First Kiwi awarded a Swiss Government Excellence Scholarship
Ben Mallett at University of Fribourg
In 2012, New Zealanders were able to apply for the “Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships” scheme for the very first time. Out of a handful of highly qualified applicants from New Zealand, Ben Mallett was selected by the Federal Commission for Scholarships for Foreign Students.
Ben, who is 27 years old and holds a PhD from Victoria University of Wellington, recently arrived in Fribourg, Switzerland, together with his wife Monique. Here is a brief account he kindly sent to the Embassy:
“In September last year I applied for a Swiss Government Excellence Scholarship to undertake Post-Doctoral Research at University Fribourg in Switzerland. At this time I was coming towards the end of my PhD studies and could see some exciting directions the research could be taken - it was some of these ideas that formed the core of my research proposal for the scholarship. Then in March, I was very happy to hear that I my application had been successful. I am told that I am the first kiwi to receive the scholarship because this was the first time New Zealanders could apply.
The research project uses infra-red light to study a special group of metal-oxides that can transmit electricity with zero resistance (the technical name for them is ‘high-temperature superconductors’). The team I’ve joined in Fribourg are world experts at the particular measurement technique I will use to test a new theory and deepen our understanding of these metal-oxides. In addition, there are many visitors to the laboratory providing great opportunities to be exposed to and share a broad range of ideas. These things make it the ideal place for the research project and a great chance to build a long-term working collaboration between scientists in NZ and Switzerland.
Away from the lab, I’m looking forward to learning as much of the local lingo as possible and experiencing the Swiss culture – and I think I have made a good start by having my first fondue… despite it being a balmy 25°C summer here! Fribourg is looking lovely – and we found a nice flat with a view of the pre-Alps. Also, University Fribourg has organised a great programme of trips and activities for scholarship holders from outside Fribourg. So there’s a lot to look forward to in the coming year.”