I am an environmental scientist and international development scholar with 19 years of experience in researching sustainable development challenges in the global South. I am interested in how technological innovation can support poverty reduction and sustainable development. I studied at the University of Geneva, the University of Aberdeen (UK) and at EPFL, conducted research in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mexico, Chile and Honduras and was based in Bangalore for four years as Executive Director of swissnex India. Currently, I am the Deputy Director of the Cooperation and Development Center at EPFL, in charge of disaster risk reduction research and education activities and direct the International Conference on Technologies for Development. I teach Development Engineering and have launched a MOOC in disaster risk reduction. My publications include four (co-) edited books, a special issue of the Journal of Sustainable Energy Technologies and Assessments and a number of (co-) authored articles and book chapters. I am a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Development Engineering, a board member of the Conseil Suisse de Recherches Scientifiques en Côte d’Ivoire and the Commission for Research Partnerships with Developing Countries. I am passionate about sustainable development, yoga and hiking in the wilderness.
Current PositionDeputy Director, Cooperation and Development Center – EPFL, Switzerland
Technical and Training Certificates
Sept. 2012-Present Cooperation & Development Center - CODEV
02/2008–08/2012 swissnex India
05/2001–01/2007 Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL)
05/2001–12/2001 NCCR North-South, University of Bern
07/2001–12/2001 Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL)
04/2001–12/2001 IUCN – The World Conservation Union
01/2000–03/2001 IUCN – The World Conservation Programme
Coordinator Cloud Forest Initiative
09/1996–01/1997 State Secretariat for Education and Research
Research and Working Experience Abroad
|India||Executive Director, swissnex India||(2008-2012)|
|Mexico||Fieldwork for PhD research||(9 months, 2002-2004)|
|Burkina Faso||Fieldwork for CAS research||(6 months, 1998-1999)|
|Ghana||Fieldwork for BSc research||(3 months, 1996)|
|London||Internship at Greenpeace||(6 months, 1994)|
|Colombia||Exchange programme at college level in Bogota||(1987)|
|Planning||Leading the creation of short- and long-term visions|
Strategic programme planning
Resource allocation and budgeting
Collaborating with interdisciplinary teams
Recruiting and hiring staff
Effectively motivating and supporting team members
Implementing strategies and monitoring progress
Controlling financial expenditures
Developing scientific reports
Fields of expertise
Technologies for development in the Global South
|Hostetter S., Joehr A., Montes C. and A. D'Acunzi
Landslides. 2018 (submitted)
|Community-based landslide risk reduction: A review of a Red Cross soil bioengineering program for resilience in Honduras.|
In S. Hostettler, S. Najih Besson, & J-C Bolay (Eds.) Technologies for Development: From Innovation to Social Impact. Springer, pp. 3-10, 2018.
|From Innovation to Social Impact|
|Franco A., Shaker M., Kalubi, Hostettler S.
Sustainable Energy Technologies and Assessments, 22:92-105, 2017.
|A review of sustainable energy access and technologies for healthcare facilities in the Global South|
|Hostettler S. & Zolezzi G.
Journal of Sustainable Energy Technologies and Assessments [Special Issue] 22:91-227, 2017.
|Energy and Food Security in a Humanitarian Context|
In S. Hostettler, A.J. Gadgil & E. Hazboun (Eds.). Sustainable Access to Energy in the Global South: Essential Technologies and Implementation Approaches. Paris, Heidelberg, New York, Dordrecht, London: Springer. 2015.
|Energy Challenges in the Global South.|
In S. Hostettler, E. Hazboun, & J-C Bolay (Eds.) Technologies for Development: What is Essential? Paris, Heidelberg, New York, Dordrecht, London: Springer. 2015
|Technologies for Development: What Really Matters?|
|Bolay J-C, Hostettler S. & Hazboun E.(Eds.)
Paris, Heidelberg, New York, Dordrecht, London: Springer. 2013
|Technologies for Sustainable Development: A Way to Reduce Poverty?|
Suedwestdeutscher Verlag für Hochschulschriften. ISBN-13978-3-8381-0443-0. 2009.
|Mexican Migration: Reflections of Remittances in the Landscape.|
In: Geist H. (ed). Our Earth's Changing Land: An Encyclopedia of Land-Use and Land-Cover Change. Greenwood Press. USA. pp 503-506. 2006
In: Geist H. (ed). Our Earth's Changing Land: An Encyclopedia of Land-Use and Land-Cover Change. Greenwood Press. USA. p 452. 2006
|Bichsel C., Hostettler S., Strasser B.
