Nanoscience in the snow

At the end of January, in beautiful wintry weather, the doctoral students from the SNI PhD School met at Hotel Schwarzsee, 1,000 meters above Zermatt, for the “Nanoscience in the Snow” Winter School (NiS). After a short welcome reception, the first presentations began before everyone satisfied their hunger with a cheese fondue. Lively discussions continued late into the night by the posters displayed on all available walls and windows.

A heavy storm during the night prevented the three invited speakers from leaving the valley to talk to the doctoral students. Dr Michel Calame, coordinator of the SNI PhD School until the end of 2016 and the organizer of NiS, added to the program with a presentation about his own research over the last few years. The storm kept all participants indoors for the whole day, allowing Dr Oren Knopfmacher from Avails Medical to give even more detail about his journey as the founder of a start-up company. Along with contributions by the doctoral students themselves, this provided plenty of discussion topics. In the evening, the attendees bid farewell to Michel Calame as coordinator of the SNI PhD School and thanked Tomaž Einfalt for his work over the last two years as the PhD School representative. Shubham Singh was elected as the new representative for PhD students and Paolo Olivia received the prize for the best poster.

Although the storm had still not abated the next morning, Zermatt Lifts ran a few extra cable cars to gradually carry all NIS attendees down to the valley in safety. Zermatt was the last Winter School for Michel Calame and some of the doctoral students, who will be completing their dissertations this year. Dr Andreas Baumgartner, who took over as coordinator of the PhD School at the start of the year, will however continue NiS to encourage informal, interdisciplinary exchange between doctoral students.