Mercator Awards 2020 for Junior Researchers: Call for nominations

Innovative research of tomorrow begins with the junior researchers of today. The Graduate Campus (GRC) and Mercator Foundation Switzerland would therefore like to recognize the excellent achievements of young researchers at the University of Zurich (UZH) and increase their visibility to the public.

The Mercator Awards for Junior Researchers give recognition to the outstanding scientific achievements of advanced PhD candidates and early postdoctoral researchers (i.e., four academic years after completion of the dissertation, excluding parental leave) at UZH engaged in research projects of societal relevance and applying inter- or transdisciplinary approaches or methods. Three prizes are awarded for the areas of Arts and Social Sciences, Law and Economics and for Medicine and Sciences.

Submitted applications are evaluated based on the following criteria:

  1. Scientific quality
  2. First research results while at UZH (e.g. publications, conference papers)
  3. Originality/ innovation
  4. Societal relevance of the research work (see below for details)
  5. Inter- or transdisciplinarity approaches (see below for details)

The nominees must carry out their research at UZH at the time of the nomination.

The prizes are endowed with CHF 5’000 each. The awards ceremony will take place at a public event.


The prizes are awarded by a scientific jury, consisting of the Director of the Graduate Campus, the professorial members of the GRC Executive Board and a representative each from Mercator Foundation Switzerland and the Division of Research Development at UZH.

Nomination and selection of award winners

The nomination follows a two-stage process:

Stage 1: All professors are invited to propose qualified junior researchers to their respective facultyApplications can be submitted to the respective dean's office until 1 November 2019.


Applications include:

  • One-page summary of the project highlighting the most important results
  • Short description of how the five criteria mentioned above are fulfilled
  • 1-2 page CV of the candidate including a list of publications, the e-mail address and the phone number 

The documents can be submitted in either German or English.


Depending on the faculty, professors are asked to send the nomination documents per Email to the following persons:


Stage 2: Thereafter, each faculty nominates 1-2 candidates to the Graduate Campus. The nomination documents should include a supporting statement of the Dean of the respective faculty.

Based on the application documents, the jury will invite the selected nominees to briefly present their projects in February/March 2020. Afterwards the jury will decide on the award winners who will be awarded at the Annual Event of the Graduate Campus.

Explanations for the criteria

Societal relevance

We consider socially relevant research not only as applied research, but above all as the investigation of topic areas related to pertinent issues and challenges of our society.

Inter- or transdisciplinarity approaches

We refer to the following definition of interdisciplinarity which includes also transdisciplinary research: "Interdisciplinary research (IDR) is a mode of research by teams or individuals that integrates information, data, techniques, tools, perspectives, concepts, and/or theories from two or more disciplines or bodies of specialized knowledge to advance fundamental understanding or to solve problems whose solutions are beyond the scope of a single discipline or area of research practice." Source: Facilitating Interdisciplinary Research (2004), National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering and Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, The National Academies Press 306, Washington, D.C., p. 188.