An important aspect of digitalization is that we spend more and more time in online social interactions without physically being present, i.e. in a quasi-disembodied state. In addition, we typically do not get any information about the bodily signals of the persons we are interacting with. Both aspects are important, as increasing evidence show that a) perceiving one’s own body is highly relevant for various emotional and cognitive processes (embodied cognition) and that b) perceiving (and simulating) other person’s body is crucial for social cognition. While there are some rather isolated attempts to bring in the body back into virtual interactions by the means of introducing avatars into virtual space (virtual embodiment), these simulations of the body typically include only very limited sensorimotor cues, while other crucial bodily cues are neglected.
The current project aims to investigate the influence of body-related odors (or the lack of it) on virtual embodiment and virtual interactions. Despite the fact that olfactory cues shape our daily social interactions to a large extent (e.g. Ferdenzi et al., 2016), they have been generally neglected both in embodiment research as well as in applied virtual reality techniques (e.g., Porcherot et al., 2018). One reason for that might be the technical difficulties in producing, preserving and reliably delivering odors. With the seed project, we aim to combine our knowledge from embodiment and virtual reality research (Laboratory of Cognitive Neuropsychology with focus Body, Self and Plasticity) and olfaction and virtual reality research (Ischer et al., 2014, Swiss Center for Affective Sciences -CISA-, University of Geneva) to address the question on how body-related positive (e.g., cosmetic related) and negative odors (e.g., synthetic sweat) influence embodiment, embodied cognition and sensorimotor sharing. Within this one year we aim to start and strengthen our collaboration by jointly supervise master students and develop and conduct first explorative behavioural experiments using multisensory stimulation paradigms (e.g. Lenggenhager et al. 2007, Macauda et al. 2015) in a laboratory setting. Furthermore, in order to both gather data in a more real-life setting as well as transfer knowledge to a wider population we aim to organize a joint workshop in the framework an exhibition on olfaction (FNS AGORA funding granted to S. Delplanque) in the “Musée de la main” (Lausanne, UNIL-CHUV). For the latter we will collaborate with the interdisciplinary art and research group BeAnotherLab (https://beanotherlab.org/), who uses virtual embodiment of real stories to promote mutual understanding between different social groups. For obtaining the odors we will benefit from the already existing collaboration between the CISA and the perfume and fragrance company Firmenich, S.A (more information).
We believe that this interdisciplinary collaboration will be of great importance both for fundamental research as well as for applied sciences in the domain of virtual reality applications and digital interactions.
Ferdenzi, C., Delplanque, S., Atanassova, R., & Sander, D. (2016). Androstadienone’s influence on the perception of facial and vocal attractiveness is not sex specific. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 66, 166-175.
Ischer, M., Baron, N., Mermoud, C., Cayeux, I., Porcherot, C., Sander, D., & Delplanque, S. (2014). How incorporation of scents could enhance immersive virtual experiences. Frontiers in psychology, 5, 736.
Lenggenhager B, Tadi T, Metzinger M, Blanke O (2007). Video ergo sum. Manipulating bodily self‐consciousness. Science, 317:1096‐9.
Macauda G, Bertolini G, Palla A, Straumann D, Brugger P, Lenggenhager B (2015). Binding body and self in visuo-vestibular conflicts. European Journal of Neuroscience, 41(6):810-7.
Porcherot, C., Delplanque, S., Gaudreau, N., Ischer, M., De Marles, A., & Cayeux, I. (2018). Immersive Techniques and Virtual Reality. In Methods in Consumer Research, Volume 2 (pp. 69-83).
Early life events such as low birth weight affect 14 million newborns every year worldwide and premature birth occurs in 400'000 newborns per year in Europe alone. In Switzerland, about 800 infants are born preterm each year. Low birth weight and preterm birth both affect early brain development significantly and lead to reduced skill formation and impairment of socio-cognitive development, with a clear impact on economic and academic success and quality of life of these individuals. Hence, the focus of research lies in prevention of injury to the developing brain and its consequences. Indeed, neuroprotection for preterm infants has become one of the most important aspects of care provided to preterm infants. Such neuroprotection includes molecular strategies and/or care interventions to prevent brain injury and to support normal development of the immature brain. Between 2005 and 2012 such a neuroprotective multicenter RCT has taken place initiated in Zurich in collaboration with Geneva (“Does erythropoietin improve outcome in preterm infants” (NCT00413946), PI Prof. HU Bucher, CO-PI P Hüppi). This initial collaborative project has lead to two main publications in the prestigious journal of JAMA, one lead by the Geneva investigators  and one lead by the Zurich investigators . Additionally, quantitative MR results were published lead by the Zurich investigators . Building on the established collaboration we are now assessing the long-term effects on early erythropoietin on higher-order cognitive functions at 8 to 11 year of age as a follow-up project (EpoKids (SNF 320030_169733 PI C Hagmann ). Both sites are further investigating other neuroprotective interventions, for example creative music therapy , erythropoetin for the repair of injury  and the brain effects of music exposure  and nutrition [8, 9] on brain development. The proposed project will investigate how the brain networks grow depending on the administered neuroprotection. More specifically, MR brain connectomics analysis will be performed and the connectomes will be mapped between the treatment groups. In order to do so, a digital platform will be build up to share MR analysis software and data between the two institutions. Protecting the preterm brain remains a major challenge of pediatrics, and teaming up the efforts of both institutions with their experts in the field will provide advancement of science and clinical care in both institutions as well as training opportunities for students of both institutions.
Leuchter, R.H., et al., Association between early administration of high-dose erythropoietin in preterm infants and brain MRI abnormality at term-equivalent age. JAMA, 2014. 312(8): p. 817-24.
Natalucci, G., et al., Effect of Early Prophylactic High-Dose Recombinant Human Erythropoietin in Very Preterm Infants on Neurodevelopmental Outcome at 2 Years: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA, 2016. 315(19): p. 2079-85.
O'Gorman, R.L., et al., Tract-based spatial statistics to assess the neuroprotective effect of early erythropoietin on white matter development in preterm infants. Brain, 2015. 138(Pt 2): p. 388-97.
