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Two women win this year’s top Swiss science awards

Women in physics lab
Keller has been a physics professor at the ETH Zurich since 2003 specialising in ultra-fast laser technology. She is an inventor and the winner of the 2018 European Inventor Award by the European Patent Office. © Keystone/Gaetan Bally

Physicist Ursula Keller is to receive the prestigious Marcel Benoist prize and the Latsis prize for young researchers is to go to Kerstin Noëlle Vokinger.

Keller, professor of experimental physics at the Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich won the top Swiss science award for her ground-breaking work in short-time laser physics, the Marcel Benoist FoundationExternal link announced on Monday.

“She has frequently pushed the boundaries of ultrafast laser physics with both theoretical and experimental results,” the foundation said.

The award, worth CHF250,000 ($260,200), is considered by many researchers to be the Swiss equivalent of the Nobel Prize.

This year’s LatsisExternal link prize, worth CHF100,000 goes to Vokinger, an assistant professor of public law and digitalisation at the University of Zurich and holds a doctorate in both law and medicine.

“She combines traditional legal and medical analyses with empirical data evaluations and also draws on expertise in artificial intelligence and machine learning,” a statement said.

The two prizes will be awarded by Economics Minister Guy Parmelin in the Swiss capital Bern at the beginning of November.

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