Monica Zwicky Professor of Developmental Biology
Monica Zwicky, was born to a Swedish mother and Swiss father in Zurich and grew up in Lausanne. She has two grown-up children, is in charge of training aspiring biology teachers and is an Adjunct Professor of MNF.
Biology degree, University of Zurich
Diploma in genetics, University of Zurich
Ph.D. project, University of California Berkeley, USA
Ph.D. in zoology, University of Zurich
Habilitation, University of Zurich
Associate professorship, part-time, University of Zurich
Titular professor of genetics and developmental biology, University of Zurich
Why did you choose to pursue science?
By the end of my very first genetics class at high school I knew that I wanted to understand and investigate the chemical principles that govern life. Natural sciences was a conscious choice – the clear-cut, analytical way of thinking suits me. But I also knew that I wanted both a challenging job and a family. As one of the few female professors with children I have a 60% position. The rest of the time used to belong to my children.
What do you like about your job?
The portion of my time spent teaching is relatively high due to the fact that I only work part time. I like that and enjoy interacting with young people. I'm in charge of training future biology teachers, an area in which my experience as a mother comes in handy. I'm also a liaison professor of MNF – an exciting job that demands a good deal of sensitivity. Research is another thing I enjoy: a combination of logical thinking and knowledge. The main thing is to ask the right questions.
Did you have any role models who had an impact on your career? If so, who?
I come from a family of entrepreneurs where women didn't have the same opportunities as men. My family told me that if I married a capable man, he could join the company. I took a stand against these set-in-stone role models and told myself I could do it, that I could go my own way. Since 2008 I've been managing our family business alongside my job at the University of Zurich.
Do you have any advice for young, ambitious female researchers?
You need a great deal of commitment and a willingness to immerse yourself in a subject. You also have to bear in mind that nobody has been waiting for you. I spent some time training in successful laboratories outside Switzerland and also applied to other universities. It's helpful if you can show an academic track record at an early stage. Previous achievements are more persuasive than making demands.