Wehrle, F.M., et al., Long-term neuroprotective effect of erythropoietin on executive functions in very preterm children (EpoKids): protocol of a prospective follow-up study. BMJ Open, 2018. 8(4): p. e022157.
Haslbeck, F.B., et al., Creative music therapy to promote brain structure, function, and neurobehavioral outcomes in preterm infants: a randomized controlled pilot trial protocol. Pilot Feasibility Stud, 2017. 3: p. 36.
Ruegger, C.M., et al., Randomized controlled trials in very preterm infants: does inclusion in the study result in any long-term benefit? Neonatology, 2014. 106(2): p. 114-9.
Lordier, L., et al., Music processing in preterm and full-term newborns: A psychophysiological interaction (PPI) approach in neonatal fMRI. Neuroimage, 2018.
Beauport, L., et al., Impact of Early Nutritional Intake on Preterm Brain: A Magnetic Resonance Imaging Study. J Pediatr, 2017. 181: p. 29-36 e1.
Schneider, J., et al., Nutrient Intake in the First Two Weeks of Life and Brain Growth in Preterm Neonates. Pediatrics, 2018.
Personality and cognition are core domains of individual functioning in humans. Personality refers to individual differences in a range of different styles of thinking, feeling, and behaving that are important in interactions among individuals, social and physical environments. Cognition refers to mental abilities that are needed to meet the challenges of job and family demands, of education and social expectations, and to manage the demands of daily life. Both domains are related to important life outcomes. For example, personality predicts health, substance use/abuse, and mortality (e.g., Mroczek & Spiro, 2007). Similarly, cognition is related to declines in activities of daily living, Alzheimer’s disease, and also to mortality (e.g., Aichele, Rabbitt, & Ghisletta, 2015). Moreover, research showed that both domains develop and demonstrate plasticity across the entire lifespan (Allemand, Aschwanden, Martin, & Grünenfelder, 2017; Hofer & Alwin, 2008; Mella, Fagot, Lecerf, & de Ribaupierre, 2015). Despite their importance for various life outcomes and development, surprisingly few studies have examined the associations between personality and cognition (Briley & Tucker-Drob, 2017), and most of the existing studies found rather weak links between personality and cognition (e.g., Aschwanden, Kliegel, & Allemand, 2018). The existing work on personality and cognition is subject to several challenges that need to be addressed to bridge the two domains. Among these are differences in research traditions utilizing different conceptualizations (typical behaviors vs. maximal performance), measurement strategies (self-reports vs. cognitive tests), and analytical procedures. Digitization and digitalization are two extremely precious means to fill the gaps between personality and cognition research. First, there is promising capacity to ameliorate the assessment of both domains due to digitization (i.e., transferring knowledge from written sources, such as from self-reports, to digital means, like portable electronic devices through ambulatory assessment). The digitization creates new opportunities for the assessment and study of personality and cognition in daily life. The advent of new technologies (e.g., mobile technology, wearable sensors) calls for the development and evaluation of a new generation of innovative conceptual frameworks and new research paradigms. Second, the digitalization of personality and cognition digitized information has the potential to significantly advance and bridge research in these fields. Digitalization will link digitized assessments of both domains and co-analyze them to understand the co-dependencies between the individual processes involved in both domains. With this proposal, we would like to apply for joint seed funding to develop and establish a collaborative research direction to bridge two domains of individual functioning in the digital era. The digital issues (i.e., digitization and digitalization) are a great opportunity to investigate our research subjects in an ecologically valid manner, to obtain advanced results, and to enrich our teaching. Specifically, the goals are (a) to teach and co-teach classes/seminaries that include aspects about personality and cognition, digitization, and digitalization, (b) to collaborate on joint analyses of existing data sets, and (c) to prepare a joint proposal to apply for third-party funding to investigate the digitization and digitalization of cognition and personality in depth. Three workshops are planned to reach the goals of the project (see project timeline).
Recent research on the neurocognitive dynamics of human social cognition has revealed important findings to define the neural systems that enable individuals to perceive and recognize signals in the visual (e.g. face expression) and auditory channel (e.g. voice expressions). The description of the neurocognitive mechanisms and the neural systems and network involved in these types of social cognition have been however limited by recent technical systems (i.e. traditional scan settings in functional magnetic resonance imaging, fMRI) to record and by analytic approaches to analyze such brain data (i.e. linear statistical analyses). These technical and analytical limitations also limited the depths and diversity of neuroscientific interpretation and conclusion about the neurocognitive dynamics supporting social cognition. In the proposed project we aim to overcome these limitations in several ways by performing a fMRI experiment including human volunteers. (1) We aim to take advantage and to further develop recent developments in fast fMRI neuroimaging of human individuals. New fMRI scanning techniques now allow recording brain data in the sub-second range, which provides better estimates about neural processes of social cognition with 3-4 times better temporal resolution than before. (2) Based on these new neuroimaging techniques, researchers will be also enabled to quantify new measures of neural activity during social cognition task. Fast neuroimaging technique now will provide data that allow new analysis approaches of these data and resulting neural measures (e.g. neural BOLD oscillations) that pave the way for new and diverse insights in the neural dynamics of social cognition. (3) The proposed project is interdisciplinary and links two research groups and research expertise at UNIGE (i.e. Geneva Medical Center; medical discipline) and UZH (i.e. Institute of Psychology; psychological discipline) on a common topic of social cognition, but viewed from different sensory modalities. We aim to investigate the neural dynamics of social face perception (i.e. the expertise of Prof. Patrik Vuilleumier) and social voice perception (i.e. expertise of Prof. Sascha Frühholz). Recent research pointed to a potential common neural code of processing. (4) A final new feature of the project is also to not only investigate natural face and voice recognition but also to investigate the perception of digital faces (e.g. in computer games) and digital voice (e.g. in car navigations system) as they are now frequently encountered in daily environments. The first major objective of this proposal is to perform a fMRI study including ~20 human individuals to investigate the hypotheses that common mechanisms of the neural processing of face and voice signals can only sufficiently be investigated by using new fast neuroimaging techniques and by using new statistical measures of brain activity. A second major objective is to investigate these mechanisms by examining the brain differences in perceiving natural and digitally synthesized social signals. The proposed project is intended as a seed project that lays the groundwork to establish an UNIGE-UZH link on state-of-the-art human neuroimaging in Switzerland, and by developing new fast neuroimaging techniques and analysis techniques it will inspire future research that will strengthen the UNIGE-UZH link.
