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"Make sure that you are unique"
Ewine van Dishoeck is a pioneer in astrochemistry and one of the most famous female astronomers in the world. Invited by the Center for Space and Habitability (CSH) of the University of Bern the Dutch professor gave the CSH Distinguished Lecture 2017, had many discussions with the CSH and NCCR PlanetS scientists and advised the young researchers to take the steepest route in their early career.
Possible new immune therapy target in lung cancer
A study from Bern University Hospital in collaboration with the University of Bern shows that so-called perivascular-like cells from lung tumors behave abnormally. They not only inadequately support vascular structures, but also may actively modulate the inflammatory and immune response. These findings may represent a novel stromal cancer target.
"We have never traded more than we do today"
Amid the global turbulence caused by forced migration, rising populism and opposition to globalisation, trade remains as vital as ever, according to participants in the World Trade Forum organised by the World Trade Institute of the University of Bern (WTI) and held in Grindelwald on 6-7 October. The conference on 'Trade Policy in Turbulent Times' also marked the official end of the WTI’s NCCR Trade Regulation research project.
The 2015 Paris Climate Conference: For Germans, the intensive media coverage had a calming, not a mobilizing effect
The 2015 Paris Climate Conference was accompanied by extensive media coverage. Though the content managed to reach much of Germany’s populace, it did little to change their attitudes. This was a main finding of a study of the University of Hamburg in cooperation with the University of Bern's Institute of Communication and Media Studies.
New professorship position for climate and environmental economics has been filled
The University of Bern has created a professorship for climate and environmental economics, which can now be expanded thanks to the involvement of the Mercator Foundation Switzerland and the Gebäudeversicherung Bern. The goal pursued with the creation of this professorship is to expand the skills in research and teaching in the area of empirical-experimental climate and environmental economics. The professorship position has been filled with the economist Professor Eric Strobl.
Searching for distant worlds with a flying telescope
Researchers from the University of Bern, using an observatory on board a jumbo jet, have observed how the extrasolar Planet GJ 1214b is passing in front of its star, causing a kind of mini-eclipse. The first measurements of this kind with the observatory called SOFIA (short for Stratospheric Observatory for Infra-red Astronomy) prove that the flying observatory is well-suited to the observation of exoplanets.
Simply a little bit smarter at the big festival of knowledge
Why do we sleep? How does a medication find its way in the body? These and similar questions were asked on the University of Bern’s social media channels in advance of the third "Researchers' Night". "uniaktuell" set off in search of the answers at the big festival of knowledge on Saturday, 16 September.
The University of Bern on the move
Research at the University of Bern is being intensified: Innovative joint projects from different subject areas are being supported with the new Interfaculty Research Cooperations IRC. In teaching, the study of pharmacy is being expanded to a full-time course. The number of students is stabilising at a high level: Around 17,550 students will be newly enrolled in Bern.
"The world of science needs to participate more strongly in the political dialogue"
From 5th until 8th September 2017, the University of Bern hosted the fourth International Conference on Research for Development (ICRD). With the motto of "Evidence. Engagement. Policies", some 300 conference participants from all over the world discussed the challenges and opportunities presented by global sustainable development. Peter Messerli, Co-Director of the interdisciplinary Centre for Development and Environment (CDE) at the University of Bern, called for the world of science to participate more strongly in the political dialogue.
Public Lecture on U.S. Foreign Policy under Trump
On 14 September, Dr James Lindsay, Senior Vice President of the think-tank «Council on Foreign Relations» will hold an early evening lecture on «U.S. Foreign Policy Under Trump: Implications for Europe and Global Trade». The lecture takes place from 17:00 to 18:30 at the Silva Casa Auditorium, World Trade Institute, Hallerstrasse 6. Participation is free of charge, however registration is mandatory. For more information on the event and for a link to registration, please visit the event website.
The 13 factors for a successful career
What determines career success? This question has occupied career research, career counseling, organisations and private persons for decades. With the help of a new questionnaire, Bern researchers from the department of work and organisational psychology have now identified the important resources for a successful career.
An unusual delivery service
Is it better to produce locally or to import? That can be a crucial question for simple lifeforms as well. Mitochondria, the power plants of the cell, have their own protein factories although the cell apparatus could easily do the job for them. A special species of eukaryotes even has all the transfer-RNA it needs for protein assembly promptly delivered. Researchers from the University of Bern have now uncovered how this highly unusual import mechanism works in detail.
50 years of space exploration at the University of Bern
This year, the University of Bern celebrates 50 years of space exploration. Several dozen Bernese instruments flew on board space probes, to explore the formation of solar systems and the origin of life. One of them, the Bernese solar sail, was deployed in the course of the first landing on the Moon. At the "Researchers’ night" on 16 September, an exhibition will present the highlights of Bernese space exploration.
Tef benefits from further research funding
Tef is Ethiopia’s most important staple food crop. Because its tall, weak stem makes the plant fall over easily, researchers at the Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS) at the University of Bern have bred a variety with shorter, sturdier stalks. After several years of field testing, one improved variety has recently been approved for farm use in Ethiopia. Thanks to this new variety and others in development, small farmers will benefit from better harvests. The Syngenta Foundation has been supporting the Tef Improvement Project since 2006, and will now continue this support with a further 2.75 million Swiss francs.
