Annual Report 2020


Ladies and gentlemen, dear colleagues

Rektor Michael Schaepman


2020 was an extraordinary year for all of us, including the students and staff at UZH. Constructive cooperation and great dedication, however, have enabled us to get through a number of challenges.

The portraits in this year’s Annual Report offer a glimpse of the commitment displayed by the UZH community. They feature members of UZH who volunteered for a good cause, and not just during the pandemic.

One of the great challenges of 2020 was shifting from on-site teaching to online courses – amid an increase of 1,218 students in the Fall Semester, no less. The current Annual Report presents some of the year’s highlights in research and teaching at UZH. We’ve also covered research on Covid-19 involving all of the University’s faculties. UZH medical experts have been able to gain some important insights when it comes to fighting coronavirus. And finally, the report features the usual facts and figures to keep you up-to-date about the key figures for 2019.

Kind regards

Prof. Michael Schaepman, President 

April 2021

im April 2021


UZH in Numbers (1)

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Detailed statistics on the website of the Finance Department

UZH in Numbers (2)

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Detailed statistics on the website of the Finance Department

UZH in Numbers (3)

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Detailed statistics on the website of the Finance Department

UZH in Numbers (4)

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Detailed statistics on the website of the Finance Department

UZH in Numbers (5)

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Detailed statistics on the website of the Finance Department

UZH in Numbers (6)

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Detailed statistics on the website of the Finance Department

UZH in Numbers (7)

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Detailed statistics on the website of the Finance Department

UZH in Numbers (8)

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Detailed statistics on the website of the Finance Department

UZH in Numbers (9)

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Detailed statistics on the website of the Finance Department


Scholarship on the Big Screen

Huldrych Zwingli in the movie

The historical film "Zwingli" explores the life and work of Zurich reformer Huldrych Zwingli with great authenticity. The Institute of Swiss Reformation History played a key role in the film’s pre-production.

Scholarship on the Big Screen (in German) (PDF, 1 MB)

Ciao Corona

Rosemarie Michel is being vaccinated

Knowledge is the best weapon in the fight against coronavirus. Researchers at UZH are engaged in combating the virus in various ways, including these three medical projects.

Protecting Yourself and Others (25 Nov 20)
UZH News: Are We Immune Enough? (07 May 20)

How Federal Judges Are Appointed

Federal Supreme Court in Lausanne

Law professor Lorenz Langer conducts research on the party affiliations of Swiss federal judges. He has found that their allegiances support the democratic legitimacy of the Federal Supreme Court.

How Federal Judges Are Appointed (in German) (PDF, 1 MB)

Viruses That Heal

bacteriophage T4 entering a bacterium

The University Medicine Zurich initiative’s new flagship project ImmunoPhage breaks new ground. It aims to develop bacteriophages for treating urinary tract infections.

UZH News: Viruses That Heal

Anyone Out There?

Ghost Lecture at UZH: Sociology Professor Jörg Rössel speaks to empty seats.

UZH researchers are using the methodology of interactional linguistics to analyze recorded lectures and comparing their analysis with online courses. The findings could feed into university teaching practices.

UZH News: ″Can anyone hear me here?″

Reading Minds

Linguistics expert Balthasar Bickel

Thanks to neurotechnology, it could soon be possible to read people’s thoughts, believes Balthasar Bickel. The linguistics expert heads up the new NCCR Evolving Language.

UZH News: Reading Minds

Exoplanets – Mirror Images of Earth

Astrophysicist Ravit Helled

Astrophysicist Ravit Helled uses physical models to explore how planets are formed. She represents Switzerland as an expert in ESA’s Ariel mission.

UZH News: How Giant Planets Turn Gas into Metal

Good Sleep and Speedy Drones

Spin-Off-Firmen seit 1999 (Infografik)

The number of UZH spinoffs is steadily increasing. Some 143 spinoffs have been founded at UZH since 1999.

UZH News: Seven UZH Spin-Offs Founded in 2020

Trump and the Stock Markets

Financial economist Alexander Wagner

Many stocks went up during the presidency of Donald Trump. But not all businesses benefited from his policies, says UZH financial economist Alexander Wagner.

