Introducing… Tamara Utzinger and Tim Kubetzko – two of our new nanoscience students

First-semester students recently began the nanosciences degree at the University of Basel. We were curious to find out what relationship they have with the natural sciences, why they chose to study in Basel, and what expectations they have of the degree. We talked briefly with two of the new students to get a general idea.

Tamara Utzinger learned about the nano study program at a TechNight and was drawn to the course immediately.

Tamara Utzinger from Niederwil (Canton of Aargau, Switzerland)
Tamara Utzinger had her first insight into the nanosciences during a talk at her school in Wohlen and was immediately fascinated by the diversity and opportunities that the nanosciences have to offer. She learned more about the nanosciences and nanotechnology at a TechNight in Wohlen, which was organized by the Swiss Academy of Engineering Sciences (SATW) and also featured representatives of the SNI. Most importantly, it was here that she found out that the University of Basel offers an interdisciplinary study program in nanosciences. “It was absolutely fascinating, and I was drawn to the course immediately,” Tamara recalls. She took a brochure about the nanosciences degree away with her to read and found exactly what she was looking for there.

The decision to study nanosciences after gaining her school-leaving certificate (Matura) in spring 2018 was therefore an easy one. She applied for and won a scholarship from the Canton of Aargau and is now eagerly making a start on her degree. She realized that the 90-minute commute from Niederwil to Basel was worth it to learn the basics of biology, chemistry and physics.

Tamara was interested in the natural sciences throughout her time at school but didn’t develop a preference for one discipline in particular. Biology and chemistry were her major subjects at high school, and she is now particularly attracted to the interdisciplinarity of the nanosciences degree. “Now that all the introductions are over with, I’m looking forward to getting started for real,” she says in our interview. In her first two weeks, she found a lecture on the development of the quantum computer particularly fascinating.


Tim Kubetzko has been involved in research projects since ninth grade and has won several prizes.

Tim Kubetzko from Lörrach (Germany)
Tim Kubetzko has been interested in physics since he was a boy. He also chose physics, along with music, as a major subject for his school-leaving certificate (Abitur). Throughout secondary school at the Hans-Thoma-Gymnasium in Lörrach, he enjoyed conducting research at the phaenovum student research center in his spare time and successfully took part in numerous science competitions.

It all began in the ninth grade with a project about a tower block in London, whose reflective facade had been setting fire to cars. The highlight of his activities at phaenovum saw him take part in the national “Jugend forscht” (Young Researchers) competition, ultimately qualifying for the world’s biggest mathematics/natural sciences competition for high school students. At the competition, which was held in Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania, USA) in May this year, Tim took second place alongside Lennart Resch. Together, they had studied the falling properties of rope ladders with angled rungs and succeeded in proving that their falling behavior contradicts Galileo’s law of falling bodies due to Earth’s angular momentum (report of phaenovum).

Tim originally wanted to study bionics, because he was fascinated by its diverse and interdisciplinary subject matter. However, during his many hours at phaenovum, he got talking to PD Dr. Thilo Glatzel from the Department of Physics, who has been involved in phaenovum for many years and has supported numerous student projects there. Thilo told him more about the degree in nanosciences in Basel. “The wide-ranging nanosciences degree seemed like an ideal alternative,” says Tim. “I now have classes in biology, chemistry, physics and math, and am learning the basic principles in all of them. I suppose it’s a bit like a Swiss Army knife – it’s universally applicable.”

He is also delighted that he can continue to live in Lörrach during his studies and that there are relatively few students in his semester. “You know everyone after the first week,” he says. It also suits him that the first semesters have a fairly school-like structure and that the timetable is predetermined. Now, he is looking forward to his lectures in the various subjects – and, ultimately, to the opportunity to act as a link between the different disciplines by applying this broad-based education.