Summer schools with ETH Zürich

Summer schools organized by our doctoral candidates

To enhance exchange between EPFL and ETH Zürich students, our doctoral candidates have the opportunity to obtain funding and organize their own summer school, together with their colleagues from the ETH Zürich.

This is a great tool to put together the perfect program and to try out what it is like to organize a larger event.

The best proposals will be approved by an evaluating committee composed of representatives from EPFL and ETH Zürich.

The program aims to sponsor new summer schools. Proposals for courses that already took place in previous years might still be considered but will not take priority.

If you have a topic you would like to explore during 2021, get started soon: submissions are due by October 1st, 2020!

You can find instructions on how to submit your proposal on our dedicated webpage: Create your own summer school.


Due to the spread of COVID-19, there’s a good chance that the 2020 summer schools will be postponed to the next year, 2021. Please check their websites!


Unhabitable habitat — August 31, 2020, Online Event from 2 to 5 pm

Unhabitable is commonly defined by spatial qualities responding to basic human needs and by a right balance between private and collective lives. Addressing future space-producers (designers, architects, urban planners’ students), artists, social scientists, PhD and Master students, the objective of the summer school is to explore and amplify the notion of “unhabitable” with a critical eye: in which forms, places or objects takes place unhabitable? What place does rationalization and safety have in its definition and in the (social) production of spaces? Is the unhabitable understandable in terms of ethic boundaries (decency) or physical ones (what is bearable)? This summer school presents and addresses a large array of field studies, allowing to tackle fundamental political issues related to habitat as developed in the work of the various speakers: informality, vulnerability, utopias of common values… From specific environmental issues and different geographical contexts to non-visible and nearby objects, our aim is as much to collectively face a case study of institutionalized forms of “inhabitability”.

RE:GENERATE alpine-urban resilience — postponed to 2021

How to revive mountain livelihoods, focusing on local identity, resilient landscapes and a regenerative economy? During this summer school in the Italian Alps, students will provide an answer to this question by developing creative solutions at the interface between science, design and practice.

Towards a Continuum of Robot-assisted Therapy (TCRT) — postponed to May or June 2021

The TCRT Summer School aims to strengthen the collaboration between engineers and clinicians for the development of novel technological tools and therapeutic plans that are able to answer patients’ and clinicians’ needs and improve their quality of life. Engineers and clinicians need to develop a common language and work side by side from the very early stages of the design of new technological tools all the way to their application in clinical settings. Bridging the technical knowledge with medical knowledge would allow to explore new solutions in technology-assisted rehabilitation. This Summer School will focus on three topics related to establishing a technology-assisted continuum of therapy, from the clinic to the home, to promote independence in persons with neurological injuries such as stroke. We will discuss the related challenges and opportunities through plenary lectures and interactive group sessions (case studies) involving participants, clinicians, and patients to bring in different perspectives.


Fundamental studies on aqueous interfaces and droplets — postponed to 2021

Enclosed liquid structures, such as droplets and liposomes, are ubiquitous in nature and as a result are studied across a broad range of scientific disciplines. The summer school Fundamental studies on aqueous interfaces and droplets aims to bridge various scientific approaches used to study droplets and aqueous interfaces. The participants will learn about various topics including formation and manipulation of droplets, spectroscopic and microscopy techniques used to study the fundamental properties of droplets and interfaces. The summer school will address questions regarding the molecular-level understanding of droplets and interfaces of different systems ranging from the gas phase aerosols to lipid membranes. Through interactive discussions, the participants will broaden their current scientific mind-sets and discover complementary research areas and experimental methods.

