Munich, 5 December 2002
The EU Archimedes Prize - the EU's science prize for undergraduate students - was awarded today, December 5, in Munich to 20 projects carried out by young European scientists. The winners come from Denmark, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Sweden and the United Kingdom. The EU Archimedes Prize gives public recognition to the research achievements of Europe's undergraduates and aims to stimulate the interest of young people in science and research. Laureates receive monetary awards of between €44,000 and €34,000 which are to be used to help kick-start their scientific careers.
Launched by the European Commission in 2000, the EU Archimedes Prize promotes research amongst university or higher-education students in Europe, bridging the gap between the EU Young Scientists Contest for secondary school students and the Descartes Prize for senior researchers (see webpages). Prizes are awarded to the students who come up with the best original scientific idea or concept related to Certain interdisciplinary themes. A jury of high-level personalities from academic, industry and public life selected the winning projects.
From wheel chairs to novel drugs - students prove their impact
This year's ceremony, celebrated in the European Patent Office (EPO), Munich, brought together the prizewinners from 2001 and 2002. The projects awarded focus on research such as wheelchair route planning and safety devices, work on the development of a prototype prosthetic hand, research on the conversion of solar energy into storable chemical energy and the use of wasp toxins for the development of novel drugs for the treatment of neurological disorders. Other winning projects deal, for example, with climate change, medicine, mathematics or tourism and all of them have tangible applications (see annex).
… and the winners are …
The awards were given to 25 undergraduates, participating in the 20 winning projects. Placed under the theme of intellectual property, the ceremony was held in the presence of Mr. Otto Wiesheu, Bavarian Minister for Economy, Transport and Technology, Mr. Rainer Gerold, Director of the Science and Society Directorate of the European Commission and Mr. Pantelis Kyriakides, Vice-President of EPO. Coinciding with the awards for the EU's Descartes Prize, the ceremony also provided the young students with the opportunity to exchange ideas with experienced scientists working at the cutting-edge of their respective fields of research and to discuss questions of intellectual property.
Commenting on the awards, Mr Rainer Gerold drew attention to the practical nature of the projects, in line with the themes set each year by the Commission: "The projects rewarded have focused on topics benefiting society and applicable to everyday life." He also highlighted the participation of many young scientists from the Candidate Countries in the projects received and amongst the winning proposals.
The Archimedes prize rewards the best scientific projects in accordance to a number of selected themes that were published by the European Commission. In a two-stage selection process a jury of high-level personalities selected the projects on the basis of scientific merit and its European added value.
For further media information concerning the Archimedes Prize and projects:
Should you like more information on this year's Descartes Prize, on past projects or if you are interested in an interview with project co-ordinators or the Commission officers involved, please contact:
Stéphane Hogan, Press Officer, Research DG, European Commission
Tel: +32.2.296.29.65, Fax: +32.2.295.82.20 , E-mail: email@example.com
Georges Vlandas, Research DG, Directorate C - Science and Society, European Commission,
Tel: +32.2.295.55.40, Fax: +32.2.296.70.24 , E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Manuel Carmona, Research DG, Directorate C - Science and Society, European Commission,
Tel: +32 2 295 12 56 - Fax: +32 2 296 70 24, E-mail: email@example.com
The Archimedes Prize is a part of the Research Directorate General's Improving the Human Research Potential Programme (1998-2002): http://www.cordis.lu/improving/home.html The Archimedes Prize website: http://www.cordis.lu/improving/awards/archimedes.htm
Further Scientific Prizes:
Young Scientists Contest for secondary school students
Descartes Prize for senior researchers
The Archimedes Prize - Winners 2002
Theme: Structure and function in macromolecules
Study of the structure-function relationships in nucleobase transporters
Areti, Sofia, Konstantinos and Stella studied nucleobase transporters at the molecular level using a model microbial system. Now they look forward to PhDs and scientific careers building on this valuable work.
