The Foundation for Polish Science (FNP) announced the results of the START 2021 competition. One hundred outstanding young scientists will receive prestigious scholarships.
The FNP START program is the oldest scholarship program in Poland for the best young scientists representing all fields of science. Its aim is to support outstanding young scientists and encourage them to further their scientific development. All START program winners receive an annual scholarship of PLN 28,000, which they may use for any purpose.
The one hundred winners of 2021 were selected from a group of 1034 candidates. The list is dominated by women. They account for 54% of all scholarship recipients. The average age of this year’s winners is 28.6 years. As many as 51% of all hold a doctoral degree (the average age in Poland is about 35 years), including 30 women and 21 men. START grantees are selected through a multi-stage competition that assesses the quality of their scientific output.
Among the winners of 2021, the largest number of researchers represents life sciences (biology, medicine, applications, earth sciences) with 33 stipends. The home institutions with the largest number of winners are the Jagiellonian University in Krakow (15 scholarship holders), followed by the Adam Mickiewicz University of Poznań (10 scholarship holders), and the University of Warsaw (8 scholarship holders).
Since 2009, the FNP START program awards distinctions to candidates whose research achievements were assessed as outstanding by the competition reviewers. Their scholarships are increased to PLN 36,000. This year, the distinctions were awarded to five winners:
- Natalia Ochocka-Lewicka, M.Sc., from the Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology at the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw;
- Dawid Rogacz, Ph.D., from the Faculty of Philosophy at the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań;
- Marcin Sroka, M.Sc., from the Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Science at Jagiellonian University in Krakow;
- Agnieszka Wołos, M.Eng., from the Institute of Organic Chemistry of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw;
- Radosław Zajdel, M.Eng., from the Faculty of Environmental Engineering and Geodesy at the Wrocław University of Life Sciences.
Since 2015, the FNP START program awards the Prof. Adam Sobiczewski Prize to winners who conduct scientific research in the field of mathematics, theoretical physics, or astronomy. Moreover, the main criterion of the distinction is the exceptionally high quality of the candidate’s scientific output. In the 2021 competition, the distinction was awarded to Piotr Grochowski, M.Sc., from the Centre for Theoretical Physics of the Polish Academy of Sciences. His scholarship will be increased to the amount of PLN 36,000.
Scholarships in the 2021 competition will be financed both from the Foundation’s budget and from the funds provided by the program’s partner – the National Bank of Poland (within its Economic Education Program) – along with SensDx company and the Institute of Biotechnology and Molecular Medicine, both founded by an FNP laureate Dawid Nidzworski. Moreover, some scholarships will be financed from funds donated by private donors and from 1% income tax contributions.
The START scholarships have been granted by the FNP since 1993. Until 2021, the FNP awarded 3 200 persons and granted 3 836 fellowships (in 2002–2015 there was a possibility to receive the START scholarship twice) in the total amount of PLN 87.5 million.
The call for applications for the next competition will start this autumn.
The START scholarships are awarded to young scientists who can already demonstrate significant research achievements, even though they only begin their scientific careers. The START scholarship is open to young scientists under 30 years of age (or older if they receive a statutory extension). The candidates’ achievements – documented by patents or publications in recognized Polish and foreign scientific periodicals – are evaluated by scholars who are authorities in their fields. Formally correct applications are first evaluated by an expert panel, which directs the best candidates for review. Each application qualified for this stage is examined by another three reviewers. The FNP Executive Board selects the winners based on opinions collected at each stage of the assessment process. The Board’s decision is approved by the FNP Council.
START program partners: