Academic Networks

UNIGE Digital Fellows @swissnexSF

UNIGE supports residency periods for its members at Swissnex San Francisco in order to develop the links between UNIGE and the Bay Area in selected subjects within the framework of the UNIGE Digital Fellows @swissnexSF programme.


  • launch and nurture digital innovation activities in the Bay Area and Silicon Valley ecosystem
  • create sustainable interactions and cooperation with the Geneva digital ecosystem
  • scout new trends and build thematic networks for UNIGE
  • identify and raise funding for joint projects


Selected projects

Three projects were selected after the first call for projects at the end of 2016:

Indie Drug Innovation: the DIY Remaking of Insulin, Estrogens, and Antibiotics

Gabriela A. Sanchez, Candidate au doctorat, Etude des Sciences et Technologies (direction: Prof. Bruno Strasser); résidence mars-avril 2017

"The UNIGE Digital Fellow @swissnex SF was an amazing opportunity to carry out important ethnographic studies that are part of my doctoral research.

My studies focus on ‘Biohacking’, and the Bay Area is an essential place to conduct research because it is one of the hotspotsof the movement with many grassroots communities and biotech accelerators and incubators fostering participation and entrepreneurship in the life sciences. Not to mention that the Bay Area is considered an important biotech cluster comprising of many biotech companies, startups, and higher education programs and research departments.

During my residency, I was able to meet and interview some of the people behind biotech initiatives that relate to the biohacking movement. These people were passionate individuals that kindly opened up to me about their work and organizations. For their openness, I partly thank Swissnex SF who supported me by reaching out to them and backing my intentions to meet with them as part of my research.

Another invaluable part of my ethnographic work at SF was to be able to explore the space and community of these initiatives. To experience how these communities tightly reflect and reproduce the culture that surrounds them was extremely insightful. Furthermore, living in SF—besides it being a unique experience on its own—was very helpful in understanding the “lifestyle”, which despite it being very diverse, it still informs many of the ideals of the
biohacking movement.

In addition, I was able to further my web-based platform for a database of biohacking initiatives called ‘DIYbiosphere’, by meeting regularly with a collaborator based in ‘ManyLabs’, a makerspace for science projects.

Overall, my time at Swissnex SF proved to be very interesting and productive, and continues to be. I have remained in contact with some of the people I met for further collaborations and follow-up interviews."

Competing Crowds

Julia Buwaya, Candidate au doctorat, Centre universitaire d'informatique (direction: Prof. José Rolim); résidence avril-mai 2017

"The residency from April 3 to May 19, 2017 (7 weeks) incubated research and development activities in the field of “Mobile Crowdsensing” - the digital innovation of leveraging crowds and the spread of mobile phones to gather intelligence.

During the residency, in exchange with several researchers and experts from academia and industry in the Bay Area:

  • the technical implementation of a smart phone app (NoiseBay) and an electronic map to display measurements was realized
  • experimental tests of algorithms to minimize loads/battery usage in Mobile Crowdsensing where conducted
  • fruitful exchange on technical difficulties, ongoing, and future projects took place.

Among several interesting outputs, an important success of the residency was to establish contacts with two major research groups in the field of Theoretical Computer Science at University of California, Berkeley and Stanford University. I was a guest at their weekly seminars which lead to interesting discussions and exchange and an invitation to an event on theory and algorithms at Google. In addition, I had a private meeting with a highly ranked professor at Berkeley University and discussion on ongoing projects on Mobile Crowdsensing and theoretical ideas.

Besides theses interactions, I presented the project at several events. In particular, at two events for a broader audience at swissnexSF (at a “Geneva Networking Reception” organized by Swiss Business Hub USA and the swissnexSF “SciComm Studio”) in May 2017. The project was furthermore presented to a scientific audience at two IEEE conferences in Orlando, USA and Ottawa, Canada in May and June after the residency. In addition, the project and our University was features in several press articles. A Bay Area science pod cast interview is planned in September.

Two scientific peer-reviewed articles featuring theoretical work on the project have been published. Furthermore, we are currently working on three follow-up articles that are planned to involve researchers met during the residency."

Digital tools for microgrid implementation

Ashley Christine Pilipiszyn, Candidate au doctorat, Institut des sciences de l'environnement (direction: Prof. Martin Patel); résidence septembre-décembre 2017

"During this residency I am collaborating with Autogrid Systems on a business case study regarding opportunities for demand response software in microgrids as well as working on a joint project with the Stanford SLAC Lab on blockchain applications and machine learning algorithms for grid integration"