Switzerland and the World Bank
25 years ago, Switzerland joined the World Bank. Multilateral development banks like the World Bank are needed to address global challenges such as climate change or financial crises, as well as to implement the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. On the occasion of this anniversary, SECO, SDC, and the Centre for Development and Environment (CDE) of the University of Bern would like to commemorate and take stock of the successful cooperation, as well as discuss future collaboration. The public event (in German and English) is free and will take place on Tuesday, August 22 at 16:30 in room 220 (Aula) of the main building of the University of Bern. Registration via the SECO-Website is open until Wednesday, August 16.
Possible explanation for the dominance of matter over antimatter in the Universe
Neutrinos and antineutrinos, sometimes called ghost particles because difficult to detect, can transform from one type to another. The international T2K Collaboration announces a first indication that the dominance of matter over antimatter may originate from the fact that neutrinos and antineutrinos behave differently during those oscillations. This is an important milestone towards the understanding of our Universe. A team of particle physicists from the University of Bern provided important contributions to the experiment.
Light pollution as a new threat to pollination
Artificial light disrupts nocturnal pollination and leads to a reduced number of fruits produced by the plant. This loss of night time pollination cannot be compensated by diurnal pollinators. The negative impact of artificial light at night on nocturnal pollinators might even propagate further to the diurnal community, as ecologists of the University of Bern were able to show.
Give migrants a voice, urges UN special rapporteur
Migration is part of the human condition – it is in our DNA – and it is time that we empower migrants by extending to them the same rights that we enjoy. This was the key message delivered by François Crépeau, UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants, in a lecture on 22 June at the World Trade Institute (WTI) of the University of Bern.
Public Lecture with Micheline Calmy-Rey, former President of the Swiss Confederation
On Wednesday, July 5, former member of the Swiss Federal Council Micheline Calmy-Rey will hold a public lecture at the World Trade Institute in the context of the Global Negotiation Conference (GNC). In her lecture "Negotiation Engineering in Practice: Russia's Accession to the WTO and Reflections on International Diplomacy", she will talk about the concept of "negotiating engineering" and international diplomacy taking Russia's Accession to the WTO and her own experiences as examples. The event takes place from 11:00 to 12:00 at the Silva Casa Auditorium, World Trade Institute, Hallerstrasse 6. Attendance is free of charge. Please register by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Registration is open until Friday, June 30. Seating is limited.
Effects of ozone depletion felt in the Tropics
The hole in the ozone layer above Antarctica has more far-reaching consequences than previously assumed. A study by Bernese climate researchers has now shown that it even affects precipitation in the tropical regions of the Pacific, 10,000 kilometres away. This new finding demonstrates how the climates of extremely remote areas are linked.
Smarter use of mobile data
The data constantly collected and reported by smartphones can find numerous applications. An SNSF-funded project devoted to "crowdsensing" has found ways to improve privacy and localisation accuracy as well as reduce the impact on hardware. The project is coordinated by Torsten Braun from the Institute of Computer Science at the University of Bern.
Graphene electrodes offer new functionalities in molecular electronic nanodevices
An international team of researchers led by the University of Bern and the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) has revealed a new way to tune the functionality of next-generation molecular electronic devices using graphene. The results could be exploited to develop smaller, higher-performance devices for use in a range of applications including molecular sensing, flexible electronics, and energy conversion and storage, as well as robust measurement setups for resistance standards.
A new approach to combatting anxiety states, pain and inflammation
Endogenous cannabinoids (endocannabinoids) play an important role in the brain and immune system. Bern researchers from the National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) "TransCure" have now found a new way to influence the endocannabinoid system. Anti-inflammatory, analgesic as well as anxiolytic effects could be achieved in an animal model.
Learning to see everyday life
Veena Das, one of the most renowned social anthropologists of our time, was a guest at the University of Bern, for this year’s Anthropology Talks hosted by the Institute of Social Anthropology. Over the course of three days, the scholar, who holds the Krieger Eisenhower chair at Johns Hopkins University in the USA, presented her key concepts and current research in two lectures and three workshops.
Brexit: A view from north of the border
The implications of the UK's trading relationships post-Brexit are far reaching. A central issue is whether ideology or pragmatism will dominate the negotiations between the UK Government and the other member states of the EU. In the upcoming NCCR Trade Regulation Brown Bag Seminar, Strathclyde Business School Economics Professor Ian Wooton will discuss the potential directions of the Brexit negotiations. The 30-minute presentation which is followed by a 30-minute Q&A session will take place on Thursday, June 1 at 12:30 at the Anna Nussbaum Auditorium, World Trade Institute, Hallerstrasse 6.
The Ethics of Christian Atheism
On Friday, Mai 26, the University of Bern welcomes one of the most eminent philosophers in the tradition of Hegel, Marx and Lacan: Slavoj Žižek. His lecture is the first of the Walter Benjamin Kolleg Distinguished Lecture Series 2017 "Ethics and/of Contingency". Taking his cue from the figure of the "terminally depressive" detective Morck, the hero of "A Conspiracy of Faith", a Danish film noir, Žižek will show that he personifies a unique ethical stance: as an irredeemable atheist, is ready to sacrifice his life for others at any time. Starting from this fictional example, he will try to demonstrate why only a radical atheist who dispenses with any form of the reliance on a big Other (God, Society, Good) can today save the emancipatory legacy of the Christian tradition. The event starts at 18:30 in room 220 of the main building of the University of Bern. It is public and free of charge.