First-Principles Modelling of Defects in Solids: Charges meet Lattices — June 2-4, 2021, Zürich (ZH)

Impurities are ubiquitous in solids, often giving rise to novel functionalities that are absent in their pristine counterparts. In this regard, computer simulations at the quantum mechanical level have played a vital role in designing and understanding experiments concerning the formation of disorder in solids and liquids. Here, we propose a 3-day Summer School to be held at ETH Zürich in July 2020 which will overview the latest advances in the theory and simulation of defects. The School will consist of a set of lectures given by internationally renowned speakers together with social events to foster interactions between participants. The focus will be on the methodologies developed for the description of defects in the condensed phases along with their application to technologically relevant systems. Overall, this event aims at portraying an interdisciplinary picture of the current status of defects physics, and showing how first-principles calculations can effectively be used to narrow the gap between theory and experiments.

Spintronics and Magnetism on 2D materials — postponed to 2021

Two-dimensional (2D) van der Waals materials have provided a unique platform to explore interesting spin-dependent properties that are unfeasible in bulk materials. In particular, recent discovery on 2D magnets and their van der Waals heterostructures have rendered new opportunities in spintronics applications. Thus, this summer school is aiming to provide an overview of the fields in 2D material-based spintronics and magnetism. Starting from a general introduction to most recent research results, the topics will cover spin-related electronic and optical properties in various 2D materials with its underlying physics, experimental characterization techniques and the application of these properties toward novel 2D device systems. Lectures given in both theoretical and experimental perspectives by renowned speakers, we hope to provide the participants with essential knowledge behind this rapidly growing field.


Microsystems for Diagnotsics and Health Applications — postponed to July 2021

In light of the vast extent and complexity of modern healthcare, micro systems and technologies are of fundamental necessity given their sensitivity, high throughput and precision that are obtained through miniaturization. Currently, microsystems ranging from microfluidics chip over micro sensors/implants to micro reactors have been vastly used in diagnostics, therapies and fundamental research. This summer school aims to give an overview of the most current research advances and industrial applications of microsystems in different fields of healthcare, and through hand-on workshops provide relevant problem-solving perspectives. The potential topics include 1) organ-on-a-chip, 2) point of care diagnostics, 3) drug screening and drug delivery and 4) biosensing and implantables. In particular, we want to promote the interdisciplinary discussions and bridge the effort between the scientific and the industrial /clinical community.

Shaping the Future of bioMedicine, 12-17 May 2019, Bellinzona (TI)

The future of biomedical research will most certainly consist in the integration of molecular biology, bioengineering, and computational biology into healthcare in a coherent and seamless effort to generate new technologies and therapies for patients. PhD and MD-PhD students involved in research oriented towards translational applications will play an essential role not only in increasing knowledge and developing new technologies but also in coordinating highly collaborative and interconnected initiatives. In this summer school, we will explore a number of topics that we believe will provide a broad overview of the challenges that life science research and its translational opportunities are and will be facing in the next decades. Furthermore, by promoting and encouraging interdisciplinary discussions we hope to emphasize how impelling is the need of collaboration among different fields to make the bridge between research and its application to healthcare.


Computational Methods for Economist: Text analysis and agent-based models, 10-15 June 2019, EPFL (VD)

There has been an explosion of interest in text analysis within the fields of economics, management, and finance. The “Computational Methods for Economists: Text analysis and agent-based models” course will teach doctoral students a range of computational methods in topic modeling, statistical methods for making causal inferences from text and agent-based computational economics. Through a series of hands-on tutorials, the students will also work on real examples with real coding solutions that they can refer back to in future research projects.


Advanced Electronic Structure Methods in Condensed Matter Physics, 8-10 July 2019, EPFL (VD)

In the last decades, Density Functional Theory (DFT) has emerged as a powerful tool to predict and understand the electronic properties of molecules, solids and liquids. However, in its simplest and most commonly used formulation, DFT fails to accurately describe many relevant physical quantities, including e.g. electron-electron interactions, dispersion forces, and excitonic effects. The need of overcoming such limitations has triggered an intensive research effort, leading to the development of a plethora of distinct “beyond-DFT” approaches. Within this framework, our Summer School aims at providing an overview of some advanced techniques that have recently appeared in the spotlight of the electronic structure community. The lectures will cover current topics in computational condensed matter physics, including density functional theory, many-body perturbation theory, molecular dynamics simulations, and machine learning approaches.