NCCR North-South dialogue, NCCR North-South, Berne. 2005.
|"Should I buy a cow or a TV?" Reflections on the conceptual framework of the NCCR North-South based on a comparative study of international labour migration in Mexico, India and Kyrgyzstan.|
|Barrera A, Bolay JC., García C., Hostettler S.
In: Hurni H., Wiesman U. and Schertenleib R., (Eds.). Research for mitigating syndromes of global change. Berne: University of Berne: Geographica Bernensia. Perspectives of the Swiss NCCR North-South, Vol.1:293-327, 2004
|JACS Central America and the Caribbean Key challenges of sustainable development and research priorities: social practices as driving forces for change.|
|Bolay J-C., Gerritsen P., Hostettler S. and Ortiz C.
ETFRN News 45/46, European Tropical Forestry Research Network, Netherlands, 2005.
|Global Change, Urbanization and Natural Resource Management in Western Mexico|
Bois et forêts des tropiques, CIRAD, No 274 (4):19-31, 2002.
|Tropical montane cloud forests: a challenge for conservation|
|Bergkamp G., Pirot J.-Y., Hostettler S. (Eds.).
Proceedings of a Workshop held at the 2nd International Conference on Wetlands and Development (November, 1998, Dakar, Senegal). IUCN, Wetlands International, WWF, France, 2000.
|Integrated Wetlands and Water Resources Management.|
|Aldrich M., Bubb Ph., Hostettler S.
Arborvitae 72. WWF International, IUCN, Gland and Cambridge, Switzerland and UK, 2000.
|Tropical Montane Cloud Forests. Time for Action|
Teaching & PhD
- Humanities and Social Sciences Program,
- Environmental Sciences and Engineering
- Doctoral Program in Architecture and Sciences of the City
This course teaches the fundamentals of technologies for development (Development Engineering) to design, pilot, and evaluate appropriate, affordable and robust technologies to address sustainable development challenges (e.g. poverty, environmental degrad...
This course will examine the main challenges faced by countries in the Global South. Students will work in interdisciplinary groups on real-world case studies provided by Medair, Swiss Red Cross etc. aiming at poverty reduction and sustainable development...
Teaching activities Coordination of the MOOC: A Resilient Future: Science and Technology for Disaster Risk Reduction (edX) Lecturer of EPFL SHS Course: Cooperation and Development Invited Lecturer to EPFL SHS courses: Going East and Contemporary India Coordinator of Module, CAS in Management of Development Projects offered by EPFL until 2014
Research Projects and Presentations
- “Analysis of Disaster Risk Mitigation Measures in Rural Communities in Chile" in collaboration with Universidad de Concepción (Chile) and the Universidad de los Andes (Colombia). Project duration: 2017-2019. Funded by research program Bilateral research collaboration with Brazil and the Latin American Region. (PI)
- “Increasing community resilience through community-based disaster risk management" in collaboration with the Swiss Red Cross in Switzerland and Honduras. Project duration: 2017-2019. Funded by the Swiss agency for development and cooperation. (PI)
- “Reducing the seismic risk of Nepal through improved design of reinforced concrete structures and women training on low-weight retrofitting techniques" co-led with Dr. João Almeida of the EPFL Earthquake Engineering and Structural Dynamics Laboratory (EESD). Project duration: 2018-2022. Decision pending by SNSF r4d program. (not granted)
- “Landslide early warning systems as tools for community resilience" led by Prof. Calvello (IT) submitted to the COST Open Call OC-2017-1. Project duration: 2018-2021. Decision pending by SNSF r4d program. (Secondary Proposer)
- Moderator “Setting the stage - the new roles and tasks for science and research partnerships.“ Leveraging Research Partnerships for Global Challenges. KFPE. 22 November 2018, Bern.
- Presentation. “Increasing community resilience through community-based disaster risk management in Honduras”. 8th International Conference on building resilience. 14 November 2018, Lisbon.
- Session Leader “Development Engineering: Training Global Engineers“. UNESCO International Technologies for Development Conference, 29 June 2018, Lausanne.
- Presentation „Impact Evaluation: Increasing Community Resilience through Community-Based Disaster Risk Management in Honduras“. UNESCO International Technologies for Development Conference, 28 June 2018, Lausanne.
- Panelist “Funding and organizing transnational research: Pitfalls in European-African research collaboration and how to best cope with them", WZB Berlin Social Science Center", 17 November 2017, Berlin.
- Moderator “UNDP 2017 Social Good Summit: Connecting Today. Creating Tomorrow", 13 October 2017, Geneva.
- Moderator “She started it", Lausanne Innovation Forum, 28 September 2017, Lausanne.
- Presentation “More technology – less disasters?” in the framework of the event series ‘Everyone a Humanitarian’, swissnex San Francisco, 28 January 2017, San Francisco, USA.
