30 field trips to choose from

As the WCSJ2019 will be taking place in the Alpine region, and as our bid is centered around the header «Reaching new heights in science journalism», we will target a great number of field trips showing science in action on an in ( !) the mountains, on glaciers, in the cryosphere in general. Those trips will offer exceptional opportunities for science journalists who have never had the occasion to visit a mountain region, to make their first steps on a glacier with a glaciologist explaining the impacts of climate change. They will also offer a very general range of what this very particular environment can serve for the scientific world. Most of the trips will cover more than one scientific aspect, but all of them will be of great interest for WCSJ-participants to report about.

Switzerland and its neighboring countries consisting not only of mountains, a full panel of other interesting field trips will be proposed, allowing every WCSJ participants to visit some exceptional scientific (and sometimes also touristic) places.


Astronomy and mountain ecology in Zermatt (2 days)

Zermatt is a very popular destination for tourists, home to one of the most famous mountains in the world: the Matterhorn. But this little village of wooden chalets is also a hive of scientific research. For example at the astronomical observatory of Gornergrat, located at 3089m and accessible by train, accepts astronomers from all over Europe. There, a new infrastructure recently opened by the scientists of the National Centre of Competence in Science (PlanetS) called the Stellarium, shows the sky to teachers and others with a new 60cm telescope – the best in Switzerland. The scientific gem of the trip will be a visit to the Monte Rosa Hut. This modern mountain hut, which takes the form of a sparkling crystal, has been designed to be 90%-energy-autonomous (heating system, PV panels, recycled water), which is of high importance for the mountain region. Its design also helps design more energy-efficient houses in general. The hut can be reached by a unique and spectacular three hour walk on a glacier, accompanied by a guide.

Storing nuclear waste at the Mont Terri Laboratory

Storing nuclear radioactive wastes in a very secure way is of utter importance for further generation, as long as humanity uses nuclear energy. Finding what are the right types of rocks that are able to host those ways is crucial. Is Opalinus clay an valuable option ? That’s what participants to this trip will discover, at the International Mont Terri Rock Laboratory, at a depth of about 300 meters. It is situated near the small town of St-Ursanne in the canton of Jura. At the Rock Laboratory, a total of 15 partners from Switzerland, Belgium, Germany, France, Japan, Canada, Spain and the US carry out research into the properties of opalinus clay, which is a potential host rock for the storage of radioactive waste. The visit will present the underground laboratory which consists of 600 meters of galleries and niches. The Swiss Federal Office of Topography (Swisstopo) operates the facility and runs the Mont Terri project.

Sucking greenhouse gases at the Jungfraujoch Station, highest railway station in Europe

The high altitude station in Jungfraujoch is recognized as an important research site due to its privileged location, year-round accessibility and excellent infrastructure. The research station is located at an altitude of 3450 m above sea level. The scientific orientation of the Jungfraujoch research station has changed over the decades, initially focusing on astronomy and radiation.
Today they focus on environmental and climate research, such as the state of the atmosphere. Jungfraujoch is part of the global monitoring network Global Atmosphere Watch (GAW), which is under the auspices of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), along with 30 other observation sites.

In addition, the Jungfraujoch Research Station acts as a key station in many more global, European or national networks such as the Network for Atmospheric Composition Change Detection (NDACC), Integrated Carbon Observing Systems (ICOS), etc. The scientific journalists will have the opportunity to know the numerous investigations that are carried out in the highest station of Europe. The panorama up there is of great beauty and the views over the Glacier Alestch are majestic, a unique experience for journalists who want to visit it.

In Chamonix/Mont-Blanc, a day with Europe at your feet

Chamonix, birthplace of mountaineering, is an extraordinary site where we will ride up the Aiguille du Midi (3842m/12,600 ft), highest cable car in Europe, with a stunning panorama on the Mont Blanc. Two science teams will show us the research they do there: the EDYTEM laboratory, focused on climate impacts on the Alps, and the Ifremmont Institute, focused on altitude medicine and especially on acute mountain sickness. End the day with some world class avalanche science on the biggest avalanche control system in Europe, in Taconnaz near Chamonix.