Summer School on Quantum Magnetism, 19-23 August 2019, EPFL (VD)

Magnetic systems where quantum effects play a dominant role, have been a focused area of research for decades now. It becomes more interesting when a little bit of “frustration” is introduced into the system. The summer school, sponsored by EPFL and ETHZ, will focus on such systems which exhibit remarkable properties arising from the combination of both geometry of the underlying lattice and quantum effects. With all the leading researchers in the field, it will be a combination of theoretical concepts as well as experimental results along with various useful numerical methods, such as Quantum Monte Carlo, Exact Diagonalization, and Density Matrix Renormalization Group. By the end of the summer school, participants will learn more about the current research trend in the area of quantum magnetism.


Human-Centric Performance Simulations in Architecture, 26-30 August 2019, Dübendorf (ZH)

humARCH, a summer school jointly organized by ETH-EPFL, poses the notion of computational simulations as an appropriate and integrated method to explore human-space interactions prior to the building construction and in order to support an evidence-based architectural design process that moves beyond intuition, specifically in the topics of daylighting and wayfinding. During an intensive 5-day program students would gain theoretical input and engage in independent learning, group work and exposure to state-of-the-art industry and research based simulation tools. The summer school would include keynotes, dialogues, dedicated workshops and hands-on design sketches where various simulation tools will be utilized and critically discussed for an evidence-based architecture design process.


Quantitative biology: Bridging the gap between computational and experimental approaches, 16-20 September 2019, Fiesch (VS)

The emergence of the fields of systems and synthetic biology has brought about the need for efficient coordination of experimental and computational efforts. This summer school aims to foster such dialog by bringing together scientists from both, computational and experimental backgrounds, and allowing them to exchange ideas around specific state-of-the-art open problems. In particular, it aims at improving the awareness of experimentalists about computational and statistical possibilities, while giving computational scientists a better understanding of the current needs of experimentalists. The program consists of talks spanning topics from stochastic and deterministic modeling, inference, control theory and dynamical systems applied to synthetic and systems biology. In hands-on workshops, the students will get a chance to explore current problems in these areas and become familiar with approaches to solve them.


Relational Space/Relational urbanism, 11-15 June 2018, EPFL (VD)

The guiding concept of the summer school is the notion of relational space– the complex space of interaction between human and non-human actors that characterizes today’s hyper-dense, hyper-connected urban landscape. How can we measure and map the increasingly intricate webs of interaction in our cities? How does the idea of relational space change our methods of studying and designing the city?


Optoelectronics on 2D materials, 20-25 August 2018, Davos (GR)

This summer school will give the participants an overview on the research being done on 2D material‐based optics and optoelectronics, starting from a general introduction to finally address the most recent results and future challenges of the field. The topics of the school will cover the optical characterization of 2D materials, the underlying physics of these systems, and their use to study different physical phenomena through optical experiments. These themes will be addressed both from a theoretical and experimental point of view by internationally renowned experts.”


Micro and Optical Technologies in Biomedical Science, 9-14 September 2018, Fiesch (VS)

Advances and discoveries in biology and medicine are major targets of current academic and industrial research because of their huge impact on human health. Major developments in micro and optical technologies have been supporting biomedical science for several decades, and they are still growing very fast. With this summer school, we aim at giving an overview of the current landscape in micro and optical technologies that have been proven successful tools for fundamental biological research or medical application. Topics cover: micro-technology, micro-instrumentation, microfluidics, optical microscopy and optical devices. Beyond the technical matter, the school also includes a session on innovation management and a workshop with biomedical companies.”


Reproducibility in Computational Sciences, 9-13 September 2018, Magliaso (TI)

This summer school teaches the tools and skills for reproducible research in computational sciences. It is aimed at researchers who regularly deal with digital data and who want to learn how to maximize the quality, impact and lifetime of their scientific results. After attending the school, the students will be familiar with high-quality scientific programming, sharing code and data in a sustainable way, and providing the necessary documentation to understand and reproduce results. The material will be introduced during an intensive three-day program through talks, lectures and hands-on activities.”