Literary reading: "The Orphan Master’s Son"
This year’s Collegium generale Literary readings are dedicated to a topic which has gained unexpected attention recently: Dictatorship. Various authors read from their recent literary works covering this topic. The series will be launched with a reading by Adam Johnson who will read from his novel "The Orphan Master's Son", which is set in North Korea and won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for fiction. The public reading in English will take place on May 23 at 18:15 in room 201 of the main building of the University of Bern and is free of charge.
Closing the Gate to Mitochondria
A team of researchers from the Universities of Bern and Freiburg (D) have developed a new method that enables the identification of proteins imported into mitochondria. This leads to a better understanding of disease mechanisms linked to defective cellular functions.
What silver fir aDNA can tell us about Neolithic forests
A new technique makes it possible to cost-effectively analyse genetic material from fossil plant and animal remains. Researchers from the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL and the universities of Lausanne and Bern have used this technique to examine the DNA of silver fir needles found in lake sediment in Ticino. They found clues as to how forests reacted to the emergence of agriculture.
Anthropology Talks 2017 with Veena Das
In its bi-annual lecture series "Anthropology Talks", the Department of Social Anthropology invites important scholars in social and cultural anthropology to present and discuss their latest work. This year’s guest Veena Das will open the event with a public lecture on "Violence of and Against the Everyday: Learning to See What is Before Our Eyes". She is one of the most renowned contemporary anthropologists and was awarded the honorary doctorate of the Faculty of Humanities of the University of Bern last December. The public opening lecture will take place on Tuesday, May 16 at 18:15 in the Auditorium Maximum (room 110) of the main building of the University of Bern. It will be followed by a lecture and three workshops on Wednesday and Thursday May 17 and 18, 2017.
Difficulties of Negotiating CETA and Mixed Agreements with the EU
Treaty-making with the European Union has become very difficult with ever more complex legal procedures and the twists and turns of domestic EU politics. In his NCCR Trade Regulation Brown Bag Seminar, McGill University Emeritus Professor Armand de Mestral will illustrate this by telling the story of the negotiation of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the EU. The 30-minute presentation which is followed by a 30-minute Q&A session will take place on Thursday, April 27 at 12:30 at the Silva Casa Auditorium, World Trade Institute, Hallerstrasse 6.
"We have some work ahead of us, but that's normal"
The concept of living in warmer times is not only a hot global topic for scientists working in the here and now, but also for those who deal with the past. Leading paleoscientists convened at the University of Bern from 5-7 April to share knowledge and start a contribution to an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report.
Sustainability to the power of three
Bern's three Institutes of Higher Education's first jointly organised Sustainability Day was a complete success. More than 300 people obtained information about the of work of the University of Bern, PHBern and Bern University of Applied Sciences from talks, a panel discussion, 24 interactive stands and of the 18 workshops offered.
Prehistoric alpine farming in the Bernese Oberland
The people in Switzerland were on the move in the High Alps and running alpine pastures 7,000 years ago and therefore much earlier than previously assumed. A study by the University of Bern that combines archaeological knowledge with findings from palaeoecology comes to this conclusion. Prehistoric finds from the Schnidejoch Pass played a crucial part in this.
Public Lecture with Diana Taylor
On Thursday, April 6, Diana Taylor, New York University Professor of Performance Studies and Latin American Studies, will hold a public lecture at the University of Bern. In her talk, she invites the audience to think about our commercialized usage of knowledge and how we could improve it using different knowledge originating from fields such as the performative or fine arts. The event is part of the lecture series on key concepts in the humanities and social sciences by the doctoral program Interdisciplinary Cultural Studies. It will take place at 18:15 in room F013 at Unitobler.
Cut the long story short – and stitch it back together
A species of unicellular ciliate has found a special trick to make use of the cellular machinery in seemingly impossible ways. Researchers of the NCCR «RNA & Disease – The Role of RNA Biology in Disease Mechanisms» of the University of Bern have for the first time described a mechanism in detail how so called «junk»-DNA is transcribed before being degraded – and this mechanism is remarkably clever.
Help anyone if helped by someone
Dogs are highly social animals that cooperate with conspecifics as well as humans. Receiving help from a conspecific increases their motivation to help another dog. This has been shown by a study of the Institute of Ecology and Evolution of the University of Bern, which was published recently in "Scientific Reports". Nastassja Gfrerer, author of the study, writes about her findings in "uniaktuell".
Genome Editing: Pressing the «Delete» Button on DNA
Until recently, genomics was a «read-only» science. But scientists led by Rory Johnson at the University of Bern and the Centre for Genomic Regulation in Barcelona, have now developed a tool for quick and easy deletion of DNA in living cells. This software will boost efforts to understand the vast regions of non-coding DNA, or «Dark Matter», in our DNA and may lead to discovery of new disease-causing genes and potential new drugs.
Stem cells derived neuronal networks grown on a chip as an alternative to animal testing
Scientists at the Institute for Infectious Diseases, University of Bern have developed an in vitro stem cell-based bioassay grown on multi-electrode arrays capable of detecting the biological activity of Clostridium botulinum neurotoxins. Their assay could serve in minimizing animal experiments as well as provide a physiological relevant platform for drug-screening of neuroactive compounds.