Grenoble, the science and technology capital of the French Alps

You will need to slip on some polar clothing before entering the IGE ice-core depository, which houses 15 000 ice samples from Antarctica and Greenland, and first documented the correlation between CO2 and paleoclimate! Then stop at the cutting-edge European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, which produces the most intense X-rays for research to date. Two blocks away, stop by the Laue-Langevin Institute LLI and peep into the most intensive neutron source in the world. Grenoble produces over 4000 journal articles and 800 patents each year – this visit will give you a sense of why.

INFN Gran Sasso National Laboratory in Italy

Take part in a unique trip to central Italy, and experience the cosmic silence of the INFN Gran Sasso National Laboratory, only one hour from Geneva by plane. The INFN Gran Sasso National Laboratory (LNGS), is the largest underground laboratory in the world devoted to neutrino and astroparticle physics, a worldwide research facility for scientists where particle physics, cosmology and astrophysics meet.

Shielded by 1400 metre-rock thickness, the Laboratory is unequalled anywhere else, as it offers the most advanced underground infrastructures in terms of dimensions, complexity and completeness. Experiments in the Gran Sasso National Laboratory have given revolutionary contributions to neutrino physics, the search for dark matter, and the understanding of the nuclear processes that regulate the evolution of the stars (Nuclear Astrophysics).

Located between L’Aquila and Teramo, at about 120 kilometres from Rome, the underground structures are on one side of the 10-kilometre highway tunnel which crosses the Gran Sasso massif. The underground complex consists of three huge experimental halls for a total volume of about 180’000 m3. Visit Rom at the end of your stay.

Sustainability in the Alps

Tourism, agriculture, mobility, water – the Alps are in high demand. How can we accommodate all the demands in a productive and sustainable way? With this field trip, the Swiss Academies take journalists on a journey that visits contrasting scenes and explores topics at the interface of science and society. Accompanied by high-ranking scientists and decision makers, journalists will discuss the effects of climate change on Alpine ski tourism in Zermatt and how they affect local social and economic conditions. In the nearby valley of Saas Fee, the focus will be on the manifold interactions between tourists and native inhabitants and what they mean for local society. Then, participants will take a walk along one of the “suonen”, the legendary irrigation channels, which run from the glaciers along the hillsides to the pastureland in the whole of the Valais. Nowadays beautiful places to go for a hike in a wild and romantic scenery, the suonen are a thrill- ing subject for many social sciences: How was it possible to build and maintain this sophisticated network of several hundred kilometres of channels in ancient farming societies? Finally, a visit to the rerouting of the river Rhone is planned, where the balance between nature and settlements poses a big challenge, putting engineering sciences in the spotlight of politics. The whole trip takes you to a landscape of breath-taking beauty – and lets you see behind the scenes.

Enter a mountain water dam

Grande Dixence is not the name of any four thousand of the Alps, nor of any postcard lake, nor of any other beauty of nature, if not a prey, concretely the highest dam in the world and that despite the millions of Tons of concrete needed for its construction, is one of the most spectacular and amazing landscapes of the Swiss Alps. Construction work on the dam was pharaonic, about 3,000 men worked for 14 years.

The dam of the Grande Dixence, located at the headwaters of the Valley of Heréns, in the canton of Valais, is an authentic work of engineering of the man that overwhelms by its imposing height and thickness. The landscape from the top of the dam to more than 2,000 meters is the one we all dream of when we travel to the Alps: mountains of eternal snow reflecting in the waters of the lake created by the dam. A real spectacle of nature and man.

Its 285 meters high are the highest gravity dam in the world, the water is transferred to the dam through more than 100 km of tunnels and a main conduit. Once up there the scenery is glorious.

