Category Archives: News/Events Australia

ETHZ and EPFL Alumni event in Sydney on 8 April 2024

Guided tour and Talk at Sydney Nanoscience Hub

If you are an ETHZ or EPFL alumni, join the guided tour and talk at the Sydney Nanoscience Hub.

Date: 08. April 2024
Time: 18:00-​20:30
Location: Sydney Nanoscience Hub (A31), The University Of Sydney, Physics Road, 2050, Camperdown
Price: Free

Programme of the event:

  • 18h00-​18h30 – Arrival & Networking Apéro (Sponsored by Sydney Nano)
  • 18h30-​18h45 – Window-​Tour of the Research and Prototype Foundry
  • 18h45-​19h15 – Talk by Niels Quack: Optical Switches: Innovating Hardware for Datacenters
  • 19h15-​20h00 – Discussion and Networking
  • 20h00 End of Event

Contact person: Niels Quack

Showcasing the role of the Swiss in the development of the Victorian wine industry

Together with the de Pury family/Yeringberg, SAAN welcomed 60 of     its members, partners and various interest groups on October 28 to a very special event at The Royal Society of Victoria in Melbourne. 

Saan2The evening commenced at   the Royal Society´s historical Ellery Lecture Theatre. After welcoming words        from SAAN´s executive   Robert Medcalf, SAAN President Matthias Ernst gave the auditorium an overview of the network´s aims and functions.

The audience was then treated to a unique insight in the history of the Yarra Valley from Guill de Pury. His enthralling talk described his families wine producing property, which is  one of the most distinguished in the Yarra Valley and has been the home  of the family since 1862, when Baron Frederic Guillaume de Pury migrated to the Yarra Valley from Switzerland. In 1969, 3rd generation, Guill re-established the vineyard which currently produces 1200 cases of wines each year.  Further, the audience was given the chance  to ask specific questions to Guill.


Saan6After the presentations,    the attendees were given the oppurtunity to try Yeringbe´s exquisite wines at the Burke and Wills Room.  Guill´s wife and daughter, Katherine and Sandra, kindly served the delighted audience.

Accompanied by appetizers, the guests engaged in discussions on the themes of the night as well as other potential networking and professional collaborations.


SAAN kindly acknowledges the de Pury family and The Royal Society of Victoria for their generous support in making this such a successful event.

SBS´ German radio program attended the event and broadcasted a segment as part of it´s weekly Swiss coverage:

SBS – Fine Wine and family tradition

SAAN public lecture in Melbourne: Switzerland – A Paradise for Research?

The Swiss Australian Academic Network (SAAN) identified a unique opportunity to invite Prof Ed Palmer to deliver a public lecture in Melbourne during his visit to Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne as the guest of the Australian Society of Immunology. Prof Palmer is best known for his seminal contributions his group at University of Basel has made to our understanding of self-tolerance that allows our immune system to differentiate between pathogens and foreign cells, and those that make up the organs of the own body. To maximize exposure of this lecture, the event was held on November 20 at the Royal Society of Victoria in the heart of Melbourne’s CBD and also included as speakers Drs Markus German and Daniel Häusermann, two resident scientists from Switzerland.

In his keynote address “Switzerland – A Paradise for Research?”, Prof Palmer used the example of the academic institutions in which his own career was fostered to illustrate the differences of approaches by (medical) science funding agencies to support research in Switzerland and Australia. He also contrasted the attitude of the research environment frequently encountered in the world’s few top tier Universities with the more collegial and supportive environments common to the next level of Research Institutes. Prof Palmer’s insightful analysis painted a complimentary picture of the often more generous funding opportunities available to (established) researchers in Switzerland, with the greater willingness of Institutions and funding agencies to support high risk research in Australia. There was a general recognition among the audience that this information is of great relevance when tailoring future funding applications for collaborative research efforts involving scientists from both countries.

Dr Germann, a postdoctoral SNSF recipient, provided the audience with a first-hand account of the challenge of deciding on a host laboratory in Australia given the high density of world leading research groups comprehensively covering most areas of biomedical research in Australia. His forthcoming transfer to the EPFL in Lausanne will provide a strong link for SAAN to further strengthen bilateral exchange with scientists in the French-speaking part of Switzerland.

In his presentation Dr Häusermann, the nuclear physicist in charge of the biomedical beam line at the Australian synchrotron, expressed his delight about the most recent transfer of this world-class facility from a Victoria state-funded operation to being run by ANSTO, the Federally funded Australian Nuclear Research and Development organization. This important step ensures long-term viability of a unique resource for the ultrastructural analysis of living organisms that is centrally located among Melbourne’s leading Universities and Research Institutes. Customized on-site housing facilities for animals enables complex monitoring throughout long-term experiments that is currently not possible in most other synchrotron facilities around the globe.

This SAAN lecture event, made possible in part through the ongoing financial support of SAAN by Novartis, Roche and Nestlé as well as The Swiss State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation SERI, attracted an audience in excess of 80 with a large proportion comprising early career postdoctoral researchers as well as many of Melbourne’s leading scientists. The evening was opened by Prof Ernst, President of SAAN and in his closing remarks Prof Medcalf, secretary of SAAN, acknowledged the evening’s attendance of Switzerland’s Honorary Consul for Melbourne, Ms Erika Kimpton.

Bees buzzing in Sydney

“If the bee disappears from the surface of the Earth, man would have no more than four years left to live.” Einstein.

After the welcoming words of the new Swiss General Consul to Australia, Mr Ernst Steinmann, and SAAN member and EPFL Alumni Dr. Steve Cochard, the Swiss documentary ‘More than honey’ was screened in a fully booked up auditorium at the University of Sydney. With the provocative quote by Einstein, and searching for answers for the current worldwide honeybee colony decline, the documentary took the audience on a fascinating journey to meet almond growers in California, human pollinators in China, beekeepers in the Swiss mountains and researchers in Australia. Back in the auditorium, the showing of the film was followed by an animated panel discussion. Chaired by Prof. Barbara and BorisRoland Stocker, Vice-President of SAAN, the panel was composed of eminent researchers, specialized in the behavior of social insects: Prof. Madeleine Beekman, Associate Professor Nathan Lo, Prof. Ben Oldroyd (all University of Sydney), Prof. Boris Baer and Dr. Barbara Baer Imhoof (both University of Western Australia). The latter two have been intensively involved in the making and promotion of the film ‘More than Honey’ and served as scientific consultants to director Markus Imhoof. The panelists pointed towards current and future risks for Australia’s honeybees and explained how Australia’s isolation and strict quarantine policy helps to protect their bees from infectious diseases. Further, the audience was given the opportunity to ask specific questions on the making of the film and the work of the present bee researchers. During the following cocktail, the audience engaged in discussion on the themes highlighted by the various speakers.

SAAN kindly acknowledges EPFL Alumni, ETH Alumni, the Swiss Consulate General, the Swiss State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation, and the University of Sydney for their generous support of this most successful event.

More than Honey has without any doubt played an important role in raising awareness of the global issue of bee decline; let’s keep fingers crossed for its nomination of Best Foreign Language Film at the 86th Academy Awards 2014.