Seed Grant Projects 2022

Seed Grant Projekte 2022



Ill and Healthy at the Same Time - (How) Is It Possible?

Ill and healthy


The image of health that is currently transported by the media is often determined by fitness models, diet influencers and lifestyle coaches. Their credibility is based on their own apparent health. We seem to believe that those who dispose of health are also those who can teach us about it. Our project follows a different path by looking for health where it may be hidden - among people with severe and multiple physical and mental illnesses as well as social disadvantages. Those who are always well will not have to develop strategies to cope with hardship. In contrast, those who suffer from chronic illness will have to change their approach to life so that it becomes livable nonetheless. According to a modern understanding, such capacity for adaptation is the key to health.

Our project thus aims to explore if health can be found in the lives of patients of the Sune-Egge hospital in Zurich, a specialized hospital for socially disadvantaged patients with physical and mental illnesses. As researchers, we will listen, share the daily lives and collect evidence of health. Then, we will try to extract and understand what we have gathered in a joined effort together with the patients themselves, significant others, volunteers and staff members of the hospital. At the end of the project, we hope to have reached a more complex, profound and real-life understanding of health.

For further information, please contact Dr. med. Florian Riese [Research Group Riese] or Dr. med. Mohannad Abou Shoak

Needs Assessment: Improving the Long-Term Support of Children and Families With Variations of Sex Characteristics (VSC) by Participatory Research

Intersex Flag


Variations of sex characteristics (VSC) comprise a group of congenital variants, which can lead to obvious genital ambiguity or differences in development of internal sex organs. Apart from biological considerations, affected families face various social and psychological challenges (e.g. gender of rearing, reproduction, discrimination).

In the past, medical decisions were largely made by medical personnel caring for these families. More recently, holistic approaches and shared decision making have gained increasing importance. Multidisciplinary teams (medical professionals, psychologists, social workers and ethicists) discuss
each individual case in the best interest of the child and make joint decisions with involvement of the parents.

We have recognized the need for peer support, meaning other affected individuals and families acting as a crucial supportive element and enabling families to deal with these challenging situations.

The aim of this project is a transdisciplinary exchange between affected individuals, families, members of peer support groups and medical professionals in focus groups, questionnaires, and participant observations. Our goal is to improve our understanding regarding needs for peer support and to enhancing networking among affected individuals whilst guaranteeing the quality and neutrality of information.

To our knowledge, this is the first citizen science project in the field of VSC in Switzerland. In this very controversially discussed field it is essential to improve the dialogue between peers and medical professionals with the ultimate goal of improving support and quality of life in affected individuals.

For further information, please contact Dr. med. Uchenna Kennedy

WINE Project

WINE Project


Adoption of sustainable viticultural practices in Switzerland requires research that addresses the needs and open questions of winegrowers. Grapevines are an agriculturally intensive crop, requiring high use of pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, fertilizers, and other inputs. More information is needed about the "landscape" of viticultural practices in Switzerland and any possible impacts.

This project will coordinate working groups consisting of researchers, winegrowers from German- and French-speaking Switzerland and other stakeholders, to discuss challenges and concerns surrounding sustainable viticultural practices. The groups will co-develop a winegrower survey regarding sustainable practices and a pilot research project to examine links between agricultural practices (e.g. use of pesticides), location of vineyards (e.g. solar radiation) and vineyard biodiversity and subsequent relationships with wine quality characteristics (microbiology and chemistry). These citizen scientists will participate in collection of samples and data from their own vineyards and wineries. Researchers at ETH Zürich and Agroscope will then analyze these samples and data to present these findings back to the winegrower and stakeholder community.

The results of this initial survey will subsequently be discussed and analyzed by the original focus groups. Participating winegrowers and stakeholders are therefore central to every stage of the project: from the primary development of the research questions, initial sampling and data collection, and the interpretation thereof, as well as planning of further projects. This Citizen Science project therefore lays the foundation for future collaborations with winegrowers throughout Switzerland.

