Highlights of 2014

Almost every day throughout 2014, UZH News reported on events at Switzerland’s largest university, from major research findings and developments in teaching, to conferences and public lectures, ceremonies, celebrations and exhibitions, and awards and student initiatives. We’d like to close the year with a review of some of the highlights. We’ll be back in January 2015 with more news items, reports and interviews – continuing the recent tradition of publishing articles in English as well as German. Happy holidays!

David Werner

Dance, Light, Kissing and Happy Faces at the student party thrown in September to celebrate the 100th anniverary of the University's main building. (Image Frank Brüderli)

The Happiness of Future Generations

What do children and young people need to thrive? Starting in summer 2015, the University of Zurich intends to launch a comprehensive program of research to find out. To this end it is expanding the existing Jacobs Center for Productive Youth Development. In January it was announced that the Jacobs Foundation and the University of Zurich would be working in partnership to provide the initiative with around CHF 70 million in funding through 2035.

Michael Hengartner Takes Office as UZH President

Michael Hengartner (47), molecular biologist and Dean of the Faculty of Science since 2009, took office as President of UZH on February 1. He succeeded Otfried Jarren, who had performed the president’s duties on an interim basis following the resignation of Andreas Fischer in November 2013.

Our Women in Sochi

In a great display of morale and spirit, the Swiss women’s ice hockey team took bronze at the Sochi Olympics in February. The players included UZH students Laura and Sara Benz.

Sustainability Week

Over the past year, UZH students have been involved in a range of efforts to help make the University more sustainable. A highlight was the Sustainability Week, which took place at the beginning of March 2014.

"Welcome to the Wild West"

Various life sciences research groups have found a new home at the new UZH site in Schlieren to the west of Zurich. The official inauguration took place in March 2014.

Zurich Landmark Celebrated

On April 17, celebrations took place to mark the 100th anniversary of the main building at UZH, with guest speaker Santiago Calatrava, a film about the Zurich art scandal, and an impressive birthday cake. Another highlight of the celebrations was a gala concert in the Tonhalle. The anniversary events ended on May 15 with a podium discussion on future building policy at UZH.

New Strategy fpr UZH's Global Presence

UZH is looking to step up its international networking and become more visible on the global stage. Vice President Andrea Schenker-Wicki took the initiative to develop UZH’s internationalization strategy.

Railway Station Lecturer

To bring research and teaching closer together, linguist Heiko Hausendorf gave a mobile lecture at Zurich’s main railway station. His innovative idea earned him the 2014 Teaching Award at the Dies academicus in April.

Learning Center Shines in New Splendor

The library of the old Strickhof building on the Irchel Campus has been renovated to create an attractive new Learning Center with 420 quiet, brightly-lit workspaces.

Award for Outstanding Junior Researchers

At the Graduate Campus annual event on June 4, the 2014 Mercator Awards were awarded to outstanding junior researchers at UZH: Scholar of religion Jacqueline Grigo, economics researcher Yvonne Oswald, and physicist Fabian von Rohr.

Developed in Zurich, Celebrated in New York gefeiert

In May Zurich was the guest of honor in New York at the Zurich Meets New York festival to promote itself as a global center of creativity and innovation. UZH was part of the delegation.

Affordable Accommodations

Rooms are scarce for students in Zurich, with admissions to UZH and ETH growing every year. June 17 saw the inauguration of the city’s biggest student residence to date, with 332 affordable rooms: Aspholz in Zurich-Affoltern.

Ethnographic Museum Reopens

The University of Zurich’s Ethnographic Museum was closed for 18 months for renovation. The 125-year-old institution had a great deal to celebrate when it reopened its doors in June.

Higgs Boson Behaves as Expected

CERN produced the first evidence that the Higgs boson decays directly to two tau particles. This confirms an important characteristic of the particle, discovered in 2012, that was predicted by theory. Scientists from the University of Zurich working on an international team at CERN made a substantial contribution to this discovery. Their study was published in Nature Physics in June.

New Generation of Biomedical Researchers

DNA sequencing has revolutionized the biological sciences. Now it’s the turn of medicine: In the future, genetic analysis is to be used to tailor therapies to patients on a standard basis. Established in April and presented at the beginning of July, the new competence center is intended to make the University of Zurich and ETH Zurich leaders in the field of personalized medicine.

Quenching the Thirst for Knowledge

At the end of August, UZH alumni for the first time had a playful opportunity to discover science with their children. The Alumni and Family event was extremely well attended.

Top Athlete Clears All Hurdles

His victory was a huge boost for sports fans in Switzerland: Kariem Hussein, a medical student at UZH, won bronze in the 400 meter hurdles at the European Athletics Championships in August.

Once-in-a-Lifetime Project Starts to Take Shape

In September a master plan for Zurich’s central university district was presented. The plan shows how the University of Zurich can continue to develop in the city’s center.

Lots of Noise, Kissing, and Happy Faces

“Lift Off im Lichthof” was the motto of the student party thrown in September to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the University’s main building. It was an evening of dance, light, glamor, and visitors from far-off galaxies.

Sweat and Sawdust

There was plenty of sweat and sawdust on the Polyterrasse at the end of September when the Academic Sports Association Zurich staged its first Swiss wrestling tournament to crown the association’s 75-year anniversary celebrations.

Thanks to the Pioneering Women

Twenty-five years ago the senate approved the first paper on promoting women at the University of Zurich. Since then, women’s share of the professorial staff has risen from around 2.5% to 20%. In October, institutional gender equality at UZH celebrated its anniversary, paying tribute to the women pioneers.

54 Students Receive Semester Award

At the beginning of November, UZH celebrated teaching at its sixth Tag der Lehre, held under the banner of “Extraordinary.” Various institutes and departments organized special events around the theme of teaching and learning. In the evening 54 students received semester awards for their outstanding work. There were additional awards for 18 graduates of the Teaching Skills Program.

Ancient Greek Verse Inscription Unearthed

This year Christian Marek, an expert in ancient history at UZH, made a great discovery: Close to a tomb in Milas in Turkey he found a stone stela inscribed with poetry. At 124 lines, this is the longest classical Greek verse inscription carved in stone that has so far come to light.

Leave Nothing to Chance

UZH held its first Lange Nacht der Karriere careers night in November. The event was a huge success, attracting a large number of young students looking to forge their careers with professional support.

Accelerated Translation

In December, ETH Zurich and the University of Zurich founded a new translational research center at the interface of medicine, science and engineering: the Wyss Translational Center Zurich. This was made possible by a USD 120 million donation from Dr. Hansjörg Wyss to the two Zurich universities. The aim is to accelerate the development of products and innovations in areas such as regenerative medicine and robotics.

David Werner, Head of Publishing

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