The BNP Paribas Swiss Foundation and the Swiss Polar Institute help young researchers have access to the Poles

May 28, 2018

In January 2018, the BNP Paribas Swiss Foundation and the Swiss Polar Institute (based at EPFL) launched the “Polar Access Fund”, a new scheme allowing young researchers involved in research on climate change to receive scholarships to lead their first field expedition in polar regions.  

The Swiss Polar Institute: Switzerland takes part in international polar challenges

Founded in 2015 and based at EPFL, the Swiss Polar Institute (SPI) is a consortium of Swiss universities including EPFL, the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL), ETH Zurich and the University of Bern. It aims at making Switzerland both a key and unifying international partner in the area of polar and extreme environment research.

A major expedition around Antarctica

To mark its creation, SPI launched a major project: the Antarctic Circumnavigation Expedition (ACE), the first scientific expedition to fully circumnavigate the Antarctic continent. This operation, conducted from 20 December 2016 to 19 March 2017 on board the Russian vessel, the Akademik Treshnikov, aimed at measuring and quantifying the impact of climate change and pollution in the Southern Ocean, through 22 research projects directed by 55 researchers from 30 countries. An exceptional number of samples and data were collected during the expedition and are now being analysed by the teams, with the objective of publishing the results by the end of 2018. While the BNP Paribas Swiss Foundation teamed up with SPI in 2016 with the aim of supporting more specifically two Swiss projects conducted on ACE and led by professors Katherine C. Leonard (EPFL) and Heini Wernli (ETH Zurich); this partnership has been extended in 2018 with the creation of the Polar Access Fund.

A Fund to promote young scientists involved in polar and climate change research

Arctic, Antarctic and places at very high altitude, the “third pole”, are geographic areas of very difficult access, even though they represent valuable environments for science. Today, the polar regions are studied more specifically for their evolution linked to climate change, their impact on it and connections with it. This kind of research can involve many different disciplines, including glaciology, oceanography, biology, meteorology, microbiology, economics, social science, and medicine. The Polar Access Fund will annually seek to assist between five and ten PhD and post-doctoral students from Swiss universities and research institutes, across a variety of disciplines, to carry out their research in connection with global warming. Scholarships of up to CHF 20,000. – will enable these young researchers to undertake their first scientific field expedition in the extreme environments that characterize the polar latitudes. Five projects have already been supported for 2018, please visit the website of the Polar Access Fund for more information.

Interested in the issue of global warming of the Poles?

The BNP Paribas Swiss Foundation and the Swiss Polar Institute invite you to come and participate on 7 June to a live session with experts on polar issues. Join us from 5.30pm onwards on BNP Paribas in Switzerland’s Twitter account (@BNPParibas_CH) for live streaming!

BNP Paribas in Switzerland's Twitter account