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A memorable anniversary

On 28 October, the SNI’s 10th anniversary was celebrated by SNI members and numerous guests who have supported the Institute over the years or who played a key role in its foundation. Some 150 attendees gathered in Gundeldinger Feld’s Hall 7 to toast the anniversary, catch up with contacts and enjoy the varied entertainment program. Stefan Verra got the party started with an energetic and humorous demonstration of how body language can affect our perception. In a performance perfectly pitched to his audience, he used numerous examples backed up by scientific research to show just how entertaining the presentation of scientific findings can be. Slammers Kishan Thodkar and Meropi Karakioulaki carried on in the same vein, with a lively and accessible presentation of their research pared down to just a few minutes.

Things got even louder when Argovia-Professor Roderick Lim and his Postdoc Philipp Oertle used an amplifier to combine the sound of an atomic force microscope with that of an electric guitar. The members of the band Barbie Q, tasked with the evening’s musical accompaniment, had no choice but to spontaneously play along. Before Barbie Q got the dancing underway, SNI Director Professor Christian Schönenberger paid tribute to some of those present. Professor Andreas Engel and Dr. Alexander Hofmann were distinguished for their support of the SNI as honorary members. Christian Schönenberger then called several long-standing SNI members onto the stage to represent the many others who have been instrumental to the Institute’s success, and told some amusing anecdotes from the SNI’s short history. Helped along by the fine music and high spirits of all present, the festivities went on until midnight in a relaxed and convivial atmosphere.

Alexander Hofmann, who played a major role in the foundation of the SNI in 2006 in his capacity as head of the Department for Higher Education and Sport of the canton of Aargau, was among the guests of the highly enjoyable event: “It was wonderful to experience the SNI’s friendly atmosphere. Students were mingling with professors and the director himself, chatting and celebrating together – that’s not always the way things are, and it is a testament to the SNI’s great internal culture.

Another successful Future Day

Once again this year, the SNI was involved in the Future Day held on 9 November to give children and young people a playful introduction to research in the natural sciences. In collaboration with the Department of Physics, Dr. Michèle Wegmann prepared a varied program on the topic of energy. Dr. Thilo Glatzel kicked things off with a presentation and a series of experiments demonstrating different forms of energy generation. Dr. Reimann then took the 20 children on a tour of some of the laboratories and workshops to give them an idea of where the employees of the Department of Physics work. Finally, it was time for some hands-on action, and with the help of the workshops and the SNI the young researchers built a solar flower and a wind turbine from PET bottles and soldered together an electronic game.

Another group of enthusiastic children were given a tour of the nanoworld by the members of the SNI’s Nano Imaging Lab. After learning about different types of microscope they had the chance to use some themselves, and were given photos of what they had seen to take home as a souvenir.

PhD students visit Roche

The decisions faced by some of the PhD students at the SNI’s PhD school about what comes next are becoming increasingly pressing as their doctorates approach completion. In late November, 16 PhD students paid a visit to Roche Pharma AG in Basel to gain some insights into starting a career in the pharma industry. The visit included a lecture on molography by Dr. Christoph Fattinger illustrating how Roche employs nanotechnology in its research.

Dr. Volker Herdtweck of Roche Human Resources, who is in charge of contact with universities and prepared the program for the visit, advised the attendees to acquire industry experience before completing their PhD and to start networking early on. He then added that it is crucial to tailor applications to the advertised position and focus on key aspects. With the aim of giving candidates a clearer picture of the different fields of activity, Roche offers a careers blog in which employees in a wide range of positions share their personal impressions and experience.

Attendees also heard a first-hand account of work in pharma research from a post-doc and a trainee, who described how it differs from university work and highlighted the pros and cons of their temporary positions in the global pharma company. The two young researchers along with Volker Herdtweck then fielded questions from the PhD students during an informal lunch.

“The visit to Roche was a valuable experience. It gave us an idea of the potential opportunities on offer at Roche specifically and in the industry in general. We also received information which will help us make a decision about the next step in our career,” summed up Michael Gerspach.

10 Years SNI

On October 28, the SNI celebrates its 10th anniversary together with all its members at the Halle 8 in the Gundeldinger Feld in Basel

Please reserve this date!


On 27 October 2016 at 7.20 pm the next talk will take place at Sud in Basel.

Art of Molecule

In der Klosterkirche Königsfelden findet am Sonntag, 23. Oktober, unter dem Motto Klang der Moleküle (Infos zum Konzert und zu Tickets) das erste gemeinsame Event mit dem argovia philharmonic statt.

A birthday party packed with science

On September 9, about 80 associates of the SNI’s director, Christian Schönenberger, met for a colloquium to celebrate his 60th birthday. They talked about the early days of the Schönenberger group more than 20 years ago and the trips the team made into the Swiss Alps. However, the main focus was on the research that Christian Schönenberger’s current and former colleagues are currently engaged in.

Audience members who are now working in other fields of research or who have left research completely had some difficulties following eveything; however, Christian Schönenberger was completely in his element. He entered into animated discussions about quantum dots, spins, entanglement, nanowires and Kondo systems with the eight speakers and the other guests who had made the trip from all over Switzerland, Holland, France and Germany. During breaks and at the evening barbecue, there was still plenty of time left over for everyone to reminisce about old times and make new plans.

Festival of Molecules

Amid glorious summer weather, the Festival of Molecules was held in the University of Basel’s Kollegienhaus at the end of August. According to a press release from the University of Basel, over the two days of the festival around 80 school classes and more than 4,000 visitors attended this interactive exhibition on the fascinating world of chemistry. The SNI was represented, along with the Department of Physics, by a stand focusing on the topic of color. Children, young people and adults had the chance to split white light into the colors of the spectrum using a spectrometer they had built themselves, and then to produce white light again from the three primary colors – green, red and blue – using a gyroscope. Also very popular were the laser chess and polarizing films. By sticking pieces of tape all over these films at random, you can generate some quite amazing color effects.

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