Fondation ZMB  

Winter 2017

We are pleased to present the 5th FZMB Newsletter


The FZMB Newsletter is issued twice a year. Its main purpose is to inform the readers about developments in our scholarships’ program and to report on news surrounding the students and the program. Contributions from third parties are welcome. This issue, we also share some of the funding work of FZMB which aims to enable more free and open societies.

Scholarship deadlines for 2017-18 quickly approaching - please encourage current students at EPFL, ETH, UNISG, UNIGE, Graduate Institute, University of Zurich and UNIL to apply!


Get to know a few of our 2017 Scholars!

At the 2016 selection event we welcomed a new group of students to travel to Harvard, Oxford, Stanford, Cambridge and other world class Universities. Congratulations to all of the candidates. We are currently accepting applications for 2018 Scholars and deadlines will close at the respective Universities shortly. We welcome all students who are studying at a Swiss University with a minimum of three years in Switzerland – and with an enthusiasm to study at a world class University in the US or UK to apply!

Bakala family Zdenek and Michaela Bakala at May 2016 scholarship event

Vanessa di Giorgi – at Fletcher

Fletcher’s faculty are amongst the leading experts in their respective fields but the high level of expertise and prestige of the professors do not preclude them from being very accessible, and to show a strong interest in each individual student’s learning experience. The great flexibility in choosing which courses I wanted to participate in during my exchange semester enabled me to complement a more rigorous focus on academic theory and research (i.e. Conflict Resolution, and Arabs and their Neighbours) with classes that had a strong practical perspective (Gender, Culture and Conflict in Humanitarian Complex Emergencies, and Processes of International Negotiations). Despite the heavy workload, I really enjoyed my classes and felt like I gained a quite nuanced understanding of the subjects.

Vanessa di Giorgi


Fletcher offers countless ways for students to be engaged and participate in student-led or social events and activities. I participated in the Fletcher Running Club and helped organize the Annual Fletcher Gender Conference. One of the most fun ways to meet new people in a more private setting are the numerous culinary events that are organized, such as the famous Fletcher Feasts where you participate either as a host or as a guest in a small dinner gathering and get to chat with people you did not know before. Generally, students at Fletcher are very engaged and constantly busy planning or participating in the next big event that is happening, there is a strong sense of sharing and spreading ideas and viewpoints, and passing your passions on to others.

Whenever we had the opportunity, a group of us organised small trips outside Boston to discover the surroundings of Massachusetts and New England which are particularly fascinating in autumn. One of the most memorable experiences was a weekend trip to Vermont, where we visited some of the most idyllic little towns during their ‘Indian summer’ (change of foliage-colours). Additionally, I visited Washington D.C., New York, Cape Cod, Provincetown and some of the cities along the North Eastern Coast of the US. Leaving Boston and exploring the ‘real America’ certainly enriched my experience and gave me some more nuance in understanding more about this fascinating country.

On both an academic and personal level, the exchange semester at Fletcher was truly one of the most inspiring experiences of my life. Thank you Bakala Foundation for helping to make this possible.


Alex Sorton – at Duke

Alex Sorton

Having just finished a Bilingual Master in Economic Law from the University of Geneva and the University of Basel, previously having been on exchanges to the University of Zurich and the Chinese University of Hong Kong, I am most thrilled to be able to finish my formal education as one of 95 LLM students, from 41 countries, at the Duke School of Law.

As my last two years of study were mostly focused on topics of International Private Law and Public International Law, I decided to broaden my legal knowledge by focusing my current studies on Corporate Law. At Duke I am following topics such as Business Associations, M&A and Corporate Governance. I will be writing a research paper in Corporate Governance as I believe that future political, social, economical, and environmental events will require company leaders to find new ways to cater to an ever growing number of requests from their various private and public partners.

Studying in the US, under some of the best professors and alongside many of the sharpest minds in the country is definitely a challenge, but what makes this experience truly unique is the incredible diversity of backgrounds, cultures and opinions provided by my fellow LLMs: here at Duke, the human experience is just as important as the academic one! By the time my year of studies will be over, I truly believe I will have learnt as much about the world and its inhabitants as about the field of law. 

For all of this, I am truly grateful to the Fondation Zdenek and Michaela Bakala, and each and every one of its members.

Thank you all for having made this incredible experience possible!

“Another beautiful autumn afternoon in Durham, North Carolina: James Buchanan Duke (1856-1925), tobacco magnate and founder of Duke University, stands in front of Duke Chapel at the center of West Campus. Finished in 1932, the Chapel was designed by the famous African-American architect Julian Abele (1881-1950).

