NCN Award winner in Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

Dr hab. Michał Bilewicz

Scientific achievement: Presentation of the three-factorial structure of contemporary anti-Semitism and its psychological consequences

When studying the structure of anti-Semitism in contemporary Poland, Michał Bilewicz (born in 1980) revealed that it consists of three types of beliefs (religious anti-Judaism, secondary anti-Semitism and belief in a Jewish conspiracy), which vary in terms of dissemination, forms of manifestation and consequences. The belief in a Jewish conspiracy turned out to be the strongest predicator for the discrimination of Jews, as it exemplifies the stereotype of a foreign group with hostile intentions and high levels of competence. The author assumes that foreign groups perceived in this way are particularly prone to becoming an ideological scapegoat in times of crisis. An interesting empirical argument presented by the author in support of this thesis is the correlation between the weekly frequency of the Internet search carried out by Poles for the words “crisis” and “Jews” and the mediation analyses showing that the impact of the subjective sense of economic deprivation on the propensity to discriminate against Jews is mediated by the belief in a Jewish conspiracy. Bilewicz‘s current work aims at developing a more general concept of inter-group prejudice and dehumanisation, going beyond the scope of anti-Semitism alone.

He has published the results of his research in more than 20 articles from the JCR list, often in international cooperation. His works were cited more than 340 times (h = 9).

NCN Award winner in Physical Sciences and Engineering

Prof. dr hab. Piotr Śniady

Research achievement:

  1. Numerous significant results in representation theory and non-commutative probability
  2. Examination of probability structures in the asymptotic theory of permutation groups representation and their application in quantum algorithms theory

Representation theory examines how abstract symmetry groups may be realised in a concrete manner. Prof. Śniady’s work focuses on asymptotic aspects of that theory, and on the closely related theory of random matrices. One of the most interesting results of Prof. Śniady's work (published in the Annals of Mathematics, one of the two most prestigious mathematical journals) concerns the asymptotics of the so-called characters of permutation groups; to put it in plain language, the results show that the representations of large permutation groups behave in a similar way to random torques. This result is not only of theoretical importance, as its underpinning motivation was to examine the complexity of certain quantum algorithms. Prof. Śniady applied it to prove that the most promising method of building quantum algorithms so far does not offer satisfactory results in the case of the so-called graph isomorphism problem. This result was presented at one of the two most prestigious IT conferences: the ACM Symposium of Theory of Computing (STOC). What is more, Prof. Śniady has examined random combinatory structures related to representation theory. The results of this research  were published in the Annals of Probability and combine, in a surprising manner, the large-scale shape of an avalanche of falling stones, the theory of representation of an infinite permutation group and the dynamics of traffic jams.

Prof. Śniady’s scientific achievements have been recognised by mathematicians in Poland and abroad; this has been manifested by his invitation to give a prestigious invited lecture at the Sixth European Congress of Mathematics (2012). 38 works by prof. Śniady have been cited 244 times by 172 authors.

NCN Award winner in Life Sciences

Dr hab. Wiesław Babik

Scientific achievement: A study of the adaptive evolution of animals with special emphasis on the MHC gene variability.

Rationale for the nomination for the NCN Award 2015

The adaptive importance of MHC gene variability and the role of selection and drift in shaping that variability form one of the key topics of research carried out by dr hab. Wiesław Babik. A major achievement of his team includes the development of methodology for the genotyping of a major histocompatibility complex with the use of large-scale sequencing.

Wiesław Babik has written a number of excellent articles on evolutionary biology published in reputable journals which have been characterised by high citation rates (more than 200 citations per year in the last 5 year period), index h = 23.