Published on 12.11.2020

Dies academicus 2020: awards and nominations, but no ceremony

As with other events, the Dies academicus of the University of Fribourg is having to submit to the health situation. But even if the ceremony cannot take place, the University is determined to pay tribute to its 2020 doctors honoris causa and to award prizes for the excellent work of its students and doctoral candidates.

The traditional Dies academicus ceremony, which is held every year on 15 November in the Aula magna of the University of Fribourg, will not take place this year. In order to comply with the health recommendations of the Federal Office of Public Health and of the Canton and in order to observe the current health regulations, Unifr is honouring its doctors h.c. and the recipients of its various awards without a ceremony.

Conferral of honorary doctorates in absentia
This year, four faculties are awarding the title of doctor h.c.:

  • The Faculty of Law awards the title to Dr. Rudolf Muggli, an internationally renowned lawyer and urban planner. Rudolf Muggli is the director of the public law firm kanzlei konstruktiv and legal consultant to the Swiss Heritage Society. He also was head of the Swiss Association for Spatial Planning (VLP-ASPAN) from 1990 to 2003. For many years he has been active in sustainable spatial planning as well as effective heritage protection. The range of his activities and commitments includes advising, amongst others, the Confederation and its cantons and municipalities on legal issues regarding construction and spatial planning.
  • Professor Robin Elizabeth Mansell receives the title from the Faculty of Management, Economics and Social Sciences. Professor of New Media and the Internet in the Department of Media and Communications at the London School of Economics and Political Science, Robin Mansell is a world-renowned specialist in the interaction between media, technology, markets and democracy. In her research she critically investigates the economic, political and social consequences of new communication technologies as well as media and internet policy. Her current work focuses on the consequences of digital platforms and the «datafication» of society.
  • The Faculty of Humanities honours Professor Roberte Hamayon, anthropologist and honorary director of the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes at the Sorbonne. Since 1967, she has been conducting long-term field studies among the Mongols and Buryats of Siberia, complemented by comparative research in other areas of East Asia. In this way, she has contributed to the in-depth renewal of the anthropological study of these peoples. Holder of two doctorates, Roberte Hamayon has combined fieldwork with an outstanding academic career, and that at a time when women professors were (still) rare. In 1969-70, she also founded the Centre for Mongolian and Siberian Studies and the journal of the same name at the Ethnology Laboratory of Paris-X Nanterre.
  • The Faculty of Science and Medicine awards the title of doctor honoris causa to Professor Kevin J. Tracey MD. President and CEO of the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, Kevin J. Tracey MD is also Professor of Neurosurgery and Molecular Medicine at the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell and President of the Elmezzi Graduate School of Molecular Medicine in Manhasset, New York. The Faculty thus honours a renowned professor who is a pioneer in pathogenesis and experimental inflammation therapy. With more than 400 original publications, Kevin J. Tracey MD is ranked among the top 350 of the world's 100,000 most cited scientists and not only has excellent scientific experience, but is also well versed in technology transfer and commercialization.

Research awards

The research awards are as follows:

  • The Ethics Prize is awarded by the University Council to Marc Wittwer of the Faculty of Humanities for his thesis entitled «Wie hast du es so mit der Schweigepflicht? - Eine qualitative Studie zu den Äusserungsformen der Vertraulichkeit in der Schulsozialarbeit» (How do you feel about professional confidentiality? - A qualitative study of the ways confidentiality finds expression in school social work).
    This prize, established in 2012, is awarded every two years for a master's thesis in the field of applied ethics or which, in its own specific field, raises and addresses ethical issues of importance for scientific research and teaching as well as for the practical application of scientific knowledge. It is endowed with 5,000 francs.
  • The Gender Prize seeks to promote research that develops a gender perspective and to give greater visibility to the importance of the gender perspective in all areas of research. Endowed with 3,000 francs, it is awarded to three candidates this year:
    • Anna Maria Koukal, Faculty of Management, Economics and Social Sciences, for her doctoral thesis «The Enfranchisement of Women and Foreigners in Switzerland. Lessons for Direct Democracy, Cultural Change and Integration».
    • Dominique Lysser, Faculty of Humanities, for her master’s thesis «Un-Sichtbarkeit im Museum - ein Blick auf die Historisierung und Musealisierung der KZ-Bordelle und der Sex-Zwangsarbeit in den KZ-Gedenkstätten Neuengamme, Flossenbürg und Ravensbrück».(Un-visibility in the museum – a look at the historisation and museumisation of concentration camp brothels and forced prostitution in the Neuengamme, Flossenbürg and Ravensbrück concentration camp memorials).
    • Morgane Pochon, Faculty of Humanities, for her master’s thesis « ‹Je voulais simplement faire revenir mes règles›. Essai de reconstitution des parcours d'avortement des Fribourgeoises saisies par la justice et de leurs représentations de l'avortement (1930-1970).“ (‘I just wanted to have my periods come back’. An attempt to reconstruct the abortion pathways of Fribourg women brought before the courts and their accounts of abortion (1930-1970) ).
  • The Prize for Environmental Research 2020 is awarded to Anna Geiser of the Faculty of Science and Medicine for her master's thesis entitled «Changing agriculture - Southland farmers' struggles to reconcile neoliberal production demands with increasing environmental regulation».
    The award aims to promote disciplinary and interdisciplinary research in the areas of environmental sciences and sustainability. Awarded for the eighth time, it is endowed with 5,000 francs and financed by Pro Natura Fribourg and the University Rectorate.
  • The Chorafas Prize is awarded to Nicolas Kieffer of the Faculty of Science and Medicine for his doctoral thesis entitled «Résistance acquise aux β-lactamines de large spectre et résistance plasmidique aux polymyxines chez les bacilles à Gram négatif.» (Acquired resistance to broad-spectrum β-lactam antibiotics and plasmid resistance to polymyxins in Gram-negative bacilli).
    The Dimitris N. Chorafas Foundation awards prizes for outstanding research characterised by its strong potential for practical application and particular importance for possible future use in particular fields of engineering, medicine and natural sciences. It is endowed with 5000 USD.
  • The Vigener Prizes, instituted in 1908 following a donation by Joseph Vigener and endowed with 2,000 francs, are awarded for outstanding doctoral research. This year, four faculties are awarding prizes to five candidates:
    • The Faculty of Law prize goes to Daniel Zemp for his doctoral thesis entitled «Materiellrechtliche Anspruchskonkurrenz und zivilprozessuale Zuständigkeit, nach Schweizer Recht unter Berücksichtigung der deutschen Rechtslage». (Competing substantive claims and civil procedure jurisdiction under Swiss law having regard to the situation in German law).
    • The Faculty of Management, Economics and Social Sciences presents its award to Ximena Jativa Sierra for her thesis entitled «Essays in Empirical Development Economics».
    • The Faculty of Humanities shares its prize between Diletta Guidi for her thesis on «L'islam des musées. Sociohistoire de la (re)présentation de l'islam dans les politiques culturelles françaises. Le cas du Louvre et de l'Institut du monde arabe» (The Islam of Museums. Sociohistory of the (re)presentation of Islam in French cultural policies. The case of the Louvre and the Arab World Institute) and Sebastian Imoberdorf for his thesis «Identidades múltiples – Hibridismo cultural y social en la narrativa hispanounidense de los siglos XX y XXI». (Multiple Identities - Cultural and Social Hybridism in the Hispanic-American Narrative of the 20th and 21st Centuries».
    • The Faculty of Science and Medicine awards Vivian Link for her thesis entitled «Statistical inference of genetic diversity: computational tools for low-depth and ancient sequencing data».
  • The 2020 Leuba Prize is awarded by the Faculty of Theology to Stefan Constantinescu for his thesis entitled «Visitatio Verbi dans les Sermons In Cantica de Saint Bernard de Clairvaux. Splendor Personae entre zôon poietikon et zôon eikonikon». (Visitatio Verbi in the Sermons In Cantica of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux. Splendor Personae between zôon poietikon and zôon eikonikon).
    The Leuba Prize was founded by the former rector of the University of Lausanne, the evangelical theologian Jean-Louis Leuba (1912 - 2005). Its aim is to promote scientific research that is committed to the cause of Christian ecumenism.

Crédit photo: STEMUTZ.COM