«The work ethic in the academic world is unique.»

Barbara Hellriegel

Prof. Dr. Barbara Hellriegel
Zoologist, Mathematical Biology. Barbara Hellriegel  is an external titular professor at the University of Zurich and teaches postgraduate and doctoral students in mathematical modelling and statistics.


1989 Diploma in Mathematics with Biology,
Freie Universität Berlin
1993 Doctorate in Zoology, University of Basel
1994 – 1995 Research Assistant, Semafor Informatik &
Energie AG, Basel
Postdoctoral Researcher in Theoretical
Ecology, University of Zurich
1995 – 2001 Postdoctoral Researcher and Senior
Research Associate in Evolutionary
Ecology, University of Zurich
2001 Venia Legendi in «Zoologie, speziell Mathe-
matische Biologie», UZH
2001 – 2002 Deputy Professor of Applied Mathematics,
University of Bonn
2002 – 2003
Senior Researcher, Sylvia Lawry Centre
for Multiple Sclerosis Research, TU
München (University of Technology Munich)
2003 – 2004 Senior Researcher, Medical Statistics
and Epidemiology, TU München (University
of Technology Munich)
2004 – 2005 Fellow of Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin
2005 – 2007 Research Associate in Anthropology,
University of Zurich
2007 – 2008 Visiting Professor of Behavioural Biology,
University of Siegen, Germany
2008 – 2009 Advisor, Computer Brainware Advisors, Zurich
since  2009 Titular Professor, University of Zurich
Editor, Birkhäuser Springer Verlag, Basel

Prof. Dr. Barbara Hellriegel

What do you like about your academic work? 
The work ethic in the academic world is unique. There are few other occupations where people have the same enthusiasm for their chosen field.

Did you experience any dry spells or disappointments in your career?How did you overcome these?
I wanted to be involved in the challenging questions at the interface between mathematics, biology and medicine. But many of these interdisciplinary positions are only temporary. This career doesn’t quite fit with the standard academic career path.

Who was your greatest source of support in your professional life? And personally?
Most of my initiative and motivation came from within. I received support here and there, but I never had a mentor. That’s why I’m such a great advocate of peer mentoring.

Do you have any advice for young, ambitious female researchers?
Write your doctorate in your degree subject. If you want to change subjects, then in the interests of your career, make sure you prepare and plan well. Network, find mentors, and make sure people know your name. Work towards the next step in your career in a way that shows you genuinely want to achieve it – if you change your mind then you’ll have done your best for your new goal too.

Institute and Museum of Anthropology
University of Zurich
Winterthurerstrasse 190
CH-8057 Zurich
Tel. +41 44 635 54 11 (Sekr.)
barhell (at) aim.uzh.ch