Inositol pyrophoshates (PP-InsPs) are fully phosphorylated myo-inositols carrying at least one diphosphate group. In recent years these enigmatic signalling molecules have been implicated in regulating growth and development, cellular bioenergetics and tumor progression in animals. Very little is known about the molecular functions of PP-InsPs in other eukaryotes. PP-InsPs may signal by promoting or blocking protein-protein interaction sites, and/or inducing conformational changes in their protein targets. The detailed molecular mechanisms and the full spectrum of PP-InsP-mediated signalling pathways are presently unknown.
The Hothorn lab at UNIGE previously discovered that SPX domains act as conserved high-affinity sensors for PP-InsP in all eukaryotes (Wild et al., Science, 2016). To identify the PP-InsP interactome in plants and to explore PP-InsP-governed signalling pathways, the Hothorn lab has recently performed a systems-scale proteomics study, based on a non-hydrolysable and matrix-adsorbed PP-InsP analogue. This yielded a comprehensive data-set of the Arabidopsis PP-InsP-interacting proteins, comprising more that 600 candidates. Remarkably, a large fraction of novel PP-InsP-interactors identified in this screen include components of the highly conserved mRNA 3’ end polyadenylation machinery, which is composed of four multiprotein complexes.
3’ terminal polyadenylation of mRNAs occurs following transcription termination on specific sites that are determined within the transcript sequence. However, alternative polyadenlyation (APA) may occur in response to external stimuli, or in a cell/tissue-specific manner, making it a major mechanism for regulation of gene expression. Recent work in the Jinek lab, UZH (Clerici et al., eLife 2017; Nat Struct Mol Biol 2018) has provided detailed structural insights into the molecular architecture and mechanism of transcript recognition by the core human polyadenylation complex CPSF. The exact mechanisms that determine the choice of (alternative) polyadenylation sites are not well understood, but it has been hypothesised that differences within the composition of the polyadenylation machinery, or recruitment of additional factors, may play a critical role.
To date, no connection between PP-InPs and mRNA polyadenylation has been reported. Our finding that polyadenylation factors are PP-InsP-interacting proteins opens the door to novel regulatory mechanisms mediated by PP-InsP that could influence complex formation, RNA recruitment and/or enzymatic activities. We now propose a joint effort of the Hothorn and Jinek labs to: (i) confirm and describe in detail the interactions between PP-InsPs and the polyadenylation machinery in vitro; (ii) investigate how PP-InsPs influence the assembly of the polyadenlation machinery; (iii) test whether PP-InsPs have a direct regulatory role over polyadenylation using in vitro polyadenylation assays; and finally (iv) investigate the biological meaning of our findings. We envision that the powerful combination of structural biology and biochemistry with plant genetics will enable us to define a novel signalling paradigm connecting cell nutrition with mRNA processing in different higher organisms. Participants:
Recent technology developments raised communication into the next level in which remote contact can feel very real and geographical distance is no longer an obstacle. Students can take advantage of knowledge at various locations while interacting with the teachers in a natural and efficient way. Remote and online classes have already been implemented, they however often suffer from technical problems, making the experience somewhat limited. Despite the efforts invested in distance learning approaches, the number of students participating remotely in astrophysics classes remains today disappointedly small. Our plan is to bring distance learning and teleconferences to the next level by using 3D Hologram Technology (3DHT) system between the Universities of Zurich (UZH) and Geneva (UniGE). We strongly believe that, using this advanced technology, the experience of participants to classes and workshops will be significantly improved compared to standard facilities. Such technology was recently adopted at CERN and found to exceed expectations. A growing literature on the subject is available, the corresponding hardware stays however highly versatile with prices varying by tow orders of magnitude. We propose to use the UniGE-UZH seed funding to clarify the needs, survey the available hardware, and chose the best solution compliant with the high-level requirements and budget constraints. At the same time a credible 3rd-party funding will be organised for the subsequent implementation of the project. We'll begin with classes in planetary science, a field where the two institutes are complementary. Astronomers at UniGE are experts in exoplanet detection and characterisation while in UZH researchers are experts in theory and simulations of planet formation and interiors. Although research connection between the two institutes has already began within the NCCR PlanetS (to be continued in a Swiss Institute of Planetary Science; SIPS), we propose to expand the collaboration to teaching (undergraduate, graduate classes). This way we'll take advantage of the diversity of courses within the two institutes, expose students to a broader offer of topics, and increase the knowledge base in the field within Switzerland. The project fits well the strategy for developing "the numerical university" in both institutions. The initiative is very timely, with the creation of a new Master in Astrophysics at UniGE in September 2019, with three orientations offered: planetary science, astrophysics, and instrumentation and data analysis. A Master in planetary science is also envisioned at UZH. We'll use the project to develop common teaching programs and enhance our collaborations. This approach will then develop to other disciplines across Science, and beyond. We plan the entire project development over a period of one year, from September 2018 to a fully operational system available for the academic year 2019-2020. The proposed timeline includes defining high-level requirements for a successful distance-learning system and teleconferencing, a survey of the most recent available hardware solutions, the installation of dedicated class rooms in both institutes, and testing the system performances in various configurations. A special emphasis will be put on reciprocal interactivity. The requirement definition and hardware survey phases are the parts to be supported by the requested seed funding.
Eating Disorders (ED) affect between 10-20% of adolescents and young adults. They are not only common but also have a great impact on an individual’s social, physical and psychological wellbeing. ED are costly to healthcare and society, however we still know little about how ED onset, develop, and their course over the lifetime. Research and clinical approaches to ED are very fragmented in Switzerland, with little expertise and specialist centres. This lack of research and collaboration does not only affect single institutions, but also the opportunity to create a leading common research and teaching strategy that can serve as a catalyst for joint work. This project aims to start joint research and teaching activities between the two academic leading research centres for ED in Switzerland (led by Prof Micali and Prof Milos), by developing the first register/biobank of ED in Switzerland, and designing corollary teaching and training materials. We will develop a digital platform that will: a) enable research data collectionfor the ED register/biobank,and b) at a later stage the development of training modules for students, researchers and clinicians. The register/biobank will focus on collecting pseudonymised (according to the rules of swissethics.ch) behavioural, biological and healthcare access data on individuals with ED to enable large-scale research studies on risk factors and outcomes of ED, these research activities will foster training of students and researchers. Switzerland is the ideal country to develop a register/biobank, given the size of the population, the diversity, and natural proximity of large cities and to other European Countries. This will include patients and individuals from the community leading to lower likelihood of bias. An ED register/biobank that only includes genetic and phenotype data has been very successfully achieved in the UK and Australia. Strengths of this collaboration include building on synergies and unique expertise: clinical research and teaching, focus across ages (children – adolescents - adults), integration of research on behavioural, and biological aspects. UNIGE focuses primarily on genetics. UZH on physical health, e.g. long-term consequence of underweight on bones, and other organs systems. Both UNIGE and UZH on neurobiological research. The applicants have excellent collaborations with international ED experts (e.g. both are members of the Eating Disorders Research Society), and contribute to international consortia (Prof Micali is a member of the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium ED group; Prof Milos is a member of ENIGMA-ED, a working group dedicated to improving the understanding of brain changes in ED). Moreover, both applicants have expertise in epidemiology. UNIGE has collaborations with some of the Europeanlargest birth cohorts (ALSPAC, Generation R, DNBC, HUNT, MCS), and biobanks (ALSPAC, HUNT). The seed funding will allow planning meetings, putting in place the necessary ethical and digital framework for setting up the register/biobank; as well as developing a strategy for teachingand training activities. Building on the seed fund we aim to apply for national and international funding to enable specific research and training activities based on this novel resource.
The aim of the present proposal is to study interlingual subtitling in Switzerland. This is timely and relevant because SRG SSR, the federalist media company providing audiovisual public service broadcasting, decided in September 2017 to increase the proportion of subtitled programmes from today’s 50% to 80% by 2022, given the new opportunities that digital TV offers and facing the needs of an aging population, but augmenting in our view the need for translational expertise and multilingual linguistic reflection. The project will strengthen the cooperation between UNIGE and UZH in that it will bring together researchers with complementary expertise in translation studies, linguistics, and psychology to investigate language use, accessibility and translation in the context of digital media. We intend to design an interdisciplinary research project that will be submitted for funding by the Swiss National Science Foundation in autumn 2019. Media accessibility has become a major issue in today’s world and refers to the need to ensure that information and entertainment disseminated via audiovisual media can be used and understood by all, across linguistic and cultural barriers. Media accessibility, however, also means overcoming sensory barriers, making audiovisual content available for the hard-of-hearing, the deaf, and the blind. Access services therefore include a wide range of audiovisual translation modes: subtitling, dubbing, sign interpreting, and audio description. The significant expansion of these services has been facilitated by technological progress in computer-assisted and machine translation on the one hand, and digital television on the other. Recently, there has been a shift towards investigating accessibility in terms of overcoming sensory barriers, most notably in the form of intralingual subtitling. We think that the more traditional interlingual subtitling, i.e. the transfer of oral source language content into written target language content, raises a series of highly relevant questions for translation studies and linguistics that still await investigation, not least regarding the degree of norm conformity of subtitles or applied aspects such as the challenges of digital communication under the impact of considerable space constraints (comparable to text messages or Tweets) and cultural sensitivity. Switzerland is a promising object of study for research into subtitling, not only because of its multilingual character, but also the language situation in German-speaking Switzerland, characterised by diglossia (standard vs. Swiss German dialects). Subtitling Swiss German productions into French (or Italian) is often complicated by the fact that these projects involve translating from a dialect. What is more, some interlingual subtitling projects may even involve three languages, such as when news programmes produced by Rhaeto-Romanic Television (RTR) are subtitled into French via German. To our knowledge, no empirical study has so far systematically investigated a corpus of interlingual subtitles of Swiss TV programmes. The present cooperation aims to bring together researchers working in several disciplines in order to lay the foundations for a research project investigating subtitles and subtitling in Switzerland. It will explore the following core questions: (1) What are the linguistic characteristics of interlingual subtitles of Swiss TV programmes? (2) To what extent do they reflect the source-language material? (3) What contextual factors such as programme genre, language pair or computer-assisted translation tools have a bearing on the linguistic features of subtitles? Whereas these questions primarily deal with how linguistic barriers are overcome, the cooperation will also explore the feasibility of investigating how interlingual subtitles are used to overcome sensory barriers. Thus, television consumption is high among elderly people who often suffer from a hearing impairment. More research is needed to understand to what extent interlingual subtitles are consumed and understood by the hard-of-hearing and the deaf. To answer these research questions, the project will explore the use of a combination of methods (corpus analyses, observational studies of the subtitler’s workplace, reception studies). The project builds on a collaboration between two co-PIs: Prof. Alexander Künzli (Faculty of Translation and Interpreting of the University of Geneva), expert in interlingual subtitling; and Prof. Elisabeth Stark (Department of Romance Languages of the University of Zurich), expert in mobile digital communication (text messages, WhatsApp messages). SWISS TXT, the multimedia competence centre of SRG SSR, has agreed to make its corpus of subtitled productions available to the investigators.
The digitalization of archival catalogues and historical sources is opening access to hitherto hidden treasures, including troves of numerical information on socio-economic structures. This project aims to create two introductory modules focusing on handling such historical data for UNIGE and UZH MA students in economic history. The first module will provide a brief overview of the history of statistics in Switzerland as well as introduce students to the Historical Statistics of Switzerland Online (HSSO). The second module will teach students how to extract and prepare analog data sources for digital use. The project will further an ongoing collaboration between the only two Swiss universities offering a MA degree in economic history (<www.histecon.uzh.ch/de.html>and <www.unige.ch/sciences-societe/IHEPB/etudes/master/>). Both universities have already worked together to relaunch (in March 2018) the HSSO (www.hsso.ch), a dataset offering unique perspectives on socio-economic, as well as political and cultural, development. The first e-learning module will offer an overview of (proto-)statistical collections by public and private institutions since 1800 as well as introduce students to the HSSO dataset. This contextual overview will include practical examples drawn from recently digitized archival sources – for example the Zurich School Survey of 1771/2 (Staatsarchiv Zürich) or the WWII Refugees List of Names (Archives d’Etat de Genève). In addition, students will understand which historical numerical data already do exist in digital form, where such data can be found, how such data was pre-processed, as well as the various challenges linked to the preservation of historical data. Focusing on data preparation, the second module will familiarize students with the preparation of data for statistical analysis.
