‘The ice cliff at Land’s End. Xavier Mertz on skis’ © Mertz, Xavier (1913), from the collections of the State Library of New South Wales
‘The ice cliff at Land’s End. Xavier Mertz on skis’ © Mertz, Xavier (1913), from the collections of the State Library of New South Wales

Fostering mobility for early-career researchers and celebrating a milestone in international science cooperation

The Embassy of Switzerland in Australia hosted the inaugural call of the Mertz Fellowship program in 2022. The fellowship, named after Dr Xavier Mertz from Basel, the first Swiss citizen to set foot in Antarctica, celebrates the rich history of scientific cooperation between Switzerland and Australia while strengthening the future with targeted support for young researchers in polar and high-altitude science. Tailored to promote synergies between Swiss and Australian higher education and research institutions, the program is the product of collaboration with the Swiss Polar Institute (SPI). The first call for applications resulted in the award of two Fellowships funded by the Swissnex network, SPI and the Australian-based Antarctic Science Foundation. In the future, the Embassy aims to host yearly calls and continue nurturing a pipeline of young science leaders committed to advancing our understanding and knowledge of the Antarctic and Southern Ocean region and its influence on the Earth’s climate.

Construction of the Square Kilometer Array (SKA) project, one of the most ambitious international scientific endeavors of the 21st century, got underway in 2022. Developed by the Square Kilometer Array Observatory (SKAO) across large areas in Australia and South Africa, the project is an international collaboration that involves 16 countries, including Switzerland, which officially joined the organization as a full member on January 19, 2022. The Ambassador of Switzerland to Australia, Ms. Caroline Bichet-Anthamatten, was one of several hand-picked guests who joined Australian Minister for Industry and Science, Mr. Ed Husic, and SKAO Director-General Prof. Phil Diamond to celebrate the start of the construction of the SKA-Low telescope. Together, SKA-Low and SKA-Mid in South Africa will form the largest and most advanced radio astronomy telescope ever built and revolutionize our understanding of the Universe and the laws of fundamental physics.

‘Group picture at the SKA-Low prototype, Murchison, Western Australia’ (© Embassy of Switzerland in Australia (2022) (Ed Husic, Minister for Industry and Science – middle / Caroline Bichet-Anthamatten, Ambassador of Switzerland to Australia – third from right / Sarah Pearce, SKAO Telescope Director for SKA-Low – second from right)
‘Group picture at the SKA-Low prototype, Murchison, Western Australia’ (© Embassy of Switzerland in Australia (2022) (Ed Husic, Minister for Industry and Science – middle / Caroline Bichet-Anthamatten, Ambassador of Switzerland to Australia – third from right / Sarah Pearce, SKAO Telescope Director for SKA-Low – second from right)