Networking science.

The Swiss Young Academy networks young researchers from a wide range of scientific disciplines and creates an inspiring environment for inter- and transdisciplinary exchange and innovative ideas. Its members are the representatives of Swiss science and are regarded as the young voice of the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences.

Impulses for science and society from early career researchers


15 February 2024

Why do more women leave the academic world after earning a doctorate than men? What challenges do early career academics face as they navigate the media? How can the use of innovative teaching formats at the interface of science and society be promoted? Where is artificial intelligence being used in education and healthcare – and what role can the Swiss Young Academy play in this development? These are the questions four new project groups from the Swiss Young Academy will be addressing in 2024. In addition, four projects launched in 2023 are set to continue this year.

The members of the Swiss Young Academy (SYA) strive to influence how the academic world interacts with society by providing their own perspective as early career researchers. And this is what recently motivated them to approve the following four joint projects. The project Unveiling the Leaky Pipeline in STEM explores a phenomenon known as the “leaky pipeline”. The project’s speaker Julia Venturini explains, “As they move up the academic career ladder, considerably more women leave academia than men.” The proportion of women in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) is especially low compared to men. This project aims to uncover and understand the reasons for Switzerland’s leaky pipeline in the STEM disciplines by surveying those directly affected: female academics who have left the academic world.


While the need to communicate is growing for academics, developing communication skills is generally is not part of the academic curriculum. The project Navigating the Media as Early Career Academics intends to close this gap in academics’ portfolios by focusing primarily on media work. “The project aims to create a space for exchanging ideas, for discussion, and for critically reflecting on the role of academics – and especially early career academics – in the media and also to provide learning opportunities tailored to the Swiss Young Academy’s members”, say project co-speakers Odile Ammann and Aimeé Zermatten.


Academics interact not only with the media but also with students. That is why the project Innovative Teaching Formats at the Science-Society Interface aims to explore and promote the use of innovative teaching formats that create links between science and society. “We plan to map out existing innovative formats, build up a network of lecturers at Swiss institutions of higher education who are interested in this kind of teaching, and help enable students and their lecturers to work with these new formats”, project co-speakers Sandra Bärnrheuter, Clara Zemp, and Benjamin Hofmann explain. The project’s outreach activities are designed to increase the acceptance of innovative teaching formats and improve the quality of these new forms within the Swiss system of higher education.


Another project that has recently been launched is AI in Science and Society, which aims to examine the influence of artificial intelligence (AI) on various sectors and disciplines – ranging from education to healthcare – and will consider the ethical implications as well. Project speaker Emmanuel Senft remarks, “The activities planned for the project include interviews, discussions with stakeholders, and open workshops – all of which aim to investigate the complex effects of AI on different social and academic areas.”


In addition to approving these four new projects, the SYA Members’ Assembly authorised the continuation of four ongoing projects. The project Science vs Activism? Exploring the Boundary explores the dichotomy between science and activism from a transdisciplinary perspective. Another ongoing project, Innovative Policies for Fostering Academic Careers in Switzerland, facilitates the exchange of innovative best practices for improving academic employment conditions and career development opportunities. The project Swiss Young Network for Science Policy and Diplomacy (SYNESPOD) aims to establish a platform for promoting science policymaking and diplomacy through partnerships with (inter)national institutions. And the fourth ongoing project, The "Spark" Podcast, targets its scientific communication at young audiences to help raise their awareness of transdisciplinary perspectives.


All project applications were reviewed by the SYA Executive Board before being critically discussed and then approved by the Members’ Assembly. The SYA’s speaker Sofie Behluli remarks, “The Swiss Young Academy’s recently approved projects show that our members take a critical look at a range of issues, from more recent topics such as artificial intelligence and innovative teaching to long-standing, controversial topics such as gender disparity in academia. The Executive Board welcomed the fact that, even with such a wide range of topics, a common thread runs through the projects: highly qualified, early career academics from all disciplines demonstrating a strong commitment to improving Switzerland’s research landscape.”