We are already cooperating with the editors of the UZH-based transcription-training tool «Ad fontes» (www.adfontes.uzh.ch/1000.php) to implement data table transcriptions. We plan to implement training sessions dealing with the digitalization of printed and archival sources and enabling statistical evaluations such as panel data and time-series analysis. Students will develop an understanding of the overall data set structure and will be made aware of potential gaps, data corruption, and other imprecisions in historical data. Finally, students will produce a dataset in a generic standard, including accurate source and data descriptions as well as precise reproducible citations. Student produced datasets could then be included in the HSSO dataset and thus contribute to its development. These two introductory modules will be part of a larger e-learning course. Additional modules will include sessions on descriptive statistics, linear regression, and visualization of quantitative historical information. Some of this latter content will be based on a revision/re-launch of the Economic and Social History Online (ESO) e-learning tool developed at the UZH a decade ago and discontinued in 2014. This e-learning course will be module-based, ensuring digital flexibility and sustainability. In order to facilitate cooperation between UNIGE and UZH, as well as offer potential access to a wider audience within (and beyond) Switzerland, we will realize this project in English.
All federal laws in Switzerland are published in German, French and Italian. The three versions have equal standing. The comparative linguistic interpretation method is thus a unique feature of Swiss legal doctrine. Lawyers must be able to compare the different versions and to draw normative inferences from them. Furthermore, approximately 95% of the jurisprudence of the Federal Supreme Court is rendered either in French or German. There are no official translations of these judgments. Understanding German and French is therefore an indispensable prerequisite for any Swiss lawyer. Our project aims at enabling law students of Geneva and Zurich to understand federal acts and jurisprudence in German and French. We achieve this goal by a language exchange. For several years already the professors André Kuhn (UniGE/UniNE) and Yvan Jeanneret (UniGE) have taught criminal law courses in French at the University of Zurich, while professor Marc Thommen (UZH) has taught criminal procedure in German at the University of Neuchâtel. This initiative has been very well received by the students on both sides of the Sarine. As a first step we would like to extend this program to the University of Geneva and to make it a permanent part of the criminal law/criminal procedure curricular. Secondly, we would use the funds to invite our colleagues to teach civil and public law in their native language at the other university. The long-term goal would be that law students of the University of Zurich get familiarized with the French legal language and that the law students of the University of Geneva acquire legal language and interpretation skills in German.
The project aims to strengthen the existing collaboration between four chairs in Medieval Latin (Cardelle UZH and Tilliette UNIGE) and Medieval French (Trachsler UZH and Collet UNIGE) through a common research seminar for their respective doctoral students during two semesters (Spring and Fall 2019). The idea is to bring our individual areas of expertise together around a subject selected within the vast field of translations from Latin into French in order to show our young researchers why it is sometimes important to work with specialists from outside our own field. At the end of the two terms, some students will have co-authored a publication on the topic of the seminar. In addition, and depending on the research subject, we could be working on a manuscript kept in Zurich, Geneva, Bern, or the Martin Bodmer-Foundation, which could be made available on e-codices (Virtual Manuscript Library of Switzerland), together with our codicological study. In order to keep matters simple from an administrative point of view, this course will begin on an entirely voluntary basis: interested doctoral students and early post-docs will be offered the possibility to discover and work in a transregional context and to meet and work with their counterparts in Geneva or Zurich. The four project partners will offer the course in addition to their teaching responsibilities. Given the transformations of the administrative context for doctoral studies underway at UZH, no attempt will be made to assign any ECTS points to the course at this point. Its aim is just to foster skills, interest, knowledge, and collaboration within a group of young researchers.
Second language learners tend to imprint the prosody (i.e., accentuation, intonation, rhythm) of their native language onto the second language (L2). This prosodic cross-language transfer is often combined with segmental (i.e., vocalic and consonantal) transfers, which can lead to the presence of a foreign accent. A foreign accent can not only hamper communication between learners and natives, but it can also affect the credibility of learners and how they are evaluated by others; this can sometimes lead to social discrimination. Despite the crucial role of prosody in speech comprehension and social interactions, it is rarely taught in language courses, even in foreign-language pronunciation courses. In the framework of computer-assisted pronunciation teaching (CAPT), the objective of our project is to develop MIAPARLE (from French: Méthode Interactive d’Aide à la Prononciation pour l’AppRentissage d’une Langue Étrangère), a web application designed to offer a wide range of perception and production tools dedicated to L2 prosody learning. In 2017, Dr. Sandra Schwab and Jean-Philippe Goldman received a INNOGAP grant from the University of Geneva to build a prototype for our application (miaparle.unige.ch). Three innovations characterize this prototype, and hence MIAPARLE. First, it is the only web application, among the existing web or mobile applications, that specifically deals with the perception and production of L2 prosody. Second, innovative training methods, validated with empirical investigations (carried out in collaboration with Prof. Volker Dellwo, U. Zurich), are used. Finally, the visualization of the learners' productions is easily interpretable for non-phoneticians. The prototype is currently designed to train the discrimination and production of Spanish stress contrasts (e.g., NUmero versus nuMEro). The goal, within the framework of this collaboration, is to implement MIAPARLE for different foreign languages, in particular for learning stress contrasts in German, Italian, English, as well as for learning tone contrasts in Chinese Mandarin. Moreover, as a first step, MIAPARLE is designed for French-speaking learners of foreign languages, since they have been shown to experience the greatest difficulties in acquiring L2 prosody. In this collaboration, MIAPARLE will be adapted for learners of other native languages (e.g., German, Italian, English). The combination of the linguistic/phonetic expertise of Prof. Volker Dellwo and his international team (Computational linguistics, U. Zurich), the knowledge of Prof. Mireille Bétrancourt (TECFA, U. Geneva) in the field of information technology and learning processes, the psycholinguistic experience of Dr. Sandra Schwab (ELCF, U. Geneva) and the computational skills of Jean-Philippe Goldman (U. Geneva) represents an ideal context for the realization of the present project. Besides, the partners already collaborated in the past within the framework of different projects (SNF Ambizione, SNF Agora, INNOGAP). The UZH-UNIGE Joint Seed Funding would not only strengthen the existing link between UNIGE and UZH, but would also give more power to the field of L2 prosody in Switzerland, an under-investigated field in our country. To that respect, we will organize a one-day workshop: “SWIP4”, the fourth edition of “Swiss Workshop in Prosody” that will be specifically dedicated to the acquisition of prosody in L2 and computer-based tools in L2 learning.