New Frontiers in Extracellular Matrix Research: From regeneration to immunology, mechanics and soft robotics, 9-13 September 2018, Zurich (ZH)

This ECMatrix summer school aims to bring together key opinion leaders with a focus on giving in-depths insights into current innovations and translational directions of the extracellular matrix research. We have selected four main established and emerging areas of investigation that we believe will shape the future of ECM biology field (namely mechano-, immuno-, regenerative, and responsive-matrix). The scientific program is geared towards an interdisciplinary audience from life sciences, chemistry, engineering and clinical medicine.


Gut Matters: Human Health, Microbiome and Nutrition, 12-17 March 2017, Fiesch (VS)

In our winter school we bring together leading specialists in the field of nutrition and life sciences from industry and academia to discuss the current challenges in research related to the human gut microbiome and nutrition. This school is addressed to PhD students that are interested in or already working on projects related to microbiology or nutrition, willing to expand their knowledge on the latest trends in this area. We will host up to 20 PhD students mainly coming from EPFL and ETHZ. Up to six places will be available to students coming from external institutions.


Blockchain, 21-24 June 2017, EPFL (VD)

The event is jointly organised by EPFL and ETHZ and aims at bringing together students (Master- and PhD-level), academic researchers, and security experts from industry with an interest in cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology. The school is co-located with the EPFL IC summer research institute.


Recent trends in light-matter interaction, 4-8 September 2017, EPFL (VD)

The understanding of the fundamental light-matter interaction via photons, atoms and ions has opened realms of interesting quantum phenomena like macroscopic entanglement, criticality, quantum phase transitions etc. in diverse physical systems ranging from optical cavities and superconducting qubits to plasmonics.


Neurophysiology for Neural and Biomedical Engineering, 21-25 August 2017, Zermatt (VS)

Bring fundamental knowledge of the main experimental tools and concepts in neurophysiology to the community of engineers working in neural engineering, neuroprosthetics or biomedical engineering fields.


Catchment transport processes, 2-9 July 2017, Einsiedeln (SZ)

ETH Zurich and EPFL offer a 5-day summer school on transport processes in hydrology. Participants will learn about physical and chemical processes occurring in the generation and transport of nutrients, data analysis, and modelling techniques. Lectures will cover the following topics: Introduction to transport processes and hydrological models; Water fluxes and transit time in catchments; Carbon and nutrients cycle in soil and rivers; Circulation in lakes.


Exploring edges and beyond, 11-14 July 2017, EPFL (VD)

In order to reflect on the relation between established, emerging and interdisciplinary fields of research, we will encourage new encounters by bringing together a broad spectrum of diverging and sometimes even conflicting disciplines: namely engineering, computer and natural sciences, architecture and artistic research.


Shaping the future of bioengineering, 10-16 September 2017, Davos (GR)

Emerging methods of research, increasing computational powers, and enhanced transport logistics have allowed bioengineering to become the branch of science that unites the competences of specialists from very diverse fields. It exists right at the junction of diverse branches of science, from biochemistry to mechanical engineering and computer science. We have selected a number of topics that we believe are trending in the field of bioengineering and will shape the future of the whole field from the medium-term perspective.


20-24 June 2016, EPFL: City & Cognition. Affordance, Enaction and Awarness

How do we imagine and conceive space? How do we find our way and navigate the built environment and the landscape? How do we engage with the pressures of life in cities? The Summer School explores the relationship between space and approaches from cognitive approaches providing points of connection for a better integration of the relevant disciplines. Participants in the summer school do hands-on work in interactive workshops, profit from personalized and direct contact with world-renown researchers, develop teamwork skills and improve their writing of interdisciplinary research projects.


25 – 29 July 2016, Gstaad: Perspective on photonics: Investigating the route from materials to devices

This summer school aims at providing a broad understanding of the materials, devices and spectroscopic characterization techniques that are relevant within the field of photonics. In this perspective, we hope to stimulate communication between the various researchers involved and facilitate collaboration. A range of lectures will be given that will take you down the road from materials to photonic devices.


