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Prestigious EU grants awarded to female WSL researchers

The European Research Council supports world-class research by funding selected projects. This is the third time it has awarded a female WSL researcher a scholarship worth several million euros.

After landscape researcher Anna Hersperger (SNSF Consolidator Grant, 2015) and glaciologist Francesca Pellicciotti (ERC Consolidator Grant, 2017), renowned ecologist Catherine Graham received an ERC Advanced Grant in 2018.

At WSL we promote women in existing or prospective management positions. In the case of new hires, we priorities female applicants, provided that they have equal qualifications.

See also the Interview with "Ms. Permafrost" Marcia Phillips at the WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF.


Prof. Dr. Catherine Graham


Prof. Catherine Graham has been working at WSL since 2016. Her studies focus on the diversity and forms of hummingbirds and the tropical forest plants from which they feed. Graham researches on a central puzzle of ecology, namely why species diversity and the nature of plant-animal interactions change over time and space. She will study hummingbirds and plants at different altitudes in three biogeographic regions with different evolutionary histories (mountain regions in Costa Rica, Ecuador and Brazil). The ERC grant of 2.5 million euros will enable her to continue her project "Development of predictive ecology of plant-animal interactions over space and time" for the next five years. See WSL News of 12 April 2018.

The ERC Advanced Grants are awarded for potentially groundbreaking research projects by established scientists worldwide.


Prof. Dr. Francesca Pellicciotti


Ms. Pellicciotti completed a postdoc at ETH Zurich, is an associate professor at Northumbria University in the UK and has been working at WSL since 2017. In her project she investigates the shrinkage of debris-covered glaciers in the Himalayas. There is little data on this in the region, although millions of people in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal and China depend on the water resources of these glaciers. With the funding of two million euros, she will employ two doctoral students and one postdoc for five years, as well as cover travel and material resources. Her project is a promising extension of the strong glaciological research at WSL. See WSL-News of 8.12.2017.

Consolidator Grants support experienced experienced researchers in setting up a team to realize a promising research project.


Dr. Anna Hersperger


Anna Hersperger has been working at WSL since 2002, where she heads the research group "Land-use Systems".

Although local, regional and national planning is carried out everywhere, little is known about the actual influence of spatial planning on the expansion of settlement areas and transport infrastructures. Anna Hersperger's interdisciplinary SNF/ERC research project aims to make this influence measurable using examples from Zurich, Bucharest and Austin (Texas) and to integrate it into land-use models. The project is supported by a grant of two million francs. See DIAGONAL article June 2018.

With the SNSF Consolidator Grants, the Swiss National Science Foundation bridged Switzerland's temporary exclusion from the Horizon 2020 research programme - a consequence of the adoption of the Mass Immigration Initiative in February 2014. It allowed equivalents to ERC / Frontier Research Grants, to which researchers in Switzerland had no access during this period.