Using language models to facilitate chemical syntheses, improve the understanding of large earthquakes, decipher the fundamentals of cell biological processes, produce single photons for protected data transfers – the Swiss Academy of Sciences (SCNAT) is awarding the Prix Schläfli 2022 to the four most important insights of young researchers at Swiss universities. Luca Dal Zilio (Geosciences), Anna-Katharina Pfitzner (Biology), Philippe Schwaller (Chemistry) und Natasha Tomm (Physics) receive the prize for findings in their dissertations. The Prix Schläfli was first awarded as early as 1866.

Prix Schläfli 2022: Philippe SchwallerPrix Schläfli 2022 in Chemistry

How do you use artificial intelligence to simulate chemical processes? Philippe Schwaller has developed a program that has been named the best of its kind by an independent research group.

Enthusiastic, passionate, analytical – and yes, a bit nerdy. In terms of his appearance and gestures, the young man sitting in the Grosse Schanze park in Bern on this sunny afternoon and using his hands to try and explain his research comes across a bit like the character Q from the latest James Bond films. Someone who clearly enjoys his work and has been able to turn what he loves into a career. Or, to put it another way, to bring a sense of playfulness to the field of science.

Even as a secondary school pupil, the Freiburg native was interested in everything to do with engineering and natural sciences – no wonder, then, that he decided to study something that unites the two: materials sciences is essentially a combination of chemistry, physics and engineering sciences. During his year studying abroad in Manchester, the EPFL student used computer models to simulate materials, thus pursuing his interest in computer science, programming and machine learning. His skills in these fields are mainly self-taught "with online courses". 
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Image: Urs Wäfler
Text: Astrid Tomczak-Plewka

News messages on the Website of SCNAT

Philippe Schwaller – making chemistry with linguistic algorithms (17.05.2022)

Prix Schläfli 2022 award for the four best dissertations in natural sciences


David Spichiger, SCS