Foundation committee

David N. Bresch

Professor of Weather and Climate Risks at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, ETH Zürich since summer 2016.

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Verena Briner

Is Professor of Internal Medicine at the University of Basel and Visiting Professor at the University of Lucerne. President of the Board of Trustees since April 2017.

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Daniel Brunner

Head of the Branding/Marketing Division for the Swiss market of Helvetia Insurance Company since 2006

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Josef Hess

Since December 2016 Governing Council of the Canton of Obwalden and responsible for the Department of Building and Spatial Development.

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Alex Höchli

Since 2011 town council and since 1st of July 2016 Talammann in Engelberg. Owner af a bookshop in Engelberg.

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Heini Murer

Serves in numerous organizations in the fields of physiology and nephrology

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Paul Richli

Former President of the University of Lucerne and Vice-President of the Foundation since April 2017

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David N. Bresch



He studied and obtained his doctorate in physics at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), Zurich, and subsequently worked in the field of Science and Policy of Climate Change at MIT in Cambridge, U.S.A. He has been involved with the Foundation since 2008 and is a member of the Science Committee.

David N. Bresch has been appointed Professor for Weather and Climate Risks at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, ETH Zürich and MeteoSwiss in 2016. This joint appointment with MeteoSwiss will significantly strengthen the strategically important alliance between the two institutions in the field of weather and climate risks, climate adaptation and climate mitigation.

Previously, he worked at Swiss Re 200-2016, his roles included Head Business Development Global Partnerships (www.swissre.com/global_partnerships), Global Head Sustainability, Head of University and Risk Research Relations, Head Atmospheric Perils Group and Chief modeler for natural catastrophe risk assessment. He has been member of the deal teams for many innovative risk transfer transactions, like cat bonds and weather index solutions. David Bresch has been a member of the official Swiss delegation to the UNFCCC climate negotiations 2009-2012 and will again COP21 in Paris (2015).

He served as member of the Private Sector Advisory Group (PSAG) of the UN Green Climate Fund (GCF, 2014-2016), is active as steering committee member of ProClim, and member of OcCC, the Federal administration’s Advisory Body on Climate, Switzerland. At the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, ETH, he lectures since 2010 on economics of climate adaptation (www.iac.ethz.ch/edu/courses/master/modules/climate_risk). Further, he acts as board member of WWF Switzerland, Academia Engelberg and sanu future learning AG.

David Bresch holds a PhD in physics from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich (ETH).

Verena Briner



After completing her medical school, she held various management positions inter alia at the Universities of Lucerne, Basel and Bern. She has been actively involved in the Scientific Committee of the Foundation since 2016. Since April 2017 she is President of the Board of Trustees.

Verena Briner is Professor of Internal Medicine at the University of Basel and Visiting Professor at the University of Lucerne. She was Chief Physician and head of the Department of Medicine, CMO, and a member of the hospital’s management team and since 2016 consultant at the Lucerne Cantonal Hospital.

She is a member of various medical commissions including the Senate of the Swiss Academy of Medical Sciences and the professional organization ’Intercantonal Convention on Highly Specialized Medicine’ (IVHSM). Additionally, she is a member and former president of the Swiss Society of General Internal Medicine.

Verena Briner completed her medical studies at the University of Basel with a doctorate in 1978 and is a specialist for Internal Medicine and Nephrology (as certified by the Swiss Medical Association FMH). She is the recipient of academic scholarships and awards including the ‘President’s Grant’ of the Swiss Society for General Internal Medicine.

Moreover, she is a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in England and an Honorary Member of the American College of Physicians, the European Federation of Internal Medicine, the Polish Association of Internal Medicine, and the Swiss Society of General Internal Medicine.

Daniel Brunner



As the owner and CEO of a company for organizational development, which is still active in the market, he acquired profound management experience in the SME sector. He has been involved with the Foundation since 2014 and is a member of the Communications Committee.

He has been managing Helvetia Insurance Company’s Branding/Marketing Division for the Swiss market since 2006.

Previously, he worked for staff development and training and as Executive Assistant of Helvetia Insurance Company for over ten years.

He is active as a director of the WDA Forum St. Gallen; cantonal inspector of schools of the Kirschgarten Grammar School in Basel; and as a director of OVERALL, an integration facility. He is politically active with the Swiss Liberal Party.

He is involved with the Lions Club – where he was a governor, among other things; CFO of the Jazz Festival Basel/Off Beat Foundation for several years; and was previously president of the Jazz School Basel Foundation.

Josef Hess



Born in Engelberg, he studied at the ETH Zurich and obtained his diploma in forestry engineering in 1986. His expertise has been demanded both in managing local natural events and in countries such as China, Brazil and the US.

In December 2016, Josef Hess was elected as a government councilor of the canton of Obwalden. Since taking office on 1st July 2017, he has been responsible for the Department of Building and Spatial Development.

Josef Hess, born in 1961, grew up on a mountain farm in Engelberg. After graduating from Engelberg Abbey School, he studied at the ETH Zurich and obtained his diploma in forestry in 1986. From 2003 he completed his studies with a doctoral degree in administrative law and a dissertation on “Protection goals in dealing with natural hazards”, which he completed in 2008.

