The Foundation for Polish Science (FNP) announced the results of the START 2023 competition. One hundred outstanding young scientists will receive prestigious stipends. This year the stipends were awarded for the 31st time.
The FNP START programme is the oldest stipend programme 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 programme winners receive an annual stipend of PLN 30,000, which they may use for any purpose.
The one hundred winners of 2023 were selected from a group of 660 candidates. The achievements of seven people ? mostly women ? were particularly singled out by the reviewers evaluating the applications. As many as 44% of all hold a doctoral degree, including 22 women and 22 men (in Poland, the average age for obtaining a doctorate is about 35). The total amount allocated by the FNP for stipends in the 31st competition in the START programme is PLN 3,056,000.
START recipients are selected through a multi-stage competition that assesses the quality of their scientific output.
Among the winners of 2023, the largest number of researchers represents life sciences ? with 28 stipends. The home institutions with the largest number of winners are, again, the University of Warsaw (14 winners), followed by the Warsaw University of Technology (11 winners), and the Wrocław University of Science and Technology (8 winners).
Since 2009, the FNP START programme awards distinctions to candidates whose research achievements were assessed as outstanding by the competition reviewers. Their stipends are increased to PLN 38,000. This year, the distinctions were awarded to:
- Dariusz Strugarek, D.Eng., Faculty of Environmental Engineering and Geodesy, Wroclaw University of Environmental and Life Sciences
- Danuta Liberda,Sc., National Synchrotron Radiation Center SOLARIS, Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland
- Aneta Karpinska, M.Sc., Institute of Physical Chemistry, Polish Academy of Sciences
- Agnieszka Sobolewska, M.A., Faculty of Polish Studies, University of Warsaw
The START programme also awards the Barbara Skarga Scholarship. A winner in this competition may be someone whose research is distinguished by boldly crossing boundaries among various fields of science, opening new research perspectives, and creating new values in science. This year?s winner is Zuzanna Miodońska, D.Eng., from the Faculty of Biomedical Engineering, Silesian University of Technology in Gliwice.
Since 2015, the FNP also awards the Professor Adam Sobiczewski Prize, which applies to winners who conduct high-quality scientific research in mathematics, theoretical physics, or astronomy. Moreover, the main criterion of the distinction is the exceptionally high quality of the candidate?s scientific output. This year?s winner is Jan Kwapisz, D.Sc., from the Faculty of Physics at the University of Warsaw.
In the current competition, the Prof. Wacław Szybalski stipend with distinction was awarded for the second time, which the FNP gives to an outstanding early career scholar who conducts research in the scientific fields practised by the Founder, namely biotechnology, genetics, or molecular biology. This year?s winner is Izabela Stupka, M.D., from nCage Therapeutics sp. z o.o.
Scholarships in the 2023 competition will be financed both from the FNP budget and from funds provided by the START programme?s partner, the PZU Foundation. Moreover, some stipends will be financed from funds donated by private donors and from 1.5% income tax contributions.
Call for applications for the next competition will begin this fall.
START 2023 COMPETITION IN NUMBERS
- PLN 3,056,000 ? the total value allocated by the FNP for stipends in the 31st START programme;
- 660 applications to the programme;
- 100 winners (15.2% of applicants);
- 55 men and 45 women among the winners;
- 44% of the awardees (44 people) had a doctoral degree at the time of application; including 22 women and 22 men;
- The academic fields most frequently represented by the winners: life sciences (28 stipends); engineering (32 stipends); humanities and social sciences (21 stipends); exact sciences (9 stipends); chemical science (10 stipends).
- Institutions from which comes the largest number of winners: the University of Warsaw (14 winners), followed by the Warsaw University of Technology (11 winners), the Wrocław University of Science and Technology (8 winners), Jagiellonian University in Krakow (7 winners).
- Cities from which the largest number of stipend recipients are recruited: Warsaw (35 winners), Wroclaw (16 winners), Krakow (15 winners), Gdansk (9 winners).
- The scientific institutions with which the grantees are associated: universities (85, among these 30 are technical universities), institutes of the Polish Academy of Sciences (10), other research institutes (4), and one research company (1).
The START stipends have been granted by the FNP since 1993. Until 2021, the FNP has awarded 3400 persons and granted 4036 stipends (in 2002?2015, there was a possibility to receive the START scholarship twice) in the total amount of PLN 93.5 million.
The START stipends are awarded to young scientists who can already demonstrate significant research achievements, even though they only begin their scientific careers. The START programme 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.
The START programme offers additional funding (a travel stipend) for a study trip to a foreign scientific center, and the opportunity for selected grantees to attend a meeting with Nobel laureates in Lindau, Germany.
Since 2004, START stipends have been financed by funds transferred to the Foundation under the Privatization Act of 2000. Under this law, 2% of funds from the privatization of single-person companies of the State Treasury were transferred in 2003?2004 to the Foundation?s assets; after the law was amended, the recipient of such funds from further stages of privatization became the now-defunct Komitet Badań Naukowych (Scientific Research Committee). Other sources of funding for the stipends are donations from private donors and companies, as well as 1% income tax contributions (1.5% from 2023).