- Presentation “Presentation “Innovative technologies for poverty reduction and sustainable development in the global South”. Gadgil Lab for Energy and Water Research, UC Berkeley, 26 January 2017, Berkeley, USA.
- Presentation “Development Engineering: The emergence of a new scientific field”. Universidad del Valle, 30 November 2016, Cali, Colombia.
- Presentation “Empowering Students to Shape the Future” at Shaping the Future – The Role of Entrepreneurship and Social Innovation, Geneva Impact Hub, 30 June 2016, Geneva.
- Talk on aidpreneur (TOR 112) on the UNESCO Chair in Technologies for Development http://aidpreneur.com/tor112-unesco-chair-in-technologies-for-development-with-dr-silvia-hostettler/ 9 June 2016.
- Director of the UNESCO Chair in Technologies for Development Conference: Technologies for Development. From Innovation to Social Impact. 2-4 May 2016, Lausanne.
- Presentation “Technologies for Development” at the Conference Technology for Sustainable Development organized by the United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI) and Amrita University. 8 July 2015, United Nations, New York.
- Moderator of the Conference Why Does Intellectual Property Matter? Technologies for Development in Emerging Economies by WIPO Global Challenges Division. 29 April 2015, Lausanne.
- Invited to the Conference on Innovative Financial Schemes for Basic Services at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Future Research and Action. University of Geneva, University of Toulouse, Charitable Foundation Cartier, LEREPS. 19 February 2015, Geneva.
- Participation in the Symposium From Growth to Sustainable and Inclusive Development: A Shift in Paradigm. CDE, University of Bern and SNIS. 13 November 2014, Bern.
- Co-Moderator of the Conference Seed Money: Experiences, Achievements and Impact. 30 October 2014, Lausanne.
- Director of the UNESCO Chair in Technologies for Development Conference: Technologies for Development. What is Essential? 4-6 June 2014, Lausanne.
- Moderator of the Thematic General Assembly of the Swiss Commission for UNESCO. 29 November 2013, Lausanne.
- Presentation of the paper UNESCO Chair in Technologies for Development – Achievements and Challenges at the South East Europe Regional Forum of UNESCO Chairs. 12–13 June 2013, Istanbul, Turkey.
- Panel Moderator at the Conference on Engaging the Private Sector for Development – Risks and Opportunities. Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). 5 June 2013, Bern.
- Presentation Introduction to CODEV/EPFL and Collaboration with Colombian Universities at the Symposium on Swiss-Colombian Bilateral Relations about Scientific Exchange. ACIS, 2 November 2012, Lausanne.
- Welcome Address at the Conference on Highly Skilled Mobility and the Development of the Research and Innovation Sector of the Republic of Moldova. 12 October 2012, Chisinau, Moldova.
- Invited Lecturer presenting Mexican Migration: Reflections in the Landscape at the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and Environment (ASHOKA). 25 April 2012, Bangalore, India.
- Co-organizer of the Symposium Energy and Development: Energy in India in collaboration with The Graduate Institute and the Indian Institute of Management. 28 November 2011, Bangalore, India.
- Co-organizer and Moderator of the Scientific Symposium for Cooperation@EPFL Research in a Development Context: Putting Knowledge into Practice in collaboration with the Center for Study of Science, Technology and Policy (CSTEP). 14 December 2010, Bangalore, India.
- Co-organizer and Presenter at the oikos swissnex Practitioner Day From Models to Markets for Inclusive Development at the UNDP Young Scholars Development Academy 2011. 26 August 2011, Indian Institute of Management Bangalore, India.
- Invited Lecturer on Science and Technology in India for the EPFL Minor in Asian and Cultural Studies. 25 August 2011, Bangalore, India.
- Opening Speech of the IN:CH Exhibition presenting Master Class projects by the University of Applied Science Bern. 2 June 2011, Bangalore, India.
- Organizer and Opening Speech of the SCIENCEsuisse Exhibition. 24 November 2010, Ahmedabad, India.
- Welcome Address at the Conference Challenges of Urban Planning in collaboration with ETHZ. 7 September 2010, Bangalore, India.
- Moderator for swissnex at the EPFL MoT Event Becoming a Global Entrepreneur. 6 May 2010, Bangalore, India.
- Welcome Address at the Conference Ticinese Architecture by Mario Botta. 8 February 2010, Ahmedabad, India.
- Welcome Address at the Nestlé Innovation Partnership Event with former Federal Counselor Moritz Leuenberger. 2 February 2009, Embassy of Switzerland, New Delhi, India.