How to make delicious wine in a mountain region

Along the lakeshore of Lake Geneva, which actually were glacier morains, a vineyards now registered at the UNESCO world heritage is growing under a gorgeous sun. In the middle-age, it has been constructed there by monks, in the form of terraces held by stone-walls. At the end of the day, a wine tasting experiment will be proposed there. But what sort of wine has it at best in such a vineyards ? This is, amonst other questions, what the Agroscope, the Swiss centre of excellence for agricultural research, is trying to find. Agroscope makes an important contribution to a sustainable agriculture and food sector as well as to an intact environment, thereby contributing to an improved quality of life. An this also in the wine sector, with many innovative solutions. A visit of this very interesting place is proposed.

Rega, saving people in the mountains with helicopters

The history of the REGA (Swiss Air Rescue) is an event full of events. What works today in Switzerland almost as a matter of course has gradually developed over a period of decades. In the early epochs the only way to rescue people from danger in the mountains was by land. From 1946 REGA begins to be realized with a handful of daring pilots to later do it with parachutists with avalanche dogs, but the rescue is still in its infancy. From 1960 will be led by a great wave of enthusiasm, beginning to transport seriously ill or injured people. All these events pave the way for air rescue worldwide. REGA currently offers a wide range of missions in Switzerland and abroad. The increasing magnitude and professionalism in the field of air rescue has given rise to new forms of organization. Journalists will have the opportunity to visit the Lausanne base where they can discover the hangar with helicopters, learn more about its history, and visit helicopters.

Trek in the old salt mines of Bex

In Bex, close to Lausanne, Experience the genuine sense of adventure an old salt mine can offer : explore galleries and stairs carved by hand in the past centuries, which allowed the locals to collect salt and commercialise is throughout Europe. Away from standard tours, visit the often narrow, sometimes low passageways; some routes involve walking over ramps and rubble. Be adventurous and discover the old galleries and enjoy the captivating narratives of our experienced scientific guides! TrekkMines tours are nothing like pot holing. Although this activity does not entail any specific danger, some basic precautions should be taken.

Furka, glacier walk and botanical garden

The ancestral glaciers of the Canton of Valais in Switzerland offer a unique spectacle and are part of the UNESCO World Heritage. These huge masses of ice are a wonder of nature. Deep and dangerous cracks, large brunettes and torrents show the incredible strength that have a glacier in nature.

Every spring, a tunnel is excavated in Rhonegletscher and every summers becomes an essential stop of the Route of the three ports, in the Swiss Alps. It is an ephemeral beauty and, at the same time, the most durable of the world. This is the Rhone Glacier and its incredible ice cave, which began to be excavated and used as a refrigerator more than 170 years ago, and since then is still artificially carved to maintain it. The ice cave of the Rhone glacier is located at 2300 meters above sea level and 3 km below the port of Furka. The Furka mountain port connects Andermatt, in the canton Uri, with Gletsch, in the canton of Valais, and forms part of the popular excursion of the three mountain passes.

An half-hour walk to discover the front area of the glacier will be proposed and reveal some of the secrets of the Alps, such as the alpine gardens that reflect the special ecosystem of the region. Several thousand species of plants, ancient varieties of cereals and numerous meadow flowers thrive in an impressive landscape. In short, an unforgettable world where you can get lost.

Alpine traffic: From the first daring passages to literally a technical breakthrough

Steep and rocky slopes, harsh winters, remote villages – and the quickest route between Northern and Southern Europe: Welcome to the Gotthard region in the heart of the Alps. On this field trip, organised by the Swiss Academies, attendees will time travel through centuries of traffic and engineering history: From the 12th century, adventurous constructions opened up this important trade route, but still, it was considered impassable for large amounts of goods until the first Gotthard Train Tunnel, which is still in use, was constructed in 1882 – co-financed by the German Reich and Italy, since the route supported their political interests. The journey through history will finally lead to the current Gotthard Base Tunnel, opened in 2016 after 17 years of construction work. Being the longest and deepest rail tunnel in the world with a length of 57.1km, it is an impressive scientific and technical breakthrough. Finally, journalists will have the opportunity to see how development of traffic routes enabled tourism to grow. In the village of Ander- matt, they’ll visit one of the biggest Alpine tourism projects currently underway and see how it changes again the face of this region so rich in history.


