Good StG ERC round

Wed, 01/12/2022 - 13:34
Kod CSS i JS

The European Research Council (ERC) has just announced a new round of winners of the Starting Grants (2021). Projects are carried out by eight researchers from the Polish research centres. They have previously won NCN grants.

Since 2007, the ERC has awarded 27 Starting Grants to researchers affiliated with Polish institutions. Eight more have just joined the ranks of this prestigious group in what was a record edition for Poland.

Dr hab. Michał Tomza from the University of Warsaw, winner of the NCN Award for 2020, as well as four NCN grants, including UWERTURA, targeted at researchers planning to apply for ERC funds, will carry out a project entitled “Ultracold polyatomic molecules for controlled chemistry and precision physics”. “The purpose of this project is to understand and apply the growing complexity of ultracold polyatomic molecules to the study of the foundations of chemistry and physics. We will propose new molecules, new methods to produce and control them, as well as their new applications in controlled chemistry and precision spectroscopy. The project will open cold chemistry to new quantum effects and bring unprecedented complexity intro ultracold physics, providing new insights into the physical underpinnings of chemistry and the basic laws of nature”, the scientist explains.

Winners of this round include Dr Dorota Skowron and Dr Paweł Nowakowski. Dr Skowron is an astrophysicist; she has previously won a SONATA grant. The goal of her project is to design a new method for detecting extrasolar planetary systems. “The methods we currently rely on are limited in range, which means that the majority of exoplanets discovered thus far are found in our vicinity. If we want to get a complete picture of how planets are formed, we need to look for them in different environments, including remote regions of our galaxy, and if possible, also other galaxies. The method I am planning to develop is meant to allow us to discover such remote planetary systems”, she explains.

Dr Paweł Nowakowski specialises in ancient history and the epigraphy of late antiquity. He is a winner of NCN’s PRELUDIUM and SONATA grants. The ERC decided to fund his project entitled “Masters of the stone: The stonecutters' workshops and the rise of the late antique epigraphical cultures (third-fifth century AD)”.

Dr hab. Kinga Kamieniarz-Gdula, a biologist from the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań will carry out a project devoted to “Alternative gene ends: the crosstalk of RNA cleavage and transcription termination”. “Most human genes have several alternative ends. An alternative gene end usually modulates gene function, but in some cases, it can alter it in extreme ways. For example, a gene that prevents cancer may begin to stimulate its growth. My project is designed to find out what determines which gene end is used under specific circumstances”, the researcher says. Last year, Dr hab. Kinga Kamieniarz-Gdula won an EMBO Installation Grant. She is also a winner of NCN’s SONATA grant.

Dr Karolina Ćwiek-Rogalska will carry out research on “Recycling the German Ghosts. Resettlement Cultures in Poland, Czechia and Slovakia after 1945”. She specialises in cultural studies and Czech studies and works at the Institute of Slavic Studies of the Polish Academy of Sciences. She has previously completed a MINIATURA project and recently won an OPUS grant. Dr Ćwiek-Rogalska is planning to look into the role of bureaucracy and documentation in shaping social and political life in Pomerania and Northern Czechia in the first decades post-WWII and examine how they processed, erased and recycled their German past. The same areas of Poland and Czechoslovakia are also the focus of her StG ERC grant. “I am asking myself what we may discover if we conceive of the material vestiges left behind by the regions’ dispossessed inhabitants as ghosts, which will allow us to bring to light overlooked aspects of the past and understand experiences other than our own. I will focus on the way in which new settlers experienced the objects left behind by previous residents: German speakers who had once lived in Poland, Czechia, and Slovakia. The language and ways of thinking associated with the world of ghosts will help us capture an important aspect of the resettlement experience, which has until now eluded other forms of description or has been simply side-lined in research”, she explains.

ERC grants will also go to two researchers from the Jagiellonian University. Dr Krzysztof Szade will carry out a project entitled “What does your blood remember? The memory of haematopoietic stem cells”. Dr Szade is a winner of PRELUDIUM and HARMONIA grants, as well as the MOZART call for Polish-Austrian research projects, which was organised by the NCN in tandem with the Austrian Science Fund – FWF.

LUMIFIELD, a project headed by Dr hab. Szymon Chorąży, will look for next-generation molecular materials, whose optical properties, including photoluminescence and circularly polarised luminescence, can be switched on and off by a number of physical stimuli, such as magnetic fields, electric fields and electromagnetic radiation (light). “The goal of the project is to obtain advanced switches that rely on luminescent response and several external stimuli, which makes them prime candidates for building high-density optical memories. The expected switchability will be induced by introducing several optical, magnetic and electric properties within a single, homogeneous material built from carefully selected molecular components. I will design and obtain chiral metal-based luminophores and then functionalise them by selecting additional building blocks, such as lanthanide ions or polar organic cations”, he explains.