The department of Art History of the University of Geneva (1) and the Swiss Art Research Infrastructure (SARI) (2) of the University of Zurich apply for Joint Seed Funding in order to establish a sustainable collaboration. The goal of the proposed project is to make the department of Art History of the University of Geneva’s unique collection of historic photographs available across all Swiss Art History departments within SARIs national research environment, thus representing the first academic use-case providing the means for a sustainable and multilingual research collaboration in SARI.
During several years, the department of Art History of the University of Geneva has been building a comprehensive database of digitized images to support various research and teaching requirements. Initially conceived and managed by the Division de l’information scientifique (DIS), the database is technically outdated and no longer being fed. Instead, its data has partially been supplied to the German database aggregator Prometheus (3), which does not properly support multilinguality nor feature adequate tools for research collaborations. Therefore a significant amount of images on European and mediterranean architecture at the department of Art History is not yet properly accessible, though it represents an important and valuable resource for teaching and research and is expected to generate significant public interest (approx. 20’000 historic photographs).
The Swiss Art Research Infrastructure (SARI) provides unified, mutual, and sustainable access to research data, digitised visual resources, and related reference data from various national institutions in the field of Art History and the humanities at large, such as universities, public research institutions, museums, archives, and individual collections. By creating a tailor-made, state-of-the-art research environment based on scholarly acknowledged, yet extendable international standards and reference data vocabularies, SARI closes a critical gap within Switzerland’s national research infrastructure and combines the long-lasting scholarly expertise from specialized institutions all over Switzerland and abroad in an unprecedented way. By addressing pivotal issues such as re-usability and multilinguality of data it also also enhances visibility and accessibility of Switzerland’s outstanding research and collection data beyond national boundaries.
Approach and deliverables
This proposal aims at creating a tailor-made and networked research environment for the management, discovery, and research of digitized visual artefacts from all Swiss Art History departments, starting with the most significant holding of the department of Art History at UNIGE and the Institute of Art History at UZH. In order to achieve this goal, UZH will provide UNIGE with the relevant tools available as part of SARIs research infrastructure, that allow the UNIGE to extract, transform, and load the digitized images and metadata from its photographic collection into a dedicated research environment, allowing collaborative research across both institutions. By using SARIs data standards, infrastructure, and technology, UNIGEs department of Art History not only will be enabled to make its dataset available to a larger audience on a multilingual basis, which constitutes the basis for collaborative research across lingual and institutional barriers and, thus, significantly broadens the potential scientific use on a large scale.
Short project description (max 500 words) (this may be published online if your project is selected) Congenital lung anomalies (CLA) detected prenatally represent a group of rare malformations (8 /10000 births) , including adenomatoid malformation, sequestration, bronchial atresia or congenital hyperinflation. Postnatal clinical management of lung malformations generally implies the surgical removal of the affected lung lobe. However, some medical centres use a conservative approach without applying systematic surgery; the pro and contra arguments being pondered between the prevention of malignant transformation of the malformations and an increased risk of cystic infection. After birth, CLA are investigated during the first months of life by radiological exams to obtain a more acurate characterization (localisation, aspect: size of the lesion, presence of cysts, abnormal pulmonary parenchyma, abnormal vascularization). Usually a thoracic CT-scan (computerized tomography) is performed. This exam, used by Geneva's team, allows a good description of the lesions, but with the disadvantages of radiation. Since a few years, Zurich investigated these patients using a thoracic MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging). These radiological exams have the advantage to be non-radiating, but are currently not clearly recognised to have the same precision as CT-scan. After the radiological exams, the majority of these patients are treated by a surgical removal of the affected lung. Histological analysis of the resected lung will precise the real subtype of the malformation and evaluate potential malignant transformation risk. The goal of our retrospective study is to analyse thoracic CT-scan performed in Geneva and thoracic MRI performed in Zurich, comparing to the histological informations obtained on the resected lung malformation. Each radiological exam and each histological samples would be blindly interpreted with a standardized form, with similar items for CT-scan, MRI and histological analysis. The preliminary results would allow a better management of these patients by helping clinicians to choose the more adapted radiological exam to follow up these patients with prenatal diagnosis of CLA.
With this application for joint seed funding, we seek to combine the expertise of Prof. de Seigneux’s group (UNIGE) in chronic kidney disease (CKD) with the know-how of Prof. Kurtcuoglu’s group (UZH) on renal imaging and computational modeling to lay the basis for long-term collaboration. The short-term outcome will be an application for funding to the Swiss National Science Foundation.
