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A Community of Exceptional Postdocs

The Branco Weiss Fellowship offers an opportunity for postdocs in all areas of the natural and social sciences and engineering who have conceived an original and independent research idea that falls outside the scope of large-scale research projects. The fellowship gives an unusual degree of freedom: Fellows are encouraged to choose the best possible location for their research, anywhere in the world. They will receive support for up to five years. They decide for themselves how the financial resources will be allocated – for their own salary, for staff, for equipment or for a combination of these.

But it’s more than mere funding. Fellows become part of a community of exceptional junior researchers and alumni (most often in faculty positions) from a large spectrum of fields and countries. They thus get to benefit from co-mentoring opportunities, and may even launch collaborative projects which are eligible for additional financial support. Career steps, typically to take up junior faculty positions, are encouraged and will not result in termination of the fellowship.

What does it take to be considered for a Branco Weiss Fellowship?

  • Scientific Excellence: Applicants must demonstrate that rare ability to excel within the constraints of academia while at the same time pursuing utterly original research that transcends the boundaries of disciplines. The more original and non-conformist their idea is, the more likely it is to be shortlisted. The fellowship seeks to form a community of scholars who aspire to one of Branco Weiss’s mottos: “make an impact.” Successful applicants are those with the determination and imagination to make this happen.
  • Independent Research: In the past, the fellowship has received many applications that are merely follow-ups or a piece of a large-scale research project. These applications are not what is being sought. The Branco Weiss Fellowship is reserved for junior scientists who have developed a project idea on their own and who might find it a challenge to find support because their thinking is deemed to be out of the box and falls between existing disciplinary silos.
  • Intellectual Curiosity and Social Commitment: One of the overall aims of the fellowship is to create new scopes for research that might potentially open up new fields. Often this requires a stimulus that can only come from dialog between different scientific fields.
  • Communication Skills: One thing Branco Weiss Fellows have in common is a passion for communicating. They engage in dialog not just with their peers, but also across scientific boundaries and with society at large.
  • Mobility: The fellowship provides an unusual degree of freedom. Fellows are encouraged to take advantage of their perks and choose the best home institution in the world to perform their research.

Former Branco Weiss Fellows and former director Peter Chen introduce the fellowship and what it means for them.

The fellowship was founded in 2002 by the late Swiss entrepreneur Dr. Branco Weiss. In 2010, he established the fellowship program at ETH Zurich, his alma mater. Candidates can apply for a project to be hosted by any academic institution worldwide, provided that it is exceedingly well suited for the task.

The original idea of The Branco Weiss Fellowship is exemplified by selected alumni portraits.

Key visuals on this website which do not portray fellows or alumni reflect impressions from the two campuses of ETH in Zurich, Switzerland, and were taken in 2018 by the photographer Rainer Spitzenberger.