Another Starting Grant was awarded to Dr Piotr Dworczak’s project “Inequality-aware Market Design”, affiliated at the Foundation of Admirers and Mavens of Economics (FAME). The economist is a contractor in the OPUS project.

From NCN to ERC

Faculty of Physics of UW, photo by M. KaźmierczakFaculty of Physics of UW, photo by M. Kaźmierczak “Without the support of NCN grants, I would never be able to carry out research in Poland. I wouldn’t have been able to secure an ERC grant for a Polish research centre”, says Dr hab. Michał Tomza.

Dr Dorota Skowron confesses that her experience as an NCN grant coordinator and research team leader has had a very positive impact on her CV, which is an important element in the proposal review process at the ERC. Dr hab. Kinga Kamieniarz-Gdula also says that the SONATA grant contributed to her success; it helped her win the StG in two ways. “First, the formula of the NCN call was very similar to that of the ERC, which made it much easier to write the proposal. I’d simply done it before. Second, the fact that I was a principal investigator and PhD thesis supervisor under an NCN grant reassured the panel and the reviewers that I was an independent researcher and competent team leader, mature enough to take on the challenge of an ERC grant”, she says. This sentiment is echoed by Dr hab. Szymon Chorąży, who has previously won three NCN grants. “The first of these allowed me to start out on my own research career; the following two helped me develop my methodology, gain experience in conducting independent research, learn team management and achieve valuable results. Without these grants, I wouldn’t have been able to come up with the research topic that I will now investigate under the ERC grant”.

An initial failure can also act as an impulse to try again. This was the case of Dr Karolina Ćwiek-Rogalska, whose SONATA proposal was turned down at the second stage. “Long, diligent and inspiring reviews that highlighted the potential of the project idea encouraged me to apply for an ERC grant. I remember how, after reading them, I thought that this was exactly the project I wanted to work on, and I am very grateful to all the anonymous reviewers of that early proposal”, she says.

Starting Grants are open to researchers who have earned their PhD 2 to 7 years earlier. The projects may take up to 5 years to complete and the maximum possible funding equals EUR 1.5 million. The ERC supports innovative ideas in all disciplines of science. In this round of the StG call, more than 4000 proposals were submitted. Out of these, funding was awarded to 397 projects from 22 EU member states and associated countries. The greatest number of projects will be affiliated with German (72), French (53), British (46) and Dutch (44) institutions. As emphasised in the ERC press release, women represent 43% of all winners in this round, the best result in the history of the call.

A list of all successful StG ERC 2021 projects

A list of Polish winners of previous ERC calls can be found on the website of the Polish National Contact Point (KPK)

Global Code of Conduct adopted by NCN

Mon, 01/17/2022 - 13:22
Kod CSS i JS

National Science Centre adopted global code developed by an EU initiative to prevent the export of unethical research practices to low- and middle-income countries. From now on researchers applying for NCN funding have to include the rules set out in the Global Code of Conduct while planning their projects.

Global Code of Conduct was launched in 2018 as a result of the TRUST project (Creating and enhancing TRUSTworthy, responsible and equitable partnerships in international research) funded by the  European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme. The goal of the project was to prevent ethics dumping by improving the implementation of high ethical standards in research around the world.

The phenomenon of ethics dumping broadly refers to the exportation of ethically unacceptable and non-compliant research practices to poor countries. These involve carrying out research without ethical approval or insurance for harm that may occur during a study. These include conducting tests that exploit vulnerable populations or undertaking research in a low- and middle-income country that would normally be prohibited in a high-income one with stringent regulations.

Within the TRUST project a code addressing the unevenness in ethical and legal research standards was developed. The TRUST project utilised a new framework based on the values of fairness, respect, care and honesty. The GCC covers all research disciplines. It also serves as an educational tool, since the practice of ethics dumping could be unintentional too, for example, when there’s insufficient expertise among researchers and in research support systems.

National Science Centre joined the other 11 adopters od the Global Code of Conduct. Rules of the Code are included in NCN call documents. At the proposal stage each applicant must complete the ethics issues form that includes reference to the GCC.

Guidelines for applicants to complete the ethics issues form in the proposal – document referring to GCC

Global Code of Conduct website

The TRUST project info

JPIAMR call on drug resistance now open

Tue, 01/11/2022 - 13:46
Kod CSS i JS

The National Science Centre, together with the JPIAMR, is launching a call for international research projects on antimicrobial resistance.

