What advice do you have for young researchers in this regard?
On the one hand, that they apply new rules and, for example, publish their research results as preprints that have not yet undergone peer review by a publisher. In various disciplines, it almost no longer matters what is published where - if a paper provides an important insight, the scientific community immediately recognizes it. Of course, the quality of the paper must be the same as if it were submitted to a journal. So the quality certainly does not suffer.
But I think it is even more important to be multidisciplinary and polyvalent. We will only be able to answer the really big and pressing questions if we work together with other disciplines. In our NCCR TransCure, of which I am still director, we combine chemistry, structural biology and physiology. So we try to bring at least tri-disciplinary research to our PhD students and junior researchers.
Are you aiming for a cultural change with "Better Science"?
Yes - and in doing so, we are adopting values and priorities from a society that is undergoing change. Because we are also part of it. For example, I don't agree with the idea of being a very competitive academy which makes individuals sick. So, part of the Better Science initiative is not just that we become fairer, but it's also about taking care of our own people, making sure they feel good and can work in a healthy environment.
Moreover, with these values, it's not just diversity that's important, but also inclusivity. This often means gender, but it also includes social inclusivity. I am an example of this because I am “first gen”, as they say in the U.S. I’m the first generation in my family to go to university. I come from a family where no one went to university. There are not many of us in Switzerland. Many who study come from a family with an academic background. Here, too, one can make an impact. My point is, you can make it, even if you come from a simple working-class background.
What are you looking forward to in your department?
Personally, I have to say, I'm taking a medium- to long-term view. I would like to do my job for eight years and become emeritus. And when we succeed in bringing about a culture change, as "Better Science" suggests, and implementing the DORA principles - then we will have done it. Then we will be a modern, fair and attractive research institution. I would see that as very favorable. If we had further internationalization to go with it, especially with African universities, I would also welcome that very much.