Cash windfall for the bright young minds of European science

A select group of high-achieving young scientists is looking forward to a Euro windfall after winning the European young investigators (Euryi) awards. The chemical sciences are well represented among the 25 winners, who will each receive around €1.2 million over five years to set up their own research teams in Europe. 

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Frank Keppler (left) and Ove Christiansen

The award, organised by the European Science Foundation (ESF), is designed to draw promising scientists into Europe at the earliest stage of their careers. The youngest winner is just 30 years old.

Frank Keppler, 39, of the Max Planck department of atmospheric chemistry in Mainz, Germany, impressed the award selection committee. His recent observation that plants produce the greenhouse gas methane has unveiled new issues for climate change research.

’Our project’s focus is on organic trace gases and compounds emitted by the biosphere, which have not yet been given proper consideration in the study of climate change,’ said Keppler. We have also discovered that plants release more methane when there is increased CO2 in the atmosphere. This is clearly of great interest for the future and we need to look at how and why all of these gas fluxes can change.’

Keppler told Chemistry World  that he thinks the topicality of his work contributed to his research proposal’s selection for the award. 

’For a model of climate change to be formulated, we need to have all of the parameters. This work highlights a fundamental parameter that needs to be studied further,’ he said.

The list of awardees’ projects range across the scientific domains from the study of European languages to molecular dynamics. 

Ove Christiansen, 36, from the University of Aarhus, Denmark, is a quantum chemist who aims to develop new theories for molecular dynamics that will allow the behaviour of large complex systems, and chemical reactions, to be accurately modelled and simulated. He told Chemistry World that this award would allow him to work on his project with a dedicated focus that is often not possible with the pressures and responsibilities of working in a university environment.

’The systems that can currently be accurately modelled are very limited. There is a lot of scope here for scientific development,’ said Christiansen. 

He will now set up his own research lab at the university, where he says he will be able to pursue the project that he has been working towards throughout his short but impressive career. 

The awards will be formally presented at a ceremony in Prague, Czech Republic, on 13 October. 

Victoria Gill

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Link iconFrank Keppler
Frank Keppler’s work on ’The Forgotten Methane Source’

Link iconOve Christiansen
Ove Christiansen’s homepage at the University of Aarhus, Denmark