CERN, go underground!

Founded in 1954, the CERN laboratory sits astride the Franco-Swiss border near Geneva. At CERN physicists and engineers probe the fundamental structure of the universe. What is it made of? How did it start? Physicists at CERN seek answers to questions like these, using some of the world’s most remarkable sci- entific instruments. CERN’s main area of research is particle physics – the study of the fundamental constituents of matter and the forces acting between them. The tools of the trade are large and complex scientific instruments – particle accelerators and detectors – including the Large Hadron Collider, LHC, a 27km circumference accelerator installed in a tunnel 100m underground.

The discovery of the Higgs Boson at the LHC in 2012 is a major scientific achievement, while the invention of the World Wide Web at CERN in 1989 was a technological revolution for humankind. Advances in fields such as magnet technology, cryogenics, electronics, detector technology and statistical methods have also made their way into society in ways that are less well known, yet equally impactful. While the societal benefits of techniques such as advanced particle detection may not seem immediately relevant beyond the realms of research, the impact they have had in medical imaging, for instance, is profound. Appreciation of CERN’s cultural contribution has never been higher than today. More than 100 000 people visit CERN every year.

CERN scientists will give participants on this trip the opportunity to go under- ground and get to know the LHC at close hand, along with the huge particle detectors – ATLAS, CMS, ALICE and LHCb that study the particle collisions it produces. Participants will also have the opportunity to discover other CERN ex- periments covering a wide range of subjects. The Awake experiment is exploring novel techniques for particle acceleration, for example, while Cloud studies the complex science of cloud formation in the atmosphere. AMS is a particle physics experiment on the International Space Station, ISS, while Compass carries out a range of experiments investigating the structure of nucleons among other things. There will be no shortage of story opportunities on offer at CERN.

Time, Switzerland’s golden resource

From mechanical watches that make Switzerland famous abroad, to atomic clocks onboard the Galileo constellation satellite, scientists and manufacturers of the Neuchâtel region have become experts in the measurement of time. This trip set up by the University of Neuchâtel, founded in 1838, will drive you to the Time and Frequency Laboratory which participates to the definition of the international atomic time and develops devices for the European Space Agency. More generally, its mission is to explore the frontiers of optical metrology and laser ultrafast science. Neuchâtel also hosts microtechnology labs at Microcity and at the CSEM, the Swiss Centre for Electronics and Microtechnology. You will also the opportunity to visit the International Museum of Horology (MIH) in La Chaux-de-Fonds. And, last but not least, the exclusive possibility to enter a watch factory.

Campus Biotech Geneva (Human Brain Project / Wyss Center for Bio-and Neuroengineering) hosting the Bertarelli Symposium in neuroengineering

From reactivating paralysed limbs to building bionic eyes, neurotechnology is experiencing an era of optimism and investment. Come and meet the scien- tists building the brain-computer-interfaces of tomorrow. Home of the Human Brain Project and the Wyss Center, an independent non-profit organisation that accelerates the development of neurotechnology for human benefit, Campus Biotech in Geneva is putting the Lake Geneva Region at the forefront of global neuroscience research. Take a tour of the stunning glass building and discover the device development and testing facilities where researchers are pushing the frontiers of implantable neurotech. Peer into the clean room to see stretchable electronics being made, observe recordings of human brain activity and experi- ence state-of-the-art virtual reality. Explore an interactive exhibition where you can play with augmented reality to reveal hidden implanted neurotechnology in your bionic mannequin hosts. Spin a giant brain with a wave of your hand and meet an interactive avatar who will track your every move.