Proposals may be submitted by international research consortia composed of at least 3 research teams from at least 3 different countries participating in the call, with at least 2 from the EU member states or associated countries. The principal investigator of the Polish research team must hold at least a PhD degree.

The call for proposals is addressed in particular to the research teams applying the One Health approach to support research into antimicrobial interventions based on the improvement of the efficacy, specificity, delivery, combination and/or repurposing of drugs and plant protection agents to treat bacterial or fungal infections.

27 organisations from 18 countries will participate in the call: Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Spain, Israel, Canada, Lithuania, Latvia, Moldova, Germany, Poland, Switzerland, Sweden, Hungary, United Kingdom and Italy. The participation of the partners from low and middle income countries (LMIC) will be financed by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA).

The estimated call budget is 19 million EUR. The Polish research teams participating in the call will be funded by the National Science Centre (NCN), which has allocated 500,000 EUR for that purpose.

  • Submission deadline for pre-proposals: 8 March 2022, 2:00 pm CET
  • Submission deadline for full proposals: 5 July 2022
  • Submission deadline for NCN proposals: 12 July 2021, 4 pm CEST

JPIAMR 2022 Call text

More about JPIAMR- Action

JPND launches a new call

Tue, 01/04/2022 - 09:37
Kod CSS i JS

A new call for international research projects concerning mechanisms and biological substrates that underlie non-pharmacological interventions in order to tailor a holistic personalized treatment approach has just been launched by the JPND network (EU Joint Programme – Neurodegenerative Disease Research).

Funding proposals may be submitted by consortia composed of at least 3 research teams from at least 3 countries participating in the call. Participants are subject to the domestic terms of the participating funding organisations.

Call text


Countries participating in the call:

Australia, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Spain, the Netherlands, Canada, Luxembourg, Latvia, Germany, Norway, Poland, Slovenia, Switzerland, Turkey, Hungary and Italy.


The application procedure:

First stage:

Second stage:

  • National level: an NCN proposal concerning the Polish part of the project drafted by the Polish research team and submitted to the NCN electronically via the ZSUN/OSF electronic submission system .

Call Timeline:

  • Submission deadline for joint pre-proposals: 1 March 2022
  • Call for joint full proposals: May 2022
  • Submission deadline for joint full proposals: 28 June 2022, 12 a.m. CET
  • Submission deadline for NCN proposals in ZSUN/OSF: 5 July 2022
  • Call results: October 2022

Under the JPND Call 2022, funds can be applied for to cover salaries for members of the research team, salaries and scholarships for students and PhD students, purchase or construction of research equipment and other costs crucial to the research project.

The total funding allocated by the NCN for research tasks to be performed by the Polish research teams under the call is 500 000 EUR.

The EUR budget for the Polish part of the research project in the joint proposal must be calculated according to the following exchange rate: 1 EUR = 4.5987 PLN.

NCN scholarships and income tax exemption

Thu, 12/30/2021 - 15:09
Kod CSS i JS

Information on the income tax exemption from 1 January 2022 for scholarships and other funds awarded under NCN calls.

Pursuant to the Act amending the Personal Income Tax Act, the Corporate Income Tax Act and certain other acts of 29 October 2021 (Journal of Laws of 2021, item 2105), point 39(f) was added to Article 21(1) of the Income Tax Act, according to which the following are exempt from income tax: doctoral scholarships and other funds awarded under calls for doctoral scholarships launched by the National Science Centre and scientific scholarships awarded pursuant to the regulations laid down by the Council of the National Science Centre. This provision will enter into force on 1.01.2022.

According to the National Science Centre, under the aforesaid provision, from 1 January 2022, income tax will not be liable for:

  1. doctoral scholarships and other funds awarded under the ETIUDA call,
  2. scientific scholarships awarded and paid under research projects in all NCN calls under which such scholarships can be planned and paid (OPUS, SONATA, SONATA BIS, MAESTRO, SYMFONIA, DIOSCURI, POLONEZ BIS, international bilateral or multilateral calls).

In addition, pursuant to Article 21(1)(39) of the Personal Income Tax Act, the following are free of income tax:  scholarships and financial aid referred to in the Act on Higher Education and Science of 20 July 2018, and scholarships received under programmes or projects referred to in Article 376 (1) of that Act; in the case of scholarships awarded by a natural person or a legal person which is not a state or local government legal person, the exemption will apply provided that the rules for awarding them have been approved by the minister responsible for higher education and science.

