weeks In Geneva Studying European Paleofloods

This past summer, I had one of the most enriching and memorable experiences living abroad for six weeks in Geneva, Switzerland where I was a guest researcher at the University of Geneva working with the Institute of Environmental Sciences C-CIA lab group. As a visitor to the C-CIA lab group, I had the opportunity to collaborate with Dr. Markus Stoffel, Dr. Juan Ballesteros Canovas, and an amazing team of PhD and Master’s students from all across the world. During my visit, I created a meta-database of European paleoflood case studies, which is a direct extension of my thesis research, “Holocene paleofloods and their relevance to flood mitigation, risk assessment, and policy.” This database will be a valuable resource to European hydrologists, policymakers, statisticians and stakeholders in making decisions about flood risk and mitigation in Europe. This data will also greatly improve and expand the Past Global Changes (PAGES) working group database on floods.

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Amanda Hefner
Institute of Environmental Sciences C-CIA Lab - University of Geneva ∞ University of Minnesota

Gaining Independence as a Scientist

This summer, I had the opportunity to work at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) for 8 weeks as an undergraduate research intern in a biology lab. I am immensely grateful for funding from the SwissThink organization and from the Columbia University Center for Career Education’s Summer Funding Program.

The 2019 Summer Research Program consisted of fellow students from all over the world, including Turkey, Belgium, Pakistan, China, and Russia. Whether through deep conversation or through travel, every day included some form of cultural immersion. I also gained a huge appreciation for nature and the great outdoors. Some of my best memories included group hikes and water activities.