Annual Report 2016


Ladies and Gentlemen, Friends of UZH

Rektor Michael Hengartner


Students at UZH have excellent – and very diverse – career prospects. Time and again, I am impressed by the fascinating professions our graduates pursue. The photo gallery in this year’s annual report introduces 14 alumni, who share how their studies shaped their future lives.

Over 25,000 students come to the University’s lecture halls and laboratories to explore scholarly questions. They will soon number among the UZH alumni, and I am confident that they, too, will have such fond memories of their alma mater.

Prof. Dr. Michael O. Hengartner, President
April 2017

Alumni in Focus

Alumni of UZH share stories about their student days. Photos by Tom Haller.

UZH Alumni

UZH-Alumni-Ruderboot beim Training auf der Limmat


A former member of the Federal Council and a theater director, a curator and an actor: The fourteen alumni of UZH, whose portraits were taken by photographer Tom Haller for this year’s annual report, have embarked on very different life courses. But they all have something in common: The University of Zurich – which shaped their future lives and left lasting memories.

Photo: Training session of the UZH alumni rowing team.

“At UZH, I learned how to read texts against the grain.”

Fanni Fetzer

Fanni Fetzer studied political science and cultural anthropology as well as economic and social history at UZH. She has worked as a journalist and was appointed director of the Kunstmuseum Luzern five years ago.

“When I hear presentations at conferences, normally only every third talk is very good, and – at best – only every sixth is brilliant. I then think back to my time at UZH: On a single day, I heard lectures by Peter Forstmoser, Jan Krulis-Randa, Conrad Meyer, and Ruedi Volkart. Four times the quality for less than a hundredth of the cost.”

Dominique von Matt

Dominique von Matt studied economics at UZH. Today, he is president of the board at Jung von Matt/Limmat, board member of the NZZ media group, and president of the Swiss marketing pioneer Gesellschaft für Marketing (GfM).

“Studying also means building networks. Some of my former co-students are now business partners.”

Tobias Zehnder

Tobias Zehnder studied media science and linguistics at UZH. Afterwards, he co-founded the start-up “Webrepublic,” which currently has over 100 employees.

“While I was studying medicine, I started the ‘Weihnachts­vorlesung Medizin,’ a charity show with an audience of over 1000 people. The support UZH offered was straightforward and uncomplicated. The lecture is one of my fondest memories of my time at UZH.”

Fabian Unteregger

Fabian Unteregger studied medicine at UZH. The comedian is now touring with his stand-up comedy show “Doktor­spiele.” On Friday mornings, he has a live radio show (“Zum Glück ist es Freitag”) on SRF 3.

“I suffered from text anxiety, so I took detailed notes to prepare and calm my nerves. Even today, I note down the most important issues before going to a meeting.”

Christiane Lentjes Meili

Christiane Lentjes Meili studied law at UZH. As director of the Criminal Investigation Department of the Canton of Zurich, she makes a major contribu­tion to the safety of the canton’s population.

“I used to work during the semester breaks. I remember an interesting job at an electronics company, where two colleagues and I developed plans for a factory in Algeria. Although the project was never realized, I learned so much through the experience.“

Herbert Bolliger

Herbert Bolliger studied economics at UZH. For more than ten years, he has been director of the retail company Migros, which has over 100,000 employees.

"During my studies I learned how important dialogue is. And – at least in my office – Zwingli is right next to Luther, where they are keeping a close eye on one another."

Christina aus der Au

Christina Aus der Au studied theology at UZH. She worked with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier on the board of the Deutscher Evangelischer Kirchentag and will chair the organization’s 36th conference in Berlin, in May 2017.

“During my studies, I particularly enjoyed playing with algorithms for geographic information systems. It’s easy for me to think in variants.”

Daria Martinoni

Daria Martinoni studied geography at UZH. Today she is in charge of developing the network at SBB and is already working on the major project “Bahn 2030.”

“I wrote my PhD thesis about the licensing conditions for radio and television, meaning I was able to openly explore a highly topical area of law. Suddenly, what had been relatively dry legal material came to life.”

Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf

Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf studied law at UZH. She was member of the Federal Council from 2008 to 2015.

“27 semesters of philosophy changed my life, although I wouldn’t recommend studying so long. That it ended well is mainly thanks to my teacher Helmut Holzhey, who was my supervisor for my final thesis. I was already acting during my studies, so I have a few more semesters on the stage than at UZH.”

Mike Müller

Mike Müller studied philosophy at UZH. He is an actor and an author, and well-known from television shows such as “Giacobbo/Müller” and “Der Bestatter.”

“Outsiders, abysses, ghostly landscapes, and battlefields. My studies were travels through the world of great stories.”