Today, as one of the most beautiful campuses in the world, offering numerous teaching and research buildings, ponds and forests, as well as cultural, sports and medical facilities, Duke reminds us of all that can be achieved when a few inspired minds are allowed to thrive and come together.” - Alexander

Duke university


Sophie Hall – at Oxford

Sophie Hall

Report from Oxford
“Sometimes we don’t want ot participate in debates because it seems so unpleasant. But sometimes, I think, we have a reason to be unpleasant”. One of the most remarkable opportunities I’ve had in Oxford was the chance to hear Amartya Sen, nobel laureate, speak to a crowded theatre of students just a few days ago. He spoke about the critical necessity of discussion in a democracy, even when those discussions are difficult and draining. As someone studying the nature of poverty and the effect of inequality, hearing Prof. Sen speak in person was in itself remarkable.

But what he said also rang true for my time in Oxford, where I have been challenged to engage in debates far beyond what I have ever been confronted with before. In part, this is thanks to my course,

where I am faced with the difficult discussions which policymakers must face around social policy today: how can states mitigate the effects of social and technological change? How do we deal with the demands of an ageing society? How can we make sure the burdens and benefits of economic recovery are shared equally?

Next to the course itself, it is the diverse body of fellow students who make studying in Oxford so stimulating, coming from diverse countries and academic disciplines to engage with each other and the subject material. My understanding, both academic and personal, of the recent political developments for example in the USA has been shaped and deepened by studying with many Americans. Both they and this university have reinforced my belief in the importance of debates, pleasant or otherwise.”

Sophie Hall
Oxford, January 2017

Sophie Hall - Oxford university


Abdul Carupt – at Harvard

Abdul Carupt

After my High School degree I had the privilege to start a professional career as football (soccer) player. After 8 years, I decided to resume my studies. I was 26 years old. I integrated the Faculty of Law of the University of Geneva and rapidly understood that I did the right choice. I found in Law studies a way of thinking that stimulates me every single day. The social impact of this field and the possibility to actually help and assist people in their day life problems is, in my opinion, the most valuable aspect of the practice.

During my Bachelor I heard about the exchange program between the University of Geneva and the Harvard Law School. First a dream, it became an objective I have strived to achieve. I applied to it during my Master and the University chose me and another student to be part of the Fall 2016 exchange. Being able to complete my Law degree in one of the most prestigious Law School of the World was a chance and a privilege I was aware of.

The 6 months I spent at Harvard surpassed everything I could imagine. The atmosphere inside and around the campus encourages you to be curious and to work hard. The Professors and officials are always available to talk about the class, the University or anything you want and need. And last but definitely not least, the other students I met made my stay unforgettable.

I will be forever grateful to FZMB for the support they provide me through the scholarship because it allowed me to live one the greatest experience of my life so far.

Abdul Carupt

Anas Sareen - at Oxford

Studying at the University of Oxford is demanding. And some evenings, reading through the fifth or six version of a thesis chapter is simply exhausting. Would I want to be anywhere else? No. My supervisor’s commitment is equalled only by the support of some of my course friends. We read each other, rewrite each other, and think with each other. I have rarely been this stimulated, and this happy.

Anas Sareen, DPhil candidate in English literature, University of Oxford.

Anas Sareen

Anas Sareen
During the Oxford matriculation event
Anas Sareen
Bakala@Oxford for Bakala Scholars Fall 2016

Anas Sareen
2016 Scholarship Event

Next years scholarship event will be held Monday 8 May at the Maison des Fondation – all Alumni welcome to attend!

Danylo Malyuta

Danylo Malyuta

Thanks to the generous support of the Fondation Zdenek et Michaela Bakala, I am spending nine months at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) as part of my ETH Zürich Master's degree in Robotics, Systems and Control. JPL is the world leader in robotic space exploration and my experience here has been fantastic. Working in the computer vision group of JPL's Robotics section, my work contributes to the knowledge base which enables robots to operate in unknown environments. This kind of work is critical to the robotic exploration of Mars, for example. Besides doing fascinating work (which is so interesting that I would willingly give up sleep and weekends for it), I have been able to talk to roboticists that have designed in the past and are currently designing rovers for Mars and probes to Europa, one of the moons of Jupiter. I have visited the JPL Mission Control – a.k.a. the “center of the universe” – which operates planetary rovers and satellites and is the first point on Earth where scientific data from other planets and parts of the solar system arrives.

I have seen the clean room, where flight hardware is assembled and prepared for space. JPL is structured in many ways like a university campus – different buildings house different groups of scientists and engineers working on hundreds of aspects that compose dozens of space projects. These buildings are interconnected by JPL's own miniature traffic system with roads decorated by posters of current JPL missions in flight. What makes JPL different from a university campus is that the people you casually walk and sit next to are true rocket scientists! Lastly, I have already met several non-US citizens that are either interning or have full-time positions at JPL. For those who are familiar with the usual “you cannot work at NASA if you are not American”, this is a beacon of hope and only goes to show that achieving any goal in life is not a matter of your current circumstances and rules set by others – it is a matter of how much work you are willing to put in to achieve that goal. Again, thank you to the Fondation Zdenek et Michaela Bakala for the support which enables this life-changing opportunity for me. I will now get back to this amazing work!