According to the National Science Centre, the exemption resulting from the above-mentioned provision includes doctoral scholarships paid for projects financed by the National Science Centre under the PRELUDIUM BIS call. In the PRELUDIUM BIS call, the National Science Centre finances projects carried out by PhD students as part of their doctoral dissertations. The budget for such research projects will include, inter alia, the costs of doctoral scholarships paid as part of the research project. However, the fact that the project budget includes such costs does not mean that the National Science Centre is the entity paying the grant. Article 209 of the Act on Higher Education and Science of 20 July 2018, the doctoral scholarship granted under PRELUDIUM BIS is paid by the institution running the doctoral school. Thus, in the National Science Centre’s view, such scholarships fall within the scope of the exemption provided for in Article 21(1)(39) of the Personal Income Tax Act.

At the same time, we point out that the National Science Centre is not authorised to issue tax law interpretations. In the event of any doubt, the taxpayer or tax agent should request individual interpretation from the relevant tax authorities.

A rundown of 2021 in science

Thu, 12/30/2021 - 14:44
Kod CSS i JS

In 2021, the National Science Center celebrated its 10th anniversary. Over the past decade, we have awarded 23,000 grants and enabled researchers of all ages, at all levels of seniority, from all over Poland, to carry out their projects. The jubilee was celebrated in September. Let us look at the most important events of 2021, month by month.

JANUARY

We have launched the Weave-UNISONO call for international research project of outstanding scientific quality. The Programme is based on the Lead Agency Procedure (LAP), whereby the merit-based evaluation of proposals is performed by one partner institution only. The Weave Programme was launched by 12 European research-funding agencies with the support of Science Europe. Weave aims to simplify the submission and selection procedures of research proposals involving researchers from two or three European countries or regions. The first results were published in September thanks to the collaboration with the Swiss National Science Foundation. In the next calls concluded in December, Grantová Agentura České Republiky (GAČR) from the Czech Republic and Fonds zur Förderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung (FWF) from Austria acted as the lead agencies  

“Nature” published an article devoted to a research project carried out by scientists from Poland, South Korea and the US, who developed new photon-avalanching colloidal nanomaterials. One of its authors was professor Artur Bednarkiewicz from the Institute of Low Temperature and Structure Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Wrocław. The Polish part of the project was funded under OPUS 16.

FEBRUARY Quantum laboratory, photo by Michał ParniakQuantum laboratory, photo by Michał Parniak

The QuantERA II consortium, coordinated by the National Science Center, received a grant of EUR 15 million under the Horizon 2020 program. QuantERA is a European network of 38 agencies from 30 different countries, set up to fund international quantum technology projects. As many as 15 teams that included scientists from Poland won grants under the call, which closed in December.

We announced the results of the 12th edition of the MAESTRO call and the 10th edition of SONATA BIS. The grants will fund pioneering basic research and help establish new research teams. The total value of funds awarded under the two calls equaled PLN 215 million.

MARCH

Together with other European research-funding agencies we have launched the CHANSE call (Transformations: Social and cultural dynamics in the digital age). “Collaboration of Humanities and Social Sciences in Europe” is a programme launched by 27 institutions from 24 countries. CHANSE funds international research projects and fosters collaboration between researchers and various groups of stakeholder (e.g. policy-makers, non-governmental organisations, legislators, cultural institutions). At the end of 2020, the consortium received 10 mln EUR from the EU Framework Programme (Horizon 2020). The NCN is the programme coordinator under CHANSE. The results of the call (Transformations: Social and cultural dynamics in the digital age) will be published in June 2022.

Five research teams from Poland were among the winners of a call organized by the M-ERA.NET 2 network, which funds research in materials science and engineering. A total of EUR 32.3 million in funding went to 42 teams.

Towards a Better Understanding of Societal Responses to Climate Change was another article published in “Nature” this year. An international research team, which also included Polish scientists, outlined their newly developed research methodology in the field of what they call the “history of climate and society”. The case studies they presented in the article demonstrate that societies have often adapted and managed to survive past periods of climate fluctuations. The article was co-authored by two NCN call winners, dr hab. Adam Izdebski from the Jagiellonian University and dr hab. Piotr Guzowski from the University of Białystok.

APRIL

Scientists from the Center for New Technologies at the University of Warsaw studied more than 15 million chemical compounds that could inhibit viral activity and identified nearly 1000 potential inhibitors. Their research, which may now help design new drugs to treat COVID-19, was carried out in the framework of a new call, “Express call to fund research on COVID-19”, and outlined in an article published by the “International Journal of Molecular Sciences”. The article was co-authored by prof. Joanna Sułkowska, winner of the NCN Award as well as two NCN calls: OPUS 16 and SONATA BIS 2.

