The Pier 17 Science Studio is a fellowship program that supports emerging talents in science communication and public engagement to develop new ideas, practices, and models aimed at building open dialogues around science, society, and the wider issues facing us today.
The program exposes the fellows to the Bay Area’s vibrant science communication community, an extensive network of mentors and partners, visibility, and financial aid. The fellows chosen have a bold and compelling vision for public engagement, and are interested in projects that are collaborative, cross-disciplinary, leverage technology, and reach audiences in radically new ways.
swissnex San Francisco hopes to ignite conversations, bring science to unexpected places, and engage people who may not be actively seeking science information. We aim to spark a new generation of science advocates working to drive public dialogue, promote new ways of thinking about science, and empower citizens to make informed decisions for the future.
Pier 17 Science Studio offers a fellowship program for early-stage science communicators from a variety of disciplines. Fellows traveling from Switzerland spent one to three months working within swissnex San Francisco’s creative hub at Pier 17.
“The fellowship helped me to develop two immersive projects we are now launching at EPFL: a SciComm escape room, and a student space mission analogue,” Chloé writes. “I also developed speaking and project management skills I will use my whole life. The connections in the Silicon Valley were essential to the development of some of my projects, [and] the visibility for my school was amazing. It opened the doors to many more opportunities for me in Switzerland.”
Chloé Carrière — “Galactic Chloé” — studies physics at EPFL, where she is busy bringing science communication about astronomy, astrophysics, cosmology, space missions and space engineering to the public through engaging public appearances, events, and social media. She is the creator of Space@yourService, which organizes Astronomy on Tap events in Lausanne, has co-produced science videos for Swiss public broadcaster RTS, and her science communication talk, « The Science behind Moonwalking », earned her an audience prize from FameLab — despite being the only undergraduate entry among all of the PhDs. Most recently, she spent the summer at swissnex San Francisco as a Pier 17 Science Communication Fellow.
“As I have a purely scientific background, the Pier 17 Science Studio program helped me to acquire important fundamental knowledge on the different techniques and “tools” that can be used to communicate clearly in an innovative way, and effectively reach the general public,” Serafina writes. “[It] gave me the chance to discover a world that was still unknown to me. It encouraged me to question the scientific “bubble” I come from and create new awareness. I understood that storytelling is an introspective process that can help scientists to articulate our professional motivation for why we became scientists, why we chose a particular field, and why it is important to us. As I had no previous knowledge in the field of science communication, it represented for me a sort of leap in the dark, but it was extremely inspiring for the future directions I want to pursue for my career.”
Serafina Calarco is completing her doctoral studies at the University of Bern, Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine with research aimed at better understanding the complex functioning of the endo-cannabinoid system. Moved by studying a topic with a great socio-political relevance, Serafina often finds herself talking about it, sharing information and exchanging thoughts. Her academic career has spanned Switzerland, Spain, and Italy, where she obtained a Masters in Pharmaceutical Chemistry at the University of Bologna.
“Through the studio, I encountered new ways of communicating complex topics to different audiences, such as new event formats or projects that combine art and science. On a personal level, it gave me insight into a new culture and into how science communication varies from one culture to another. I find the way swissnex discusses topics of current importance at the intersection of science, art and economy very interesting and could imagine to work in a similar setting at a certain point in my career. The program also gave me visibility: I wrote a blog post for ETH Global, presented at the ScienceComm conference, and was contacted by other people interested in science communication.”
Tanja Coray is a communication specialist with an educational and professional background in corporate communication, science communication and corporate social responsibility. She currently works as communications specialist for the Swiss engineering, planning and consulting company Basler & Hofmann and had previously been working at ETH Zurich as communications officer for the Swiss National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) Digital Fabrication. Tanja Coray loves to facilitate discussions around complex topics and developments and to make them accessible and relatable for different audiences. She has a great passion for the environment and sustainability, science and technology, societal developments and culture, and a strong interest for intercultural and interdisciplinary experiences.
“I met the manager of the LibraryLab whilst doing a workshop of the Pier 17 Science Studio Storytelling Academy, [which lead to a fellowship]. And in terms of ideas and inspiration, I was endorsed by scientists who believed in my project and gave me confidence to explore more in that direction. So absolutely, without the frame of swissnex, I couldn’t meet and find all these people by myself. Furthermore, I could explore new artistic projects at the new art residency La Becque this summer, and will continue next year for the second part of the exhibition. Again, this contact has been made through the Science Studio Program.”
