To introduce the annual NOMIS Awards, presented by the NOMIS Foundation, creative teams of the Imagining Science Summer School developed film portraits of the distinguished scientists. Operating as a media lab at the intersection of filmmaking, design and science, the summer school explored conceptual and visual approaches to communicate science as a genre of contemporary visual storytelling.

Through the film portraits NOMIS honours and celebrates the featured scientists. The film series tell the story of how NOMIS supports pioneering interdisciplinary foundational research in a broad range of fields. The “NOMIS Distinguished Scientist and Scholar Awards” is presented to exceptional scientists, supporting them in their exploration of unconventional academic paths, thereby inciting new directions in science.
NOMIS supported the Imagining Science Summer School by enabling young artists and designers to engage with science through creative investigation and invention. The program offered a unique opportunity to young professionals to develop their own creative positions and advance their skills.

NOMIS Awards film portraits

The films enlighten the research topic of each scientist in a summary. By focusing on the personalities behind the research, the filmmakers give a glance of each scientist’s personality, motivation, and inspiration. The underlying idea is that scientific research, like all work, is not an isolated activity, but fully integrated in the life of the scientists and their social and physical habitat. The films are conceived for online publishing, and screened during the Award ceremony events.

Imagining Science/ Unbound Trajectories, 2022

Magdalena Zernicka Goetz
Bren Professor of Biology and Biological Engineering at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and professor of stem cell biology and development at the University of Cambridge (UK), NOMIS Distinguished Scientist 2022

Imagining Science/ Unbound Trajectories, 2022

Tom Rando
Director of the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research, NOMIS Distinguished Scientist 2022

Imagining Science/ HSLU, 2021

Catherine Dulac
Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, the Higgins Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology and the Lee and Ezpeleta Professor of Arts and Sciences, NOMIS Distinguished Scientist 2021

Imagining Science/ HSLU, 2018

Didier Fassin
James D. Wolfensohn Professor at the Institute for Advanced Study (Princeton, US), NOMIS Distinguished Scientist 2018

Janet Currie, Princeton University Imagining Science/ HSLU, 2019
Svante Pääbo, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig Imagining Science/ HSLU, 2017
Robert Ewers, Imperial College, London Imagining Science/ HSLU, 2020
Karl Deisseroth, Stanford University, San Francisco Imagining Science/ HSLU, 2017

Karl Deisseroth, Stanford University, San Francisco
Tony Wyss-Coray, Stanford University, San Francisco
Svante Pääbo, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig
Manos Tsakiris, University of London


Victoria Orphan, Caltech, Pasadena, California
Didier Fassin, Institute of Advance Study, Princeton

Janet Currie, Princeton University
Don W. Cleveland, University of California San Diego
Antonio Rangel, Caltech, Pasadena, California
Adriano Aguzzi, University of Zurich

Ronald M. Evans, Salk Institute for Biological studies, La Jolla, San Diego, California
Anthony Hyman, Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, Dresden

Catherine Dulac, Harvard University, Cambridge
Robert Ewers,
Imperial College, London

Magdalena Zernicka Goetz, Caltech, Pasadena, California, and University of Cambridge, United Kingdom
Tom Rando, University of California, Los Angeles

The films are published on NOMIS Vimeo and website.
See further NOMIS visual storytelling projects.


Envisioning narratives

The films convey various types of information in a short time. Complex and abstract scientific matter is made accessible through animated visualisation and is accompanied by an explanation of the portrayed scientist. Metaphorical imagery is used to introduce additional layers of information to the main storyline. These associative images create room for artistic experimentation and give the film portraits a distinct story and unique character.

Animated explanations Imagining Science/ HSLU/ Unbound Trajectories


Imagining Science Summer School

During the Summer School and film project, the participants collaborate with remarkable scientists, senior media experts, as well as with fellow team members in a lab-based project environment. The team actively fosters a progressive conceptual and creative dialogue about contemporary forms of representation, visual storytelling, and film making at the nexus of science and communication to various audiences.

Salk Institute, La Jolla, California Imagining Science/HSLU. 2018

The assignment is formulated in a rather open way. Every film project is a new exploration to define quality criteria, derived from the protagonist’s scientific topic, personality and context. The participants, collaborating in teams to encourage peer-to-peer learning, synthesise their conceptual and creative stances into experimental films.
Additional practice fields have been involved, such as interview techniques and inventory research to the protagonists who are interviewed and filmed. Furthermore, introductions to film genres, knowledge visualisation and science communication are addressed. The practical aspects of film making, editing and sound as well as production techniques are taught and exercised in workshops and throughout the process.

Project history
From 2017-2021, the Imagining Science Summer School conducted the NOMIS Award film project as externally funded project in the framework of the research department of the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts, School of Art and Design. This lead to the launch of the independent spin-off Imagining Science in 2021, one of the programmatic tracks of Unbound Trajectories. For the summer school 2022 the educational concept has been improved based on previous participant feedback.



NOMIS Foundation


Zurich, Lucerne, Europe, USA

2017-2021: Imagining Science/ HSLU
2022: Imagining Science/ Unbound Trajectories
Project type
Education, Film portrait, Film production, Science communication, Summer school, Visual storytelling
Education, Foundation, Science
Animation, Film, Illustration
Project lead

Evert Ypma
2017-2021: Imagining Science/ HSLU; 2022: Imagining Science/ Unbound Trajectories
(strategy, production, organisation and didactics summer school, administration)

Project team

Film makers 2017: Anja Stadelmann, Severin Pomsel, Olivia Sasse | 2018: Zoé Buess, Nadine Häusler, Riccarda Schwarz, Severin Pomsel | 2019: Ayla Feridun-Dziedzic, Zoé Buess, Mauro Walker | 2020: Ayla Feridun-Dziedzic, Alicia Steudel, Morgane Frund, Sarah Laura Hauenstein | 2021: Livia Faden, Benneth Smith, Yannique Richard, Michel Büchel | Film makers 2022: Céline Meier, David Nunes, Salome Erni, Julian Walss

Coaches: Max Bruinsma (editor), Uwe Martin (film, 2017), Christian Gropper (film), Evert Ypma (producer, design advice)


Illustration: Natalie Neff, Flavia Korner
Animation: Frederic Siegel, Igor Kuzmic, Bernd Lauter, Eugénie Bouquet, Mario Trachsel, Markus Eberhard
Sound design/ mastering: Stefan Weinzierl, Daniel Bleuer, Daniel Hobi, Michel Banabila, Christine Musics
Color grading: Vasco Estermann
Production assistant: Sarah Laura Hauenstein, Daria Rüttimann

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