The first EuroTech Future Award is conferred on early-career researchers in Israel, Switzerland, and the Netherlands
On June 22nd, the EuroTech Universities awarded three of their most promising early-career researchers for outstanding contributions to the 17 United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. The EuroTech Future Award, a joint distinction of the six universities of science and technology awarded in 2023 for the first time, recognises researchers who have the potential to make a difference in their field and for society at large. Charlotte Vogt (Technion), Zongyao Zhou (EPFL), and Dinesh Krishnamoorthy (TU Eindhoven) received their awards during a festive ceremony in Brussels for their works on catalysis, wastewater recovery, and diabetes.
The three researchers came out on top in a field of 34 competitors. The award jury assessed the impact of the applicants’ work for achieving the sustainability goals set by the world community; the excellence of their research, and their ability to communicate about their research in a way that allows non-experts, particularly policymakers and citizens, to understand their contribution to a more sustainable world.
Anders Bjarklev, President of the Technical University of Denmark and President of the EuroTech Universities Alliance said: “Europe and the global society face many challenges that can only be solved with significant contributions from the research community – through scientific advancements and research-based entrepreneurship. The EuroTech Future Award highlights the passion, pursuit of knowledge, and innovative spirit of talented young researchers from our six universities. It honours them as essential change agents in the EuroTech Universities Alliance’s ambition to help secure a sustainable future.”
Tatiana Panteli, Head of the EuroTech Brussels Office and jury member commented: “It was inspiring to see the drive and the creativity of our early-career researchers. Their unwavering curiosity, innovative thinking, and fresh perspectives hold the key to unlocking solutions for the pressing societal problems we face today.”
1st Prize: Charlotte Vogt, Technion – Israel Institute of Technology
The winner of the premiere edition of the EuroTech Future Award is Charlotte Vogt, who is an assistant professor at the Technion. She convinced the jury with her submission on “Carbon dioxide hydrogenation catalysis”. A short explanation of her research in her own words:
“A catalyst is something that can make chemical things happen that otherwise wouldn’t – it’s like a chemical magic wand. Catalysts accelerate the rate of a chemical reaction, so the reaction happens much faster and uses less energy. Catalysts are directly involved in about a third of the total global economy: from oil refineries to the food industry. I believe catalysts will also be key to solving global warming. Ultimately, the main problem of global warming is the increasing CO2 content in the atmosphere. So, one possibility is that we don’t let the CO2 that is produced in large industrial plants into the atmosphere but rather convert it into something useful with the help of catalysts, for example into materials or fuels. But the catalysts that we have right now are often not good enough, for example they cannot convert all the CO2. As a result, these processes are not yet economically viable. My research is mainly about developing new, better catalysts using so-called spectroscopic experiments to be able to study what happens during the CO2 reaction and use that information to make processes more efficient.”
2nd Prize: Zongyao Zhou, EPFL
The second prize goes to Switzerland, where Zongyao Zhou works as a postdoctoral scientist at EPFL. He researches “Membrane-based technologies for wastewater resource recovery and green energy exploitation”. Or, more specifically:
“I have developed a new type of microporous polymeric membrane that can quickly remove antibiotics and heavy metal ions from drinking water and efficiently extract lithium ions from seawater. My efforts align with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of promoting clean water and sanitation, ensuring healthy lives for people of all ages, and advancing affordable and clean energy. By creating a highly effective filtration system, our research has the potential to make a significant impact on global water quality and availability, ultimately improving the well-being of individuals and communities worldwide.”
3rd Prize: Dinesh Krishnamoorthy, Eindhoven University of Technology
Dinesh Krishnamoorthy, assistant professor in Eindhoven, ranked third in the competition. His research applies artificial intelligence in medical research; the title of his submission was “Transforming Diabetes Care: Personalized Insulin Dosing with AI Algorithms”.
“Diabetes requires careful management of blood glucose levels to prevent short-term and long-term complications. According to a 2021 report from the WHO, 72 million people worldwide require insulin treatment for diabetes management. The amount of insulin needed can vary greatly between individuals due to factors like genetics and environment, making personalized insulin dosing essential. My research has been focused on leveraging AI to develop personalized dose guidance algorithms for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes management that automatically learn the optimal amount of insulin needed for each patient without compromising their safety. These automated tools can reduce the need for specialist healthcare and make diabetes management more affordable and accessible for everyone.”
To read the full abstracts and to learn more about the winners’ backgrounds, visit https://eurotech-universities.eu/eurotech-future-award-2023/winners/. More information on the EuroTech Future Award can be found at www.future-award.eu.
About EuroTech Universities Alliance
The EuroTech Universities Alliance is a strategic partnership of leading European universities of science and technology joining forces to build a strong, sustainable, sovereign, and resilient Europe. The partners bring their excellence in research and education, their active engagement in vibrant eco-systems and service to society. Together, they join forces to accelerate their research in high-tech focus areas and advocate for change, through dedicated partners and a strong presence in Brussels. Based on the EuroTech values, the partners aspire to a new level of cooperation by bringing together their inclusive, diverse, and sustainable campuses. The EuroTech Universities create a unique environment for international talents to lead a new generation of change agents in research, entrepreneurship, industry, and society. Find more information on www.eurotech-universities.eu.