Trump and the Stock Markets (in German) (PDF, 1 MB)
Chair Prof. Dr. Alexander F. Wagner

Equal Chances for Cancer Sufferers

Kerstin Noëlle Vokinger

More and more, the benefits of cancer drugs are unclear upon approval, while their prices are on the rise. Professor Kerstin Noëlle Vokinger wants to know why this is. (Picture: Dominique Schütz)

Equal Chances for Cancer Sufferers (in German) (PDF, 1 MB)
Chair Prof. Dr. iur. et Dr. med. Kerstin Noëlle Vokinger

Studying Without Worry

Ulrich Frischknecht and Brigitte Ortega

The pandemic has plunged many students into financial insecurity. UZH’s emergency assistance scheme supports students in financial hardship with up to CHF 6,000.

UZH News: Studying Without Worry (in German)

A Bridge to the World of Work

Infographic career services

It pays to get a feel for the postgraduate job market while you are still studying. UZH Career Services has been supporting students with this for over 10 years.

A Bridge to the World of Work (in German) (PDF, 1 MB)
Career Services UZH

Joined-Up Studying

Joined-Up Studying (Graphic)

With its newly established School for Transdisciplinary Studies, UZH is encouraging students to venture across disciplinary boundaries. The initial portfolio comprises five courses.

UZH News: Joined-Up Study


Roadmap for a Carbon-Neutral Future

Air travels 2018 to 2020

UZH aims to be carbon-neutral in 10 years, according to the 2030 Implementation Strategy for the Sustainability Policy. Lorenz Hilty, the UZH sustainability delegate, talks about sustainable research and making a peace deal with nature.

UZH News: Roadmap for a Carbon-Neutral Future

All Creatures Great and Small

Alessio Vigani behandelt den Münsterländer Prince.

When an animal gets seriously ill or injured, it requires urgent care. This is where the specialized emergency team of the University’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital comes in. A visit to the Small Animal Clinic’s department of emergency and intensive care.

All Creatures Great and Small (in German) (PDF, 299 KB)
Clinic for Small Animal Surgery (in German)

Science Showcase

XENON in the Science Exploratorium UZH

From botanical rarities to particle physics: The new Science Exploratorium shines a light on the varied research at UZH’s Faculty of Science.

UZH News: Showcasing the Natural Sciences

Football, Fair Play and Finance

Egon Franck

Egon Franck was president of the Academic Sports Association Zurich for 12 years. He is fascinated by the positive energy that attracts people to sports and is committed to financial fair play rules in international club football.

Football, Fair Play and Finance (in German) (PDF, 191 KB)


Picture: Diana Ulrich

Everyday Heroes

Diego Geering

Many of the students, instructors, employees and alumni of UZH do volunteer work. They are committed to a good cause and help people in need.

This year’s portraits present 15 members of UZH who are making a difference through their volunteering. The pictures were taken by photographer Diana Ulrich, who herself is involved in a social project that collects bicycles for Africa

Pictured: Diego Geering

Fighting the Coronavirus Blues

Isaias Moser

Isaias Moser represents the student body on the Extended Executive Board of the University and is involved in a financial aid project for students. Together with the other members of the University of Zurich Student Association (VSUZH), Isaias provided some much-needed respite for foreign students in quarantine or isolation by bringing them food or chatting to keep their spirits up.

Isaias Moser studies philosophy and political science. He is co-president of the VSUZH and since 2020 president of the Solidarity Fund.

Patching Tubes, Replacing Chains

Fiona Chiappori (left) and Leana Finger (right)

In their bicycle workshop near City Campus, Leana Finger (on the right) and Fiona Chiappori have all the tools it takes to help other students repair their bikes. They both consider bicycles an essential part of a sustainable, eco-friendly future, and want to share their enthusiasm for cycling with others.

Leana Finger studies medicine at UZH. Fiona Chiappori studies history and political science at UZH.

A Home for Street Children

Thomas Müller

Thomas Müller works for Ubele. The social enterprise supports a children’s village in Msambweni in southern Kenya, which provides orphans and street children with a home and an education. During his first visit to the village, Thomas built a roundhouse using plastic bottles filled with sand and cement.

Thomas Müller teaches at Kantonsschule Wiedikon and is an instructor at UZH for subject-specific teaching in history.

Global Health

Jan Fehr

One thing the coronavirus pandemic has made perfectly clear is that disease and suffering require an effective, global response. That’s why Jan Fehr champions global health programs.

Jan Fehr is head of the Public and Global Health Department at UZH’s Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Prevention Institute, which also includes the Canton of Zurich’s coronavirus reference vaccination center and the Travel Clinic.