- Presentation The swissnex Network and Swiss Education and Research Landscape to the Rotary Club. 28 January 2009, Bangalore, India.
- Interview on Swiss TV channel TSR on the Launch of the first Swiss satellite - SwissCube, launched from Satish Dhawan Space Center. 23 September 2009, India.
- Moderator of the Panel Student Exchange and Research Collaboration with former Federal Counselor Ruth Dreifuss. The Jaipur Forum. 20 November 2008, Jaipur, India.
- Presentation of the paper Migration and Other Driving Forces of Land Use/Cover Change in a Rural Context in Western Mexico at the 6th Open Meeting of the Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change Research Community. 9–13 October 2005, Bonn, Germany.
- Best Poster Award of EPFL (ENAC) PhD Poster Exhibition 2004. EPFL, Lausanne.
- Poster presentation Land Use Change and Urban-Rural Interactions in the Ayuquila Watershed to the expert panel of the NCCR North-South. 10 September 2003, Yssik Kul, Kyrgyzstan.
- Poster Presentation Sustainable Watershed Development: Land Use Changes and Urbanization in the Ayuquila Watershed in Western Mexico at the Conference: Rio 11: Towards a New Paradigm in Agricultural Research – The Challenge of Sustainable Development. 6 June 2003, ETH Zürich, Switzerland
- Reviewer for Development Engineering | Elsevier, December 2016.
- Head of Jury. The Good Festival: Innovation Summit. 26-29 October 2016, Olympic Museum, Lausanne.
- Reviewer for the 2016 IEEE Global Humanitarian Technology Conference (GHTC). Seattle, 13-16 October 2016.
- Supervision of Master project Optimization of irrigation efficiency in Palestine using a sensor network by Gustav Isaksson (KTH Stockholm/EPFL), September 2016.
- Reviewer for Energies | MDPI, December 2015.
- Jury Member of the thesis by Viviana Carolina Munoz Tellez de Kieffer: Institutions, Innovation and Public Health (No. 6566). Thesis Director: Prof. Dominique Foray. 19 January 2015, Lausanne.
- Member of Selection Committee for Academia–Industry Training Camps in India and Brazil funded by the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation. 8 October 2014, Lausanne.
- Invited Expert for three Master projects in the Framework of the Minor in Area and Cultural Studies. 15 October 2014, Lausanne.
- Jury Member of the thesis by Chantal Basurto Dávila: On Daylight Optimization Strategies Based on Computer Simulations for Buildings Located at Low Altitudes (No. 6425) Thesis Director: Prof. Scartezzini and Dr. Kempf. 12 September 2014, Lausanne.
- Reviewer for Jàmbá: Journal of Disaster Risk Studies | AOSiS OpenJournals, August 2014.
- Reviewer for AJAR: African Journal of Agricultural Research | academicJournals, June 2014.
- Supervisor of four final projects of the CAS Management of Development Projects. May 2014, Lausanne.
- Member of the Selection Committee for projects submitted to the Brazilian-Swiss Joint Research Programme funded by the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation. 26 February 2014, Lausanne.
- Member of the KFPE Evaluation Committee for projects submitted to the call Learning Events funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). 24 June 2013, 3 April 2014, 1 July 2015 and 17 May 2016, Bern.
- Member of the Selection Committee of the EPFL Seed Money Program, an annual call for researchers from all scientific disciplines of EPFL, to submit research projects in partnership with academic institutions in the global South. January 2013, January 2014, January 2015, Januray 2016, January 2017 Lausanne.
- Jury Member for final year Master projects, Universität der Künste Berlin. 11 July 2011, Berlin, Germany.
- Board Member of the Conseil Suisse de Recherches Scientifiques (CSRS) since 2016.
- Associate Editor of the peer-reviewed Journal of Development Engineering| Elsevier. The Editorial Board brings together UC Berkeley, MIT, Yale, UC San Diego, UNAM Mexico and EPFL since 2014. The journal is an open access, interdisciplinary journal applying engineering and economic research to the problems of poverty.
- Member of the International Programme Committee for the 2015 IEEE International Symposium on Technology and Society (ISTAS 2015). Culture, Ethics and the Knowledge Society. 11–12 November 2015, Dublin.
- Director and Member of the Scientific Committee of the 2014 and 2016 UNESCO Conference in Technologies for Development bringing together 460 participants from 58 countries presenting 125 papers and 30 posters over three days. 4–6 June 2014 and 2-5 May 2016, SwissTech Convention Center, Lausanne.
- Member of the Commission for Research Partnerships with Developing Countries (KFPE) since 2012.
Selection of Presentations and Conferences
Member of PhD Jury / Reviewer / Expert
Committee / Board Member