Areti PANTAZOPOULO, Sofia GOUDELA, Konstantinos KAGIAS and Stella TOURNAVITI, University of Athens Faculty of Biology, Greece
Study of breast milk is just the beginning
Maria Cristina studied the anti-bacterial properties (xanthine oxidoreductase) found in human and bovine milk. Her research interests now extend to the central nervous system and she plans to do a PhD on the subject of macromolecules and their impact on optic nerve cells.
Maria Cristina OVERJERO-BOGLIONE, University of the West of England (UWE), United Kingdom
On the cancer therapy trail
Jacopo's undergraduate work on poly(amidoamine) non-viral vectors and conjugates for applications in cancer therapy will continue into his PhD. He wants to understand the correlation between therapeutic efficiency and molecular architecture.
Jacopo FRANCHINI, Università Degli Studi di Milano, Milan, Italy
Study of 'myasthenia gravis'
As a medical student, Konstantinos, studied the current treatments for 'myasthenia gravis' (MG), a neurological autoimmune disease. Now he plans to investigate alternatives with less severe side effects.
Konstantinos POULAS, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Medical School, Greece
DNA analysis of mood disorder treatments
Adele's research showed that more needs to be known about the genetic predisposition for the efficacy of antidepressants. She now plans to focus on the molecular basis (DNA analysis) of the response to antidepressant treatments in mood disorders, especially to serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).
Adele PIROVANO, Università Degli Studi di Milano/Ospedale San Raffaele, Milan, Italy
Study of new treatments for bacterial infections
Grzegorz did a masters thesis on bacterial (Staphylococcal) proteases and their inhibitors. The recent discovery of a new class of natural, specific inhibitors at his lab provides a promising base to engineer new compounds for the treatment of bacterial infections.
Grzegorz DUBIN, Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland
Theme: Energy devices
Making hydrogen from photocatalytic water decomposition
Maciej's and Michal's research on the conversion of solar energy into storable chemical energy was a stepping stone for finding more efficient, environmentally sustainable photocatalysts to generate hydrogen. They hope to develop a simple photoreactor operating under solar irradiation.
Maciej ZALAS and Michal WOJTOWSKI, Adam Mickiewicz University, Faculty of Chemistry, Poznan, Poland
Theme: Water resources modelling and management
Model of 'hybrid systems' for studying water management
Sorin's research applied a real world scenario - agricultural water management of three irrigation lakes - to the theoretical field of 'mixed logical dynamical' (MLD) systems. He developed a model for the chosen configuration and adopted predictive techniques for the management strategy. For his PhD, he plans to continue the research into 'hybrid systems' and MLD, focusing on the optimisation problems.
Sorin OLARU, University 'Politehnica', Bucharest, Romania
Theme: Societal and economic implications of demographic change in the EU
Study of traffic in the city: a case study of a European region's aging and shrinking cities
Christiane's project examined past and future traffic conditions in cities in light of demographic changes. She provided a case study examining an urban region in Europe facing rapid demographic change. She plans to further investigate the issue of sustainable urban transportation, focusing on the role of public transportation, in cities worldwide.
Christiane JUST, Technical University of Dresden, Germany
Theme: Implications of tourism on natural and human ecosystems
Study of Iceland's highland and nature tourists
Gunnpóra's proposal, 'The nature tourist; analysis of tourists' needs and views towards nature in the highlands of Iceland and implications for planning nature tourist destinations', attempted to answer questions such as: Are nature tourists in Iceland, local or foreign, a homogenous group in terms of their needs and views? What attitudes do travelers have towards the highland wilderness of Iceland and what are the objectives of their trips?
Gunnpóra OLAFSDOTTIR, Department of Geology and Geography, University of Iceland
The Archimedes Prize - Winners 2001
Theme: New medicines from natural sources
Wasp toxins in the development of new medical treatments
Petrine examined the chemical structure of natural wasp toxins and their potential use as drugs for the treatment of neurological disorders. She managed to synthesize analogues of these toxins, using stereochemical pathways, for their eventual use in pharmacological research.