As a member of the cantonal command staff Obwalden, Josef Hess was in the management of the flood in Sachseln 1997, the storms “Vivian” 1990 and “Lothar” 1999, the avalanche winter 1999 and the flood 2005.

Since 2000 he has been a member of the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit of the SDC. With project work in China, Brazil and the USA he supplemented his professional experience also abroad. In 2009 Josef Hess took over the management of the office LAINAT (Steering Committee Intervention Natural Hazards) at the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN). In November 2012, Josef Hess was appointed Deputy Director of the FOEN and until his departure at the end of June 2017 he was responsible for the departments Hazard Prevention, Forest, Noise and NIS as well as Air Pollution Control and Chemicals.

Alex Höchli



Studied journalism, pedagogy and political science at the University of Zurich. As a Talammann, he has been member of the Foudation Committee since the end of 2016.

Alex Höchli took over the parish bookstore “bücher büro edv hochli” in Engelberg in 1996.

Before he has worked for many years in journalism as a reporter for various newspapers (LNN, Lucerne Tagblatt, Hotel- und Touristik revue), five years as editor of the “Vaterland” in Lucerne and five years with the agency “Schweizerische Politischen Korrespondent SPK”.

He spent the first years of his life in Frankfurt am Main before he was enrolled in Engelberg, where he also attended the Gymnasium.

Alex Höchli spent 16 years as a lay judge at the Administrative Court in Obwalden (until 2016).

 

Heini Murer



He studied biology at the University of Fribourg. As research associate, he worked at ETH Zurich and the Max Planck Institute for Biophysics in Frankfurt and completed his habilitation at the University of Frankfurt. He has been involved with the Foundation since 2011 and is a member of the Science Committee.

He is a member and acted as President of numerous organizations in the fields of physiology and nephrology. From 1993 to 2004, he was also a research councilor for the Swiss National Science Foundation.

Following an assistant professorship at the Biochemical Institute of the University of Fribourg, he was an Associate Professor from 1981 and a full Professor from 1996 at the Physiological Institute of the University of Zurich.

From 1997 to 2006, Heini Murer served as Director of the Physiological Institute of the University of Zurich.

From 2006 to 2010 he was Vice Dean for Research and Junior Researcher, later Vice Rector for medicine and natural sciences at the University of Zurich. From 2010 to 2016 he was the founding director of the graduate campus of the University of Zurich.

Paul Richli



He received his doctoral and post-doctoral degrees in legal studies from the University of Bern and subsequently worked in various positions at Swiss universities. He has been involved in the Foundation as Vice-President since 2017.

Paul Richli was born in Hallau in 1946. After a business apprenticeship he made his Matura (university-track secondary school certificate) in 1967. From 1968 till 1974 he made his studies in Law, Economics, Philosophy, Sociology, and Psychology at the universities of Berne and Geneva. He finished his studies with a law degree in Berne 1972 and completed his law studies with a Doctorate in Law at the University of Berne.

From 1974 to 1990 he was working at the Federal Office of Justice and the Secretariat of the Swiss Cartels Commission. 1984 he received his habilitation at the University of Berne.

From 1990 to 1993 he was full Professor of Public Law at the University of St. Gallen. From 1993 to 2001 he was full Professor of Public Law at the University of Basel. And from 1998 to 2001 he was Vice President of the University of Basel.

From 2000 to 2005 Prof. Dr. Paul Richli was Founding Dean of the University of Lucerne’s Faculty of Law. And from 2001 to 2006 he was Vice President and Strategic Officer of the University of Lucerne.

From October 2001 to February 2011, he was full professor of Public Law, Agricultural Law, and Theory of Legislation at the Faculty of Law of the University of Lucerne. From 2010 to 2016, Paul Richli was President of the University of Lucerne.

Donators and Partners

The ETH Board is responsible for the strategic leadership of the ETH domain and assumes the supervision of its institutions. Its close relationship with the ETH Council has contributed to the successful continuation of Academia Engelberg Foundation since 2000.

The Foundation promotes research into the connecting human fundamentals of science. Academia Engelberg Foundation and the Foundation for Basic Research in Human Sciences have entered into a cooperation agreement for the period 2011 to 2015.

Helvetia is a quality-oriented comprehensive insurance company with over 150 years of experience. Academia Engelberg Foundation is convinced it will be able to use important synergies from the partnership starting in 2015.

DIE HIRSCHMANN STIFTUNG ist eine gemeinnützige schweizerische Stiftung. 1985 wurde sie vom Unternehmer und Aviatik-Pionier Carl W. Hirschmann gegründet.

A partnership with the University of Lucerne has existed since summer 2013. Since 2016 we have also a parthership with the Faculty of Economics and Management of the University of Lucerne. Through these partnerships, synergies are used and joint projects are tested and realized. The University of Lucerne currently consists of three faculties: the faculties for Theology, Culture and Social Sciences, and Law.

The focus of the Foundation is the promotion of organizations in the areas of culture and arts, architecture, design, music, sports, education, and science. It has been a partner of Academia Engelberg Foundation since 2014.