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EPFL & WISH Foundation's Woman Scientist of the Year 

Since 2006, the Erna Hamburger Prize distinguishes influential, leading women scientists who are transforming their field and executing change. The prize is awarded by the EPFL-WISH Foundation (Women In Science and Humanities).

This independent foundation was created through the initiative of EPFL women professors, with the aim of encouraging careers and the promotion of women in scientific and technical fields. The prize is named after Dr. Erna Hamburger, who was the first woman promoted to the rank of full professor at EPFL, and who continues to inspire students and researchers today.


Every year we research to find the most influential woman in science with the EPFL-WISH Foundation Council members and the Presidency of the EPFL. In order to maximize the visiting Laureate’s presence and time spent at EPFL, we hold pre-press releases, newsletters, posters (EPFL + UNIL + Lausanne), save the dates, months in advance of this grand occasion. Upon the Laureate’s arrival a private luncheon is held with the female PhD students in order they can meet this influential and powerful woman, getting invaluable advice and mentoring. The event invites a Swiss Politician, the Presidency of EPFL, EPFL WISH Foundation and the Laureate to inform, educate, and motivate the audience the importance of having more women in all scientific backgrounds, bringing everyone to work together for the future of mankind. The cocktail following the event encourages those present to network and meet others who share common interests. 

Erna Hamburger was born on 14 September 1911 in Ixelles, Belgium and died on 16 May 1988 in Lausanne, Switzerland. She was an engineer and professor at the Swiss University of the Federal Polytechnic of Lausanne (EPFL), the first woman to be appointed as a regular professor at a Swiss Polytechnic.


Bremen (Germany)
Professor for Geomicrobiology


2017 - Prof. Mary O'KANE

New South Wales (Australia)
Chief Scientist & Engineer


2015 - Prof. Jill FARRANT

UCT, Cape Town, South Africa


2013 - Dame Julia KING

Aston University, Birmingham, UK​



2011 - Prof. Ada YONATH​

Jerusalem, Israel​

Biologist; Nobel Prize Winner


2009 - Prof. Kazuyo SEJIMA

Tokyo, Japan

Architect, SANAA, Pritzker Prize


2007 - Prof. Christiane NUSSLEIN-VOLHARD

Max-Planck-Institute, Tübingen, Germany

Biologist; Nobel Prize Winner


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2018 - Prof Jennifer WIDOM

Stanford University

Computer Science and Electrical Engineering


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2016 - Prof. May-Britt MOSER

NTNU, Norway
Psychologist and Neuroscientist; 2014 Nobel Prize Winner​


2014 - Prof. Esther DUFLO

MIT, Boston, MA, USA​



2012 - Prof. Felicitas PAUSS

ETHZ, Zurich,Switzerland 


2010 - Prof. Lisa RANDALL

Boston, Massachusetts



2008 - Frances ALLEN

New York

Computer Scientist, IBM Fellow Emerita


2006 Dame Julia HIGGINS

Imperial College, London, England

Chemical Engineer


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​​EPFL-WISH Foundation​​


Station 12

CH-1015 Lausanne

+41 21 693 73 68



Since 2006, we have been independently encouraging the research & promotion of women by providing the tools, role models, financing, networks and support at key moments in their careers at EPFL and beyond.