CLIMACT announces the 7 winners of the 2021 CLIMACT Starting Grant

On 15th of July, CLIMACT, the new UNIL/EPFL Center for Climact Impact and Action, launched its first call for proposal, the 2021 CLIMACT Starting Grant. Out of 30 research groups proposing 12 cutting-edge projects aimed at climate change mitigation and adaptation, 7 have been selected by a jury. Each will be funded up to CHF 50’000 and implemented by the end of 2022.

Through its annual call for projects, CLIMACT strives to provide competitive grants to support new seed research with the potential to grow into full-scale interdisciplinary research projects.

All projects funded through the CLIMACT Starting Grant propose innovative systemic solutions which address the social, scientific, and technological challenges associated with the transition to a sustainable future. The teams must include at least one researcher from both UNIL and EPFL to guarantee an interdisciplinary approach and mindset.

This year, 30 research groups from UNIL, EPFL, Canton de Vaud as well as from two German institutions, EMBL Heidelberg and University of Potsdam, have participated in this collaborative effort, exploring new ideas, proposing solutions and communication methods to maximize societal impact.

“The number of applications has been a great surprise and has confirmed the relevance of CLIMACT’s interdisciplinary approach to climate-related research. There is no better timing to launch these projects given the urgency expressed by the IPCC and at the COP26”, said CLIMACT Executive Director Nicolas Tetreault. “I would like to take this opportunity to thank all applicants and grantees who are at the heart of our mission”, he added.

The 7 selected proposals cover a large variety of topics and disciplines, from health to energy, from permafrost to socioecology. “Jury members have been extremely impressed by the quality of the submissions. They represent the CLIMACT spirit of interdisciplinarity and innovation. It is now important that we help those projects to be nuclei for larger research and implementation programs”, said CLIMACT Academic Director Michael Lehning.

The 7 winning projects and research teams are:


  • 2000LAKES: alpine research and citizen science toward the microbial conservation of high-mountain lakes in Switzerland

Dr. Anna Carratalà* (EPFL), Prof. Jasmine Berg (UNIL), Prof. Daniel Gatica-Perez (EPFL)


  • Climate changes’ impact on brain, cognition and mood

Prof. Bogdan Draganski* (UNIL-CHUV), Dr Stéphane Joost (EPFL)


  • FRIGEO – Fluid Rock Interactions in GEO-reservoirs

Prof. Marie Violay* (EPFL), Prof. Lukas Baumgartner (UNIL)


  • GARDENING URBAN SOILS: Towards a Potential Carbon Sink

Dr. Antoine Vialle* (UNIL-CCD), Prof. Paola Vigano (EPFL), Prof. Eric Verrecchia (UNIL), Dr. Adriana Rabinovich (Canton de Vaud)


  • Upscaling modelisation of climate-induced stone pine colonization into the alpine zone via airborne remote sensing and deep learning

Dr. Jan Skaloud* (EPFL), Dr. Christophe Randin (UNIL-Jardin alpin), Prof. Devis Tuia (EPFL)


  • The unseen processes of enhanced weathering

Dr. Nicolas Escoffier* (UNIL), Prof. Lyesse Laloui (EPFL), Prof. Marie-Élodie Perga (UNIL)


  • MPM-rockwall: A Material Point Method for Permafrost Rock Walls Instabilities

Dr. Johan Gaume (EPFL), Dr. Christophe Lambiel (UNIL)


*project leader


Discover additional Sustainability grants in the context of ENAC’s sustainability challenges, in the fields of Climate Change, Digitalization and Urbanization.

Detailed project descriptions, objectives and milestones will be available on our “Projects” page shortly.