On the same date, the prestigious Bertarelli Symposium in Translational Neuro- science and Neuroengineering, organised by the Bertarelli Foundation, will take place at Campus Biotech, and introduce the latest scientific advances in the field in the presence of top-class researchers from academic institutions such as EPFL, the Universities of Geneva and Lausanne and Harvard Medical School (US). For those interested, a special combination of visits and symposium attendance will be offered.

ESA’s Astronaut Centre in Cologne

Before going to space, all European astronauts train at the European Astronaut Centre EAC in Cologne, Germany. The European Space Agency invites 15-20 WCSJ participants for a full press trip. The EAC was established in 1990, its team is made up of more than 100 professionals, complemented by staff from the German Aero- space Centre (DLR), the French space agency CNES, and from industry. Through its work over the years, EAC has established itself as a centre of excellence for astronaut selection, training, medical support and surveillance, as well as for the support of astronauts and their families during preparation for and during flight. Activities include the planning and scheduling of an astronaut’s tasks and flight assignments, and the preparation and implementation of astronaut training programmes for space missions to the International Space Station, ISS. For astro- nauts and for the ground operations personnel, EAC is the training centre for all European built ISS hardware, including ESA’s Columbus laboratory and payloads. EAC has established its medical expertise for astronauts including preventive medicine, evidence based medicine, nutrition and fitness. In addition, EAC pro- vides public relations assistance for human spaceflight and educational activities, as well as promoting opportunities to industry for commercial experiments.

United Nations Geneva / WHO / GAVI / UNAids

Geneva is one of the capitals of the world and one of the cities with the highest quality of life on the planet. The city has a marked international character and is historically closely linked to international organizations and human rights. Home of the United Nations, the “Palais des Nations” built between 1929 and 1937 is located northwest of Geneva’s city centre, in the middle of the Ariana Park, a space of 45 hectares that offers magnificent views of Lake Geneva and the Alps. More than 8000 country meetings are held here annually. Some areas of the building are open to the public. Among these is the Council Hall, decorated beautifully with frescos, and the huge Assembly Hall, which is even larger than the Paris Opera.

But more that just the UN, this day will be set up with visits to and the partici- pation of representatives of some of the major international institutions located in Geneva, such as the World Health Organization, the GAVI Alliance, the Global Fund and UNAids, among many others.

Geneva University Hospitals / University of Geneva

The Geneva University Hospitals group, HUG, was founded in 1995 and continues a tradition of excellence in medicines and science that goes back hundreds of years. Its services are recognized at an international level, where robotic surgery, genetic medicine, neuroscience and oncology stand out. It has a level 4 high secu- rity diagnosis laboratory able to handle a range of pathogens. The HUG has been named by the World Health Organization as a reference centre in six specialized areas: health and telemedicine, therapeutic education, historical research, public health, patient safety and prevention of infection, and vaccination. HUG works with numerous organizations such as the ICRC, the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit, Swiss Rescue, Médecins sans Frontières, Terre, Children Action and many more.

The University of Geneva was founded in 1559 by Jean Calvin and Théodore de Bèze. The University of Geneva is dedicated to thinking, teaching, dialogue and research. It is Switzerland’s second largest university. Its domains of excellence in research include life sciences (molecular biology, bio-informatics), the physics of elementary particles, and astrophysics. The University of Geneva is also host and co-host to six National Centres of Competence in Research: PlanetS, Swiss- Map, Chemical Biology, Affective Sciences, Synaptic Bases of Mental Diseases and LIVES – Overcoming vulnerabilities in a life course perspective. Just like the city of Geneva itself, the university enjoys a strong international reputation, both for the quality of its research (it ranks among the top institutions among the League of European Research Universities) and the excellence of its education. A visit to these world-class institutions is highly recommended.

Paul Scherrer Institut

The Paul Scherrer Institute, PSI, is located near Zürich in the north of Switzer- land, next to the small town of Villigen. The PSI is the largest research institute for natural and engineering sciences within Switzerland. It performs world-class research in three main subject areas: Matter and Materials; Energy and the Environ- ment; and Human Health. By conducting fundamental and applied research, the PSI works on long-term solutions for major challenges facing society, industry and science.