Paradigm shift in governing the migration crisis
A two-day workshop of the National Center for Competence in Research "NCCR – on the Move" brought together twelve experts amongst others from universities of migrant origin and transit countries, including Lebanon, Turkey, Nigeria, as well as from the UN. At the heart of the debate was how governing migration has shifted to the global level and towards including civil society, private sector and migrants.
Event about TRAPPIST-1
TRAPPIST-1 is a dwarf star only 40 lightyears away from Earth. Recently scientists announced the discovery of seven Earth-size planets around the star. On Thursday, 9 March 2017, scientists from the University of Bern will speak about the findings. And as a special guest SF writer Laurence Suhner will read her latest novel. The event is open to the public, registration is mandatory.
Girls in lab coat make first steps in science
In occasion of the yearly "UN Day of Women and Girls in Science", the NCCR TransCure invited young girls between 5 and 10 years old to get a glimpse of lab life. The smiles and the excitement for science on the children’s face were telling more than a thousand words.
Explosion in species diversity due to hybridization
No less than 500 new species of cichlids, brightly coloured perch-like fish, evolved in Lake Victoria (East Africa) over the past 15,000 years – a record in the animal and plant world. This evolutionary puzzle has now been solved by scientists from Eawag and the University of Bern. In a study published in Nature Communications, they demonstrate for the first time that this rapid evolution was facilitated by earlier hybridization between two distantly related cichlid species from the Upper Nile and Congo drainage systems.
Bern study rehabilitates climate models
With new methods of reconstruction, climate researchers in Bern have been able to demonstrate that some 9,000 to 5,000 years ago, the Mediterranean climate was considerably warmer than previous studies had suggested. Among other things, previous concerns regarding the reliability of climate models could thus be dispelled.
New Vice-Rector Elected
The State Council of the Canton of Bern has elected a new Vice-Rector to the Executive Board of the University. Silvia Schroer has been appointed the new Vice-Rector for Quality, replacing Doris Wastl-Walter, who will be stepping down on 31st July 2017.
“The University of Bern has given me a lot”
As a research director of NASA, Bern-based Thomas Zurbuchen is one of the world’s most influential scientists. On Friday January 27, he visited the University of Bern, where he studied and gained his PhD in physics. He talked about his work in a public lecture.
What Trump could mean for US foreign policy
How will President Trump shape United States foreign policy, in particular in regard to trade, finance and development aid? Just days before the 45th US president is sworn in, the World Trade Institute (WTI) of the University of Bern hosted a roundtable discussion on January 11 to consider these questions.
Peter Messerli named co-chair of UN Global Sustainable Development Report
Peter Messerli, Professor of Sustainable Development at the University of Bern, has been selected as co-chair to lead the group of scientific experts tasked with drafting the upcoming UN Global Sustainable Development Report. Former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appointed Peter Messerli and Endah Murniningtyas from Indonesia to serve as co-chairs. The first report is slated for release in 2019.
Prize for groundbreaking work on the impact of humans on the climate system
On the occasion of this year’s Dies academicus, climatologist Prof. Dr. Gabriele Hegerl was awarded the Hans Sigrist Prize from the University of Bern, together with a sum of 100,000 Swiss francs. Hegerl was recognised for her research on the impact of humans on the climate system. "uniaktuell" had the chance to be present when the Hans Sigrist Foundation conducted its traditional interview with the prize winner.
New Web-portal for biodiversity research in mountains
Conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity is a topic of increasing importance. As mountain regions support a remarkable biodiversity, their conservation is of great importance in Switzerland and worldwide. To make their research on mountain biodiversity available to the public, the Global Mountain Biodiversity Assessment (GMBA, www.gmba.unibe.ch), which is located at the institute of Plant Sciences and a core project of Future Earth (www.futureearth.org), has launched a new web-based interactive map developed in collaboration with Map of Life (www.mol.org). The Mountain Portal is GMBA's web portal for the query and visualization of the different species living in mountain regions all over the world.
"I want to motivate young researchers"
On the occasion of this year’s Dies academicus, the University of Bern conferred the title of Honorary Senator upon Dr Celia Zwillenberg. In an interview with "uniaktuell", she tells us why her support of young researchers is so close to her heart.
Doing well and talking about it
At the 182th University of Bern Dies academicus, the Rector Christian Leumann addressed the opportunities and challenges facing the University. Bernhard Pulver of Bern’s Executive Council spoke of being “immensely proud” of the performance of the University of Bern, and cited education policy as one reason for it success. Improved access to science for marginalised sections of society was called for by student representative Pia Portmann. Seven honorary doctorates were presented, fourteen researchers received academic awards and the philanthropist Celia Zwillenberg was named honorary senator.
Honey bee teenagers speed up the ageing process of their elders
Honey bee (Apis mellifera) colonies are complex societies, in which work is not distributed by a central power. How tasks are allocated among workers is still poorly understood. A research team from the Swiss Bee Research Center at Agroscope and the Institute of Bee Health at the University of Bern (both Switzerland), discovered that young adults influence this process by promoting older individuals to perform duties outside the hive, which shortens their life expectancy.
Einstein Lectures 2016: Video Podcasts
The audience was enthralled by Martin Hairer’s lectures on how infinities can be tamed and the mathematics of randomness. His exciting Einstein Lectures are now available as video podcast.
