We are doing science for policy
The Joint Research Centre (JRC) is the European Commission's science and knowledge service which employs scientists to carry out research in order to provide independent scientific advice and support to EU policy.
Edvinas Misiukevičius is only 20 years old but he has already created a new variety of plant, a daylily – Hemerocallis "Mitsu". He is from the city of Kaunas in Lithuania and he is one of the six awardees of the European Union Contest for Young Scientists (EUCYS), who were hosted by the JRC in Ispra over the past week.
EUCYS is an annual exhibition of the finest work developed by young scientists in Europe. The six EUCYS awardees were joined on the first two days by the similarly high-achieving winners of the German "Jugend forscht" competition, one of the biggest youth science and technology competitions in Europe. The promising young scientists were given the opportunity to visit the JRC's state of the art facilities, and to engage with the JRC's distinguished scientists in their individual fields of interest.
Edvinas won his prize for creating a new variety of daylily, resistant to the non-native Lithuanian climate. Another biologist, Elise from Norway, did her research in Madagascar, looking at the effects of deforestation on herpetofauna in the spiny forests of the Mandrare River Valley. Both were able to take part in sessions run by JRC scientists in fields ranging from soil and biodiversity to forest monitoring and GMO's.
French participants, Adrielle, Benjamin and Aymeric won the special JRC prize with their project - "The cameleon robot" – a small mobile robot, remotely piloted with a smartphone, and able to hide in its environment by taking on the colour of the ground on which it operates. Given their field of interest they were hosted by JRC experts on digital security and privacy of citizens, where they were assigned a small project. Aleks from Ukraine was hosted by the same team, where he had the chance to discuss his project on the security of information transmission in the rapidly developing field of digital communication systems.
The German junior scientists were awarded for their projects in a variety of disciplines including the effect of different toys on the health of pigs, the influence of emotions on learning processes in a virtual neural network, the untapped potential of the dragon, soil restoration on microbial level by means of nutrient intake, the role of carbon nanotubes and the analysis of the molecular bases of PNP (purine nucleoside phosphorylase) deficiency in humans.
The group had an intense week at the JRC, which, as well as time with the scientists, included an introduction to the JRC and its activities; visits to the Vehicle Emission Laboratory, the European Laboratory for Structural Assessment and the Nanobiotechnology laboratory; and presentations on the European Forest Fire System (EFFIS), and the European Drought Observatory (EDO).
The JRC has a very active policy to encourage young people to follow a career in science, including encouraging female presence in scientific circles. In this framework in September the JRC will also host the awardees of a photo contest of the programme Science: it’s a girl thing!