In addition, PSI research includes the fields of nuclear physics, studies in energy physics, nuclear engineering in reactor design and energy production, proton therapy cancer treatment, biology and environmental chemistry. The particle physics laboratory focuses entirely on studies using neutrons and muons. The visit will offer the opportunity to see some of the PSI experiments live.

Two days in Paris, city of light… and of science.

Come to the Louvre to visit the Carrousel’s lab, specialized in analyzing and restor- ing masterpieces with the best technologies in the world. Then, see the Institut Pasteur, founded by the father of microbiology and public health – which boasts 10 Nobel Prizes. Paris is the capital of food excellence – explore the science of food by visiting the largest and most modern agronomy research centre of the French National Institute for Agricultural Research, INRA . Several other institutions will be included in the program, including the French aerospace lab (Onera), the Institut des NanoSciences… and as a homage to French cosmetics, we will tour the new Museum of Perfume, guided by an olfaction researcher.

World-class life sciences in Basel

The University of Basel and its partners, the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH) and the Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research (FMI) invite journalists to a rich field trip to the Basel region, which is two hours by train from Lausanne. This field trip will lead you deep into current issues in different medical fields, from basic science to applied research. Being the oldest university of Switzerland, the University of Basel now finds itself at the forefront of scientific research in several fields, with life sciences representing its most important focal area. The Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research (FMI) is a leading centre for basic research in biochemistry and medicine. It enjoys a strong global reputation mainly in the fields of neurobiology, signaling in stem cells and cancer, and in the epigenetics of cell differentiation. With the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, another internationally renowned research centre opens its door for visitors from the WCSJ 2019. Swiss TPH covers a wide range of research activities in the fields of parasitology, infection biology, health systems and public health. Swiss TPH is an important player with a strong link to practical current needs in international medicine.

Lyon, from vaccines to the environment, a vibrant scientific hub

In Lyon, France’s second city, we will start by visiting Marcy l’Etoile, the world’s largest vaccine research and production centre, run by Sanofi-Pasteur. Then we will see the Irstea world class research centre dedicated to all aspects of water management, with some spectacular experimental facilities including flood simulation, water treatment and climate impact modeling. Finally we will stop at Europe’s largest centre for analytical chemistry, the IAS, and before returning to Lausanne, we will share a good-bye drink at the beautiful Lumière museum, located in the house where cinematography was invented in 1895 – an important innovation for our profession!

Following Einstein’s footsteps in Bern

Bern became the starting point of Albert Einstein’s unique academic career. In June 1902, after his studies at ETH Zürich, he started work as a “technical expert third class” at the Patent Office in Bern. The job wasn’t very challenging. In 1905, however, Einstein developed the Special Theory of Relativity. His work on the General Theory also began in Bern. The year 1905 – often called his “annus mirabilis” – was the most creative scientific period of this most famous physicist. You can follow Einstein’s footsteps in the capital of Switzerland and visit his former house in the Old Town, where you can learn about his family life, the large exhibition in the Historical Museum, and the research in astronomy and space travel based on Einstein’s theories at the University of Bern. Enjoy an exciting expedition backwards in the Bern time machine.

L. Zürich:Twoleadinginstitutionswithanimpressivetrackrecord of Nobel Prizes

Only two hours by train from Lausanne is Zürich, the largest city of Switzerland and a focal point for science, research and innovation. Zürich hosts two outstand- ing institutions of international importance: ETH Zürich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich) and the University of Zürich. ETH Zürich regularly fea- tures as one of the best universities in the world in international rankings and the leading university in continental Europe. The University of Zürich counts as one of the leading research universities in Europe and offers the widest range of study courses in Switzerland. So far, more than 30 Nobel Prizes have been awarded to researchers who have or have had a connection with one of those institutions. A field trip to Zürich offers excellent opportunities for science journalists with various interests.