Evaluation of scientific rigor in animal research
In the course of the “reproducibility crisis” in biomedical research, scientific rigor in animal reserach, and thus the ethical justification of animal experiments, has also been questioned. Commissioned by the Swiss Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office (FSVO), researchers from the University of Bern have assessed scientific rigor in animal experimentation in Switzerland. Their findings indicate widespread deficiencies in experimental conduct.
Intensification of Land Use Leads to the Same Species Everywhere
Intensive use of grasslands by humans reduces species diversity and makes the landscape more monotonous, so that the same species end up everywhere. Nature is then no longer able to provide us with many essential ‘services’, which range from soil formation for food production to pest control. Led by the Technical University of Munich and the University of Bern, 300 scientists studied the consequences of land-use intensification for biodiversity at the landscape level and for the first time could do this for a wide range of species groups.
Climate data as evidence
How is the influence of humans on the climate proven, and which ethical and legal consequences does this entail? Top-class speakers will address these questions at this year’s Hans Sigrist Symposium organised by the Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research and the Hans Sigrist Foundation to be held on 2 December at the University of Bern.
"Our research is relevant for society"
The Interdisciplinary Centre for Gender Research (IZFG) is celebrating its anniversary: For the last 15 years, gender research has been carried out across different faculties at the University of Bern, incorporating issues such as human rights, care, social precarity and postcolonialism. With this, the co-leaders Patricia Purtschert and Michèle Amacker are aiming to attract political attention.
United We Stand? Revisiting Community in North America
What does «community» mean in contemporary North America? With just a couple of days to go before the US-American presidential elections, an international conference organized by the Swiss Association for North American Studies (SANAS) underlined the pertinence of this question.
Cultural Dimensions of Sustainability
Sustainability is a central concept in today’s public as well as academic debates, but these are often exclusively related to the fields of ecology and economy. Instead, a workshop by the Department of English starts from the hypothesis that the implementation of sustainable ways of life will only be possible if cultural and interior dimensions of sustainability, i.e. the role literature, the visual arts and film plays in sustainable development, are taken into account. Internationally renowned theoreticians of culture have been invited to Bern whose 30-minute presentations will be followed by 30-minute discussions. The workshop starts on Thursday, November 10, 4pm at UniS (A301) and will be continued on Friday, November 11 (UniS A-119) and Saturday, November 12 (UniS A 301).
Reframing the Trade and Environment Linkage for Sustainable Development
Nations are developing renewable energy strategies to shift their domestic energy production from fossil fuels to more sustainable energy sources. In her NCCR Trade Regulation Brown Bag Seminar, Texas A&M University School of Law Professor Elizabeth Trujillo will examine how international trade agreements may both challenge and create opportunities for facilitating these local renewable energy strategies. The 30-minute presentation which is followed by a 30-minute Q&A session will take place on Tuesday, October 25 at 12:30 at the Anna Nussbaum Auditorium, World Trade Institute, Hallerstrasse 6.
Critique, Power, Affirmation
On Monday, October 24th, Rosi Braidotti, the Italian philosopher and pioneer in women’s studies, will hold a public lecture at University of Bern. She combines social and political theory, cultural politics, gender, feminist theory and ethnicity studies to thoroughly challenge binary thinking about what it means to inhabit a globalized world. The presentation is part of the Walter Benjamin Kolleg’s Distinguished Lectures Series «Ethics and/of Contingency» and will take place at 18:30 in room 201 of the main building of the University of Bern.
Bern-made laser altimeter taking off to Mercury
University of Bern’s Laser Altimeter BELA has been successfully tested during the last weeks and the last components will be delivered to ESA on 5 October. The first laser altimeter for inter-planetary flight to be built in Europe is part of the ESA BepiColombo mission to Mercury. Starting in 2024, it will provide data about the planet’s surface.
«It was the most exciting mission»
On Friday 30 September 2016 the European spacecraft Rosetta crashed into the comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Aboard the Rosetta spacecraft was the instrument ROSINA, which was developed by Physics Professor Kathrin Altwegg and her team at the University of Bern.
The first genomic history of Australia’s peopling
Australia has one of the longest histories of continuous human occupation outside Africa. But who exactly were the first people to settle there? Such a question has obvious political implications and has been hotly debated for decades. The first comprehensive genomic study of Aboriginal Australians reveals that they are indeed the direct descendants of Australia’s earliest settlers and diverged from their Papuan neighbours about 37’000 years ago (y.a.). The study also uncovers several other major findings on early human populations. The research is published today in Nature and is the result of a close collaboration between international research teams and representatives of Aboriginal Australian communities. It includes six researchers from the SIB Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics – among whom, lead author Anna-Sapfo Malaspinas and group leader Laurent Excoffier, both from the University of Bern.
Humans and other Primates
The scientific view on human and animal behavior has changed over the past years. Not only humans, but other primates are now being depicted as political, cultural, even moral beings as well. In his guest lecture «Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?», the behavioral scientist Frans de Waal will focus on this topic. The event is part of the Collegium generale's new lecture series «Humans and other Primates» and will take place on Wednesday, September 28th at 18:15 in the Auditorium maximum (Room 110) in the main building of the University of Bern.
Secrets of honey-making by bees unveiled
From never seen before X-ray images of honey bee combs, a research team from Agroscope and the Institute of Bee Health at the University of Bern (both Switzerland) could study how honey is produced. The team used computer tomography to measure sugar concentration in the wax cells, without disturbing the sensitive mechanisms of the colony. They found that bees use several techniques to ripen honey.
