What is Society in Science and what are its major goals?
Society in Science – The Branco Weiss Fellowship is a unique worldwide fellowship program. Founded in 2002 and belonging to the ETH Zurich since 2009, it aims to support research at the frontiers between science and society. It provides a platform for exceptionally qualified researchers in sciences, engineering and social sciences demonstrating a willingness to engage in a dialogue on relevant social, cultural, political or economic issues across the frontiers of their particular discipline. The fellowship is international and trans-disciplinary in nature.
What is unique about Society in Science?
In comparison to other fellowships, Society in Science is unique in several respects. It brings social and cultural dimensions into research laboratories and makes them an integral part of research. The program is targeted at those who are at postdoctoral level, actively engaged in research, and intend to remain so for the duration of the fellowship. No change of disciplinary identity is sought. Fellows are expected to present novel approaches in their research, departing from the mainstream. The selection of institute or research unit best suited to conduct the research rests with the fellows. Fellows may undertake their research anywhere in the world at any institution, even at multiple locations.
Who is behind Society in Science?
Society in Science is financed by the late Swiss entrepreneur Dr. Branco Weiss and administered as a fund by ETH Zurich. The directors of Society in Science, with scientific and operational responsibility for the fellowship, are Professor Peter Chen, former Vice President of Research and Corporate Relations at the ETH Zurich, and Heidi Wunderli-Allenspach, former Rector at ETH Zurich and Deputy to the President. They are supported by the ETH strategy committee, who evaluates the applications and conducts interviews with short-listed applicants.
How many fellowships will be granted?
The program aims at awarding up to ten fellowships each year. The number of recipients depends on the number of applications satisfying the stringent requirements of the strategy committee not only taking into account the scientific abilities of the candidates but also personal qualities and the relevance of their projects.
Scientists from which disciplines are eligible to apply for a fellowship?
Society in Science is open to researchers at postdoctoral level in life and natural sciences, engineering, medicine and social sciences.
What criteria must applicants satisfy?
Applicants must submit a project that exploits new avenues of research, often these are transdisciplinary. They must also provide evidence of outstanding achievement in their particular scientific field and be willing to engage in a dialogue on relevant social, cultural, political or economic issues across the frontiers of their particular discipline.
Where do applicants have to be in their career to apply?
Applicants must have officially completed their PhD by the end of the application period and they should not have received their PhD more than five years ago. Faculty members (assistant professors or lecturers) are not eligible and therefore should not apply.
What projects qualify for support?
Projects which combine natural scientific subjects with social and cultural perspectives, that are interdisciplinary by definition, will be supported.
How does the financial support work?
Financial support is given to fellows in the form of a personal grant. This is administered by the host institution via a three-way contractual agreement between the fellow, their chosen institution(s) and Society in Science. Overheads must be covered by the host institution(s).
How does the selection procedure work?
Incoming applications will be screened. External references will be requested only once the applicant has been short-listed. A final selection of applicants will be invited for interviews to present their project to the strategy committee in Zurich, Switzerland. The decision is typically communicated to candidates within one week of the interview.