The finalists have been announced: three young researchers still have a chance to win the title of Science Talent 2021. More than 7,000 people voted, after which a jury evaluated the five talents who received the most votes from the public. Thursday, June 10, during New Scientist Live: Wetenschapstalent announced which of the three finalists will win.
“As the world slowly opens up, we all look a little more positive towards the future,” said Jim Jansen, editor-in-chief of New Scientist and sworn. “With this election, we hope to contribute to it. The research of the three finalists shows the beauty that Dutch and Flemish science has in store for us. Dementia research, the use of computer simulations in health and a new approach to understanding biodiversity: three themes that will only gain importance in the near future. ‘
The three remaining candidates, in alphabetical order, are:
Aurélie Carlier (University of Maastricht)
Before boarding an aircraft, pilots practice difficult operations in a flight simulator. Why don’t we use such a virtual exercise room in medical research? This is the question Aurélie Carlier asked. She has developed a “virtual patient” to better understand bone fractures. Computer simulations hide mathematical models that describe tissue repair and interactions between cells and biomaterials. The virtual patient not only contributes to a better understanding of bone healing, but also to the development of new therapies. This normally requires animal experiments or large clinical studies. Simulations speed up research because they identify what works well and what does not. This is elaborated on “in real life”. This is also important for rare diseases for which, due to the small number of patients, no large-scale clinical studies are possible.
Kay Deckers (Maastricht University)
We’re getting old. As a result, dementia in the Netherlands and Belgium could eventually become the first public disease. There is still no cure for dementia, but the personal risk of dementia can be reduced. Kay Deckers considers her personal mission to be to make people aware of the influence they have on this subject. He mapped out the most important positive and negative factors that determine a person’s risk for developing dementia. A healthy lifestyle appears to be an important protective factor. Deckers combined his findings into a score that provides insight into the health of your brain. He also created an app that helps you keep your upstairs bedroom in shape.
Edwin Pos (University of Utrecht)
One minute, like Indiana Jones, he’s collecting data on rare species on adventurous expeditions deep in the Amazon rainforest. The next moment, he deciphers complex mathematical approaches from the corners of statistical mechanics, chaos theory and information entropy to interpret the data collected. Edwin Pos breaks with classical approaches in ecology and tries to develop a better understanding of the dynamics of biodiversity with new methods. Recent Amazon research he collaborated on shows there is more than Darwin fight for life: chance plays a more important role than thought. According to Pos, who has also been nominated five times for Teacher of the Year, this kind of intuition enables us to restore and preserve nature much more effectively.
Public ballot and jury verdict
The finalists come from more than fifty candidates nominated by Dutch and Flemish universities and knowledge institutions. After a public ballot, the jury evaluated the five best-rated candidates on the scientific and social impact, the originality of the research and the degree of public communication.
This year’s jury is chaired by particle physicist Jorgen D’Hondt and Rathenau Institute director Melanie Peters. The other members of the jury are Jeroen de Ridder (president of the Young Academy in the Netherlands), Cristophe Vandeviver (co-president of the Young Academy in Flanders) and Jim Jansen (editor-in-chief New Scientist).
The winner of the election will be announced on June 10 at the New Scientist Live event at De Balie in Amsterdam. Tonight, the three finalists will present their research. The main speaker is immunologist Ab Osterhaus. At the end of the evening, there will be a festive award ceremony. The event can be followed via a free feed on newscientist.nl/talent. The broadcast lasts from 7:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. The winner will receive 2,500 euros, made possible in part by the Rathenau Institute.