For further information, please contact Prof. Dr. Nicholas Bokulich /

«So-Reden und Anders-Reden». Multilingualism in Everyday Life - Students Narrate, Document, Explore

QUIMS-Schule Stettbach


In collaboration with student researchers from the QUIMS school in Stettbach (secondary school; QUIMS = quality in multicultural schools) – i.e. students who actively contribute to the project work – the project, led by Prof. Dr. Marie-Luis Merten and Prof. Dr. Barbara Sonnenhauser, investigates the everyday multilingualism of young people in characteristic school, youth language and family contexts. The core objectives of the project are (1) to enrich existing statistical surveys on multilingualism in Switzerland by adding an emic dimension – i.e. an internal perspective – and to fill them with life, so to speak, (2) to gain a detailed insight into the multimodal diversity of multilingual everyday life of young people, and (3) to set questions and approaches of multilingual actors and their multidimensional perspective on multilingual spaces relevant. 

The project thus aims to gain insights into lived multilingualism from the perspective of the young actors. The focus is less on questions of language competence, but rather on the perception of, the view on and the handling of language(s), i.e. the subjective experience of written as well as spoken languages in context. The central research questions therefore refer to the researching students’ concept of multilingualism: What do they understand by multilingualism? What contexts, forms and functions of multilingualism do they make relevant? Actors thus become researchers, shaping and reflecting – under scientific supervision – the research process, which in turn yields insights into how multilingualism is dealt with and indications of attitudes towards language(s). In previous research, attitudes are predominantly investigated in a survey-based and quantitatively oriented way, rather rarely derived from linguistic behavior and linked back to the lifeworld of the social actors. In particular, the questions to what extent a context defined as monolingual/multilingual by linguists is also perceived as such by language users and which concrete strategies are used to orient oneself in an environment perceived as multilingual have not yet been answered. Another research gap is the extent to which the attitudes of the social environment towards “multilinguals” – especially the weighting of languages of origin vs. school languages – influences these perceptions and strategies.

For further information, please contact Prof. Dr. Marie-Luis Merten or Prof. Dr. Barbara Sonnenhauser

The “Borys Malkin Collection” in the view of Wounaan in Colombia



The research project is one of five workspace projects at the Ethnographic Museum at the University of Zurich, each of which will result in a participatory exhibition. The specific project is about Wounaan objects from Colombia, including photographs and short films, which go back to the Polish professional collector Borys Malkin (1917–2009). From 1968 to 1972, Malkin visited several Wounaan villages in Colombia and acquired numerous “complete object sets” which he sold to many European and North American museums. This type of collecting and selling practice was a business model that provided Malkin with his livelihood from 1957 to 1994.

The workspace project will not be designed as a readymade exhibition, but rather as a participatory research process open to interpretation. The focus is on five core questions for the collection regarding context, origin, contemporaneity, skill, and reconnection, which arise from anthropological research as well as from the analysis of current museum debates. They are fundamental to understanding material culture and practical knowledge of originator societies and to then engage in a dialogue about collections.

We pursue the goal of opening up the anthropological research process in the museum and inviting representatives of the originator societies, experts, artisans, and scholars to participate in this process. In this process, the participation of Wounaan, who today live mainly in Colombia (Rio San Juan) and also in Panama (Comarca Emberá-Wounaan), and getting to know their understanding of the collection at our museum and their ideas of how to deal with it, is of central importance.

For further information, please contact Dr. Maike Powroznik

Urban Agroecology Living Lab in Zurich

Living Lab


Something new is emerging in Zurich North, bringing together different actors from civil society, city government, and education - an “Urban Agroecology Living Lab”. 
Agroecology is an important strategy to address the many social and ecological challenges our society is experiencing. Agroecology is a transformative science, a practice and a social movement. To do this, the project works with two practice initiatives: an existing community garden that will be strengthened, and at least one new initiative developed together with local actors (a food coop or a food forest). Providing input for exchange with other city dwellers and organizations in order to scale-out urban agroecology (i.e. inspire more people and manage more land together and according to agroecological principles).

The activities are supervised by the SoLaWi Mehalsgmües and accompanied by the conceptual network "Technikum Urbane Agrarökologie (TUA) and the ETH. 
The Living Lab will be a space for collaborative production, collaborative design, and testing of inclusive, multifunctional agroecological activities. The goal is to develop together a new type of Living-lab that is specifically applicable to urban agroecology in and outside of Zurich. We want to provide a useful method for the creative development of urban green - or rather colorful - spaces.

For further information, please contact Prof. Dr. Johanna Jacobi

or visit: / ​​​​​