Swiss Greta

Marie-Claire Graf

Climate activist Marie-Claire Graf is Switzerland’s youngest advocate for climate at the United Nations. She met fellow campaigner Greta Thunberg at the 2018 Climate Change Conference in Katowice. Marie-Claire was a member of the UZH Sustainability Committee and helped shape the local sustainability weeks.

Marie-Claire Graf studies political science and environmental sciences.

German Lessons

Monika Weber

Monika Weber says she has always seen her role as politician as a commitment to the community, along with countless volunteering activities. Since she retired, the former politician has regularly given German lessons to migrants.

Monika Weber is a UZH alumna and served on the Swiss Council of Staates, the Zurich City Council and as president of the Swiss charity organization Winterhilfe.

Made Up Art Stories

Theo von Däniken

Theo von Däniken brings strangers together in museums, where they make up a story about their favorite exhibit for the “Tandem im Museum” (TiM) initiative. The stories are then published on the website of the “Musée imaginaire Suisse” (imaginary Swiss museum). The aim is to build up a network of 500 TiM guides to encourage as many people as possible to visit a museum.

Theo von Däniken works in the UZH Communications Office and is a member of the advisory board of the Kuverum network.

Fighting Disease in Somalia

Enzo Fuchini

Enzo Fuchini has seen with his own eyes what it means for a country to be ravaged by war. In 1992 and 1993, he was involved in an ICRC veterinary program in Somalia, where he helped fight rinderpest, or cattle plague, among other things. He returned to the region, now Somaliland, 20 years later to support a human medical hospital. Today he is involved in charitable activities as president of a local parish in Eastern Switzerland.

Enzo Fuchini is an alumnus of the Vetsuisse Faculty.

Welcome to the DoBar

Simon Eschle

Simon Eschle heads up the student society for geography and earth system science. The natural networker organizes various events, including events for new students. And on Thursdays, he mixes drinks at the DoBar at Irchel Campus. The bar is not only popular with geography students, but is also known to welcome physicists, chemists and other “outsiders”.

Simon Eschle studies geography.

Mixing Magic Potions

Roger Alberto with Leonie and Nik

The chemistry of light and colors: Roger Alberto helps stir up school children’s passion for science. He has volunteered at the Children’s University of Zurich for the past 17 years, and his workshops have proved very popular with the kids.

Roger Alberto is professor of chemistry at UZH, pictured here with Leonie and Nik.

Student Task Force

Leonie Plastina and Nikola Rakic

When the pandemic began, Leonie Plastina and Nikola Rakic acted fast. Their call for solidarity mobilized more than 900 medical students to volunteer at the UniversityHospital Zurich, including 100 who helped out in the intensive care station.

Leonie Plastina and Nikola Rakic completed their degrees in medicine in 2020.

Clothes for Lesbos

Florence Alder (left) and Savana Diem (right)

In 2019, Savana Diem and Florence Alder volunteered for a Lighthouse Relief program on Lesbos, where it quickly became clear that the refugees urgently needed more clothes. Back in Switzerland, the two students organized a drive to collect clothes and gathered no less than 4.5 tonnes of jackets, coats, trousers and sweatshirts for refugees stranded on the island.

Savana Diem (on the right) studies political science and communication and media research. Florence Alder studies social and cultural anthropology and political science.

A Franc a Day

Christine Wittlin

A little can sometimes go a long way. In some places, for example, one Swiss franc a day is enough to feed a child and pay for schooling, says Christine Janine Wittlin. As the president of the Sharing Hands organization, she raises money for various charitable projects.

Christine Wittlin is administrative head of the Association of Junior Researchers of the University of Zurich (VAUZ), pictured here with her dog Pipo.

No Tackling, Please

Diego Geering

Diego Geering coaches flag football. This variant of American Football is played without tackling. Geering heads the ASVZ Birds sports club, which plays the no-contact sport.

Diego Geering has a Master’s degree in neurobiology. He now studies medicine and works as an ASVZ coach.

Light to Darkness

Nadja Göldi (front) and Sabrina Göldi

Nadja Göldi and her sister Sabrina from the non-profit Njira support people going through difficult times. On Christmas Eve, they hand out gifts to the needy in Zurich’s former red-light district. They are well known in the neighborhood, and the homeless or other people in need often turn to them for help or advice.

Nadja Göldi (front) studied social and cultural anthropology at UZH, her sister Sabrina studied applied psychology at ZHAW.