Evolutionary Biology in Guarda 2025

An international summer school in the Swiss Alps, jointly offered by the University of Basel and the ETH Zurich

Picture of Guarda

A one week workshop for Master students and early PhD students with a keen interest in evolutionary biology.

Purpose of the workshop

  • To learn to think more clearly and to express your ideas.
  • To gain confidence in your own ideas.
  • To discuss your ideas, reject them if necessary and to find new ones.
  • To learn how to write a grant.
  • To have a focused and sustained conversation about science, to dig deep.
  • To make the doing of science a shared pleasure.
  • To learn interact in a team.

What happens during the workshop:

  • Form working groups of 4-5 people with shared interests.
  • Make a list of things to discuss.
  • Take some time to discuss the list.
  • Faculty members will assist you and will visit groups daily.
  • Ask yourselves, what is a good research question? How can we recognise it?
  • Choose 1-2 promising questions or topics. Discuss them.
  • Write a grant proposal
  • Have it critiqued, revise it, present it in plenary.
  • All of this happens without using the internet (There is limited internet access during the course).


14. - 21. June 2025 (Saturday to Saturday). The course will start on Saturday evening at 19h and will end Friday evening (departure on Saturday morning). Only candidates will be admitted who are able to participate for the entire course period.


  • Dr. Rosemary Grant (Princeton University, USA)
  • Dr. Peter Grant (Princeton University, USA)
  • Dr. TBA
  • Dr. Sebastian Bonhoeffer (ETH Zürich)
  • Dr. Dieter Ebert (Uni Basel) (course organizer)


  • Students from ETH Züich and University of Basel in Switzerland (this makes usually about half the course participants)
  • Graduate students from anywhere else (up to a total of about 28)

Course requirements

  • We expect that participants have a solid background in evolutionary biology and basic population genetics.




The town of Guarda is in the Swiss alps at an altitude of about 1650 meters in the Swiss Canton of Grison (Graubünden), in the Eastern part Switzerland. The nearest larger town is Scuol (about 10 km). The mountains in the area are spectacular. Don't forget your hiking equipment (Shoes! Rain gear!). We will be there at the peak of the alpine flowers (Bring an alpin plant key if you like flowers).


Accommodation is in flats with 6 to 8 people. Participants share double bed-rooms. People sharing a flat will prepare their own meals and arrange all the necessary domestic tasks related to this (food shopping, cooking, cleaning dishes, ...).


We ask all participants to arrive on Saturday and leave on Saturday. There is a train station in the valley close to Guarda (also called Guarda). Inform us about your arrival time! Be there on Saturday afternoon. There is also a footpath from the station to the village which is not very long, but steep. The most convenient airport is Zürich. From there it is a 3-4 hour trip by train. To check train connections within Switzerland go to the Swiss railway schedule (Zürich Airport has its own railway station!).


Guarda is in the alps at an elevation of 1650 m above sea level. We might have anything from snow to bright sunshine (high UV radiation). Usually the temperatures are springlike, with fairly warm days, but rather cool nights. Houses are not heated!


Every participant has to finance his/her travel and accommodation him-/herself. The costs for accommodation are currently estimate to be about CHF 500.-. This price includes accommodation and food. This course fee has to be paid in advance (we have to pay for housing in advance). The exact costs can only be calculated closer to the event, but will not change much.


If you are a student with a strong interest in evolutionary biology and you want to take part in the workshop, please fill in the online application form. The next application window will open in Fall 2024 for the summer school in June 2025.

Deadline for applications is 15. January 2025.

  • After applying, you will receive a confirmation and we put your name on the applicants list. If you do not receive this automatic confirmation, fill in the form again after 24h. If it still doesn't work, contact Dieter.Ebert at unibas.ch
  • About 4 weeks after the deadline, we will e-mail you whether you can take part in the Summer school or not.
  • Please confirm that you will come asap.
  • Your place is only guaranteed if you pay the course fee by 10. April. (We'll inform you about the details). If you have to cancel after that date, you will get a refund if we can find a replacement. The reason for this policy is that we have to pay for housing in advance.

If you need a letter of invitation or other help to organize funds, to apply for a visa, or for whatever, let us know. There are no (!) funds available from our side to support your travel or other costs.

If you have questions regarding your application, please contact Yasmin.picton_at_unibas.ch (replace _at_ with @). For other questions, contact Dieter.Ebert_at_unibas.ch

If we receive more applications than we have places, we have to apply some selection rules. The order of application does not play a role for the selection process. People who have taken part in the Guarda workshop before cannot apply again.

Credit points

Each participant can receive a course confirmation for 3 credit points (European Credit Transfer System, ECTS). Please ask Yasmin.Picton_at_unibas.ch for it if you need it.

Read about the history of the Guarda workshop