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Film portraits of NOMIS Distinguished Scientist Awardees 2017

A visual storytelling collaboration between NOMIS Foundation and Camera Arts

NOMIS is a private Swiss foundation that supports insight-driven scientific endeavours across all disciplines, placing particular emphasis on the researcher. The NOMIS Foundation seeks to “create a spark” in the world of science by funding highly innovative, ground-breaking research in the natural sciences, social sciences and the humanities. (excerpt from NOMIS website, 2017).


Photos top:
CA-NOMIS project team 2017 at Max Planck Institute, Leipzig
At work in the CA / Media Lab at the Lucerne School of Art and Design.

As part of the award ceremony on October 19th in the Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute in Zurich, three film portraits will be shown, each of them presenting one of the NOMIS Distinguished Scientists 2017.

The films have been created by students and alumni of the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts, School of Arts and Design, Switzerland. Next to a brief overview of the research, they provide a portrait of each scientist that shows them in their specific, personal environment, where they work and develop ideas and new thoughts.

Central to this portrait series is the connection of scientific work and ‘daily life.’ Each scientist will be visited in their own day-to-day environment, from home to work place to (glimpses of) their social and leisure activities. The underlying idea is that scientific research, like all work, is not an isolated activity, but fully integrated in the life of the scientists and their social and physical habitat.

The film project offers a unique opportunity for the students and young professionals to develop their own conceptual and visual approaches towards research and scientific knowledge as a genre of contemporary visual storytelling. By focusing on the personalities behind the research, the makers highlight the researcher’s motives and inspirations. The students have been responsible for the preparation, research, concept, interviews, filming and the post-production of the films, and are coached by supervisors.

Tony Wyss-Coray
NOMIS Distinguished Scientist Awardee 2017
professor of neurology and neurological sciences at Stanford University, California


Biography Tony Wyss-Coray Tony Wyss-Coray, professor of neurology and neurological sciences at Stanford University, California, investigates the role of immune responses in brain aging and neurodegeneration with a focus on cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease. His most recent studies have shown that circulatory factors can modulate neurogenesis, neuroimmunity and cognitive function in mice and that blood-derived factors from young mice or humans can rejuvenate the aging mouse brain. The Wyss-Coray lab is now trying to understand the molecular basis of this systemic communication with the brain by employing a combination of omics approaches and through the development of bioorthogonal tools for the in vivo labeling of proteins. Continue reading

Karl Deisseroth
NOMIS Distinguished Scientist Awardee 2017
Professor of Bioengineering and of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University, California


Biography Karl Deisseroth Karl Deisseroth is D.H. Chen Professor of Bioengineering and of Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences at Stanford University, California. He has been credited with developing and implementing an approach to biology called optogenetics, a technique that involves the use of light to control cells in living tissue, typically neurons, that have been genetically modified to express light-sensitive ion channels. Among other advances in laboratory neuroscience techniques, his research has led to thousands of major discoveries regarding the causal underpinnings of complex behavior. But while optics-based discovery of causal mechanisms in animals has been successful, little work has succeeded in revealing brain-wide patterns and underlying causal principles in humans. Continue reading

Svante Pääbo
NOMIS Distinguished Scientist Awardee 2018
Director of the Department of Evolutionary Genetics at the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig


Biography Svante Pääbo Svante Pääbo, director of the Department of Evolutionary Genetics at the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig, Germany, is one of the founders of paleogenetics and became best known for his pioneering research on the Neandertal genome. His interest in molecular biology, molecular genetics and Egyptology were the reason for his efforts to clone nuclear DNA from an Egyptian mummy as early as 1985, which established him in the field of evolutionary genetics at a very young age. In 2009, he and his team had completed the first draft of the Neandertal genome, opening up a whole new field of research into the history of modern humans. Continue reading


Manos Tsakiris
NOMIS Distinguished Scientist Awardee 2016
Professor at Warburg Institute, School of Advanced Study, University of London


Biography Manos Tsakiris Manos Tsakiris has been named the first recipient of the NOMIS Distinguished Scientists and Scholars Award. As part of the award and in line with the interdisciplinary vision of the NOMIS Foundation, Tsakiris will lead and develop the Body and Image in Arts and Sciences (BIAS) project at the Warburg Institute, School of Advanced Study, University of London. The Warburg Institute is a world-famous institution for the study of cultural history and the role of images in culture, renowned for its cross-disciplinary approach and global reach. The BIAS project aims to address timely research questions at the intersection of the sciences and humanities with a particular focus on the biological mechanisms and cultural factors that shape our relationships to other people in a culture powered by images. In line with Warburg Director David Freedberg’s commitment to building bridges across the boundaries between the humanities, arts and sciences, BIAS seeks to engage with epistemological differences in order to forge new and innovative synergies across the disciplines. Continue reading

CA NOMIS Team 2017

Film portraits have been commissioned by the NOMIS Foundation in Zurich to Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts, School of Art and Design, BA in Visual Communication – Camera Arts.

Olivia Sasse (CA alumna 2017)
Severin Pomsel (CA 2nd year)
Anja Stadelmann (CA 3rd year)

Frederic Siegel (Independent animator, Zurich) (No photo)
Stefan Weinzierl (Independent sound artist and performer, Hamburg) (No photo)

Uwe Martin (Film and moving image, post-production / Senior lecturer CA)
Max Bruinsma (Supervising editor / Senior lecturer CA)
Evert Ypma (Project concept and management / CA program leader)


Nathaly Bachmann, Essence Relations, Zurich / Bern.
Markus Reinhard, Managing director NOMIS Foundation, Zurich
Cosima Crawford, NOMIS Foundation, Zurich
Ursula Fricke, NOMIS Foundation, Zurich
Nathaly Bachmann, Essence Relations, Zurich / Bern

Scientists biographies:
All biographies of the scientists are from NOMIS website (2017)


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