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Branco Weiss Fellowship in Science

The Branco Weiss Fellowship – Society in Science provides a platform for exceptionally qualified researchers, demonstrating a willingness to engage in a dialogue on relevant social, cultural, political or economic issues across the frontiers of their particular discipline.

Ideally, fellows pursue unconventional projects in new areas of science, engineering and social sciences. The fellowship was founded in 2002 by the late Swiss entrepreneur Dr. Branco Weiss. It is based at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH). The directorate consists of Prof. Dr. Angelika Steger, Full Professor for Computer Science at ETH Zurich, Prof. Dr. Heidi Wunderli-Allenspach, Rector at ETH Zurich (2007 to 2012) and former Full Professor for Biopharmacy at ETH Zurich, and Prof. Dr. Josef Zeyer, former Full Professor for Environmental Microbiology at ETH Zurich.

Goals and Objectives

Through scientific advancements an array of economic, social, political and cultural changes are provoked and facilitated. Likewise, social processes and values impact the evolution of science and technology.

The fellowship is designed for postdocs at home in sciences, engineering and social sciences who are willing to engage in a dialogue on relevant social, cultural, political or economic issues across the frontiers of their particular discipline.

The program aims to award up to ten fellowships each year. The number of recipients depends on the number of applications satisfying the stringent requirements of the directorate not only taking into account the scientific abilities of the candidates but also personal qualities and the relevance of their projects.

Seeking Creative Minds

Candidates that present an unusual research project that departs from the mainstream and that have a remarkable track record will be short-listed and could emerge from the annual selection process with an award for the prestigious grant.

Apply with a groundbreaking research idea to secure financial support for up to five years, working at an academic institution of your choice anywhere in the world.

The registration portal for the 2019 fellowship intake is now open, and will close on January 15, 2019, 11.59 p.m. (CET). To avoid server-overload, please submit your application at least 1 to 2 days before the deadline.

Before applying or contacting us, please read the Fast Facts for Applicants carefully.


The ideal applicant has the competencies to design a surprisingly novel and scientifically rigorous research project which blazes new trails, profiting from the freedom uniquely offered by the fellowship.

You are eligible for the 2019 campaign if:

  • You officially hold a PhD on January 15, 2019
  • You were born after December 31, 1984
  • Your project departs from the mainstream of research in your discipline
  • You have a record of outstanding scientific achievement
  • You demonstrate in the proposal a willingness to engage in a dialogue on relevant social, cultural, political or economic issues across the frontiers of your particular discipline

Please do not be disheartened if you have applied before and were not selected, you are welcome to apply again.

Your application will not be forwarded for evaluation if:

  • Your PhD was awarded before January 15, 2014
  • You were born before January 1, 1985
  • You already have or have held a faculty-equivalent position (e.g. assistant professor or lecturer)


The fellowship is awarded in two installments:

  • The pioneer phase: the first two years of research
  • The exploitation phase: the remaining three years

At the end of the pioneer phase, a review is conducted. This evaluates the project, its continued originality, and the productivity of the fellow. Branco Weiss Fellows are encouraged to seek faculty positions during their exploitation phase; success hereby will not terminate the fellowship.


A Branco Weiss Fellowship consists of CHF 100,000 per year. It may be used to cover all legitimate costs of research (i.e. salary and/or equipment, travel expenses, consumables, personnel, etc.).


Applications for the 2019 fellowship intake are now open.

Please have the following documents (pdf files) ready for uploading:

  • Letter of motivation including a statement explaining why your research differs from the mainstream (max. 1 page)
  • Your proposed research project (max. 4 pages, plus references)
  • Your CV (max. 4 pages)
  • Copies of your three best publications
  • Application overview (download template), including a reasoning of why you believe that you are a perfect candidate for a Branco Weiss Fellowship (max. 1000 characters)

Please note that letters of support do not have to be submitted upon application. Timelines and budgets are not necessary.

In preparing the description of your intended research, you may wish to give emphasis to the idea or concept forming the heart of the work, the methods you are planning to use, and the potential impact of the outcome both for your own subject and for other disciplines. You should also seek to present links between society and science that you wish to explore and promote.

All documents must be submitted as PDF files.


Every proposal is evaluated by the directorate, selected faculty members of ETH Zurich, and external reviewers. Short-listed candidates are invited for personal interviews, to be held in Zurich, Switzerland.

The following timeline applies for the 2019 fellowship intake:

  • January 15, 2019, 11.59 p.m. CET: final deadline for applications via the online form
  • May 2019: notification and invitation for a personal interview sent to final selection of candidates; notification sent to candidates whose application has been rejected
  • June 2019: candidates interviewed by a panel in Zurich, Switzerland; final selection of fellows
  • September 1 to December 31, 2019: fellows commence research projects
Application date
5 years
Europe : Switzerland
Social sciences
Required post-doc experience
Between 0 and 5 years
Grants available
Award granted
CHF 100.000/year