Danylo Malyuta
Danylo at JPL/NASA January 2017

What are some of the FZMB Alumni up to?

For the Summer 2017 Newsletter, please kindly send a photo or update on your research or work.

Samuel Sommaruga

Since October 2016 I am doing my MD thesis in Yale University. It has been such a great opportunity for me. I am working on a neuroradiology project in collaboration with Geneva University Hospital, a cervical spine project and a stroke genetics project in collaboration with Washington University.

Yale is an amazing place to grow intellectually, academically and above all humanly. Intellectually because you meet experts in numerous fields. You can grab a coffee with a PhD friends in Classics, grab lunch at a seminar where a Nobel prize is presenting and have dinner with friends in a philosophy salon.

Aside from academicals activities, I am playing with the Yale Grad Rugby team with whom with go across New England to play against Harvard, NYU or Columbia rugby team. I also started a philosophy salon with friends about bioethics and philosophy.

Samuel Sommaruga


My life is  so exciting now and I am doing what I always dreamed about. But I keep in mind that nobody is « self-made man ». We are who we are also because of external causes. Zdenek and Michaela Foundation has been one of them for me and I am very grateful.

Samuel Sommaruga

SAVE THE DATE! 2017-18 Bakala Brainstorm and other events:

List of planned or confirmed events for 2017-18:

  • Saturday  March 18 2017 -15.00-17:00  Bakala Brainstorm UK at Cambridge for all Bakala scholars, Alumni, Partners at Hilton Cambridge Centre followed by reception and Cambridge Orchestra/Choir at Kings College 5:30-7:00
    * special invite to all Czech and Swiss Bakala Scholars and Alumni in UK to present current research or questions (5-7 min plus Q&A for feedback) partners and friends of FZMB/BF. Pls RSVP presentation slot.
    * FZMB can reimburse train, bus or gas costs from UK with proof of receipt.
  • Monday May 8th 2017 - 18:30-20:30 FZMB Scholarship Event for Students, Alumni and Partners, Fondation Louis Jeannet, Geneva
  • Friday 5 October 2017 15:00-17:00 Bakala Brainstorm US at Harvard University followed by wine and cheese reception
    * special invite to all Czech and Swiss Bakala scholars in US to present current research or questions (5-7 mins plus Q&A for feedback) as well as prospective candidates, partners and friends of FZMB/BF. Pls RSVP presentation slot.
    * FZMB can reimburse train, bus or gas costs from within US with proof of receipt.
  • Monday 20 November  2017 - 17:00-19:00 FZMB Holiday Party for Students, Alumni and Partners following FZMB Board Meeting, La Réserve, Geneva (tbc) 
  • January 13 or 14th 2018 16h00-19h00 FZMB Après Ski Alumni and Partner Event in Verbier (tbc)
  • Saturday March 17th 2018 -  Bakala Brainstorm UK - Oxford University for Students, Alumni and Partners at Magdalen College, Oxford 15:00-17:00 fthen St. Patricks Day pub visit
  • Monday 7 May, 2018 18:30-20.30 FZMB Scholarship Event, Alumni and Partners Event, Fondation Louis Jeannet, Geneva (tbc)
  • Friday October 26th 2018, Bakala Brainstorm US at Dartmouth College for Students, Alumni and Partners 15:00-17:00 pm at Dartmouth College, Tuck School,  15:00-17:00 followed by Homecoming Cocktail reception (tbc)

All BF/FZMB Scholars and Alumni as well as partners and guests invited to kindly RSVP to all events at at earliest convenience.  Your feedback will determine event dates and planning going forward.

Meet the FZMB Board and our new Programme Manager

The FZMB Board serves to manage the Foundation and assist with the Scholarship programme as well as philanthropy in the area of education and human rights. Board President is Ms. Michaela BAKALA and Trustees are Philippe RUDLOFF and Auret VAN YZL. With the departure of Ms. Patricia Legler last spring the Fondation is under the wing of Paula Murphy Ives, a Swiss-Canadian citizen who studied at the Graduate Institute as well as Cambridge University. She is keen to support the develop the Swiss Scholarship programme as well as support FZMB’s Education and Human Rights portfolio. If you have any questions or suggestions regarding FZMB, do not hesitate to contact her at the Secretariat. See the FZMB site for more info!

To find out more about the Philanthropic activities of FZMB and Bakala Philanthropies see our partners websites:

Fondation ZMB Aspen institute


Bakala foundation FW de Klerk


Vaclav Havel Library Tuck School of Business


See also:
Bakala Philanthropies at


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Paula Murphy Ives
Foundation Manager
Fondation Zdenek et Michaela Bakala

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