Lausanne AGORA Centre for Cancer

The AGORA Cancer Centre will be the place where basic and clinical research will be found to push the boundaries of science, where day after day researchers and clinicians will work together to find solutions to the many challenges posed by cancer. Visit the place where exchanges, contradictions and confrontations will lead to the therapies of tomorrow.

World Antidoping Research Lab AMA in Lausanne, coupled with the International Olympic Committee and Lausanne’s inter-faculty sport research laboratory

The beautiful city of Lausanne has had the honour and the responsibility of host- ing the International Olympic Committee (IOC) since 1915. Pierre de Coubertin, fervent defender of the values of sport, influenced this decision while he was living here. Lausanne naturally became the Olympic capital in 1994 to celebrate the centenary of the IOC. Defending the values of sport and having the mission of making sport clean and fair for all athletes, the World Anti-doping Agency Research Lab, AMA, is located in the Olympic capital, which is also home to 25 sports federations and 40 international sports organisations including the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). A great deal of research covering all aspects of sport happens in Lausanne. In 2016, the University of Lausanne inaugurated a research platform dedicated to sport in order to create an exchange network promoting research and centralising sports expertise.


Whoever looks at Heidelberg from the banks of the river Neckar will immediately fall in love with this city and will surely not be the first to do so. Writers like Victor Hugo and Mark Twain declared themselves admirers of the city considered to be the cradle of the German romanticism. But in addition to its dreamy attributes, Heidelberg is also the headquarters of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL).

The visit to Heidelberg will be an opportunity to discover EMBL, one of the world’s leading research institutions founded in 1974. Research at EMBL emphasizes experimental analysis at multiple levels of biological organization, from the molecule to the organism, as well as computational biology, bioinformatics and systems biology.

Many scientific milestones have been made at EMBL, notably the first system- atic genetic analysis of embryonic development in the vinegar fly by Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard and Eric Wieschaus, who were awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1995. EMBL is international, Innovative and interdisciplinary. It is financed by 23 member states. In addition to its headquarters in Heidelberg, EMBL runs five other research centres in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom.

WWF Excursion on endangered species in Switzerland

The WWF came into existence on 29 April 1961, when a small group of passionate and committed individuals signed a declaration that came to be known as the Morges Manifesto. WWF International actively supports and operates con- servation programmes on the ground in Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, and Latin America. Worldwide, WWF funds close to 2000 projects and employs more than 4000 people.

WWF’s Global Conservation Programme covers the full spectrum of conservation activities, at both the field and policy levels. It encompasses ecoregion conserva- tion in the ‘Global 200’ – areas that WWF scientists have identified as the Earth’s most biologically outstanding terrestrial, freshwater and marine habitats – and global thematic programmes. These programmes address key biomes – forest, freshwater and marine – and global threats such as climate change as well as priority endangered species.

Finally, the delivery of conservation results is assisted by WWF’s high-visibility international campaigns, which help to spotlight crucial environmental issues and influence national and international policy decisions.

P4 Biological threats Lab in Spiez

The Spiez Laboratory is part of the Swiss Federal Office for Civil Protection. It is an interface between science and politics and national security issues. The laboratory’s specialisation includes in particular weapons control and protection against nuclear, biological and chemical, NBC, weapons. It has the necessary equipment for these studies. Some of its initiatives are support for the prevention of nuclear terrorism through sensitive detection systems for gamma and neutron radiation among others. The laboratory’s main activity remains detection, identification and diagnosis. Some of the projects for the coming years are focused on issues of public health, biosafety and security. Since 2016 the Spiez Laboratory has collaborated with the International Atomic Energy Agency. The Spiez Laboratory will offer to journalists the opportunity to visit this interesting place and find out much more.

