The Swiss Science Prizes Marcel Benoist and Latsis were awarded for the second time in a joint ceremony on 3 November 2022.
On the way to Switzerland’s first Nobel Prize winner
Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin, President of the Marcel Benoist Foundation, congratulated the prizewinners, Professor Ursula Keller of ETH Zurich and Professor Kerstin Noëlle Vokinger of the University of Zurich, on their achievements. In his welcome speech he pointed out how Switzerland’s education system enables everyone to develop their individual talents. With regard to the two prizewinners, he also reminded the audience that equal opportunities should be a matter of course these days. Nonetheless, Switzerland is still waiting for its first female Nobel Prize winner – perhaps not for long, given the top-class women researchers present!
Of competition and perfection
Dr John Latsis welcomed the guests on behalf of the Latsis Foundation and paid special tribute to the prizewinners’ impressive achievements, which were vividly described by the speakers. Professor Andreas Tünnermann recalled his friendly competition with the Marcel Benoist prizewinner, while Professor Christiana Fountoulakis found it alarming how perfectly the Latsis prizewinner’s career had progressed up to now. The second speaker, Professor Michael Schaepman, could only agree.
Prizewinners on the test bench
After the Golden Book had been signed and the prizewinners had been presented with their diplomas, the moderator Anja Wyden Guelpa challenged both scientists with her perceptive questions. While Professor Keller claimed her talents were very one-sided and her choice of studies had therefore been limited to a few options, Ms Wyden Guelpa wanted to know from Professor Vokinger whether she had studied medicine and law simultaneously because she had not been able to choose between the two. Ms Vokinger replied that her avid interest in both subjects had persuaded her to study both. However, the large amount of work had not been entirely without hardship, she said. Professor Keller also shared her experience as the first woman to hold a chair in physics at ETH Zurich. Professor Vokinger, who is a generation younger, said the mutual support and promotion of both sexes is a reality today.
Workshop and close
Once again, a workshop for young researchers was held at the University of Bern with the prizewinners before the award ceremony. The workshop was held in cooperation with the organisations Schweizer Jugend forscht, Wissenschafts-Olympiade and foraus. The participants shared their impressions from the afternoon with the guests in the evening and discussed them in further detail during the subsequent aperitive.
Watch the video about the prize winner under the current laureate.