Letter from the CSH Director

Kevin Heng, CSH Universität Bern
Photo by Alessandro Della Bella

The Center for Space and Habitability (CSH) was created in 2012 by the University of Bern and its first Director was Prof. Dr. Kathrin Altwegg, who led the ROSINA instrument on the Rosetta mission. In the same year, the European Space Agency selected the Characterizing Exoplanet Satellite (CHEOPS) as its inaugural small-class mission.  Led by Prof. Dr. Willy Benz of the University of Bern, it aims to detect Earth-sized exoplanets around the nearest, brightest stars.

In 2014, the PlanetS National Center of Competence in Research (NCCR) was created to unify and strengthen planetary and exoplanetary science in Switzerland across the Universities of Bern, Geneva and Zurich, as well as ETH Zurich and EPFL.  In our quest to understand the science of habitability, the possible benchmarking opportunities provided by our Solar System planets and moons need to be balanced against the statistical trends and broader perspective revealed by exoplanets.

It is against this rich and exciting backdrop that the CSH occupies a unique niche by stimulating both disciplinary and interdisciplinary research that investigates the science of habitability.  Since taking over the CSH Directorship in 2016, I have made it my mission to strengthen the dynamicism of research within the CSH by creating the CSH Fellowship and Visiting Professorship programs, and also developing a range of interaction mechanisms to encourage dialogue and the exchange of ideas across all seniority levels.  It is my firm belief that consistent, disciplined interaction is the fuel that drives intellectual development and growth and that it needs to span a range from being informal to formal so as to be inclusive of researchers at all stages of their careers.  My commitment to the CSH researchers is to provide the best intellectual environment the University of Bern can offer, so that they may enrich, and be enriched by, the research culture across the various departments and institutes participating in the activities of the CSH.  Together with the CSH and Bernoulli Fellows, my goal is to position the CSH as a leading center for research in the science of habitability within Switzerland and Europe.

We are always glad to welcome affiliated researchers whose interests and goals align with those of the CSH, and who wish to participate in our interaction mechanisms and events.  If you are a professor, staff member, postdoc or student of the University of Bern who is interested in becoming affiliated with the CSH, please write to me directly.