15 – 20 August 2016, Zermatt: Neurophysiology for Neural and Biomedical Engineering

Bring fundamental knowledge of the main experimental tools and concepts in neurophysiology to the community of engineers working in neural engineering, neuroprosthetics or biomedical engineering fields.


22 – 26 August 2016, Zermatt: 2D layered materials: Synthesis, Properties and Applications

This summer school focuses on the novel two-dimensional layered materials such as graphene and MoS2, their properties and their applications for the future of electronics and optoelectronics. The topics ranging from material synthesis, physical and electrical properties to the device fabrication and applications cover both theoretical calculation and experimental investigations. Attending the lectures and hands on workshops would provide the students with broad knowledge on the design, simulation, fabrication and measurement of systems based on two-dimensional nanomaterials.”


22 – 27 August 2016, Fiesch: Healthcare diagnostics in 2025: technological, economical and social perspectives

This summer school aspires to give PhD students an understanding of the current technological, economical and regulatory environment concerning the field of medical devices and personalized medicine by bringing together key opinion leaders from academia, medicine, established corporations, and young startups.


5 – 9 September 2016, EPFL: Advances in Additive Manufacturing for Polymers in Bioengineering, Electronics and Material Science

The aim of this Summer School is to give the practical and theoretical bases of Additive Manufacturing and its practice in three different fields: Life Science, Materials Science and Electronics. State-of-the-art and research/industrial cutting edge experiences will be discussed. Lectures will be spaced out with hands-on workshops, such as 3D Scanning and Modeling, and case studies.


ETH Zürich summer schools

Visual Perception, September 13-16th, Villa Hatt Zürich (ZH)

Fluvial Geomorphology, June 27-July 1st, Losone (TI)

Assembling Cities, June, ETH Zürich (ZH)

System Models in Life Cycle Assessment, September 5-9th, Grosshöchstetten (BE)

Blockchain, October, ETH Zürich (ZH)

Translational Robotics for Clinical Rehabilitation, August 28th – September 1st, Brissago (TI)

Information Processing for Large Networks

Understanding complex, real networks, ranging from biological to social and technological, is one of the fundamental challenges of our time. Analyzing and predicting how these networks function can have a significant impact on our everyday life.

Key Insights on Networks and Graphs

A summer school on spectral graph theory and distributed computing.

Organic Molecules: Experiments and Theory Meet at the Surface

An overview of the exciting field of the study of molecules on surfaces seen from many different points of view. The lectures will range from the study of small organic molecules in ultra high vacuum and at low temperature to experiments performed on biomolecules in liquid, from the synthesis of the molecular units to the theoretical methods that are used to foresee their properties.


Translational Biology

Focus on how fundamental understanding of biological processes and integration of technology can impact human health, how biological research and innovations are translated into clinical use, how biological research may be translated into useful diagnostics, treatments and relevant policies.


Molecular and Chemical Mechanisms in Epigenetics

Provide an in-depth view into epigenetic processes with a focus on the molecular level. A focus on chemical methods to probe and dissect epigenetic processes (including current strategies to develop epigenetic drugs), in combination with structural analyses of molecular complexes involved in epigenetic regulation as well as large scale chromatin organization.


DSL Design and Implementation

Summer school on the design and implementation of domain-specific programming languages (DSLs). The primary goal of the summer school is to gather knowledgeable people in the area of domain-specific programming languages to share and teach the state-of-the-art.


School on Neurophysiology for Neural and Biomedical Engineering

Provide an in-depth view of the main experimental tools and concepts in neurophysiology.

Understand how to use this knowledge to design better prostheses, robots, and treatment for patients.


Anthropology of complexity

Anthropology of complexity is an international PhD summer school that addresses human-made phenomena such as social systems, territories and cities, and social constructs from the perspective of complexity approaches. It is an interdisciplinary platform organized by EPFL and ETH Zürich.