High-flyers swoop on the UK

March 20, 1998

Why do British scientists succeed in Europe? We look at careers, funding and the expatriate life

Physicist Jorg Heber from Germany is studying for a PhD at Imperial College, London, thanks to backing from the Europe Commission's transport and mobility for researchers programme, writes Kam Patel.

Heber, , who is one of the programme's Marie Curie fellows, is specialising in experimental solid-state physics. Under the guiding hand of the physics department's Tony Stradling, he is working on the development of mid-infrared laser diodes for pollution monitoring of gases. The monitoring devices he envisages would operate at room temperature and could be used in cars to monitor exhaust fumes and on oil-drilling platforms to alert workers of noxious gases.

Heber studied physics at Germany's University of Erlangen, specialising in semiconductor devices. He is in his first year at Imperial and his fellowship grant from Brussels covers all three years of the PhD course.

The prestigious Marie Curie fellowships are aimed at encouraging the exchange of high-flying researchers in the natural sciences, social sciences and engineering. Heber says: "Only 15 per cent of applicants for the fellowships survive the selection process. The decision to award fellowships is based on quality of the research project and quality of the host institution."

United Kingdom universities have done well in attracting Marie Curie fellows. Of the 3,000 fellowships created by Brussels over the past three years, 1,000 have plumped for a UK university. There are 40 at Imperial alone.

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