Bridging Horizons

NCCR MSE’s exciting and fruitful collaboration with the Locarno Film Festival has inspired all stakeholders to take this initiative to the next level: “Bridging Horizons - Art and Science's Creative Collision” is our latest art-science exchange program, which will be launched in March 2024.

For this new project, we are in the process of assembling a team of young, out-of-the-box, wild (!) systems engineering scientists (PhD/Postdoc level) from Uni Basel, Uni Heidelberg (D) and ETH Zurich who, together with young authors and literary talents, are eager to build communication bridges between the sciences, humanities, and society at large. We believe that an open debate about scientific research goals and their ethical implications is pivotal and a prerequisite for any responsible research. So: we are looking for young researchers who are ready to step out of their scientific bubble and whose PI supports our ethics policy of open lab doors!

Our group of young scientists will be invited to join the other members of our new Bridging Horizons team for an unforgettable, intense, and creative week at Monte Verità in Ascona, a legendary transdisciplinary meeting place for artists, scientists, writers, and alternative thinkers for more than 100 years.

This first Bridging Horizon meeting will take place from 19 to 24 March at the Hotel Monte Verità above Ascona. We will offer an intense, challenging, and crazy program which amongst many other highlights will include the exchange with prominent leaders and intellectuals such as

  • Merlin Sheldrake, author of the literary phenomenon “Entangled Life” (2020). Merlin is a biologist with a background in plant sciences, microbiology, and history and philosophy of science. He embodies one of the best recent examples of the meeting of writing and science popularization.
  • Giorgio Vallortigara, one of the internationally most known Italian scientists for investigating the neural mechanisms of animal cognition. In his books, Giorgio is redrawing the boundary between biology and the abstract world of metaphysical speculation.
  • Peter Gasser, renowned physician for psychiatry and psychotherapy and prominent figure in psychedcelic research.
  • Pietro Leemann, whose gourmet restaurant “Joia” in Milan was the first vegetarian restaurant in Europe to be awarded the Michelin star (1996). Pietro has become a central reference point on the continent and the world for vegetarian, ethical and sustainable cuisine.

The Bridging Horizons team will also participate in the program of the renowned literary festival Eventi Letterari Monte Verità (22 – 24 March) in and around Locarno.

For more information please contact Dr. Ralf Stutzki, Head of Ethics: ralf.stutzki(at)

Quentin Badolle

It is a privilege commonly reserved for artists to stay in a residence dedicated to creation. Yet the conditions that it offers – detachment from external constraints, dedication of time and space to think, encounter between different minds and skills – have also proved major drivers of technological and scientific innovation.
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Michelle Emmert

If you had asked me about my biggest goal since I was little, I would have answered "Wissenschaftlerin“, the German word for scientist, literally translating to 'knowledge creator'. Now, at 22, nearing the finish line of my Master's in Molecular Biotechnology at Heidelberg University, I do what I always wished for. But science isn't my only pursuit.
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Marcos Manero-Carranza

I am a PhD student in Prof. Randall Platt's group at the Department of Biosystems Science and Engineering at ETH Zurich. With a lifelong passion for unraveling the mysteries of life, I pursued my studies in Biotechnology in Spain before embarking on a journey through various research laboratories in Spain, France, the USA, and Switzerland, where I finally settled down to perform a PhD developing novel tools for health research.
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Esra Oktay

I received a master's degree in Biochemistry from the University of Delaware and a PhD in Bioengineering from George Mason University in the USA. My greatest effort has always been to reach a level of understanding the spirit of things and nature.
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After working twenty years in the world of theatre as a director and seamstress, Ann Schönenberg approached the world of writing by enrolling for a Bachelor's degree at the Swiss Literature Institute in Biel. Particularly interested in the link between science and literature, Ann is currently studying the future of writing, focusing on new technologies such as artificial intelligence. In order to enrich her creativity and broaden her outlook, she has also participated in a series of writing residencies in Europe (France, England, Greece).

Author and non-binary perfomer, François Gremaud is pursuing a Master's degree in Contemporary Arts Practice at the University of Bern (HKB). After studying film and visual art, he started his artistic career through video. Recently, he has developed poetic performances inspired by the energy of rock concerts and the world of drag queens. His work has received numerous awards (Fondation Antoine de St-Exupéry pour lajeunesse, Fondation franco-japonaise Sasakawa) and various grants from the French Ministry of Culture. For the past year, she has been working in the world of playwriting (Compagnie dethéâtre d'Avril, Compagnie de l'inutile).

Artist and writer, Laure Federiconi published her first novel LaGrande Salle à manger (éditions Hélice Hélas) in 2021. A Master's student in Contemporary Arts Practice at the University of Bern (HKB), she has also worked in the publishing world and writes for various magazines (La suivante, L'Épître). He participated in an artistic residency (Musée Jenisch, Vevey) during which he created a sound installation in dialogue with the museum's collection. Writing is at the centre of his artistic projects, where, through performance, video and reading, he explores themes of the body and memory. In December 2023, she received a writing grant from the city of Lausanne, which will enable her to publish her next novel La vie juste.

Leon Sørensen is a musician and third-year student at the Swiss Literature Institute in Biel. After an initial interest in biology, he turned to writing, always trying to create links between these two disciplines and remain in direct contact with his environment. In fact, he has spent the last two summers in Guernsey studying tidal pools. This theme is also reflected in the title of her thesis: 'Writing with the tides: Literary Anchoring with the Tidal Pools and a StoryNarrativeResulting from the Practice of Narrative in Ecological Patterns of Thought'. His latest research focuses on the evolution of the term 'mesology'.

A first-year student at the Swiss Literature Institute in Biel, Jonathan Merz was born in Murten and took philosophy courses at the University of Bern while working part-time at the fire brigade in his home town. He participated in the project Weich genug (2023) by writing a text Sag mir, which was published by the Swiss Literature Institute in cooperation with the Biel School of Design. He is passionate about photography and is currently writing a text Chez les zadistes, about the 'ZAD de la colline', a zone to be defended near Morges, where he spent a night in 2021.