Milo Rau

Milo Rau studied German and Romance language and literature as well as sociology at UZH. He works as a theater director and an author, and was the 2014 recipient of the Swiss Theatre Award.

“I learned to discipline head, heart, and hand in the fencing hall up in the tower of the University. I trained there regularly for three years.”

Alex Rübel

Alex Rübel, director of the Zurich Zoo for the past 25 years, studied veterinary medicine at UZH.

“I developed my passion for research at UZH. Currently I am working on early diagnosis and new therapies for ovarian cancer.”

Viola Heinzelmann

Viola Heinzelmann completed her training as a medical specialist at UZH. Today, the professor of gynecology and obstetrics is the first woman in Switzerland to be head of a women’s clinic at a university.

“I didn’t forget the fly amanita. When I was asked which species it belongs to on my propaedeutic exam, I had to pass. Fortunately, I could compensate my lacking botanical skills with my knowledge in the other natural sciences.”

Ruedi Lüthy

Ruedy Lüthy studied medicine at UZH. He was head of the department of infectious diseases at the UniversityHospital Zurich for 20 years. He was also co-founder of the hospice Zurich Lighthouse and ran an out-patient HIV clinic in Harare, Zimbabwe. He had a regular column in the Zurich newspaper NZZ, in which he wrote about his patients in Africa.


The Power of Algorithms

Filter-Bubbles im Internet
Filter bubbles guide user behavior in the Internet.

In many services on the Web, algorithms are responsible for deciding what content we see and what content we don’t see. Media specialist Michael Latzer examines the ramifications of this algorithmic selection.

More on the website of Michael Latzer

Reading Breath

Mann mit Atemwolke
Our breath – as unique as a fingerprint.

Our breath reveals a great deal of information about our bodies and our health. In his work, pulmonologist Malcom Kohler aims to garner valuable findings for the field of medicine.

More on the website of Zurich Exhalomics

Understanding Biodiversity


The International Project Office (IPO) of bioDISCOVERY is an important catalyst in comprehensive research into biodiversity. As of 2016, IPO is located at UZH. (Photo: Günter Havlena /

More on the website of URPP Global Change and Biodiversity

Setting Sights on Amyloid Plaques

Die Brüder Vitalio, 87, Antonio, 94, und Adolfo Melis, 90, aus Sardinien
No worries: The Melis brothers – Vitalio, 87, Antonio, 94, and Adolfo, 90 (from left) – from Sardinia are enjoying their lives.

Together with their team, UZH researchers Roger Nitsch and Christoph Hock have developed a potential cure for Alzheimer’s. It is called Aducanumab and is a human antibody with a targeted effect.

More on the website of Roger Nitsch

Brainy Competition

Physik-Olympioniken im Hörsaal
Flag-waving at the opening ceremony of the Physics Olympiad at UZH.

In the summer of 2016, 400 young people from 84 nations traveled to UZH to take part in the Physics Olympiad. Tricky physics questions were the focus, but there was also time for fun and recreation.

More on the website of the Department of Physics

From the Lecture Hall to the Classroom

Klassenzimmer im GymnasiumIn class: Teachers at upper secondary schools motivate and inspire during lessons.

The University of Zurich and upper secondary schools work together in teacher-training programs. The practical part of the degree program was redesigned – and improved – in 2016.

More on the website of the Institute of Education

Ground-Breaking Ceremony at Irchel

Spatenstich mit Rektor Michael O. Hengartner, Baudirektor Markus Kägi, Bildungsdirektorin Silvia Steiner und Roger Alberto, Vorsteher Institut für Chemie
UZH President Michael O. Hengartner, Building Director Markus Kägi, Director of the Department of Education Silvia Steiner, and Roger Alberto, Head of the Department of Chemistry (from left).

The ground-breaking ceremony for the 5th construction phase at Irchel Campus took place in April 2016. The individual subject areas in chemistry, which merged in 2014, will find a new home in the ultra-modern building.

More on the Website "Stadtuniversität UZH"

A Creative House for Kids

Garten an der Sumatrastrasse 30
The garden at Sumatrastrasse 30: Children can go on adventures in the shade of an old silver linden.

A new daycare center of the Foundation for Childcare in the Zurich University Area opened on Sumatrastrasse 30 in the fall of 2016. House and garden along with the new pedagogic concept are tailored entirely to the needs of the young clientele.

More on the website of the Foundation for Childcare in the Zurich University Area


UZH in Figures (1)

Infografik UZH in Zahlen

Detailed statistics on the Website of the Finance Office

UZH in Figures (2)

Infografik UZH in Zahlen

Detailed statistics on the Website of the Finance Office

UZH in Figures (3)

Infografik UZH in Zahlen

More on the Website the Finance Office

UZH in Figures (4)

Infografik UZH in Zahlen

Detailed statistics on the Website of the Finance Office