BrainWaves NightLife

Inspiring Science Communication Study Tours

Inspiring Science Communication is dedicated to providing the Swiss science communication community with the opportunity to see, feel, touch, hear, and taste how alive the San Francisco Bay Area is with enthusiasm for the geeky, the gross, the nerdy.

Participants attend an interactive, tailored study tour to the Bay Area on the topic of science communication (held Oct 2015 and Oct/Nov 2016) and take home a spirit of enthusiasm that will fuel new ideas, spark creative new formats, and ultimately serve to raise scientific knowledge and awareness within the Swiss general public and across all ages.

The essence of Inspiring Science Communication is to embrace creativity and infuse the Swiss science communication community with the ideas, skills, and tools to test new methods and formats in their field and see if they catch hold.

You can follow along with the study tour at #scicommCH on Twitter during the Bay Area Science Festival.

Birdly at NightLife, Cal Academy

 What You Can Expect

  • One-week study tours into the science communication trends of San Francisco and Silicon Valley, timed with the Bay Area Science Festival.
  • Step aboard a ship and infiltrate Alcatraz Island, where science demos, talks, and exhibits are the law.
  • Take a walking tour of science and creativity in the city of innovation and meet the editorial teams at popular science publications.
  • Learn how scientists at local public institutions share their research with broad audiences through visuals, videos, and social media.
  • See first-hand how companies dedicated to education relay the science behind their products and services.
  • Engage with the critical mass of active science lovers and citizen scientists in the Bay Area who make being nerdy “cool” in the region.
  • Challenge traditional approaches to communicating science.
  • Come up with entirely new, often visual methods (in a workshop setting) for getting difficult concepts across in an entertaining way.
  • Scout new, digital formats for communicating science.
  • Engage in a back-and-forth with experts and audiences on the ground.
  • Openly question why such new formats are successful in the Bay Area and whether or not they could work in Switzerland.

Who Will Benefit from the Study Tours

Everyone can benefit from the Inspiring Science Communication study tours. However, they make the most sense for Swiss science communicators or those tasked with sharing science, mobilizing and engaging audiences, and creating dialog between science and society.

Skye at Nerd Nite


Dates of the Fall 2016 Study Tour are: October 31-November 4, however participants are encouraged to come early for an optional evening event on Friday, October 28 and use the weekend to sightsee and get over the jet lag (this is a jam-packed week of content, with little time outside of the program). Our first official program day will be Monday, October 31, 2016.

Participants are responsible for making their own travel arrangements to and from San Francisco, transportation to/from airport, and all accommodations during the trip. swissnex San Francisco will cover all ground transportation related to the tour along with a welcome and closing meal.


Participants are responsible for the costs associated with travel, accommodation, and meals during their stay in San Francisco. We estimate an average cost of $3,000 (USD) for airfare, hotel, basic meals, and taxis to/from the airport. Limited financial aid is available on a need basis for one individual per study tour.

In addition, there is a small fee (CHF 800) payable to swissnex San Francisco to cover select group meals, transportation, and other related costs.

Application & Selection Process

We ask interested participants to complete a questionnaire to share their level of knowledge, commitment, plans for implementation, and support from management. The objective is to have a diverse group of no more than 7-8 participants who are knowledgeable, active science communicators from a variety of institutions and regions throughout Switzerland. Application window for the fall study tour is closed. We will respond to applicants by March 31, 2016, with an update.


Participants must bring a laptop, tablet, or smartphone to work with during the study tour. It is also recommended that participants purchase a prepaid mobile data plan to interact through mobile devices of their choice. And don’t forget chargers and necessary adaptors!

Citizen Science

Sample Program – Subject to Change!

See the 2015 program. Read a collection of blog posts from last year’s group and a recap from a participant on the website for the Swiss National Supercomputing Centre.

Date Day Time Activity Location
28-Oct Fri 5PM OPTIONAL EVENING: Group dinner for those in town Starbelly, San Francisco
7PM Bay Area Science Festival Event Castro Theater, San Francisco
29-Oct Sat All Day OPTIONAL DAY: Explore the City San Francisco
30-Oct Sun All Day OPTIONAL DAY: Explore the City San Francisco
31-Oct Mon 9AM Welcome & Intro to Bay Area Sci Comm swissnex San Francisco, Pier 17
1PM Behind the Scenes at the Exploratorium Exploratorium, Pier 15
3PM Tours of Autodesk Residency and Gallery San Francisco
7PM Official Welcome Dinner San Francisco
1-Nov Tues 9AM UC Berkeley tour; Meet campus science reporters UC Berkeley
12:30PM Visual Storytelling and iPhone Video WORKSHOP Berkeley Advanced Media Institute
5PM Dinner San Francisco
7PM Nerd Nite SF on Alcatraz Alcatraz, SF Bay
2-Nov Wed 9AM Meet Stanford University News Team Stanford University
10:30AM Knight Fellows Program Stanford University
1:30PM Biocurious visit Palo Alto
3:30PM Company visit Palo Alto or Menlo Park
Evening Possible event
3-Nov Thur Morning Workshop swissnex San Francisco
1pm Visualization and Communication at Cal Academy Cal Academy, Golden Gate Park
5pm Dinner nearby San Francisco
6:30PM NightLife at Cal Academy of Sciences Cal Academy, Golden Gate Park
4-Nov Fri Morning Wikimedia Foundation Visit Wikimedia
Midmorning News Publication Visit San Francisco
Afternoon Workshop swissnex San Francisco
Evening Goodbye Dinner and Debrief San Francisco
Evening Bay Area Science Festival Event San Francisco


Vital support for this project is provided by Gebert Rüf Stiftung. The program is part of the “scientainment” area of activity, and runs from January 2015 through December 2016. The study tour program is curated, organized, and managed by swissnex San Francisco.

Gebert Rüf Logo

Thank you also to our communication partners in Switzerland, Science et Cité!

Science et Cite Logo