Society in Science, ETH Zurich's worldwide fellowship for outstanding postdoctoral researchers, has selected eight new fellows in research fields ranging from philosophy to applied systems biology.
Society in Science - The Branco Weiss Fellowship, a program of ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich) to support outstanding junior scientists, has appointed eight new fellows. Nita Bharti, Karim Bschir, Zi Chen, Michael Fabinyi, Lea Haller, Michael Nash, Julia Sacher and Cheemeng Tan have received the prestigious award that can provide them with up to five years of academic freedom.
The Society in Science fellowship offers a generous personal grant of up to five years for researchers
shortly after their PhD. The program belonging to ETH Zurich supports projects throughout the world:
fellows can come from anywhere and are able to conduct their research at any institution. Applicants
needed to demonstrate exceptional research skills and be prepared to look beyond their own scientific
horizon. The eight new fellows are engaged in ecology, marine biology, evolutionary biology, cognitive
neurology, computational biology, applied biophysics, biomedical engineering, nano science, history and
Dr. Nita Bharti was born in the USA, received a PhD in biology at Penn State University and is currently at
Princeton University. Dr. Bharti develops satellite-based methods to quantify human density and
movement patterns to assess their impact on human health, particularly in low-income nations. Her work
combines remote sensing with dynamic biological models to improve our understanding of the
sociological drivers of human health.
Dr. Karim Bschir was born in Switzerland and is currently at ETH Zurich. His research aims at
understanding how science deals with different kinds of uncertainty. Dr. Bschir intends to present a
classification of scientific uncertainty against the background of a model of predictions in science. He will
also analyze whether the concept of 'potentiality' might be used to address certain interpretational
problems in science and natural philosophy.
Dr. Zi Chen was born in China and is currently at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. Dr. Chen
received his PhD in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Princeton University. As a Branco Weiss
fellow, Dr. Chen will investigate how one-dimensional information coded in DNA translates into threedimensional
shapes. Understanding these mechanisms will facilitate biomedical research and inspire
novel design principles for programmable nanofabrication techniques and bio-mimetic devices.
Dr. Michael Fabinyi was born in Australia and obtained his PhD from the Australian National University in
Canberra. He is currently at James Cook University in Townsville, Queensland. As a Branco Weiss fellow,
Dr. Fabinyi will provide a novel anthropological perspective on the consumption of seafood in China. By
researching the trends and drivers of seafood consumption across China, the research will greatly
increase our understanding of an important influence on the livelihoods and environments of the Asia-
Dr. Lea Haller was born in Switzerland and is currently at ETH Zurich. Dr. Haller is working to examine the
global commodity trade in 20th century Switzerland. Her project aims at understanding the entanglement
of political and economic spaces from a historical perspective. Dr. Haller will show to what extent the
construction of political neutrality and the establishing of a global trading network complemented one
Dr. Michael Nash was born in the USA and received a dual PhD degree in bioengineering and
nanotechnology from the University of Washington, Seattle in 2010. He is currently at Ludwig-Maximilians
University in Munich. Dr. Nash will undertake research to develop artificial bio-hybrid nanostructures that
would convert agricultural wastes into sugars, providing a new approach to biofuel production.
Dr. Julia Sacher was born in Austria and is currently at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and
Brain Sciences in Leipzig. As a Branco Weiss fellow, Dr. Sacher will examine how subtle hormonal
changes impact mood regulation by using the menstrual cycle as a model. Her findings will help prevent
and treat severe premenstrual mood change, and elucidate the link between sex hormones and
Dr. Cheemeng Tan was born in Malaysia and is currently at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. He
received his PhD degree from the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Duke University. Dr. Tan will
construct antibacterial artificial cells using a synthetic biology approach. His work could fundamentally
improve antibacterial treatment, advance the predictive engineering of artificial cells and bring new
insights into the application of computational algorithms in synthetic biology.