Klotho is a protein produced in kidney tubular cells. It plays an important role in balancing phosphate, acting as antioxidant and in cardiovascular health. Loss of klotho is a crucial factor involved in both progression of chronic kidney disease (CKD) and associated cardiovascular complications. ATF3 and ATF4 are gene transcription factors involved in cell survival. They play a protective role in acute kidney injury, are markers of tubular injury, and act as regulators of endothelial cell to fibroblast differentiation during fibrosis. In a recent study, the de Seigneux group demonstrated that in acute and chronic proteinuria (excess loss of protein through urine), ATF3 and ATF4 production is increased while klotho production is decreased. They further identified the binding site of ATF3 to the klotho promoter and confirmed that ATF3 and ATF4 binding decreases klotho transcription. In our collaboration, we plan to use ATF3 and ATF4 knock-out mice to study the impact of deficiency of these transcription factors on the development of renal fibrosis, klotho expression and damage of the microvasculature in the context of proteinuric kidney disease. To this end, the de Seigneux group will carry out the animal experiments, while the Kurtcuoglu group will assess changes in the mouse kidneys by imaging and computational analysis. We will apply to the SNSF for funding to carry out this work (PI: de Seigneux). In preparation of that application, we will perform a pilot study for which we are herewith applying for joint seed funding. This pilot will provide high-resolution structural information on proteinuric kidneys, which will serve as the basis to calculate the number of animals needed in the full study, and will further serve to demonstrate our state of the art. The specific planned activities are
1- Scan the vascular structure of mouse kidneys with proteinuria using contrast-enhanced X-ray microcomputed tomography (microCT)
2- Quantify vascular damage by computational image analysis
3- Identify potential organizational or scientific risks to include in the study plan of the full proposal
4- Write the sections of the proposal pertinent to the envisioned collaboration
The so-called “reproducibility crisis” has shaken the standards of science (Open Science Collaboration, 2015). It’s becoming increasingly clear that open practices are the heart of science. The built-up of scientific knowledge requires careful scrutiny and replication across multiple sites, scientists, and populations. This task is further compounded by the need to systematically vary parameters of the experimental set-up to uncover the boundary conditions of the phenomena under study. This is not a small endeavor, and one that can only be achieved when scientists align themselves with the new digital advancements. Science in a digitalized era is open, public, reproducible, and collaborative. Psychology is in the avant-garde of this scientific revolution. As psychology’s renaissance (Nelson, Simmons, & Simonsohn, 2018) unfolds though, it is likely to reshape the scientific landscape. We should seize the opportunity to remain competitive by fostering the adoption of open practices and multi-site collaborations among Swiss-based psychologists. Although many psychologists recognize the importance of open science and multi-site collaborations, in practice its adoption still faces barriers. This project aims to break-through these difficulties. More specifically, our goals are three-fold: (a) to get a better understanding of the difficulties Swiss-based psychologists face in adopting open practices (see 2017 survey carried out by the Open Science Working Group at Cardiff University); (b) to create a network of pro-open-science psychologists that share tips and tools (see Network der Open-Science-Initiativen and UK Open Science Working Groups, for similar initiatives in Germany and the UK, respectively), and (c) to create a platform for the launching of national (and, potentially, international) multi-site studies (see https://psysciacc.org/, for a similar initiative). The pursuit of these goals is critical for allowing UNIGE and UZH to meet their digital strategies regarding psychological science, and to take a leading role in shaping the landscape of this scientific field. Ultimately the launching of a Swiss consortium of multi-lab studies will create collaborations among Swiss-based psychologists, and offer a medium-scale opportunity to meet the standards of reproducible and generalizable psychological science. With its multi-cultural background (e.g., three languages), great pool of experts, and relative small area (making travel-distance manageable for even a single-day event), collaborations among labs based in different Swiss universities offer the best of multi-lab consortiums (i.e., different scientists, populations, languages) with smaller risks and costs (e.g., reduction in management difficulties). Last but not least, this provides an opportunity to train the new generation of researchers in open science in a sustainable manner and to create a culture of open science among Swiss-based psychologists. To achieve these goals, the following steps will be required:
1- Creation of a survey to assess the experiences of Swiss-based psychologists with open science and multi-site collaboration
2- Creation of interconnected platforms (website + twitter account + email newsletter) for gathering pro-open-science psychologists (and maintaining a pro-open-science culture), and for launching of multi-site collaborations
3- Organization of a workshop that a) promotes open science practices among psychologists, b) provides targeted training for psychologists, addressing the barriers as revealed in the survey, and c) launches the multi-lab consortium, thereby establishing the Swiss Open Psychological Science Initiative (SOPSI).
Like many other countries in the world, Switzerland faces challenges (e.g., land management, environmental degradation) caused by increasing pressures on its natural resources. These challenges need to be overcome to meet the needs of a growing population. Switzerland is acknowledged as the water reservoir of Europe. While its territory represents four thousandths of the continent's total area, 6% of Europe's freshwater reserves are stored in Switzerland.
Snow is one of the most relevant natural water resources present in nature. It stores water in winter and releases it in spring during the melting season. Monitoring snow cover and its variability is an indicator of climate change and identification of snowmelt processes is essential for effective water-resource management.
Remotely-sensed Earth Observations (EO) data acquired by satellites are helpful to monitor snow conditions through time. Synthetic-Aperture Radar (SAR) images are effective and robust measures to identify meltingsnow, whereas optical data are able to identify snow cover extension.
Earth Observations Data Cubes (EODC) are a new paradigm revolutionizing the way users can interact with increasingly freely and openly available EO data. They minimize the time and scientific knowledge required to access, prepare and analyze large volume of data having consistent and spatially aligned calibrated observations.
Switzerland is the second country in the world to have a national-scale EODC. The Swiss Data Cube (SDC – https://www.swissdatacube.ch) is an initiative supported by the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) and developed, implemented and operated by the United Environment Program (UNEP)/GRID-Geneva in partnership with the University of Geneva (UNIGE). The objective of the SDC is to support the Swiss government for environmental monitoring and reporting as well as enable Swiss scientific institutions to fully benefit from EO data for research and innovation. Currently, the SDC contains 33 years of Landsat 5,7,8 (1984-2017) and 2.5 years of Sentinel-2 (2015-2017) optical Analysis Ready Data over Switzerland (total volume: 3TB; 110 billion observations).
Recently, UNIGE has developed a new algorithm using the SDC to map snow cover extension. Preliminary results have shown a clear decrease of snow cover over the Alps in the last 30 years. However, to provide an integrated and effective mechanism to monitor snow cover and its variability, SAR data are missing and impeding identification of snowmelt processes. A valid source is the European Space Agency (ESA) Sentinel-1 high-resolution C-band SAR satellite.
Consequently, the aims of this project are: (1) to develop a methodology for generating and ingesting Sentinel-1 Analysis Ready Data into the SDC; (2) improve the Snow Observations from Space (SOfS) algorithm to identify snow melted and iced areas; (3) generate time-series of 2D composite backscatter products over Switzerland; and (4) explore the potential of SAR/optical data fusion techniques as well as additional SAR data sources.
