by Prof. Christoph Renner (picture/ L.Windels)
The NCCR MaNEP has been a very fruitful and successful endeavour, with a lasting impact on the national condensed matter landscape. Many of MaNEP’s achievements will continue beyond the official end of the federal funding period. Therefore, and despite the official ending of the NCCR, with final reporting and funding closure, MaNEP will continue to thrive. MaNEP has become a renowned trademark which we aim to sustain, with many outside Switzerland expressing envy for the support and lively community MaNEP has established. This is a tribute to the contributions of all of you the members of MaNEP, from the project and group leaders to all scientists involved, postdocs and PhD students and the management teams. It is also a great success of the SNSF's vision and support for major long term research programmes.
Looking at some of the factual numbers, the impact of the NCCR on the Swiss condensed matter community is remarkable. MaNEP members have signed over 3100 publications, with a significant shift towards higher impact factor journals: the average journal impact factor has steadily increased from three in 2001 to seven in 2013. Over the same period, MaNEP has achieved an h-factor of 86. The number of professors and permanent staff scientists in the field of MaNEP has increased throughout Switzerland, with members appointed to important positions such as the PSI and EMPA directorships.
MaNEP has also been very successful in other aspects of the NCCR roadmap. It is probably one of the 2001 NCCR wave with the strongest knowledge and technology transfer programme. By 2013, MaNEP was collaborating with over 15 companies on a diverse range of applications. MaNEP has implemented original ways of communicating with the general public. The PhysiScope is currently attracting nearly 5’000 visitors per year from Geneva and all over Europe to discover physical phenomena in an interactive hands-on manner. This is a remarkable number, considering that the visitors come in small groups of 17 people on average.
As you will read in the Free Column, the PhysiScope has been collaborating with the RTS as of February 2013 (Swiss French TV Broadcasting Network) to produce a weekly fifteen minutes TV show for children. MaNEP is using art in a very effective way to communicate physics to the general public. SUPRA100, a world première sculpture by artist Etienne Krähenbühl featuring superconducting levitation combined with a scientific display about superconductivity has been a fantastic opportunity to introduce the public to this fascinating phenomenon. This exhibition has attracted well over 30’000 interested visitors during its two exhibitions to date (Geneva 2011, Neuchâtel 2013), and it will travel further in the near future, with several European museums interested.
The NCCR has had a particularly significant impact on the leading house, with a plan for a new Centre for Astronomical, Physical and Mathematical Sciences.
Prompted by the success of MaNEP, the rector of the University of Geneva has confirmed its strong commitment by declaring that physics is one of its priority areas in an Agreement of Objectives (COB) between UNIGE and the Geneva State Government. This commitment has led to major structural changes in Geneva, perfectly in line with the stated objectives of the SNSF for the NCCR. In spite of current budget restrictions, physics, astronomy and mathematics in Geneva have benefitted from significantly increased funding.
Our friend and colleague, directing founder of MaNEP, Øystein Fischer, never considered June 30, 2013 as an end to MaNEP. He wishes for a sustained and thriving MaNEP community throughout Switzerland. Unfortunately, Øystein suffered a stroke in early February 2013 and is not able to convey this message in his own words. Our thoughts are with him and his family, and we hope that he will recover from this ordeal.
I would like to take this opportunity to personally thank Øystein for his leadership and relentless enthusiasm. The entire community owes a great deal to his energetic and creative mind. My dearest wish is to sustain the Swiss MaNEP community in this same positive and future oriented spirit.