Ursula Keller wins “Swiss Nobel” Marcel Benoist Prize- for pioneering work in ultrafast lasers
MUST2022 Conference- a great success!
New scientific highlights- by MUST PIs Wörner, Chergui, and Richardson
FELs of Europe prize for Jeremy Rouxel- “Development or innovative use of advanced instrumentation in the field of FELs”
Ruth Signorell wins Doron prizefor pioneering contributions to the field of fundamental aerosol science
New FAST-Fellow Uwe Thumm at ETH- lectures on Topics in Femto- and Attosecond Science
International Day of Women and Girls in Science- SSPh asked female scientists about their experiences
New scientific highlight- by MUST PIs Milne, Standfuss and Schertler
EU XFEL Young Scientist Award for Camila Bacellar,beamline scientist and group leader of the Alvra endstation at SwissFEL
Prizes for Giulia Mancini and Rebeca Gomez CastilloICO/IUPAP Young Scientist Prize in Optics & Ernst Haber 2021
Nobel Prize in Chemistry awarded to RESOLV Member Benjamin List- for the development of asymmetric organocatalysis
NCCR MUST at Scientifica 2021- Lightning, organic solar cells, and virtual molecules

ETH Women Professors Forum (ETH WPF)

One of the unique high-impact accomplishments of the NCCR MUST is the foundation of the ETH Women Professor Forum (ETH WPF) to support networking and strengthen female scientists on a higher hierarchy level with our director Keller as the founding president (2012-2016), motivated by the famous “1999 MIT report”. The ETH WPF received substantial financial and personnel support from the NCCR MUST. It started with the election of the first ETH WPF executive board on March 7, 2012. Initially founded within ETHZ, the ETH WPF network was expanded into the full ETH domain (ETHZ and EPFL) with the help of the second ETH WPF chair, Prof. Janet Hering (first deputy chair from 2012-2016). About 80% of the female professors joined the network. The network is important as such, but also is a tool to gain influence in academia and universities. One of the goals is to be an advisory board on gender aspects for the leadership in the ETH domain. Furthermore, the ETH WPF is central for our goal to provide role models and to implement culture change and better governance. Initially an active network was created with the forum’s scientific lunch events, during which, once a month, one professor introduced her career path and useful experiences, followed by buffet lunch. After this informal lunch meeting, mentoring and sponsorship became much easier to the benefit of many young and early-career professors. Additionally, ETH WPF is a role model for other universities in and outside Switzerland. Ursula Keller provides advice personally or e.g. published in the book “Leadership in Universities” explaining her rational for establishing the ETH WPF (Development of a network for women in academic leadership positions: What lessons can be learned from the ETH Women Professors Forum?). Within the ETH WPF examples of achieving better governance are highlighted with reference to the APS guidelines and the Project Juno. An important milestone was to publish a survey of topics important to women professors at ETHZ and EPFL in 2019. More official surveys followed, at both the ETHZ and the EPFL. We would like to acknowledge the leadership of EPFL professor Rizlan Bernier-Latmani, who was the key person for the EPFL report and who became the 3rd ETH WPF chair. An ETH WPF based email distribution list turned out to be a very effective way to exchange experience, share information, coordinate efforts on different topics, and celebrate the many prestigious awards the women professors received over the years. 

The website of the ETH Women Professors Forum (members from ETH, EPFL, ETH Domain) is


Ursula Keller: Book chapter on creating the ETH Women Professors Forum

Interview with Ursula Keller by Andrea Eichholzer (pp. 265-275): "Development of a network for women in academic leadership positions: What lessons can be learned from the ETH Women Professors Forum?"

download PDF (Ursula Keller english)

Key Interview Questions (click on link for answers):
  • Building a functioning network like the ETH WPF is resource-intensive – how did you manage to successfully develop it?  Answer
  • Why is it that so few women aspire to a professorship in your own discipline, physics, or in another scientific discipline?  Answer
  • You’ve mentioned structural barriers several times. Why, in your view, is the structural framework currently unfavorable?  Answer
  • Apart from your personal motivation, and choosing the right moment, to what extent is the success of the ETH WPF influenced by other factors, such as senior management?  Answer
  • You pointed out that individual disciplines are confronted with challenges of different kinds, calling for specifically tailored approaches. Could you give an example to illustrate that?  Answer
  • Could you explain in more detail what the ETH WPF does and how it sees its role? What benefits does the network provide?  Answer
  • Why did you seize the initiative to improve the situation of women in the natural sciences? Which of your personal qualifications, characteristics and skills were decisive for this step?  Answer
  • By developing the ETH WPF, you’ve already managed to achieve important goals. What additional measures and steps are required to go beyond these goals?  Answer

"Führen in Hochschulen"
Anregungen und Reflexionen aus Wissenschaft und Praxis
Herausgeber: Truniger, Luzia (Hrsg.)
ISBN 978-3-658-16165-1

Springer - Führen in Hochschulen

Women and Leadership in Academia, Uni Zürich, 14 November 2016

A half-day conference will mark the end of the University of Zürich Gender Equality Action Plan 2013 – 16, and also serve as an outlook on the years 2017 – 20 and the second UZH Gender Equality Action Plan.

