Europe celebrates its top young scientists
Milan, 21 September 2015
The former Milan train factory, Fabbrica del Vapore, buzzed with intense activity over the last few days. 169 young researchers aged between 14 and 20 presented their science projects to an international jury in the hope of picking up one of the prestigious prizes. The honours they were competing for were part of the 27th annual European Union Contest for Young Scientists (EUCYS), which concluded with the awards ceremony today (21 September 2015). Aside from the right to count themselves among the best young scientists in Europe, the winners also divided up a total of €56 000 in prize money, as well as other coveted prizes such as science trips to Europe's top laboratories and the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in the US (MEMO).
The three first prizes of €7000 each were awarded to Sanath Kumar Devalapurkar from the USA for "On the Stability and Algebraicity of Algebraic K-theory", Michał Bączyk and Paweł Piotr Czyż from Poland for "The studies of behaviour of single and coupled on-off type oscillators on the example of bottle oscillators" and Lukas Stockner from Germany for "Statistical modeling of volume-scattered light". The three second prizes went to winners from Austria, Russia and Poland for original projects in the areas of Medicine and Environment, and the three third prizes were given to projects from New Zealand, Germany and Estonia. A detailed list is available online.
Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science said: "My warmest congratulations to the winning young scientists! It's good to see so much young talent will enrich science generations to come and help us find new answers to challenges of the future."
This year the contest took place in Milan during EXPO2015, which focuses on the theme of “Feeding the planet, Energy for life”. That is why it also featured three Food Prizes. These were won by Ireland, Lithuania and Poland.
Bringing together 103 projects from 39 countries including EU Member States, countries associated to Horizon 2020 (the EU's research funding programme) and international guest countries, this year's edition of the contest was the largest in its history spanning over three decades.
All entries had previously won first prize in their home country's respective national science competitions in their specific field. The project topics covered a broad spectrum of scientific areas: biology, physics, chemistry, computing, social sciences, environment, mathematics, materials, engineering and medicine. This year's jury was chaired by Dr Lina Tomasella from the Astronomical Observatory of Padova and was composed of 22 international scientists working in different fields.
The European Union Contest for Young Scientists was set up by the European Commission in 1989 to encourage co-operation and exchange between young scientists and to give them an opportunity to be guided by some of Europe's most prominent leading researchers. The first competition took place in Brussels and has been held in 24 different European cities since then.
The contest seeks to support efforts made in participating countries to attract young people to studying STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) and to choosing careers in science and research. The number of young scientists has gone from 53 at the first competition in 1989 to 169 this year. It is the first year that the number of girls participating in the contest has been so high. Female participation in the contest reflects the broader issue of underrepresentation of women in STEM. This year, 39% of the participants were female (66 participants vs. 103 male participants). In 1997 female participation in EUCYS exceeded 30% for the first time, and since then has usually been between 30% and 35%, with a peak of 41% in 2005. Over the 27 years, 251 young women and 800 young men have won prizes while over 2500 have taken part and a total of 717 prizes have been handed out.
All three first prize winning teams were awarded €7000; second and third-placed teams received €5000 and €3500 respectively. Other prizes included trips to the London International Youth Science Forum and the Stockholm International Youth Science Seminar, as well as prizes from corporate sponsors including trips to Intel ISEF in the US, and visits to the European Commission's in-house science service, the Joint Research Centre, and the eight organisations making up the pan-European research group Eiroforum.