Rochester-Bern Guest Lecture with David Gosset
On Thursday, September 22nd David Gosset, founder of the Euro-China-Forum and Rochester-Bern Professor, will give a guest lecture on «Navigating Global Disorder» in the auditorium of the main building. How will Brexit affect Europe and the world’s future? Furthermore, he will talk about the world’s mega-trends – demographic, technological, and geopolitical factors of change – but also about the redefinition of power.
Before the lecture there will be an info session on the Rochester-Bern Executive MBA starting at 17:15. Registration is open until September 18th via the event website.
Cross-border fight against parasites
The MeBoP (Middle Eastern Biology of Parasitism) Summer School took place for the first time from 25th July to 7th August at the University of Bern. A special feature of the course was that the 17 participants were students, researchers and doctors from countries that are particularly affected by diseases caused by parasites. «uniaktuell» spoke with Isabel Roditi, who played a decisive role in enabling the summer school to be held at the Institute of Cell Biology.
International conference KUNSTHALLEN
In contrast to collecting museums the model of the Kunsthalle is characterized by freedom and novelty. Due to its dynamic concept, this institutional format contributes to the formation of contemporary art in essential ways. The conference assembles international guests from diverse institutions and professional fields who will discuss the historical development, political implications as well as the societal positioning of the Kunsthalle. The institution’s role as curatorial field of experimentation, artistic material, and as a platform for transatlantic exchange will be examined as well. On September 2 and 3 at 9 a.m. in the main building and UniS. The Conference will be held in English.
Genetic code: Stop does not always mean stop
The genetic code is believed to be strongly conserved through evolution – from the earliest bacteria until today. But researchers from the Institute of Cell Biology of the University of Bern have now found two ciliate species where nature probably can be seen experimenting with the meaning of a codon, the building blocks of genetic communication.
Greater biodiversity in grasslands leads to higher levels of ecosystem services
The more it swarms, crawls and flies the better for humans, who benefit from the varied services provided for free by nature. This is the finding of a study by more than 60 researchers from a number of universities, including the Institute of Plant Sciences at the University of Bern and the Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre, in Germany. The results underline the necessity of maintaining species-rich ecosystems for the good of humanity.
Synthetic Biology: Engineering a Chemical Switch into a Light-driven Proton Pump
Synthetic biology is an emerging and rapidly evolving engineering discipline. Within the NCCR Molecular Systems Engineering, Bernese scientists have engineered a chemically switchable version of the light-driven proton pump proteorhodopsin – an essential tool for efficiently powering molecular factories and synthetic cells.
Atmospheric chemistry on paper
Normally computers speed up calculations. But with his new pen-and-paper formula Kevin Heng of the University of Bern gets his results thousands of times faster than using conventional computer codes. The astrophysicist calculates the abundances of molecules (known as atmospheric chemistry) in exoplanetary atmospheres. Ultimately, deciphering the abundances of molecules allows us to interpret if features in a spectrum are due to physics, geology or biology.
A toxic quick-change artist
Molecular biologists at the University of Bern have discovered a mechanism which enables a deadly toxin to penetrate and destroy human cells. Their findings can serve a rational framework for the design and development of new anti-toxin drugs.
Award-winning ghost researcher
Yesterday Zoë Lehmann Imfeld was awarded the Marie Heim-Vögtlin Prize from the Swiss National Science Foundation for her thesis on the figure of the ghost in Victorian literature. In an interview with "unikatuell" she tells us from where her interest in ghosts comes, and why she is now a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Space and Habitability CSH, where exoplanets and the possibilities of extraterrestrial life are explored from different perspectives.
CaSSIS sends first image of Mars
The Mars Camera CaSSIS on the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter captured its first images of the Red Planet this week. The pictures are a part of the mission’s preparations for arriving at its destination in October.
Weak bees make strong colonies
Colonies of the Eastern honey bee, the original host of parasitic Varroa destructor mites, survive infestations that are fatal to Western honey bees. A research team from Agroscope and the Institute of Bee Health at the University of Bern discovered that a large proportion of infested Eastern honey bee larvae die, prompting their elimination from the colony, together with that of their parasites. Counter-intuitively, weak individuals contribute to society survival by preventing the parasite to spread.
The gardener’s favourite ornaments deciphered
Garden petunias are amongst the most popular ornamental plants. For the first time, it has been possible to decipher the whole genome sequence of the wild ancestors of the garden petunia. The comprehensive study was published in the renowned specialist magazine Nature Plants last week. Cris Kuhlemeier from the Institute of Plant Sciences, who coordinated the study with over 50 participating researchers, explains why these research results are so important now.
Consensus in the Fight Against Colorectal Cancer
In colorectal cancer, the presence of invasive tumor cells at the advancing edge of the tumor can provide valuable information on prognosis. Initiated by the Colorectal Cancer Research Group at the Institute of Pathology, University of Bern, a consensus conference was held to determine how this phenomenon should best be put into practice. Together with colleagues from eleven countries, an internationally standardized scoring method was established.
The Einstein forgery
There is currently a forged letter going round on the internet. In the alleged historical writing of 1907, the University of Bern rejects Albert Einstein’s habilitation. The university archivist Niklaus Bütikofer explains which errors the forger had made and tells the true story by means of the original documents.
When consumers sabotage brands
When consumers deliberately attack a brand with the objective of causing harm to it, this is known as «consumer brand sabotage». Marketing researchers of the University of Bern have examined this phenomenon in more detail, identified backgrounds and motives of brand sabotage and present initial countermeasures.
“What particularly fascinates me is the potential application of my research”
Cancan Huang, Chinese Postdoc at the Department for Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Bern, has been honored with “The Chinese Government Award for Outstanding Self-financed Students Abroad“. “uniaktuell“ has spoken to this young researcher about the challenges abroad and has asked her what is so fascinating about molecular electronics.
Facilitating Students’ Intercultural Learning Through Study Abroad
During a high-level kick-off event for Project MILSA (Mentoring Intercultural Learning Through Study Abroad) held at the University of Bern on April 14 and 15, 2016, experts from around the globe shared valuable insights on intercultural learning and study abroad aimed at the development of a mentoring program for outgoing students.
Newly created Swiss Polar Institute to launch a major Antarctic expedition
The Swiss Polar Institute with participation of the University of Bern will study the Earth’s poles and extreme environments. Its first project is ambitious: an international scientific expedition, comprising 55 researchers from 30 countries working on 22 research projects, will circumnavigate Antarctica.
Planet 9 takes shape
Astrophysicists at the University of Bern have modelled the evolution of the putative planet in the outer solar system. They estimate that the object has a present-day radius equal to 3.7 Earth radii and a temperature of minus 226 degrees Celsius.
3000 drawings for CHEOPS space mission on the Web
Children in Switzerland and all over Europe made thousands of imaginative drawings of stars, planets, rockets, satellites, and aliens. 3000 entries to the drawing campaign organised by the University of Bern will fly into space with CHEOPS, a space telescope being built in collaboration between the European Space Agency (ESA) and Switzerland. You can now have a look at the drawings on an interactive map of Europe on the Web.
Predators drive social complexity
Variation in social organization and behavior of of highly social animals like cichlids is primarily explained by predation risk and related ecological factors. This stresses the significance of predation for social evolution.
Paracetamol is not more effective than placebo against osteoarthritis pain
Paracetamol did not show any clinically relevant efficacy in the most comprehensive analysis of pain relievers among patients with knee and hip osteoarthritis to date. In contrast, the medicine diclofenac is more effective than many newer pain relievers on the market. This is the result of a large-scale meta-analysis by Bernese researchers.
An eminent visitor from Mongolia
The Mongolian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lundeg Purevsuren, visited the Institute for the Science of Religions at the University of Bern accompanied by the Mongolian ambassador. He was interested in the Mongolian studies course and a unique collection.
New virus transmission route discovered in pigs
Japanese Encephalitis (JE) virus causes serious inflammation of the brain in people and fertility problems in pigs. Mosquitoes were previously the only known transmission route. However, the virus can also be spread from pig to pig by direct contact, and this could enable it to circulate in pigs during the mosquito-free winter season.
Aggressive cichlids: attack is the best form of defence
Researchers from Bern, England and Australia have observed the "Princess of Lake Tanganyika" cichlid in territorial conflicts and made an astonishing discovery; the conflicts distract the animals from their surrounding environments to such an extent that they notice lurking dangers only very late – yet the fish have a strategy which saves their lives: instead of trying to escape from predators, they defend themselves.
Two New Vice-Rectors Elected
The Executive Council of the Canton of Bern has elected two new Vice-Rectors to serve in the Executive Board of the University of Bern. Daniel Candinas is taking over the Vice-Rectorate Research from Christian Leumann, who for his part will become the University of Bern Rector in early August. Achim Conzelmann, who is taking over the Vice-Rectorate Development, was elected as the second new Vice-Rector.
Molecular Mechanism responsible for a neurodegenerative disease discovered
Scientists from the University of Bern have discovered a mechanism which is responsible for the degeneration of Purkinje cells in the cerebellum in a neurodegenerative disease called Spinocerebellar ataxia type 1. The results of their study open up new avenues for the future treatment of cerebellum associated degenerative disorders.
Promising approach awarded for combating antibiotic resistance
The University of Bern’s Hans Sigrist Prize, which is endowed with 100,000 Swiss francs, was awarded this year to microbiologist Luciano Marraffini on the occasion of the Dies academicus on Saturday, 5 December. Marraffini was honoured for his innovative research approach in the field of antibiotic resistance. The online magazine “uniaktuell” was able to be on hand during the interview conducted by the Hans Sigrist Foundation with the prize winner.
«Dance your Ph.D. contest»
Florence Metz from the Institute of Political Science won the «Dance your Ph.D.!» contest of «Science» magazine. She has bested 31 other teams to become this year’s "Dance Your Ph.D." winner with her video on water protection policies.
Einstein Lectures 2015: Video Podcasts
The audience was enthralled by Alan Guth’s lectures on the Multiverse, the Eternal Inflation and the Arrow of Time. His exciting Einstein Lectures are now available as video podcast.
Arun M. Kumar brings ‘good news’ from US on innovative investments
The World Trade Institute WTI was pleased to host the Director General of the US and Foreign Commercial Service on 12 November during his visit to Switzerland aimed at supporting and encouraging the deepening of the “robust commercial partnership” between the two countries.
