Career jumpstart for up-and-coming scientists
That young researchers are the future innovators and drivers of science and technology is undisputed. Launched this year, the ‘European Young Investigators Awards’ wants to give these talented young guns a chance to set up their own research groups in various scientific fields.
The European Young Investigators Awards (EURYI) offers up to €1.25 million in research funds to a handful of the best young scientists from all over the world. The awards are given to help the laureates pursue their careers and, where appropriate, to set up research teams to carry out scientific investigations in Europe. The idea being to give the next generation of potential Nobel Prize winners a financial leg up.
|Nurturing young scientists will produce a crop of future research leaders|
© Image: European Community 2004
The event is open to researchers anywhere in the world who have between two and ten years of postdoc experience. This year’s winners showed that they were capable of carrying out high-quality, original research which has the potential to foster innovation and come up with new solutions to scientific problems in such areas as neuroscience, biodiversity, fundamental electronics, chemical engineering, materials science, and more.
The organisers of the prize were caught off guard by the level of interest it garnered inside Europe but also from abroad. “We received a lot of interest from all over the world in this inaugural EURYI,” commented Jens Degett, director of communications at the European Science Foundation (ESF) which, along with leading European research organisations in 15 countries, helped develop and promote the prize. “This was an important sign that people want to come to Europe to develop their innovative ideas, which will strengthen the continent’s research base,” he told Headlines.
The winner is…
The selection committee chose 25 talented up-and-coming researchers from a total of 777 submissions. Several of those chosen are working in the field of physics, including the Lithuanian Andrius Baltuška’s work on nonlinear time-resolved spectroscopy, while others are destined to be in the vanguard of future discoveries in biomedicine, molecular biology and biology, such as the Israeli-Dutch scientist Reuven Agami’s search for DNA damage checkpoint functions in human cells.
Among the other winners are researchers from Romania, Hungary, six from Spain, as well as several Germans, Italians and Dutch, a Danish mechanical engineer, a Ukrainian physical biochemist, and a social scientist from the USA. They will all receive their cheques at the official award ceremony taking place on 26 August during the EuroScience Open Forum in Stockholm, Sweden.
The scheme was developed by Eurohorcs – an informal association of national research councils established in 1992 – and the ESF to attract “outstanding young researchers” to Europe’s shores – and hold on to those already here. This could help reverse the ‘brain drain’ problem and, indirectly, taps into the broader goal of helping the EU reach its Lisbon and Barcelona targets – to be the world’s powerhouse of knowledge by the end of the decade. Numerous prizes and human resource initiatives have been developed under the Union’s ‘science and society’ programme to help achieve this and other important objectives.
The first call for submissions for the award was issued last September and 18 research organisations from Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland and the UK submitted their candidates for consideration.
Ernst-Ludwig Winnacker of the German Research Foundation (DFG) announced, on 29 July, this year’s winners in the Brussels offices of the ESF-COST, taking the opportunity to applaud the collaborative effort behind the Prize. “Many of our organisations have developed specific strategies to attract and support highly qualified young researchers,” he said. But, by joining forces, he added, they felt they could reach their common goals more effectively.
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German Research Foundation (DFG)European Science Foundation (ESF)Eurohorcs (European Union Research Organisations’ Heads of Research Councils)COST (European Co-operation in Scientific and Technical Research)Science and society programme