Novartis campus Basel

In the district of St. Johann in Basel, between office buildings, research centres and production plants, a campus of knowledge, innovation and collaboration emerges, the Campus at Novartis. With striking appearance and excellent design, it has become a pilgrimage site for lovers of modern architecture. The outstand- ing Italian architect Vittorio Magnago Lampugnani was in charge of all the planning. Each one of the buildings of the Campus is designed by a different architectural practice. These include Frank O. Gehry, Diener & Diener, Sanaa, and others. Novartis will offer journalists visits to their internationally recognized laboratories, passing through the modern offices of these stunning buildings.

MUSE science museum and research centre, Trento (Italy)

The Science Museum mingles with the ancient collections of notable Trentino people who, in the late 1700s began collecting samples of natural science objects in private collections. The MUSE opened in 2013. It was designed by architect Renzo Piano and is a modern science museum, science centre, and research centre. Since its opening, its corridors have been walked by more than a million visitors. Research focusses on the Alpine environment, but it also covers conser- vation issues from Tanzania to Mongolia, whereas thematic exhibitions cover the spectrum of natural science, biology, sustainability and technology.

Bordering the spectacular Dolomite region in Northern Italy, the beautiful museum will host a trip and visit, with an introduction to current hot research topics for 50 journalists attending the Conference.

IBM Research Lab

Science journalists will be invited to visit IBM’s two-time Nobel Prize winning research lab in Rüschlikon, Switzerland. The agenda will include an exclusive day of demonstrations and lab tours including Noise Free Labs for advanced nano- technology, a Quantum Computing lab where they will learn how to program qubits, the latest in artificial intelligence and cryptography, and demonstrations on applying cognitive computing to industry including healthcare. With scien- tists from more than 45 different countries, the reporters will also be able to have lunch with researchers from their home countries, when available.

Secrets of a 5000 year old bow case

Have you ever heard of Ötzi the Ice Man, whose remains were found in 1991 near a glacier on the border between Italy and Austria? You probably have. Melting alpine glaciers are slowly giving up their secrets, unveiling traces of human movement and migration through history and prehistoric times. In the year 2003, hikers crossing the historic Schnidejoch pass between the canton of Valais and the Bernese Oberland in Switzerland found a mysterious wooden object protruding from melting ice. They took it to archaeologists in Bern who, after long examination, concluded that it was a bow case dated to the Neolithic period over 5000 years ago.

There are thousands of prehistoric arrowheads, and even few bows in museums and laboratories around the world, but this bow case is unique. Made of birch with a complex structure, it had lain preserved in the ice for millennia. Archaeologists are studying the object, though it’s no easy task since birch bark is a material whose degradation process is as yet unknown, so it has to be handled with a great deal of care.

Researchers into Materiality in Art and Culture at Bern’s University of the Arts are pleased to open up their labs to journalists at the WCSJ and to discuss their efforts to gain insight into this unique artefact along with their broader scientific studies in conservation science – methods to conserve archaeological artefacts.


Glacier 3000

Less than two hours from Lausanne, the Diablerets glacier at the heart of the Vaudois Alps is accessible virtually all year round. Ascend by ultra-modern cable car and enjoy pan- oramic views at the summit from the restaurant designed by the architect Mario Botta. Opportunities for husky sledding, toboggan hire and a new attraction: the “Alpine Coaster” descent, a thrilling toboggan ride!

Château de Chillon

This splendid 12th century castle is superbly situated, not far from Vevey and Montreux, at the foot of steep mountains, on the shores of Lake Geneva facing the Savoy Alps. Take a guided tour of Chillon Castle, which was immortalised by the poet Lord Byron. On the way back, stop in Montreux. The visit will be combined with a ride on a beautiful Belle Epoque steamboat.


Gruyères will seduce you with its medieval charm, its arti- sans, its castle, its boutiques and its splendid hotels and restaurants. Emblematically, Gruyères has lent its name not only to this Alpine countryside, but also to its celebrated cheese. Perhaps surprisingly, it is also a major attraction to fans of science fiction, as home of a museum dedicated to the work of H.R. Giger, creator of the Alien.