Since many of today’s most pressing issues simply cannot be answered by an individual researcher, the University of Bern relies on a highly international research network.
Prof. Dr. Daniel Candinas, Vice-Rector for Research
“The world is an experiment, the outcome of which we cannot know.” In the spirit of this quotation from philosopher Karl Popper, researchers at the University of Bern spent yet another intense, successful year pushing the boundaries of human knowledge and achieving outstanding research results in numerous projects, collaborative efforts and a diverse range of contributions. This year, we would like to place a special emphasis on the international networks employed for the research conducted in Bern and illustrate these with a few specific examples.
The University of Bern was involved as a research partner in numerous international collaboration requests again in 2019. The most important program for international projects is the EU Framework Program “Horizon 2020”. Within the scope of this program, teams from universities, research centers and businesses collaborate to brainstorm new solutions to technical, scientific and social challenges. For (G3P) is a European project that combines satellite measurements and data on the Earth’s gravity to determine groundwater availability. The Bern-based team led by Adrian Jäggi, Professor at the Institute of Astronomy, is in charge of processing gravity data obtained through the satellite measurements. Apart from EU projects, researchers in Bern are also involved in other competitive overseas projects, specifically in countries such as the USA (13 projects during the year under review), Canada and China.
“The University of Bern is highly respected by ambitious postdocs from abroad.”
Prof. Dr. med. Daniel Candinas, Vice-Rector for Research
The University of Bern is also highly respected by ambitious postdocs from abroad, who have to apply for international grants in order to carry out a project at the University of Bern. Forty-two early career researchers applied for coveted EU fellowships in 2019 – an all-time high. Given that there are only enough funds to finance 12 to 14 percent of the applications received, these grants are extremely competitive. In a survey conducted by the Vice-Rectorate Research, postdocs indicated that the University of Bern is the perfect place for their research project. For example: Dr. Caiti Hauck of Brazil began her fellowship project, CLEFNI, in 2019: The choral life in the cities of Bern and Fribourg in the long nineteenth century at the Institute of Musicology. She is looking into the question of how the 19th century emergence of the modern federal state promoted linguistic and religious integration in men’s choirs differently in Fribourg than in Bern.
Researchers in Bern are also involved in research projects in the Third World that aim to tackle some of the enormous challenges faced by African countries’ healthcare systems. Professor Andrew Macpherson's research group, for example, is working together with research teams in Harare (Zimbabwe) and Nairobi (Kenya) to better understand intestinal diseases that are capable of disabling or even killing infants, while Matthias Egger's group of researchers is working on strategies for treating and preventing HIV infections in Malawi, South Africa and Zambia. A portion of this research is funded by philanthropic foundations and accomplishes humanitarian goals through the provision of greater in-depth knowledge.