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MY SCIENCE project builds bridges between EU R&D and young European journalists

The MY SCIENCE ('My science European program for young journalists') project, funded under the EU's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) and coordinated by the European Academy of Bolzano in Italy (EURAC Research), selected 85 young journalists from all over the European Union an...

The MY SCIENCE ('My science European program for young journalists') project, funded under the EU's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) and coordinated by the European Academy of Bolzano in Italy (EURAC Research), selected 85 young journalists from all over the European Union and Associated Countries to support training activities in EU-funded research laboratories. With a budget of EUR 252,612, enhancing the relevant role of the scientific dissemination is the main objective of this transnational and collaborative action. Information communication technologies (ICT), genetics, humanities, renewable energy, environment and modern chemistry were the topics developed on the MY SCIENCE project so as to establish an infrastructure to support communication and cooperation between researchers and media young professionals. From December 2009 to March 2010, one-week theoretical and practical workshops on EU-funded labs in Vienna, Gödöllö (Hungary), Bozen (Italy) and Prague proved to be a pedagogical on-the-field tool for promoting the mass media's engagement towards science and technology. It is a tricky task to communicate science to a wider public. Bringing down this barrier was the aim of this support action funded under the Specific Programme FP7 Capacities (Science in Society). MY SCIENCE will close with a final conference in Bolzano 28 May 2010. Among the guests of the conference are Professor Peter Grünberg, 2007 Nobel Laureate in Physics, Istvan Palugyai, a well-known Hungarian science communicator and Professor Nuno Crato, winner of the 2007 EU science communicator award in Portugal. An example of how media and researchers can interact and understand each other is the workshop carried out at the Institute of Chemical Technology of the University of Prague (ICTP). Journalists wore white coats and were scientists for one day, performing their own experiments under the supervision of the PhD students of the ICTP. R&D activities at the ICTP are centred on basic and applied chemistry research; the ICTP is an important partner for both the Czech and foreign chemical and materials industries. Perhaps this type of research is unknown in the European scientific arena, but with more than 10 FP7 projects being conducted inside its labs - in the case of the ICTP which involved a total of 70 European institutions - it helps advance R&D in central Europe, making it an attractive working partner. The Czech Republic is the country that invented contact lenses and the first to conduct a public autopsy of the human body. Professor Jana Hajslová, head of the Food Contaminants and Toxicants Laboratory at the ICTP's Department of Food Chemistry and Analysis, is the project manager of several FP6 (Sixth Framework Programme) and FP7 projects. She is also the Czech Republic's delegate to the FP7 Cooperation Work Programme: Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, Biotechnology. Explaining the activity of the European project CONFFIDENCE ('Contaminants in food and feed: inexpensive detection for control of exposure') (EU contribution budget of EUR 5 800 101), she says: 'The aim is to further improve European food safety via the development of faster and more cost-efficient methods for the detection of a wide range of chemical contaminants in various food and feed products.' ICTP is in charge of Work Package 1. Within this project, specifically dedicated to organic pollutants and burn flame retardants, 'the quality and safety in the European food supply from farm to fork is an issue that worries society, and these kinds of projects are a current solution to a pressing problem', Professor Hajslová points out. Other FP7 projects at the ICTP Prague include PERFOOD ('Perfluorinated organics in our diet') and TRACE ('Tracing food Commodities in Europe'), which are involved in the compliance of legislation related to the traceability and label certifications on the food chain. Following the scientific and technological development phase, the new techniques obtained, as final outcomes of these European projects, will be widely disseminated through training workshops for governmental and industrial end users.

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