MAY

We have announced the results of the latest editions of our most popular calls: OPUS 20 + LAP for researchers at all levels, SONATA 16, targeted at young researchers, and PRELUDIUM BIS for projects carried out by PhD candidates. A total budget of nearly PLN 668 million was divided among 638 projects. Thanks to their new grants, the researchers will be able to study e.g. the consequences we need to face due to the pandemic.

JUNE Conference of EEA and Norway Grants,  photo by Michał ŁepeckiConference of EEA and Norway Grants, photo by Michał Łepecki

We organized a conference to promote basic research funded from the EEA and Norway Grants. During the event, we presented all the projects that had been selected under the GRIEG, IdeaLab, and POLS calls thus far. Participants also got an opportunity to discuss issues related to the policy of open access.

JULY

We prepared a poll on the experience of male and female researchers , which will help us design more effective ways to level the playing field for both genders in NCN calls and spark a broader debate on the subject within the Polish research community. The poll was open to all researchers, including those who had never taken part in NCN calls, and its results will be published in the first quarter of 2022.

In cooperation with the National Center for Research and Development (NCBiR), we announced ARTIQ, a call for projects, aimed at creating three Centers of Excellence for research on artificial intelligence. The centers will conduct basic and industrial research, as well as carry out development and pre-implementation work in the field of AI. For that purpose, the NCN and the NCBiR have laid aside a total budget of PLN 60 million.

AUGUST

The Ministry of Education and Science took the initiative to increase our budget by PLN 30 million. By a decision of the NCN Council, some of this extra money went toward funding the budget of the MINIATURA call, the results of which were announced in December.

We also announced the results of the SONATINA 5. Researchers who had only recently earned their PhD degrees received almost PLN 34 million to fund their research work and fellowships at prestigious foreign research centers.

10th anniversary of NCN - dzień drugi, fot. Michał Łepecki10th anniversary of NCN - dzień drugi, fot. Michał Łepecki SEPTEMBER

For the past 10 years, the NCN has assisted the growth of Polish science, supporting researchers at research centers all over Poland. Together with representatives of the Polish and the international research community, we celebrated our jubilee on 9 and 10 September. Celebrations kicked off with a festive gala at the Juliusz Słowacki Theater and ended with a debate on science in the pandemic and the policy of open access to science at the International Cultural Center.

We also launched POLONEZ BIS, a comprehensive program that combines research, secondments at non-academic institutions, and soft-skill training courses. In three successive rounds, the NCN will recruit 120 experienced researchers, who will then move to Poland for 24 months to carry out their research at the public and private institutions of their choice. The first round was open from mid-September to mid-December and two more are scheduled to follow in 2022.

OCTOBER The NCN Award ceremony, photo by Michał ŁepeckiThe NCN Award ceremony, photo by Michał Łepecki

We presented the NCN Award, which is granted in three categories to young researchers working at Polish research centers. Dr Paweł L. Polkowski from the University of Warsaw won in the field of art, humanities, and social sciences. The award for life sciences went to dr hab. Sebastian Glatt from the Jagiellonian University, and prof. Jonatan Gutman from the Institute of Mathematics, PAS, was triumphed in the field of physical sciences and engineering. The ceremony was held on 6 October at the Gallery of 19th-century Polish Art in the Sukiennice. Statuettes and diplomas were also belatedly presented to 2020 winners: professor Jakub Growiec, professor Wojciech Fendler, and dr hab. Michał Tomza.

We started a series of lectures entitled “Science in the Center, organized in tandem with the Copernicus Center for Interdisciplinary Research at the Jagiellonian University. Each of the 6 winners of the NCN Award for 2020 and 2021 delivered a talk to tell us more about their research. All talks are available on the YouTube channel of the Copernicus Center.

We published a set of instructions to further elucidate “NCN’s open access policy”, a document published back in 2020. For years, together with other European agencies that form Science Europe, we have worked to ensure open access to all the data and publications obtained through publicly funded research so that they are available for use, free-of-charge, by scientists, entrepreneurs, and the general public.

Photo by: Julia i Stanisław PagaczPhoto by: Julia i Stanisław Pagacz

NOVEMBER

We announced the results of SHENG 2, a call for Polish-Chinese proposals. Grants were awarded to 18 research projects. The call was open to projects in life sciences, as well as selected disciplines of physical sciences, engineering, and social sciences. The total budget awarded to the Polish part of the research amounted to nearly PLN 28 million.

We also announced ranking lists for OPUS and PRELUDIUM. This was a record round in which nearly 900 grants with a total budget of PLN 636 million were handed out. Thanks to their funding, winners will be able to study, e.g. professional and social activity among women or take a closer look at the roots of our civilization.

”Science” reported on the research project carried out by dr hab. Michał Bogdziewicz from the Adam Mickiewicz University in the framework of SONATA 15. The scientist investigates the spectacular mast seeding years of various trees, the way they communicate with one another, and what this means for the climate. Detailed information on the project entitled “The role of resource dynamics in the reproduction of masting plants” is also available on our website in polish language.

 

 

DECEMBER Author: Ella MarushchenkoAuthor: Ella Marushchenko

Scientists from the Faculty of Physics of the University of Warsaw, headed by dr hab. Michał Tomza, and an experimental group run by prof. Tobias Schaetz at the University of Freiburg, were the first to observe Feshbach resonances between a single ion and ultracold atoms. An article outlining their study was published by “Nature”, and the discovery also made it to the cover of the magazine.

Four Polish teams triumphed in a program launched by BiodivERsA and Water JPI. The BiodivRestore call: Conservation and restoration of degraded ecosystems and their biodiversity, including a focus on aquatic systems awarded more than EUR 21.4 million in funding to 22 projects.

Ancient worlds in OPUS 21 projects

Tue, 12/28/2021 - 13:49
Kod CSS i JS

417 projects will be funded under the recently concluded OPUS 21 call. Among these, many set out to study ancient civilizations that have shaped the landscape of our modern world.

The art of debate

Polemics and debates have accompanied humanity from time immemorial; hate and fake news are far from new inventions that just appeared in the digital era. Even the first poets indulged in an occasional verbal skirmish that would probably be labelled as hate speech today. For spectators who watched ancient theatre plays, invective was the order of the day. More interesting still are the disputes that have survived, not only between literary characters, but also actual people, who spoke out in courts and the agora, wrote letters and poems. Importantly, uses of insult and “hate speech” techniques were even taught in schools.

Honoré Daumier – Achilles vs. AgamemnonHonoré Daumier – Achilles vs. Agamemnon “Even St. Jerome ridicules the heretic Pelagius, suggesting that he got himself “stuffed with Irish porridge” in his youth, and mocks “Vigilantius” (literally: “awake”), arguing that he is a sleepyhead and a slow thinker and would thus be more fittingly called “Dormitantius” (“asleep/sleepy”)”, says professor Rafał Toczko from the Nicolaus Copernicus University. The scholar will carry out a project entitled “History and rhetoric of the invective in ancient Greek, Roman, and early Christian polemics”, which was awarded nearly PLN 724,000 in funding. He will examine and describe the polemical uses of invective between the 7th century BCE and the 5th century CE. The study is meant to collect and analyse the uses of the device in disputes between living (and not literary) interlocutors. “If the project succeeds, it will be the first such comprehensive study on classical and Christian antiquity. We will use text-search software to look for specific phrases and grammatical forms”, Toczko explains.

The project will help create an online Database of Ancient Invective, containing all the instances of its use in ancient public discourse, i.e. in speeches, letters, pamphlets, treatises, and sermons. “We will be able to look up and compare the kinds of invective used by different authors, search for specific categories, such as animal metaphors or sexual allusions. We will also be able to see who these insults were levelled at and how the portrait was painted”, says professor Toczko. All these resources can later be used by social scientists to draw more general conclusions about the uses of invective in different cultures and periods. This can also be of interest to the general public, especially in our era, where insults, insinuations, and innuendos spread through the public discourse like wildfire.

“Today, politicians do not need to directly slander one another; they will have a crowd of journalists, internet users, and hired trolls to do that for them. In antiquity, the best you could do was publish your particularly scathing invective anonymously, a tack used by Cicero in his political struggle with Marc Anthony. Would the ancients be civilized by observing our current public debate? I doubt that”, speculates Toczko.

Religion and the material world

Map of confirmed temple sites in MesopotamiaMap of confirmed temple sites in Mesopotamia Religion has been an important element in all civilizations around the world and the way it is experienced has always aroused wide interest. Dr Christina Tsouparopoulou from the Institute of Mediterranean and Oriental Cultures of the Polish Academy of Sciences studies the phenomenon as it evolved in various communities of historical Mesopotamia (contemporary Iraq, north-eastern Syria, and neighbouring regions) over several millennia. Entitled “Material religion of Mesopotamia: a shifting landscape of relationships between gods and humans in ancient Mesopotamia”, her project was awarded nearly PLN 1.4 million in funding.

Tsouparopoulou emphasizes that “religion is a continuous and evolving process”. “The goal of the project is to take a closer look at how religious practices have changed over centuries. In particular, we will focus on around 3000 years of evolution and change in the religious practices of Mesopotamia”. She plans to combine an innovative theoretical framework with concrete, data-driven analytical methods. This will allow her to recreate the forms of human-divine relationship and cultic practices in the living landscape of the ancient past. Tsouparopoulou’s is the first project thus far to harness digital humanities, archaeology and statistical analysis for the study of cultic practices and attempt to reconstruct the human-divine landscape of Mesopotamia. “We will cooperate with other researchers and employ digital humanities and social network analysis to create models of relations between man and god”, explains Tsouparopoulou. These will not only shed light on the personal religious experiences of ancient Mesopotamians, but also link them to a broader context, which changed in step with the social and political vagaries of local and regional communities.

Tsouparopoulou also puts an emphasis on the role of open access in her research. “It is our duty as researchers to get people involved in what we do. Open access is of key importance for this project and the region it studies, since it helps to preserve an important aspect of the cultural heritage of a region that was under serious threat not so long ago, and makes it accessible to all”, she says.

“Mesopotamia was and continues to be a region with a very diverse population, which has handed down to us countless texts, artefacts, and buildings that paint a fantastic picture of everyday life. This makes it particularly interesting to study”, she sums up.

Heritage on the verge of disappearance

Paintings in Atico recorded in 2019Paintings in Atico recorded in 2019 Successful projects also include one entitled “Atico Valley – Peru before Columbus. Development and intercultural relations between the mountain and desert communities of southern Peru”. Professor Józef Szykulski from the University of Wrocław was awarded nearly PLN 2.7 million in funding and will carry out his research on the northern tip of Peru’s Costa Extremo Sur, an area of intersection between the cultures of Paracas and Nasca in the north and the cultures of the southernmost strip of the coastline, situated south of the Atico Valley. Despite its location, the Atico Basin is still a pristine region in terms of archaeological research. “The project is an interdisciplinary endeavour and brings together a diverse team of specialists. We will have archaeologists of various stripes, experts on ancient DNA or genetic analysis of human remains, physical anthropologists, as well as experts on geology and topography”, the scientist underscores.

Another successful scientist, professor Błażej Stanisławski from the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology, PAS, will carry out a project entitled “Archaeology of the seascape of the Constantinople port in the Kucukcekmece Basin – land and underwater research, communication and trade networks, mobility”, which was awarded a grant of more than PLN 769,000. The goal is to study the largest port of Constantinople, which operated between the 6th and the 14th centuries. That it was indeed quite big is evidenced by the fact that its size was larger than that of all other known Constantinople ports put together. The study will follow the principles of so-called ‘seascape archaeology’, a field of research that examines relations between humans/culture and the sea. Professor Stanisławski’s project is also important from the point of view of conservation. The scheduled construction of the “Istanbul Canal”, which is to link the Marmara Sea and the Black Sea, means that the research site, which is located in the investment area, will have to be taken down in a few years. As a result, this is the last and only chance to study this amazing relic of civilization.

Dr Anna Józefowska-Domańska from the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology, PAS, will stay in Poland to conduct her project entitled “Consumption and ritual in the early Iron Age on the example of the settlement of Milejowice and the Domasław necropolis. Between the function and meaning of »ceramic collections«”. The researcher won a grant of PLN 442,000. She will work with a team of researchers specialized in excavations, as well as botanical and chemical analysis, to examine the importance of old ceramics, complementing European studies with new data and innovative guidelines. For this purpose, the team will use artefacts found at Lower Silesian sites during archaeological rescue research conducted along the construction strip of the A-4 highway. Identifying the role of these vessels is an important source of information for the study of customs related to food consumption and processing, as well as relationships between dietary habits, status, and identity within these societies.

The OPUS call is open to researchers at all levels. To serve as a principal investigator under an OPUS project, applicants do not need to hold a PhD degree but must document at least one published research paper (or one that has already been accepted for publication), or one achievement in art or art and research. The grant may go toward funding projects carried out by teams affiliated at universities, PAS institutes, scientific libraries or industrial research centres, including projects that use large international equipment or involve foreign partners. OPUS 21 ranking list.

Happy Holidays!

Thu, 12/23/2021 - 17:31
Kod CSS i JS

Happy Holidays and best wishes for a wonderful New Year 2022!

Pre-announcement of the JPI Urban Europe new call - EN-UAC China Call

Thu, 12/23/2021 - 08:50
Kod CSS i JS

For this new ERA-Net Cofund Urban Accessibility and Connectivity (EN-UAC) call, JPI Urban Europe network and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) will address the urban mobility, accessibility, and connectivity challenge in the Sino-European cooperation, with a focus on knowledge and impact. The sub-themes of the Call are Sustainable Urban Logistics and Individual Mobility.

This will be a two-step call, expected to be launched in January 2022, with a likely pre-proposal submission deadline in March 2022. Further details will be provided at the launch of the call.