This project aims at consolidating the role of the University of Zurich and the University of Geneva in the Swiss community of Latin Americanist scholars and at fostering more cooperation between these universities for the purpose of training graduate students as well as a strengthening of our international profile. Latin American Studies is still a marginalized field in Switzerland despite the increasing number of students at Swiss Universities working in/on the region. This was the reason why scholars from several Swiss Universities, led by Yvette Sánchez and Corinne Pernet from the University of St. Gallen, applied for and obtained funds from the SNF to build a ProDoc workshop and research program for graduate students. Running from 2011 to 2016, the program organized twenty interdisciplinary workshops in which graduate students from all over Switzerland could present their theses. Moreover, the ProDoc has fully financed six Ph.D.s and contributed to fieldwork of around forty Ph.D. students. After the end of the ProDoc Program, we have attempted to maintain the inter-university network under the name of Swiss School of Latin American Studies (SLASS) to continue promoting the training and research forum for doctoral and postdoctoral students in the social sciences and the humanities working on Latin America. In total, the SSLAS network has associated 65 researchers (45 students, 10 postdoctoral – former ProDoc students – and 10 associated professors/senior researchers over the years). In 2016 and 2017 we counted with an average of 30 participants per workshop (attendance fluctuates as a function of the needs of doctoral students in different stages of their PhD to perform fieldwork research in Latin America). After the ending of the SNF funding for a centralized ProDoc program, each university became responsible for obtaining their own financial resources to participate in/contribute to the SSLAS network. The University of Zurich and the University of Geneva remained relatively marginal to this new configuration, mainly because of the lack of institutional funding. With the foundation of the Lateinamerika-Zentrum in Zurich in 2016 and the growing Latin-Americanist nucleus at the University of Geneva (History and Romance Language Departments), the prospects of our two universities fully joining the network has increased. The objective of our project is to strengthen the ties between Zurich and Geneva and to consolidate our place in the Latin Americanist community in Switzerland. Both universities count with highly qualified professors and researchers as well as with an increasing demand from Ph.D. students. We are looking for more stable financial support in order to consolidate our participation in the SSLAS network. The joint seed funding would allow us to host two workshops in June and October 2019 (one in Zurich and one in Geneva) and plan further activities.
Epilepsy is the most common severe chronic neurological condition. In Switzerland, about 30% of patients with focal epilepsy do not respond to antiepileptic medication, which results in about 200 new patients per year that could benefit from epilepsy surgery. During surgery, EEG recordings may be crucial to identify the minimal area of cortex whose removal is necessary to achieve postsurgical seizure freedom. However, current methods achieve seizure freedom only in about 60% of patients. New biomarkers to tailor the area of surgical removal are therefore urgently needed. High-frequency oscillations (HFO) in the EEG have recently emerged as biomarkers to detect epileptogenic tissue more specifically than by standard methods. In earlier work, our team at Zürich has successfully devised an automated computer algorithm to identify a clinically relevant HFO. In the proposed project, we will validate the algorithm prospectively in a larger patient cohort together with Genève. We will try new electrode designs to optimized recording. Furthermore, we will extend HFO detection to HFO evoked by electrical brain stimulation to study seizure onset and propagation areas. Measuring HFO rapidly and accurately before and during surgery is an exciting prospect that may add substantially to current diagnostics. This pioneering technology will provide a competitive edge for our hospitals and improved treatment options for patients with epilepsy.
All living cells are covered with a dense coat of complex carbohydrates also called glycans. The structural complexity of surface glycans is especially diverse in prokaryotes given the multiple involvements of glycans in regulating the interactions of prokaryotes with their environment. On prokaryotes such as bacteria, glycans are essential components of bacterial cell walls, they also act as receptors for bacteriophages and enable the evasion of bacteria from immune recognition. In contrast to glycans covering animal cells, which consist of an alphabet of only 10 monosaccharides, bacterial glycans are built from an alphabet of nearly 200 monosaccharides. This tremendous diversity hinders the analysis and visualization of bacterial glycans. The development of mapping tools for bacterial glycans is essential for the identification of pathogenic strains (e.g. enterotoxic Escherichia coli O157:H7), for vaccine design (e.g. Neisseria meningitidis) and understanding the contribution of bacterial antigen mimicry in triggering autoimmune disease (e.g. Guillain-Barré syndrome). The goal of the proposed project is to develop a visualization system for bacterial glycans, which enables a clear, yet thorough representation of complex structures. The visualization system will be used as a query language to search for related molecules through glycan databases (e.g., CSDB). Moreover, the visualization system will be linked to bacterial glycan arrays applied for determining the glycan-binding specificity of antibodies and other immune proteins. The combined expertise of the applicants in glycobiology and bioinformatics is critical to the success of the project. The areas of competence covered include the isolation and structural characterization of glycans, analysis of carbohydrate-binding proteins on glycan arrays, development of glycan databases and analysis software. The first stage of the project will consist in establishing a catalog of bacterial glycans of interest, including O-antigens, capsular oligosaccharides, and cell wall glycoconjugates such as lipoarabinomannan. These structures need to be rationally encoded and translated into the visualization system to be used interactively. An important aspect will be the preservation of information relative to the biosynthesis and degradation of carbohydrates. Glycan databases and catalogues are too often composed of independent items while common substructures and therefore common biosynthetic enzymes emphasise the relatedness of glycan molecules. The visualisation system will bring out the similarity of glycans on that basis. The CAZy database of carbohydrate-active enzymes is a rich source that will be integrated, while CSDB will provide useful structural information to explore the diversity of glycans. In a second phase, the structures present on a bacterial glycan array will also be integrated into the visualization system. The application of the tool will allow the rapid delineation of glycan epitopes recognized by antibodies by parsing the global data obtained from bacterial glycan arrays. So far, such analyses can only be achieved through manual examination, which is slow and prone to mistakes. The application of automated visualization analysis will accelerate the discovery of bacterial epitopes of interest for vaccine development. The visualization tools developed will be accessible to the research community through the ExPASy portal, which is hosted at UniGE and maintained for the glycomics part by the Lisacek group.