The Foundation for Polish Science announced the results of the START 2022 competition. One hundred outstanding young scientists will receive prestigious stipends. This year the stipends were granted for the thirtieth time.
The FNP’s START programme is the oldest stipend competition in Poland for the best young scientists that represent all fields of science. The programme’s goal is to support outstanding young scientists and encourage them to further scientific development. The START competition winners receive an annual stipend of PLN 28,000, which they may use for any purpose.
The one hundred winners this year were selected from a group of 794 candidates. The achievements of six people – mainly women – were particularly distinguished by the reviewers who evaluated the applications. As much as 54% of all awarded people hold a Ph.D. degree (the average age for obtaining a Ph.D. in Poland is about 35), including 23 women and 31 men. The total amount allocated by the FNP for stipends in the 30th competition in the START programme is PLN 3,000,000.
The START programme’s stipendiaries are selected through a multi-stage competition in which reviewers assess the quality of their scholarly achievements.
Among this year’s stipendiaries, the largest number of researchers represents the biological and medical sciences: 31 stipends. The University of Warsaw again topped the ranking of institutions with the largest number of winners (12), followed by the Jagiellonian University (10), and the AGH University of Science and Technology (9).
Since 2009, the FNP has awarded distinctions in the START programme to candidates whose research achievements were assessed as outstanding by competition reviewers. Their stipends are increased to PLN 36,000. This year the distinctions were awarded to:
- Aleksandra Kopacz, M.Sc., from the Faculty of Biochemistry, Biophysics, and Biotechnology of the Jagiellonian University in Krakow,
- Dariusz Kosz from the Faculty of Mathematics, Wrocław University of Technology,
- Joanna Mazur from the Faculty of Management at the University of Warsaw.
The START programme also awards the Barbara Skarga Research Stipend, which may be granted to a person whose research is distinguished by boldly crossing the boundaries between various fields of inquiry, opening up new research perspectives, and creating new values in science. This year’s winner is Sylwester Swat, M.Sc., from the Faculty of Computing and Telecommunications at the Poznan University of Technology.
Since 2015, the START programme 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 Prize is the exceptionally high quality of the scientific output of the candidate. In 2022, the Prize was awarded to Aleksandra Olejak from the Nicolaus Copernicus Astronomical Center PAN in Warsaw.
This year’s competition for the first time awarded the Prof. Wacław Szybalski Prize, which may go to outstanding young scientists who conduct scientific research in areas of science covered by the Founder of the Prize, namely biotechnology, genetics, or molecular biology. The Prize was given to Aleksandra Synowiec, M.Sc., from the Małopolska Center of Biotechnology at the Jagiellonian University.
Stipends in the 2022 START competition will be financed both from the FNP’s budget and funds provided by the programme’s partner – the National Bank of Poland (within the Economic Education Program) – but also from donations by private donors and 1% income tax payments.
The call for applications for the next competition will begin in the fall of 2022.
The START stipends have been granted by the FNP since 1993. Until 2022, the FNP awarded 3300 persons and granted 3936 fellowships (in 2002–2015 there was a possibility to receive the START stipend twice) in the total amount of PLN 90.5 million.
The START stipends are awarded to young scientists who can already demonstrate significant research achievements, even though they have only begun their scientific careers. The START stipends are 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 Programme partners:
- National Bank of Poland (within the Economic Education Program)
- PZU Foundation
- Animation about the START Programme
- A film about the history of the START Programme with the participation of its stipendiaries
- START programme website