On presenting the awards, Androulla Vassiliou, the European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, said:
"We have created this new award to highlight the excellence and talent of Europe's best young researchers. I congratulate the winners who have each made their mark in their respective fields. It is vital that we continue to invest strongly in European research, which contributes to solving great societal challenges in areas such as health and the environment, and which is also important for the European economy. I hope the Marie Curie Prize will encourage other researchers and inspire more young people – especially girls – to consider a career in science."
The two other winners are Dr Gkikas Magiorkinis from Greece for his work on tracing how the Hepatitis C virus (HCV) has spread around the world and Dr Sarit Sivan from Israel for developing an innovative treatment for lower back pain resulting from the degeneration of discs in the spinal column.
Dr Claire M. Belcher, "Communicating Science" category
Dr Belcher (34) is a senior lecturer in Earth system science at the University of Exeter, UK. She studies ancient natural fires and their consequences for plant and animal life. Her research seeks to understand how global change events, from instantaneous asteroid impacts to global warming occurring over centuries, have influenced the Earth's system.
Dr Belcher's work was selected for the effectiveness of its outreach, its innovative and creative approach and its excellent coverage in mainstream media. She has taken part in popular TV programmes and radio shows and has been featured in numerous articles, including in The New York Times, The Irish Times and Nature, as well as contributing popular science articles herself. Dr Belcher's website was praised for its creativity in science communication. Dr Belcher was nominated for her work as a Marie Curie fellow at University College Dublin, Ireland (2007-2010) and at the University of Edinburgh and the University of Exeter, UK (2010-2012).
Marie Curie Actions
The Marie Curie Actions, which have a budget of GBP 3.8 billion (Euro 4.7 billion) in 2007-2013, promote research careers in Europe through schemes managed by the European Commission's Research Executive Agency. Since 1996 the Marie Curie Actions have enabled more than 65 000 researchers from nearly 130 different countries to train or do research abroad.
The Commission has proposed to increase funding for the Marie Curie Actions to GBP 4.6 billion (Euro 5.75 billion) under the new funding programme Horizon 2020. The Commission's proposal is now being negotiated by the European Parliament and Member States. The scheme is named after the double Nobel Prize-winning French-Polish scientist who pioneered research into radioactivity and discovered polonium. From 2014, the fund will be re-named the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions.
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