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'The rising stars of tomorrow's research': winners of EUCYS 2008 announced

Winners of the 20th European Union Contest for Young Scientists (EUCYS) specialise in mathematics, engineering and earth science. The winning projects, which have now been announced at the contest venue in Copenhagen, Denmark, come from Poland, Slovakia and the United Kingdom....

Winners of the 20th European Union Contest for Young Scientists (EUCYS) specialise in mathematics, engineering and earth science. The winning projects, which have now been announced at the contest venue in Copenhagen, Denmark, come from Poland, Slovakia and the United Kingdom. One of the first prizes, each of which includes EUR 7,000, went to Martin Tkác from Slovakia for his project studying the 'Tilting of bulk materials based on gravitation principle in cargo railway transport'. In his project abstract, Martin explains that the 'new tilting equipment can tilt new wagons using a continual process without electric energy, great number of workers or damages of wagons. It will save energy, time and materials.' 'From microcosm to magma oceans: a lunar meteorite perspective' is the title of Elisabeth Muller's earth science project, which was also awarded a first prize. Elisabeth, who goes to Bedford High School in Bedford, UK, investigated the mineralogy of lunar meteorite MIL 0503. Based on the analysis of a thin section of the material using an electron microprobe, Elisabeth was able to draw conclusions about the moon's origin and interpret the data in the context of global volcanism on the moon. Magdalena Bojarska of Poland, the third winner, was awarded a first prize for her project 'Hamiltonian cycles in generalised Halin graphs'. In graph theory, a Hamiltonian cycle is a cycle in an undirected graph that visits each vertex (the basic unit of a graph) exactly once and also returns to the starting vertex. Each Halin graph, which is a special class of planar graph, contains such a cycle. In her project, Magdalena developed a more general approach to such graphs and also described an algorithm which checks whether a Halin graph contains a Hamilton cycle going through a prescribed set of edges. In addition to numerous second, third and special prizes, the European Commission chose this year's anniversary edition of the event to introduce a special prize for international cooperation, to be awarded to the best project from a Third Country team. Pippa Grierson of New Zealand was selected to receive this special prize. Entitled 'Fighting facial eczema', her project studies potentially fatal facial eczema in grass-fed livestock in the Southern Hemisphere and the question whether organic agricultural lime affects the disease. This year's EUCYS brought together 86 winning projects from national competitions in 39 countries across Europe as well as Brazil, Canada, China, Mexico, New Zealand and the USA. The scientific disciplines ranged from engineering and earth sciences to biology, mathematics, chemistry, physics, medicine, computer and social sciences. In total, the EUCYS winners took home EUR 46,500 in prize money. European Science and Research Commissioner Janez Potocnik commented: 'The EU Contest for Young Scientists is about supporting the rising stars of tomorrow's European research. It shows that Europe is a real reservoir of talents, which is crucial at a time of global competition for knowledge. It also makes young people enjoy the experience of working together, beyond national borders, in the spirit of the European Research Area we strive to build.'

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