For further detail please visit the JPI Urban Europe website.

Please note that this pre-announcement is for information purposes only. It does not create  any obligation for the JPI Urban Europe network, nor for any of the participating funding organizations. The official call announcement, to be published later, shall prevail.

Research conducted by PRELUDIUM winners

Wed, 12/22/2021 - 14:17
Kod CSS i JS

PRELUDIUM is a call for proposals addressed at early-career researchers who are not PhD holders. In the last edition of the call closed in November 2021, almost 500 researchers from all over Poland received project funding of over 77 million PLN. The grant money will allow them to conduct a thorough investigation of various issues in many domains. 

List of winners

Activities recommended for funding included projects on women’s professional and social activity and women’s health.

Leaders with disabilities

Kamila Albin from the Institute of Applied Social Sciences of the University of Warsaw will analyse individual experiences of women with disabilities in her project “Activists, leaders (self)advocates. Activism experience in autobiographical stories of women with disabilities in Poland”. Kamila Albin will investigate the motives of their social engagement and views on obstacles to the activism of disabled people.

Disabled women are still subject to stereotypes, marginalisation and discrimination as helpless and dependent on others. They are excluded from many areas of life, such as civic and social activities, even motherhood. “For me, it is very important to include the viewpoint of disabled researchers in the academic discourse. In a way, every such action changes our thinking of disabilities and beats stereotypes” she says.

The aim of research is to help shape positive social attitudes towards women with disabilities and join in collaboration, while writing and disseminating stories of female activists with disabilities can inspire disabled women to actively shape the civic society. “Community engagement is often caused by the fact that disability is recognised as a part of one's identity. In my research, I would also like to find women whose social engagement is not related to their disability and is not its consequence” she says.

Women in the European Parliament  

Aleksandra Polak is yet another researcher to investigate women’s activism. She is a PhD student at the Doctoral School of Social Sciences of the University of Warsaw specialising in political science and administration, and expert with the Team Europe network at the European Commission Representation in Poland in the project “Explaining Cross-National Differences in Women's Descriptive Representation in the European Parliament: a Comparative Study”.

The European Parliament is often regarded a gender balance promoter in Europe due to its support for women’s rights and rather equal number of female and male MPs. There is currently a record number of female MPs: 39.3%, while an average percentage of female MP’s in the EU Member States is 32.7%. “There are, however, significant differences between Member States, ranging from completely gender-balanced national representations from Denmark, Latvia, Luxembourg and Slovenia to only 15.2% of Romania MPs and none from Cyprus” says the Aleksandra Polak. 

The aim of the project is to explain the cause of such significant disproportions between Member States in terms of the percentage of women elected to the European Parliament, determine the role of national political parties in the election of women to the European Parliament and verify whether the views and position of the political party in a given country may impact gender balance in the Parliament. “Identifying the reasons for significant disproportions between Member States in terms of the percentage of women elected to the European Parliament seems crucial to effectively create the policy of gender equality in Europe” she says.

More effective breast cancer detection 

Jakub Chłędowski from the Faculty of Mathematics and Information Technologies of the Jagiellonian University will work on the classification and detection of 3D DBT volumes to aid radiologists in breast cancer screening under the PRELUDIUM call. 

Breast cancer is the main cause of cancer deaths in women, with a global mortality rate of 15.5% of all cancers in 2020. Mammography is the most common method of breast cancer detection, however it is not accurate and can increase the number of both false negative and false positive diagnoses. Digital Breast Tomosynthesis (DBT) is a three-dimensional equivalent of mammography that allows for more accurate imaging of lesions. “Conventional mammography is limited due to overlapping structures that may obscure suspicious lesions or make normal structures look suspicious. DBT uses multiple low-dose X-ray projections creating a three-dimensional image of the breast and prevents the structures from overlapping which may help overcome such limitations” says Jakub Chłędowski

This is the first type of research allowing multiple DBT surfaces to be combined and all types of tumour lesions to be seen across the tested area. “In my research, I will use the signal from DBT segmentation to improve the quality of classification. First, I will train a neural network that can locate tumours and then use the information from the hidden layers of the network to create a neural network to classify DBT” he says.

Research will be conducted in collaboration with researchers from the New York University. “This collaboration will allow me to be in touch with world-class radiologists and machine learning researchers”.

PRELUDIUM is launched once a year. A maximum grant of 70,000 PLN, 140,000 PLN or 210,000 PLN may be awarded for a research project carried out over a period of 12, 24 or 36 months, respectively. A research team must not include more than three people, including the principal investigator and mentor. The next edition of the call will be launched at the beginning of 2022.