Five newly funded projects to help engage science and society for more resilience

In March 2022, the UZH-UNIGE Strategic Partnership selected five projects for funding as part of their thematic call “Engaging science and society for more resilience”. From the societal acceptance of medical drones to the early detection of developmental delay, the projects cover a large panel of scientific disciplines. They all seek to enhance resilience among society in different ways. 


In our current global environment, resilience continues to be a key factor to overcome challenges on a large scale. We are in a race to solve the numerous crises that are facing us worldwide. In discussions about the climate emergency or Covid-19, society seems to be more involved than ever in shaping the course of our future. It is therefore even more important to foster a dialogue between science and society to jointly look for solutions.


Overview of the selected projects

The full descriptions of the projects are available here.


Improving early detection and support of preschool children with developmental delay: Combining the benefits of two different cantonal systems of care

Principal investigators: Russia Ha-Vinh Leuchter (UNIGE), Michael von Rhein (UZH)



Developmental delay is one of the most frequent disorders in early childhood, whereby children may suffer from a variety of impairments that are likely to develop into multiple chronic and life-long conditions such as intellectual disability, speech problems, social-communicative deficits, sensory impairments as well as behavioural and emotional disorders. To avoid or minimize these effects, early intervention plays an important role. The general aim of this project is to improve the detection and early intervention of children at risk in Geneva, Zurich and nationwide.


Public legitimacy of digital research methods in Switzerland: a public deliberation project

Principal investigators: Felix Gille (UZH), Yaniv Benhamou (UNIGE)



The accessibility and scope of publicly available data resulting from the growing digitalization of society led to unprecedented opportunities and challenges of public data reuse for researchers. Despite the value of digital methods, many ethical questions that these new opportunities pose have yet to be addressed. This includes the lacking knowledge of citizens that their data in the public domain might be used for research purposes, the fact that citizens are not able to consent to this type of research, and that digital methods can disconnect the research community from society. Therefore, it is important that the public trusts and understands digital methods in order to legitimize their scientific use. The aim of this project is to develop a public legitimacy framework for digital methods through public deliberation fora.


Self-efficacy & mental health during the Covid-19 pandemic

Principal investigators: Ulrike Rimmele (UNIGE), Birgit Kleim (UZH)



The Covid-19 pandemic poses serious challenges to individuals’ mental health. Self-efficacy, i.e. the perception of having the capacity to cope with adverse events, is a key factor underlying healthy functioning and emotional well-being. The main objective of this project is to study how self-efficacy may be related to maintaining one’s mental health in the context of the current pandemic.


Enhancing stress resilience in society with a data-driven predictive model

Principal investigators: Giuseppe Ugazio (UNIGE), Marcus Grüschow (UZH)


Stress-related disorders are the leading cause of disability worldwide and have an increasingly high socio-economic burden on companies and healthcare systems. Yet, a robust and precise method to quantify current and future population stress-related mental-health status still needs to be developed. This project aims to lay the foundation for a robust quantification and early prediction of the Swiss population’s stress related mental health status by engaging citizen participants with scientific research and building a predictive model of stress-related symptom trajectories for policy making and large-scale interventions.


Societal Acceptance of Drones in Urban Switzerland (SADUS)

Principal investigators: Ning Wang (UZH), Karl Blanchet (UNIGE)



There is a lack of empirical knowledge on the prevailing perceptions about, and attitudes toward, urban use of drones, both in the mainstream public discourse and the scientific community. The increasing demands and high potentials of drones used in urban environments requires nuanced understandings about the technicalities of the technology, the ethical risks associated to it, the regulatory frameworks within which it operates, and ultimately the acceptability of its deployment at scale. This project will focus on “medical drones” used for health service delivery and the societal acceptance thereof in Urban Switzerland.

Visit the project website

Read more about the project on UZH News


Author: Carina Waser

Picture credit for the header: Mika Baumeister

Picture credits for the article, from top to bottom: Prion Guillaume, Tianyi Ma, Denys Nevozhai, Kevin Ku, Kal Visuals

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