National Research Fund 2021 Awards The 13th edition of the National Research Fund Awards took place in October 2021

Since 2009, the National Research Fund has been awarding prizes to stimulate communication between researchers and promote scientific activities aimed at the general public and young people. The 2021 edition was again open to the public and two new award categories were launched, including one to acknowledge the important but often overlooked role of the mentor in research. Thus, at this annual celebration of science and research in Luxembourg, which took place on 21st October 2021, a total of seven prizes were awarded in four categories.

The National Research Fund

The National Research Fund (FNR, in French) is the main funder of research activities in Luxembourg. The institution invests public funds and private donations in research projects in various branches of the sciences and humanities, focusing on certain strategic areas. Furthermore, the centre supports and coordinates activities to strengthen the link between science and society and to raise awareness of research. It also advises the Luxembourg government on research policy and strategy.

Annual Awards - FNR Awards

Since 2009, the FNR has been awarding prizes to stimulate communication between researchers and promote scientific activities aimed at the general public and young people.

In 2021, the award categories are as follows:

  • Outstanding PhD Thesis: this prize is awarded to someone who has completed their PhD with a thesis of outstanding scientific quality.
  • Outstanding Scientific Achievement: this award is new for the 2021 edition, combining the former categories of Outstanding Scientific Publication and Outstanding Research-Driven Innovation. In doing so, the FNR aims to put the team of researchers at the centre and highlight the work of passionate people who work to generate impact for both science and society.
  • Outstanding Promotion of Science to the Public: this prize may be awarded to individuals, institutions or non-profit associations that have successfully contributed to the promotion of science to the public in Luxembourg.
  • Outstanding Mentor: this award is also new for the 2021 edition, seeking to recognise the important but sometimes unappreciated role of the mentor in research. Indeed, good mentoring goes beyond scientific professional development as it transmits the values of integrity, scientific credibility and diversity to new independent researchers.

2021 edition

Seven prizes were awarded as part of the FNR Awards 2021:

Outstanding PhD Thesis

Giuseppe Bengasi from the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST) who engineered porphyrins (chemical compounds) for functional applications, including clean hydrogen production. This colourful material could one day turn solar light and electricity into clean hydrogen.

Outstanding PhD Thesis

Christa Birkel, from the University of Luxembourg, wrote a PhD thesis on the ruling structures and processes in the medieval Duchy of Luxembourg.

Outstanding Scientific Achievement

Emmanuel Defay & team, from LIST, have achieved a breakthrough in a new technology that could be used in more eco-friendly and efficient cooling systems in the future.

Outstanding Scientific Achievement

Anna Golebiewska and Simone Niclou, from the Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH), received the award on behalf of a large team for many years of research towards a better understanding and personalised treatment of brain cancer.

Outstanding Promotion of Science to the Public

A team headed by Stefan Krebs, from the Luxembourg Center for Contemporary and Digital History (C2DH) at the University of Luxembourg, won the award for setting up interactive video installation in the middle of Esch to investigate the industrial history of the Minett region.

Outstanding Mentor

Andreas Fickers, Director of the C2DH of the University of Luxembourg. The colleagues who nominated him pointed out he treats them like peers and this gives them formidable confidence to grow as historians, something particularly valuable for early-career researchers.

Outstanding Mentor

Pablo Elias Morande, Senior Post-doc of LIH. His colleagues pointed out that his advice is always free from judgment and full of experience, kindness, and that his priority always seems to be their personal and scientific growth.

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