Marie Griesmar is a Swiss artist based in Lausanne and Zurich. She obtained her MFA at the University of Art of Zurich (ZHdK) in 2016. She graduated with a BFA from HEAD Geneva in 2014. In 2018, Griesmar had an exhibition at DOC in Paris for which she created a diorama inspired by the Parisian river Seine’s ecosystem. In September of the same year, she took part in a residency in the Bay Area with swissnex, San Francisco’s Science Studio program, where she pursued her project Beneath the Sea. That body of research had begun in 2016, during an artistic residency in Saudi Arabia, where she explored, in collaboration with the Reef Genomics Lab of the Red Sea Research Center at the University of KAUST-Jeddah, how to generate evolutionary sculptures. Since April 2019, Griesmar is a fellow at the ETH in Zurich to conduct some research on digital fabrication combining ecology and technology. Her last sculpture work is currently shown in La Becque, at La Tour-de-Peilz for the exhibition Modern Nature.
“[I learned] new ideas about storytelling, [and] I’m writing a book about the subject.”
Urs Hafner is a freelance historian, journalist and university teacher.
“The Pier 17 Science Studio gave me many new ideas and inspirations, which could flow into new projects. I was motivated to try out formats from the USA here as well, with a lot of exchange in the team and at the institute about my experiences. It lead to articles in ZHAW magazines: IUNR Magazine, ZHAW Impact, and ZHAW Transfer, as well as a presentation at the ScienceComm conference. It was a great experience — I like to think back to it, and can incorporate a lot of that new knowledge into my daily work.”
Rahel Meier is a Research Assistant in the Sustainability Communications group at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences, with a background in geography, sustainability, and climate change communication.
“It was very helpful to be inspired and to just find new ideas by discovering a new place like swissnex San Francisco, [to] learn about the latest trends in science communication and put them in practice. It was also a great opportunity to join a global community, in order to open new networks and possible projects. It helped me to think more broadly when thinking of a new project.”
With expertise in bioethics, science communication, and the humanities, Dr. Johann Roduit is committed to creating new spaces for innovative projects to emerge and driving reflection on the ethical implications of new technologies. He is the founding partner of the innovation studio Conexkt. Conexkt focuses on turning ideas into products and services. It offers consulting, communication, and coaching services.
“During this fellowship, I made connections with professionals from different fields, from scientists to creatives. A couple of them have become really important collaborators for my current project. I improved my prototyping skills, and the feedback I received during my workshop at Swissnex had a lot of impact on the project in its current form. The conversations with people from the Swissnex network helped me put my work into context of the current developments around science communication and interaction design. Besides making valuable connections, I developed a clearer direction for the development of my project and my artistic activities in general. This residency also opened up opportunities to work on science communication projects in Switzerland. [For example] I shared my experience in developing a science communication project in San Francisco [with] students from Geneva University of Art and Design, and in a project presentation at Fluxdock in Basel.”
Nadya Suvorova is an interactive media artist and designer based in Zurich. Using different technologies and materials, her work acts as both a compass and a Petri dish — leading you on poetic journeys while encouraging the growth of new perceptions and ideas. Her playful works celebrate the weird beauty of our reality. At the junction between art and science, from the scale of particle physics to the vast cosmos, she explores the grace of the natural world. Operating between the physical and imaginative realms, her art is constantly shifting, using surface, texture, color, light refraction and changes in shape and form to reveal and engage with the invisible. She is particularly interested in the role that the human plays in discovering and shaping nature, seeking not only to explore this relationship but to challenge and shift our perspective regarding our environment. She creates installations, video games, interactive documentaries, sculptures, graphics and more.
Optimus Agora Fellows
The Pier 17 Science Studio program also includes fellows sent by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF), which has joined forces with swissnex San Francisco to offer a science communication fellowship to winners of the Optimus Agora Prize.
The SciComm Studio is Pier 17 Science Studio’s meetup for lovers of science seeking a community to experiment, explore, and connect around science communication and public engagement.
Public events, exhibitions, and communication produced at Pier 17 bringing together diverse perspectives on scicomm and leveraging Pier 17 Science Studio.
Pier 17 Science Studio produces a monthly newsletter as a place to discover new strategies for sharing science with the public. We’ll explore how to keep science engaging and discussions lively through innovative approaches to science storytelling.
Check out Pier 17 Science Studio’s blog posts and podcast episodes on all things sci-comm related, with interviews and articles on current trends.
Advisory Board & Team
- Kishore Hari, Strategic Partnerships, Communications and Engagement, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative
- Sophie Lamparter, Co-Founder, DART
- Riccardo Sabatini, TED Speaker, Scientist, and Entrepreneur
- Claire Pillsbury, Program Manager, Exploratorium
- Greg Niemeyer, Professor of New Media, UC Berkeley
- Christophe Giovannini, Head of Communications, Swiss National Science Foundation
Research & Content Strategy