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Frequently Asked Questions

What is The Branco Weiss Fellowship, and what are its main goals?
The Branco Weiss Fellowship is a worldwide fellowship program, founded in 2002 and coordinated by ETH Zurich. It provides a platform for exceptionally qualified researchers from all disciplines 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 transdisciplinary in nature.

Who is behind The Branco Weiss Fellowship?
The fellowship is financed by the late Swiss entrepreneur Dr. Branco Weiss and administered as a fund by ETH Zurich. The directors of the program, responsible for all scientific and operational aspects, are Heidi Wunderli-Allenspach, Rector at ETH Zurich (2007 to 2012) and former Full Professor for Biopharmacy at ETH Zurich; Angelika Steger, full professor of Computer Science at ETH Zurich; and Josef Zeyer, former full professor of Environmental Microbiology at the Institute of Biogeochemistry and Pollutant Dynamics at ETH Zurich. They are supported by additional faculty members of ETH Zurich to evaluate applications and conduct interviews with short-listed applicants.

How many fellowships will be granted?
The program aims to award up to ten fellowships each year. The actual number depends on the performance of the applicants during the interviews, taking into account not only scientific abilities of the candidates, but also their personal qualities and motivations. No effort will be made to award all ten fellowships.

Scientists from what disciplines are eligible to apply for a fellowship?
The Branco Weiss Fellowship is open to researchers at postdoctoral level in all disciplines (including natural sciences, engineering, social sciences, and humanities).

What criteria beyond the formal criteria must applicants meet?
Applicants must submit a project that exploits new avenues of research, often 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 application deadline, and they should not have received their PhD more than five years ago. Faculty members (assistant professors or lecturers) or former faculty members are not eligible.

What projects qualify for support?
Projects which depart significantly from mainstream research and will profit from the unique freedom offered by the fellowship. Ideal projects follow new paths in an interdisciplinary setting.

How does the financial support work?
Financial support is given to fellows in the form of a project grant. This is administered by the host institution via a three-way contractual agreement between the fellow, their chosen institution(s), and ETH Zurich. Overheads must be covered by the host institution(s).

Are there any particular criteria for the reviewer suggestions?
The applicant should not stand in any scientific relationship to the suggested persons, which means that they should not have published together, have worked together, or plan to work together. It is fine, if they have been in contact.

Which information should be in the invitation letter and who should sign it?
The invitation letter should be signed by your potential host professor and describe why you and your project are deemed to be excellent and why the host institution offers the most suitable environment to carry out the research project.

I am planning to work at more than one host institution. Do I have to provide an invitation letter from each institution?
No, we do only request an invitation letter from the main host resp. from the institution where you will start the project.

How does the selection procedure work?
All incoming applications are screened. Letters of recommendation and external reviews will be requested once the applicant has been short-listed. A final selection of applicants will be invited for interviews to present their project to the Directorate and selected faculty members of ETH Zurich in Zurich, Switzerland. The decision is typically communicated to candidates within two weeks after the interview.

What is the role of ETH Zurich in the fellowship?
The Branco Weiss Fellowship is domiciled and run by ETH Zurich. Founded in 1855 and located in the heart of Europe, ETH Zurich stands for world-class scientific experience, research for the benefit of society and industry, and the training of highly skilled professionals. A total of 21 Nobel Prize Laureates studied, taught, or carried out their research at ETH Zurich. Transferring knowledge from the university to the worlds of business, society, and politics is one of the strategic goals of ETH Zurich – equally important are first-rate education, excellent research, and maintaining a strong international network. The Branco Weiss Fellowship is just one of the means to achieve these ambitious goals.