Brussels, 23 Sep 2005
From a field of over 120 young hopefuls, students from Germany, Spain and Switzerland claimed the three first prizes at this year's European Union Contest for Young Scientists at a ceremony in Moscow.
Some 78 scientific projects, all of which had come through national contests to make the grand final, were vying for recognition at the ceremony hosted by the Bauman University. In the end though, top honours went to projects in the fields of fluid physics, biology and medicine.
German pairing Igor Gotlibovitch (18) and Renate Landig (19) claimed their 5,000 euro first prize for an investigation into the 'hydraulic jump' phenomenon in fluid dynamics. 'Every day, when we run the kitchen tap, we see a 'hydraulic jump' - where the water hits the basin it spreads out thinly, but a little further out the water level suddenly 'jumps' and becomes much deeper,' the scientists explain. 'This project investigated the phenomenon under laboratory conditions, and found that under certain conditions the border between the shallow and the deep water was not circular but polygonal: the water had corners.'
A further first prize went to a team from the Garoé School in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain. Javier López Martínez-Fortún, Eliecer Pérez Robaina and Carlos Machado Carvajal, all 18 years of age, were recognised for their discovery of a possible new species of plant, Sonchus leptacaulis, in Gran Canaria, and an investigation of whether similar specimens were also to be found in other parts of the Canary Islands.
The remaining top prize - the only one awarded to an individual young scientist - went to Silvana Konermann, 17, from Zurich in Switzerland for developing a system for the prevention of catheter-associated urinary tract infection. When her grandmother developed such an infection following the use of a catheter, Silvana attempted to prevent it from happening again. Understanding that the standard treatment using oral antibiotics is often ineffective due to a film developing on the catheter's surface, protecting the bacteria, she used a high-tech polymer to impregnate the catheter itself with antibiotics, solving the problem.
Second prizes of 3,000 euro each were awarded to students from the Czech Republic, Germany and Ireland, for projects in the fields of the environment, chemistry and computer science. Third prizes worth 1,500 euro went to youngsters from Denmark, Estonia and Luxembourg. There were also a number of special awards giving other students the chance to visit major European research facilities such as CERN, EMBL and ESO.
Addressing the participants before presenting the awards, the Commission's Director-General for Research, Achilleas Mitsos, said that the contest is not simply about winning prizes, but also gives the students a chance to add to their evident enthusiasm for science. Dr Mitsos underlined the role of science in bringing young people from different backgrounds together to exchange experiences and develop friendships. 'These are very much the aims of the contest,' he added.
The European Union Contest for Young Scientists was launched in 1989, replacing the Philips contest, which began in 1968. It has the objective of attracting more young people into scientific careers, and seeks to strengthen the efforts made at a national level by the participating countries. The competition is an element in the Science and Society programme of the Commission's Research DG, and the winners will go on to represent the EU at other international science events.
For further information, please consult the following web address:
http:///europa.eu.int/comm/rese arch/young scientists/index2.htm