Revealing Residencies

Andri Brynner and Seraina Mohr are both completing communication residencies at swissnex San Francisco this fall. They each spent a couple of months in the Bay Area to connect with peers, culture, and science.

Andri B











Andri in San Francisco

Brynner is a hydrologist and former journalist who’s been working as a media officer at the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag) since 2004.

No stranger to water, the avid kayaker not only used his swissnex residency to connect with peers in communication, he also participated in two swissnex events: one giving a public talk on the parklet about a smart toilet, and another walking the catwalk in an apocalyptic fashion show. Follow his blog to read all about his Bay Area experiences.

Seraina during a workshop organized by swissnex  San Francisco at UC Berkley

Mohr is in charge of the Digital Marketing and Communications Management program at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Lucerne, Switzerland.

Also a former journalist, she is always eager to discover new things, like biking the city with an electric bike invented by one of her former students.

Q: Why did you decide to do a residency here at swissnex San Francisco?

AB: Because I wanted to figure out how universities and research institutes around here communicate their findings, in particular around water issues, to the public and to policy makers. swissnex offered me the perfect hub.

SM:  I appreciate being part of a network and having a working space. swissnex offered the perfect setting for me. I have colleagues who have worked with swissnex on different topics, so I knew something about your activities and services.

Q: What have you learned so far during your stay?

AB: That everybody is or seems to be very busy and if you have the opportunity to talk with a reporter about your findings you must prepare well and use every second of his or her attention for your subject. Get to the point.

SM: I realized that being able to tell your story is incredibly important—not only for successful companies but also for start-ups looking for an investor. The speed is quite different also. Here, everything happens within a very short time.

Q: How has swissnex helped you connect the dots?

AB: They helped me with contacts to SF water utilities and continuously call my attention to the many events and meetings taking place all the time in my field of interest.

SM: swissnex San Francisco gave me the opportunity to attend some amazing events and offered their network of interesting people and institutions.

Q: What lessons, insights, or inspirations will you take back to Switzerland?

AB: Only one thing? I collected already so many impressions. Maybe so far the most touching is to see how a mixture of measures from government, administration, research institutes, and NGOs could evolve a water conservation strategy whereby people participate through fun and joyful competition with others. It would be great if one could start a similar thing with power- or car-kilometre-saving measures in Switzerland.

SM: I will take back some of this “everything is possible” attitude and “if there’s a problem, maybe an app will be the solution“ spirit. I really appreciate the openness of the people here and I will never complain about the high rents in Zürich again.On the other hand, I realized how hard people work for their success and also how often they fail and restart. In Switzerland, we tend to see only the sunny side of the tech boom and the craziness of all these young tech-billionaires.

Q: Did you make any unexpected connections, like what/whom?

AB: I met David Perlman, the science editor for the San Francisco Chronicle. He is 96 years and still writes every week about new studies published in peer-reviewed journals. Science communication really keeps you young!

SM: I happened to arrive when Dreamforce was in town so I had the chance to see people like Susan Wojcicki, Travis Kalanick, and Andrew McAfee in person. The discussions about women in tech surprised me. It’s a never-ending story in every industry, and I liked Marc Benioff saying that this is a leadership problem.