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Society of Science Director Peter Chen

Society in Science Director Peter Chen says Branco Weiss himself supported using new communication methods to increase visibility of the Branco Weiss Fellowship for junior researchers.

Credit: Society of Science

Society in Science—The Branco Weiss Fellowship, a program of ETH Zurich to support outstanding junior scientists, is exploring new avenues to spread the word about its generous personal grants. Complementing a bold print and online advertising campaign, a customizable video has just been launched to trigger a viral social web campaign.

"Sure you're the best. Pity nobody's heard of you yet" is the punch line of a video that involved one hundred people and features the British actor Roger Ashton-Griffith in the leading role. Ashton-Griffith played an occultist trying to contact his deceased wife in Woody Allen's recent film "You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger."

The video is available at, where visitors can nominate a friend, colleague or even themselves by simply entering the awardees' name, the prize and the subject field. Society in Science is primarily interested in reaching junior researchers in new scientific fields and gives as an example psychoneuroimmunology, a field that is already covered by some current fellows.

The Society in Science fellowship offers a generous personal grant of up to five years for researchers shortly after their Ph.D. Although the program belongs to the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, fellows can come from anywhere, and are able to conduct their research at any institution throughout the world. Professor Peter Chen, director of Society in Science and full professor of physical-organic chemistry at ETH Zurich, says, "It was Branco Weiss himself who wanted to venture into new fields, not just with respect to the junior researchers that benefit from his endowment, but also with respect to communicating this fellowship." The late Swiss entrepreneur and investor Branco Weiss increased the endowment and approved the current communications campaign shortly before his passing in October 2010.

Recipients of the Branco Weiss Fellowship compare it to winning the lottery since it provides them with true academic freedom. The fellowship is anxious to address scholars in new fields of research. Awareness is steadily increasing in the United States of America and Europe, so now the focus will turn to seeking out ways to become better known in Asia, Africa and South America.

Information on the projects of Society in Science fellows is available on the and on the Society in Science website


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