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  Descartes prizes

Aims and Objectives of the Descartes Prizes

The Descartes Prizes are among the activities supported under the European Commission's Seventh Framework Programme, within the Research Directorate Science and Society.

Science Communication Prize

    The Grand Jury 2003

    Grand Jury 2000 - 2001 - 2002 - 2003 - 2004


    Professor Ene Ergma Dr Ion Siotis
    Professor Helena Illnerová Mr Pantelis Kyriakides
    Dr Anna C. Roosevelt Professor Wubbo Ockels
    Mr Rudi Thomaes Professor José Mariano Gago


    Professor Ene Ergma

    Physics and mathematics

    President of the Grand Jury and Vice-President of the Estonian Academy of Sciences, Tallinn

    Born in Rakvere, Estonia, Ene Ergma studied physics at the University of Tartu (UT) and Moscow State University (MSU). In 1972, she was awarded a PhD in mathematical and physical sciences, Institute of Astronomy at MSU, and added a doctorate from the Institute of Space Research in 1984 with her dissertation ‘Unstable thermonuclear burning at late stages of stellar evolution’. Her achievements as professor of astrophysics and member of the Highest Evaluation Committee at UT, as well as professor at Göttingen Academy of Sciences, were eventually rewarded with her invitation to join the Estonian Academy of Sciences in 1997, and later election to the position of vice-president. In 2003, she became president of the 10th Riigikogu, the Estonian Parliament.


    Professor Helena Illnerová


    President of the Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague

    Born in the Czech Republic (CR), Helena Illnerová graduated in chemistry from Charles University, Prague, and took her doctorate in biology at the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences. After joining the Academy’s Institute of Physiology, she went on to pioneer our understanding of the ‘body clock’ that controls the daily and seasonal rhythms of people and animals. Professor Illnerová has lectured widely both in and outside the CR, and presented over 100 primary papers as well as several book contributions. She is a member of many scientific councils in the CR, the USA and France, and sits on the European Research Advisory Board. From 1993 to 2001, she helped restructure the Czech Academy of Sciences into a democratic and efficient institution.


    Dr Anna C. Roosevelt

    Anthropology and archaeology

    Professor of Anthropology, University of Illinois, Chicago

    Born in the USA, Anna Roosevelt is a research associate at the American Museum of Natural History and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Until recently, she held the post of curator at the Museum of Chicago. Dr Roosevelt earned her BA degree in history from Stanford University in 1968, and her PhD in anthropology from Columbia in 1977. She has authored many books, monographs, and 65 scientific articles on archaeological topics, and serves on several editorial boards. Her research focuses on the changing relationship of humans and their environments. Since 1983, she has directed the Lower Amazon Project and the Congo River Project in the Central African Republic.


    Mr Rudi Thomaes


    President and CEO of Alcatel Bell, Brussels

    Born in Belgium, Rudi Thomaes studied law at UIA Antwerp University. In 1976, he joined ITT Bell Telephone as export finance coordinator, before moving to ITT Industries Belgium in 1979 where he was responsible for social, legal and fiscal affairs. He rejoined Bell in 1981 and, by 1986, was area manager for Europe, Africa and the Middle East. From 1988 to 1998, he was secretary-general responsible for the legal department and for relations with European institutions – in which capacity he negotiated the legal terms of the Fifth Framework Programme as it applied to the European ITC industry. In 1999, he became chief operating officer and then CEO and president of Alcatel Bell.


    Dr Ion Siotis

    Engineering and physics

    Former President and General Manager of the National Hellenic Research Foundation, Athens

    Greek born, Ion Siotis studied engineering and physics at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne and was awarded a doctorate in physics from Imperial College (UK) in 1972. He has carried out experimental research in particle physics at Fermilab in the USA, Deutsche Elektronen-Synchrotron (DESY, Germany) and the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN, Switzerland), in parallel with teaching physics at Imperial College. In 1989, he became chairman and CEO at the National Centre for Scientific Research ‘Demokritos’ in Greece and held his post at the National Hellenic Research Foundation until recently.


    Mr Pantelis Kyriakides

    Telecommunications engineering

    Vice-President of the European Patent Office (EPO), Munich

    Born in Cyprus, Pantelis Kyriakides studied telecommunications engineering at the University of London. After a brief spell in private industry working for major electronics firms, he joined the UK Patent Office in 1976, and in 1981 transferred to the EPO as a patent examiner specialising in electromechanics, physics, and software and hardware systems for workflow applications. Ten years later, he was appointed director in charge of various automation projects. In 1997, he became principal director of the mechanics division (DG2) and was promoted to his current position in November 1999.


    Professor Wubbo Ockels

    Engineering and astronautics

    Head of the European Space Agency Technical Centre’s (ESTEC) Education Office, Noordwijk, the Netherlands

    Born in the Netherlands, Wubbo Ockels holds ESTEC’s professorial chair in the aerospace engineering faculty at the Technical University Delft. He completed a doctorate in physics and mathematics at the University of Groningen in 1978 on the basis of work at its Nuclear Physics Accelerator Institute. Shortly after, the European Space Agency chose him as a payload specialist to train for the Spacelab-1 mission at NASA in USA. He performed this task on the successful 1985 Spacelab D-1 mission, launched on-board Space Shuttle Challenger. In addition to his ESTEC duties, he is involved in ESA’s future manned space flight activities, the Columbus programme, International Space Station, and advises the Department of Automation and Informatics (NL).


    Professor José Mariano Gago

    Science and technology policy

    Professor of Physics at Instituto Superior Técnico, Lisbon, Portugal

    Born in 1948, José Mariano Gago trained in Paris at the l’Ecole Polytechnique as a high energy physicist. Currently, he is professor of physics at IST. Previously, he worked at the European Nuclear Research Organisation (CERN, Switzerland), where he was a member of the CERN council (1985-1990) and of the Joint Research Centre (EU) board of governors (1986-1989). He was president of the Portuguese National Board for Science and Technology (1986-1989), Minister for Science and Technology (1997- 1998), and is in charge of Portuguese information society policy and for promoting science education and science culture in general. He headed the EU-backed High Level Group on Human Resources for Science and Technology (2003-2004) which explored ways of boosting Europe’s S&T workforce.


Descartes Prizes:    2005  2004  2003  2002  2001  2000