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Faculty of Science


Impressions of fieldwork in South Greenland within the GreenFjord project led by Prof. Andreas Vieli, Department of Geography. Andreas Vieli and Dominik Gräff gaze at (a small portion of) the calving front of Eqalorutsit kangigdlît sermiat, a marine-terminating outlet glacier of the Greenland Ice Sheet. The two, along with Ethan Welty, camped near the glacier for a week in July 2022 to install instruments (timelapse cameras, seismometers, a weather station, tide gauge) and to explore the area in preparation for follow-up visits. Their fieldwork was part of GreenFjord, a large multidisciplinary project to determine how Greenlandic fjord ecosystems will be impacted as the climate warms, glaciers retreat onto land, and icebergs disappear from coastal waters. Image copyright: Dr. Ethan Welty (, Postdoctoral Researcher at the World Glacier Monitoring Service at the Department of Geography.

Research strengths

Interconnected, inter- and transdisciplinary research is our starting point. We work across field and faculty boundaries and our research areas are not strictly delineated, but instead often closely interlinked.

How that looks like? The condition of glaciers is (no pun intended) a hot topic – in Switzerland, but also worldwide. Flagships of this research are the World Glacier Monitoring Service, the Swiss Polar Institute, the Glacier Monitoring in Switzerland and the Swiss Permafrost Monitoring Network.  

Together with many researchers and under the leadership of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences UZH, we are investigating the questions what makes humans human and how we have found our language in the National Centres of Competence in Research (NCCR) Evolving Language and in the University Research Priority Program (URPP) Language and Space.

We also literally enter "space" when exploring astrophysics and particle physics with ESA and NASA, CERN or the Laboratori Nazionali del Gran Sasso and help to shape Uranus and Jupiter space missions from our Irchel Campus. The NCCR PlanetS, with researchers from the Faculty of Science, also studies how planets form and evolve.

We study biodiversity, global change, and evolution in two URPPs: Evolution in Action: From Genomes to Ecosystems and Global Change and Biodiversity. With the Citizen Science Initiative CrowdWater, we also involve the general public in our research, and as co-organizer of the World Biodiversity Forum, we bring together key stakeholders.

This also touches on how we can make our future more sustainable - from energy generation and storage to recycling and environmentally friendly chemical compounds. For example, we are exploring artificial photosynthesis in the URPP LightChEC: Converting Solar Light into Chemical Energy.


Our researchers are prominently represented in local, national, and international networks, from other faculties at UZH to a wide range of universities worldwide. We also maintain close scientific relationships with federal research institutions such as Eawag (Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology), Empa (Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology) and WSL (Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research), as well as with the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI), Agroscope, CERN, the European Space Agency (ESA) or the NASA, to name but a few. We maintain our international networks in the EU, UK, USA, China, Japan, India, Indonesia, Africa, and Australia, among others. In this way, our researchers always keep their pulse on the times and push the boundaries of knowledge in a global alliance.

Details on the research networks and research in them can be found on the pages of our departments.

Publication Highlights