About me...

Mühlethurnen is a small village in the Gürbe Valley, situated about 20 km south of Berne. When my parents, Madeleine and Roland Gfeller Corthésy, moved there in 1964 it had a population of about 500, now it is around 1000. They (my parents) bought an old farm house (estimated age is around 300 years), which was in a desolate state: even I can remember that we had no running warm water and the toilet was straight out of stone age. It rained down the chimney used to smoke sausages. Actually, the local fire brigade wanted to burn it down as an exercise. During the years, the house was gradually renovated: hayloft and stables turned into workrooms, farm-labourer's quarters became my sister's and my bedrooms. Living in a house all by ourselves was great: there was plenty of space and we could be as loud as we pleased. Well, almost: both my parents work at home so there were limits. I wonder how they could endure the screeching clarinet and violin. Both my parents are artists: she is a weaver and he is a painter. We hope to realize an internet-exhibition with webArt in the near future.

One of the most important events in my life (except of being born) was my 2-year stay at Atlantic College (AC) in Wales. AC, founded in 1962 by Kurt Hahn, was the first of now several United World Colleges (UWCs). The major aim of the UWCs is to bring young people from all over the world together, regardless of financial background, i.e. purely on academic merits. The 2-year course leads to the International Baccalaureate, which I think is probably one of the best pre-university education schemes (of course I have only experienced the IB and the Swiss one, the rest is second-hand knowledge). There are 27 lessons per week (40 minutes each), about 10 hours a week are spent with so-called activities (choir, tennis, photography, ....) and services (social, art, rescue) aimed at providing a service to the local community. This combination results in a well-balanced education. Also, the students can choose within certain limits what subjects they want to take, letting them pursue specific interests.

After AC I came back to Switzerland, took the Swiss Matura, studied chemistry at the University of Berne, moved to Zürich for my Ph.D. at the Soil Protection Group at the Institute of Terrestrial Ecology of the ETH Zürich. During all those years, I went back to Wales, England and Scotland as often as I could, and was very happy indeed when I managed to obtain a scholarship for a one-year stay as a postdoc at the Institute of Freshwater Ecology in the Lake District. This second (longer) stay in the United Kingdom ended in September 1997, and I returned to the Soil Protection Group. Towards the end of 1998, I decided to change profession and working environment and at the beginning of 1999 I started work at AS INFORMATIK AG, a company specialised in computer networks.

All this is nicely tabulated in my Curriculum Vitae. What about my non-professional interests? I like reading crime fiction: Val McDermid, Sara Paretsky, Patricia Cornwell, Colin Dexter, Donna Leon, Ruth Rendell, Walter Mosley, W.J. Burley, Martha Grimes, and Ian Rankin belong to my most favourite authors at the moment. Terry Pratchett belongs to a slightly different genre: he is the author of the Discworld Novels, which I got hooked on in about 1997. Then there is Tad Williams' Otherland. I like music too (who doesn't?): Van Morrsion, The Band, Electric Light Orchestra, Miles Davis, Bheki Mseleku, Nina Hagen, Baaba Maal, Gustav Mahler, Wolfgang Mozart, Richard Strauss, and many more. Last but not least, I like computers and programming and have been exposed to both since about 1981.

© michael gfeller
Last modification: 2005/11/9 at 20:11