Software detects at-risk tissue in record time following a stroke
The FASTER software developed in Bern can detect within minutes the areas of the brain that will be left with long-term damage following a stroke. The previous version –
BraTumIA for tumour segmentation – has been in use around the world since 2014.
"The comet is much more interesting than we expected"
The ESA Rosetta probe has been orbiting the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko for about a year. The University of Bern is taking part in the mission with the mass spectrometer ROSINA. In an interview, Kathrin Altwegg, a Bern resident and research scientist specialised in outer space, reviewed the discoveries they've made up until now, offers a forecast for Rosetta’s spectacular exit – and explains how much the award from the Bernese Handels- und Industrieverein she received on October 19 means to her.
Honey bee queens highly vulnerable to two neonicotinoid insecticides
Throughout the northern hemisphere beekeepers have struggled to maintain adequate numbers of honey bee colonies for crop pollination and honey production due to dramatic increases in colony deaths each year. Recent surveys of beekeepers suggest that poor queen health is an important reason for these losses, but why queen health is now being affected is not understood. A research team from Bern, Switzerland and Wolfville, Canada has found that honey bee queens, which are crucial to colony functioning, are severely affected by two neonicotinoid insecticides.
When climate change is at the door
It is often suggested that we should emphasise the local effects of climate change in order to increase the willingness of the general populace to stand up for climate change mitigation. From a psychological point of view, however, it is clear that this is a significantly simplified concept of the effect. This is demonstrated in the work of the Bernese researcher Adrian Brügger whose work has just been published in the prestigious specialist journal "Nature Climate Change".
"Reading Dürrenmatt was a gloriously awkward experience"
Wendy Law-Yone is the fourth Friedrich Dürrenmatt guest professor at the University of Bern. On the occasion of the inaugural event for her guest semester, the Burmese author recounted her literary connection to Dürrenmatt and to the German language on 22 September in the Haus der Universität. She read excerpts from her book "Irrawaddy Tango" and spoke with anglicist Virginia Richter and the comparatist Oliver Lubrich.
Trade rules and the WTO
The University of Bern online magazine Uniaktuell spoke to WTI Managing Director, Joseph Francois, ahead of this year’s World Trade Forum on ‘20 Years of the WTO’, which opens on 25 September 2015.
The balance between new-found freedom and new challenges
On Orientation Day, the university was amidst the academic future. Introductory events and informational stands were on hand to help students steel themselves for their entrance into their university life. "uniaktuell" was on the lookout for voices and wanted to hear from the fledgling students whether there was anything they were dying to ask.
Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel: “Rome wasn’t built in a day”
Germany’s Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel has received her honorary doctorate at the Universi-ty of Bern, which the senate and university management awarded her in 2009. She subsequently addressed the current refugee crisis in her speech.
Ebola vaccine tested successfully for the first time
A vaccine against the Ebola virus, tested in West Africa for the first time in a field trial, has proved to be effective. People who had come into close contact with someone recently infected, and who are therefore at particularly high risk, were vaccinated. Investigators from the University of Bern were heavily involved in designing the World Health Organization (WHO) «Ebola ça Suffit» vaccine trial.
Comets: Soft shell, hard core?
Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko poses new riddles: Surface material measurements performed by the «Philae» landing module indicate that the near surface material might have changed since its formation. Up to now, many researchers had assumed that it has remained in virtually the same state since its formation about 4.5 billion years ago. The results of the study, in which researchers from the University of Bern were also involved, have been published in «Science» magazine.
Particulate matter from modern gasoline engines damages our lungs
Particulate matter from gasoline engines is harmful to our airways, regardless of whether the engines are a bit older or comply with recent EU standards. Fine dust particles allow pathogens to enter the lungs easier. Researchers at the University of Bern and the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI have shown this conducting a realistic laboratory experiment.
Looking for extra-terrestrial life in alien oceans
Great honour for Nicolas Thomas from the University of Berne: The scientist was selected as part of the imaging team for NASA’s Europa Clipper mission. The mission will help to answer the question whether there is life in the oceans of Jupiter’s moon, Europa.
How the brain «remembers» pain
Scientists from Berne have discovered a mechanism, which is responsible for the chronification of pain in the brain. The results of their study suggest new strategies for the medical treatment of chronic pain.
A Doctor for Arts
It is now definitely possible to earn a doctorate in Bern at the combined Graduate School of the Arts of the University of Bern and the Bern University of the Arts. This
artistic/creative-scientific doctoral programme is one of a kind.
Heart catheterization: Change in methods lowers mortality
The groin is the usual access point for investigating or treating the heart with a catheter, but using the wrist as access point reduces bleeding and lowers mortality. These findings are from an international study with major involvement from the University of Bern published today in the Lancet.
Norway rats reciprocate help according to the quality of the help they received
Research performed at the University of Bern indicates that animals beyond Homo sapiens consider the value of previously received help when deciding whether to help a social partner.
Scientists develop active substance for fatal muscle wasting in male children
Duchenne muscular dystrophy is a congenital disease which causes muscle degeneration and eventual death in teenagers. Recently, researchers from Bern developed an active substance, which they together with an international team tested successfully.
Gas variations are suggestive of seasons on comet Chury
Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko continues to reveal more of its secrets: Researchers in Bern have detected considerable variations in the gas escaping from the comet. This could amount to seasonal changes on the tiny celestial body. Meanwhile, the camera OSIRIS on board the Rosetta comet probe is revealing new details of the surface of «Chury».