EURYI expands horizons for young scientific researchers in Europe

11/02/05

Compelling curiosity and the desire to excel are common traits among each of the 25 winners of the 2005 European Young Investigator (EURYI) Awards scheme, who will have ample opportunities to put their ideas into action starting right now.

Each winner will receive up to €1,250,000 over a five-year period in an award that is comparable in scope to the Nobel Prize.

Organised by the European Science Foundation (ESF) and the association of the heads of public national research and research funding organisations in Europe (EuroHORCS), the pioneering EURYI annual award scheme enables outstanding young scientists in any area of scientific research, from any country in the world, to create their own research teams at European research centres. This will help boost European science, and contribute to building up the next generation of leading European researchers.

One of the 2005 award winners is Angelos Michaelides, who is an excellent example of this budding next generation.

The 29-year-old Irishman – a former Gonville and Caius College Research Fellow at the Department of Chemistry, University of Cambridge, England, and a staff scientist at the Fritz-Haber Institute in Berlin, Germany – will use his €986,000 award funds to unravel the mysteries of how water interacts with solid surfaces.

"There are few, if any, molecules more important than water," Michaelides said. "Yet remarkably little is known about how it interacts with solid surfaces. Water-solid interactions play a crucial role in the activity of fuel cells, the chemistry of the troposphere, global warming, corrosion, catalysis, the operation of so-called 'nanomachines', and so on. Thanks to the EURYI Award, we aim to develop the necessary theoretical tools with which this crucial knowledge gap can be addressed and an unprecedented understanding of the properties of aqueous-solid interfaces obtained."

Michaelides' approach to his research is typical of the can-do attitude of many young researchers. "Our project will aid in the building of a European Research Area and help to increase the competitiveness of European research in an area of ever increasing importance," he said. "Indeed, as we move away from fossil fuels, as the planet gets hotter, and as devices get smaller, it is critical that our lack of understanding of water-solid interfaces be addressed. This project will help Europe to lead the way."

Each of the 2005 EURYI Award winners will receive a diploma at a special ceremony which takes place on 9 November in Budapest, Hungary, before the beginning of the World Science Forum in Budapest on 10-12 November.

"Science is dynamic and constantly on the move, and progress is often made in an unpredictable and non-linear fashion," said Dr. Reinder van Duinen, ESF President. "The EURYI Awards encourage innovation and provide talented young researchers with outstanding opportunities to explore new directions in research at the European level as well as providing them with many prospects for further developing their own careers."

Started in 2003, the EURYI Awards are now offered by 20 European national research organisations in an open competition, with candidates selected on the basis of their academic and research excellence and their future potential.

Candidates are selected in a two-stage process, firstly at the national level by the relevant participating organization; and secondly, at the international level by high-level scientific panels managed by ESF. Competition is intense, with 622 applications received for the first stage of the 2005 awards.

On 20 October, the first Call for Proposals for the 2006 EURYI Awards was announced. Closing date: 30 November 2005.

Source: Eurekalert & others

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