Women remain underrepresented in top academic leadership positions in Switzerland, Europe and beyond. According to the “She Figures” 2015, women are gaining ground as Heads of Institution, yet parity exists in only in two out of the almost 30 “She Figures” countries. Switzerland is not one of them. Noting that women are also underrepresented in leading political and business positions, the University of Zurich highlights its commitment to gender equality at all levels of the University with this half-day conference that brings together researchers, rectors, and policy-makers.

Prof. Michael Hengartner, President of Uni Zurich and government councillor, Dr. Silvia Steiner, Canton Zürich will make the welcoming speeches. Full program details and registration on the University of Zürich, Equal Opportunity website.

Podium speakers include:
Prof Sarah Springman, Rector, ETH Zürich,
Prof Andrea Schenker-Wicki, Rector, University of Basel,
Vice Rector Eva Wiberg, University of Lund, Sweden
President Ulrike Beisiegel, Georg-August University Göttingen, Germany


April 2016: the ETH WPF extends its membership to EPFL

Prof. Ursula Keller resigns from the ETH WPF presidency after two elected periods in office.

The 5th General Assembly meeting of the ETH Women Professors Forum voted to support a new initiative to extend the membership of the ETH WPF to female professors from EPFL. Already 14 EPFL professors have signed up to become members.

A new Women Professors Forum Executive Board was voted into office. Ursula Keller (President from 2012 - 2016) stepped down from office, and Prof. Janet Hering, Director of EAWAG became the new Chairwoman, with two new vice chairs: Prof Viola Vogel (ETH) and Prof. Rizlan Bernier-Latmani (EPFL). Work now begins to implement the transition in an ETH domain women professors association.

ETH News, 5 May 2016, reports the outcomes of the General Assembly Meeting

NCCR MUST creates the ETH Women Professors Forum 2011 - 2013

The website for the ETH Women Professors Forum is at

The initiative originated from the advancement of women program of the National Competence Center in Research for Molecular Ultrafast Science and Technology (NCCR MUST). The foundation for the ETH WPF was laid in 2011 when a group of senior women professors gathered to discuss the idea of creating a forum. The central tenet for building the forum was to bring together the women professors at ETH Zurich: to create a community, to share scientific research, improve the visibility of women scientists, to act as role models for younger women scientists and to contribute to ETH Zurich’s goals to attract more women into science at every level.

From 2011 to 2013 it was given momentum by the NCCR MUST director Ursula Keller, and coordinated by the NCCR MUST Outreach Officer (Anna Garry, ETH Zurich). In the first months the Forum took inspiration from the Yale Women Faculty Forum. In 2011 NCCR MUST progressed the initiative through the organization of three consultative lunches with female professors, a first strategy document, and the creation of the statutes of association. At his year-end-speech the President of ETH Zurich announced the establishment of the ETH WPF.

On 7 March 2012, NCCR MUST organized the first general assembly, which was the first step in the formal foundation of the ETH WPF as an association (“Verein”), and soon after the association’s Executive Board met for the first time. A central platform for the WPF activities was a Scientific Lunch program, devised by Executive Board member, Prof. Silvia Dorn. NCCR MUST supported the organization of ten scientific lunches and eight executive board meetings from 2012 -2013. The recruitment of membership was begun in June 2012, with administrative support from the EAWAG director, Prof Janet Hering. By Christmas 2012 ETH WPF had achieved 70% membership of all ETH female professors.

3rd Assembly Meeting May 2014

On 8 April 2013, the ETH WPF gathered for a retreat which included the 2nd general assembly, and three workshops to discuss issues about recruitment and retention of women professors. The ETH WPF Board Members then presented the retreat’s recommendations, after consultation to the membership, to the Executive Board of ETH Zurich (“Schulleitung”) on 28 May 2013. In addition, they requested funding for a position to manage the ETH WPF.  80% of female professors had now joined the Forum.

In July, the President of ETH Zurich announced the creation of a part-time (60%) coordinator for the ETH WPF to be based in the ETH Equal Office.  In mid-November Dr. Daniela Meier, started her position as the ETH WPF co-ordinator and at the ETH WPF Executive Board meeting on 18 December 2013, Dr. Anna Garry and NCCR MUST, handed over the responsibility of the association. In May 2014 the ETH WPF members met for the 3rd general assembly meeting. An ETH WPF Executive Board was elected, with Prof. Ursula Keller and Prof. Janet Hering being re-elected as President and Vice-President respectively until 2016, and two new members joining the Board.

See also Further Activities, Awards and Honors and Detailed History.
NCCR MUST Office : ETHZ IQE/ULP-HPT H3 | Auguste-Piccard-Hof 1 | 8093 Zurich | E-Mail
The National Centres of Competence in Research (NCCR) are a research instrument of the Swiss National Science Foundation