Locarno Film Festival 2021

NCCR MSE invited to Locarno Film Festival 2021

Our Art of Molecule journey with the world renowned festival continues: for the second time in a row NCCR MSE moved into the "world capital of auteur cinema". Five young researchers (PhD/Postdoc) from the University of Basel and ETHZ have been invited to participate in the Festival’s "Basecamp Laboratory of Ideas". They spent 10 days in Locarno where they met, discussed and worked with audio visual artists from around the world. This once in a lifetime experience was a great opportunity for our NCCR team to network and improve their science communication skills.

Meet the NCCR MSE BaseCamp team

Renan Leonel

I am Renan Leonel, PostDoc at ETH Zurich's Health Ethics and Policy Lab led by Prof. Effy Vayena. I spent almost a decade studying how scientists make Science, and there is still a lot to know about that. As a Brazilian Sociologist of knowledge, I understand Science as result of a complex network of social and technological relations, constantly under building and change. My background is Science and Technology Studies (STS), and over the last years I've been investigating cultural and ethical aspects of knowledge production in Molecular Biology, as well as the encounter between Synthetic biology-related domains and Biomedical applications. Through the intersection of different theoretical and methodological approaches from Social Studies of Sciences and Bioethics, I am currently focused to advance the knowledge about processes of meaning-making in the emerging field of Molecular Systems Engineering. The project I am involved at the NCCR (Ethical Aspects of Molecular Systems Engineering) addresses three main specific agendas: the collective construction of practices and discourses in Molecular Systems Engineering; Ethical and regulatory issues faced by researchers in that field, and the challenges to translate new MSE technologies into healthcare applications. In BaseCamp, I look forward to exchange ideas about how to approach new fields of Science in Arts and Cinema. In other words, I want to see how artists, designers and moviemakers react when they know a bit more about what is particularly social inside the "black-box" of Science.

Eunhee Cho

My name is Eunhee Cho, a PhD student in Bioanalytics group at the Department of Biosystems Science and Engineering, ETH Zurich led by Prof. Dittrich. Originally from South Korea, I have lived in the UK and China before coming here in Switzerland. A small interesting fact about me is that I have an identical twin sister, and we try to spend the birthday together wherever we live in the world. In the lab, I work in bottom-up synthetic biology, focused on building a smart, dynamic artificial cell system. It is a relatively nascent field that has the potential for numerous opportunities and applications. The technology I use to create such system is called microfluidics (our lab's specialization), which supports a controlled and step-by-step creation of a model cell membrane and its content. BaseCamp at Locarno is a rare and unique chance to meet various talented people outside the scientific field. I also very much like the undefined nature of the program that would allow us to create something together on the fly. I look forward to getting involved in interesting projects that combine science with art, which I hope and believe would also offer new inspirations for my research. Lastly, I hope to learn more about how to effectively and creatively engage the general public in scientific research, something that is very important in science yet has been a challenge.

Beichen Gao

I’m a PhD student in Prof. Sai Reddy’s group at the Department of Biosystems Science and Engineering (D-BSSE) of ETH-Zürich and I’m incredibly excited to be part of the BaseCamp Team this year. Specialising in systems and synthetic immunology, my current research is focused on using experimental data and machine learning to to find new ways to make better and safer antibodies - something which has become very important since 2020. Outside of my pursuits in the lab, I’m a science communicator who dabbles in other disciplines at every opportunity - there’s always something new to learn! At BaseCamp, I want to challenge myself as a communicator, and immerse myself in the world of creatives. Art, by its very nature, is engaging - inviting discussion and interpretation. Science and research? Not so much. I’m excited to learn from artists, filmmakers, and other creatives how to make my own science more engaging, approachable, and most importantly: accessible. Science has a communication problem, and it’s up to us researchers to be at the forefront of the movement to fix it. So come on BaseCamp - let’s get nerdy!

Akanksha Jain

I am an Indian postdoctoral researcher in the lab of Prof. Barbara Treutlein at the Department of Biosystems, Science and Engineering (D-BSSE), ETH-Zurich in Basel. I am working on human brain organoids and study how the tissue is patterned and acquires diverse cell types and tissue shape, using state of art techniques such as Lightsheet microscopy and single cell transcriptomics. Before moving to Basel, I was in Germany where I did my PhD at the Max Planch Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics. During my PhD I studied tissue mechanics during embryonic development of the red flour beetle Tribolium. I have remained an active participant in science communication and policy making throughout my academic life. In addition to my research, I strongly feel that as a scientist it is also my responsibility to find ways and media that can communicate our work and life to the non-specialist public. The need for creating awareness has become more imperative today than ever, especially in the light of global issues like climate change, the pandemic as well as human health and well-being. With this is mind, I feel extremely fortunate to be able to participate in the Locarno Basecamp this year. I believe it will offer me an unprecedented opportunity to interact with artists from different backgrounds as well as give me a chance to broaden my knowledge and network. Together with the other participants, I hope to find common themes and subjects that we feel passionate about and find new and creative ways of merging Arts and Science.

Viviana Maffeis

My name is Viviana Maffeis, I’m a postdoc in the group of Prof. Palivan in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Basel where I do physical chemistry. In our group, we engineer molecular systems to mimic cells and organelles with chemical and spatial complexity. This strategy is inspired by biosynthetic processes in nature, where compartmentalization is a prerequisite for the spatiotemporal control of signaling pathways and the intra- and inter-cellular communication between and within the surroundings. My passion for translational research and interdisciplinary projects made me work in dynamic teams of scientists with profound expertise and high international visibility. Beside science, I love art and I am fascinated by paintings, contemporary art, sculptures and architecture. I greatly enjoy the opportunity to combine science and art in a unique and original manner by contributing to long-lasting Art-Science collaborations. When I got the news from the Committee about my selection, I could at first not believe it. I am convinced that by participating in this exciting BaseCamp, and meeting with different art disciplines and artists including film directors, actors, designers, photographers, painters and scientists, will give me the chance to gain new insights and learn about concepts hitherto unknown to me and to establish connections that will inspire me with new ways of thinking and means of expression. By delving into this diversity, I hope to enlarge my range of creativity and to get exposure to all kinds of trends and art styles.