«I want both - a challenging job and a family.»

Monica Zwicky

Prof. Dr. Monica Zwicky
Biologist, Developmental Biology Monica Steinmann-Zwicky, was born to a Swedish mother and Swiss father in Zurich and grew up in Lausanne. She has two grown-up children,  is a liaison professor of MNF.

Career

1974-1980 Biology degree, University of Zurich
1980 Diploma in genetics, University of Zurich
1980 – 1981 Ph.D. project, University of California Berkeley, USA
1982 – 1984 Ph.D. in zoology, University of Zurich
1995 Habilitation, University of Zurich
2000 Associate professorship, part-time, University of Zurich
seit 2008 Titular professor of genetics and developmental biology, University of Zurich

Website Prof. Dr. Monica Zwicky

Why did you choose to pursue science?
By the end of my very first genetics class at high school I knew that I wanted to understand and investigate the chemical principles that govern life. Natural sciences was a conscious choice – the clear-cut, analytical way of thinking suits me. But I also knew that I wanted both a challenging job and a family. As one of the few female professors with children I have a 60% position. The rest of the time used to belong to my children.

What do you like about your job?
The portion of my time spent teaching is relatively high due to the fact that I only work part time. I like that and enjoy interacting with young people. I'm in charge of training future biology teachers, an area in which my experience as a mother comes in handy. I'm also a liaison professor of MNF – an exciting job that demands a good deal of sensitivity. Research is another thing I enjoy: a combination of logical thinking and knowledge. The main thing is to ask the right questions.

Did you have any role models who had an impact on your career? If so, who?
I come from a family of entrepreneurs where women didn't have the same opportunities as men. My father told me that if I married a capable man, he could join the company. I took a stand against these set-in-stone role models and went my own way. Since 2008 I've been managing our family business alongside my job at the University of Zurich.

Do you have any advice for young, ambitious female researchers?
You need a great deal of commitment and a willingness to immerse yourself in a subject. You also have to bear in mind that nobody has been waiting for you. I spent some time training in successful laboratories outside Switzerland and also applied to other universities. It's helpful if you can show an academic track record at an early stage. Previous achievements are more persuasive than making demands.

Institute of Molecular Life Sciences
University of Zurich
Winterthurerstr. 190
CH-8057 Zurich
Tel. +41 44 635 4872
monica.zwicky (at) imls.uzh.ch