Petrine WELLENDORPH, The Royal Danish School of Pharmacy, Copenhagen, Denmark
Study of the therapeutic potential of Aloe Vera
Fiona looked at the therapeutic potential of Aloe Vera, a plant widely distributed in several countries. Her study examined how this plant can be used for its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory activities, using sound scientific controlled studies, literature review and research methods.
Fiona BRADBURY, Strathclyde University, United Kingdom
Theme: Desertification and drought
Model of wheat yields and climatic change
Giovanna examined yield variations in two varieties of durum wheat in Sicily as a consequence of climate change. The idea was to validate an existing computational model on the basis of experimental data, then use it to predict variations in yield due to changes in temperature and precipitation calculated by a regional circulation model.
Giovanna FONTANA, Università agli studi di Palermo, Italy
Theme: Concepts to aid disabled people
Software for wheelchair route planning
Carsten's project used fast prototyping to develop software to support wheelchair users in planning routes to suit their individual mobility requirements. He envisages the application, which is written in JAVA, being used on PDAs or other mobile platforms. The study was a systematic analysis of the problem and is an example of technology well applied.
Carsten DEWEY - Westfälische Wilhelms Universität Münster, Germany
Prototype prosthetic hand
Chris's study describes a fully working prototype gripper, which could be used as the basis for developing a prosthetic 'hand' or as a tool for use by disabled or elderly people with grip or fine motor difficulties. Working on the toroidal principle, the device developed is versatile, efficient and low cost, with real-world potential.
Chris KING, Southbank University, London, United Kingdom
Safety simulations for wheelchairs on the road
Krystian's project used computer simulation to test the safety of wheelchair users in a road traffic accident. Different types of systems for securing wheelchairs in a vehicle, including seat belts, were tested. Computer simulation with MADYMO software and the HYBRID II crash test dummy were used. The results were clearly presented and discussed in the light of international standards.
Krystian KONARZEWSKI, Warsaw University of Technology, Warsaw, Poland
New approach to cognitive rehabilitation
Vicky used a computer-based interactive environment to test the value of sonic experience on developing kinesthetic perception. Her paper discusses the relevance of this method of cognitive rehabilitation for children with attention difficulties, suggesting that auditory feedback promotes transfer of learning in a kinesthetic task. The study contributes to the development of new approaches to cognitive rehabilitation.
Vicky TARNANA, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece
Theme: Mathematical modeling for social and economic sciences
Model for predicting currency movements
Peter addressed the important question of currency crises. Based on the 'Bayesian equilibrium' and game theory, his model predicts and explains "humps" already observed in the currency crisis of the early 90s, adding a new element to the theory: the modeling of herding effects. Computer simulations add to the understanding and evaluation of the model, which, if correctly understood, may have an impact on political decisions about counter-measures.
Péter KONDOR, Budapest University of Economic Sciences and Public Administration, Hungary
Model on trading of emission permits
Gergely's model on the trading of emission permits addresses an issue of international importance - and is of particular relevance for EU countries in the context of enlargement. It applies the deep math technique of game theory with success to an internationally important problem. The model is clear and innovative and provides scientific arguments which could help support the resolution of global environmental problems.
Gergely UJHELYI, Budapest University of Economic Sciences and Public Administration, Hungary
Model for duality of prices between tradable and non-tradable goods
Sofia and Mitja addressed a very original and interesting question: the duality of prices and allocations in State-provided non-tradable goods as compared to markets for tradable ones. The model developed applies the general equilibrium theory. Their work shows power and vision and, based on a partnership between a Swede and a Slovenian, also addresses the integration of East European Countries to the EU. Understanding of their results may have impact on EU policies.
Mitja PIRC, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia and Sofia NILSSON, Lulea University of Technology, Lulea, Sweden