The International Selection Committee for the European Young Researchers’ Award 2019-2020 appointed by the EuroScience Board, has selected Michael Bossetta as the recipient of the European Young Researchers’ Award for PhD students and Valentina Sessini as the recipient of the European Young Researchers’ Award for Postdocs. EYRA is given to recognize young researchers who have demonstrated an outstanding research performance, team building engagement and outreach activity and have incorporated a clear European dimension in their research.

The jury’s selection

The Committee was pleased to receive a total of 50 applications in the two categories. After having made a shortlist the final selection was difficult, given the outstanding quality and very diverse fields of the candidates. Michael Bossetta and Valentina Sessini were unanimously selected to receive the Jury’s award.

Michael Bossetta finished his PhD in 2019 at Copenhagen University, Denmark, in Political Science and is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication and Media at Lund University. He holds a BA in Philosophy (Columbia University, USA), a MSc in Political Science (Copenhagen University) and a MA in European Studies (Lund University). He has been a visiting scholar at Amsterdam University, the Netherlands, and North Carolina U, USA. During his academic career, Bossetta has received a number of important international grants and awards. His research interests cover a broad field within media studies and political science with a special focus on the influence of modern media platforms on the development of European democracy. Bossetta has presented his research in international channels, at conferences and in ca. 20 peer-reviewed articles and chapters to international publications.

Michael Bossetta is a promising young researcher in political science and media studies, who has an impressive list of accomplishments across the four basic criteria that are highlighted by EYRA. His research findings on the fields of social media, politics and democracy in Europe are not only timely and relevant, but also carried out on a high level. Bossetta’s work has led to a large number of publications in prestigious journals. He is active in his research environment and has organized several symposia and panel discussions at an international level. The EYRA jury also appraises his devotion for communicating the value of his research to the scientific community, the broader public and to policy-makers. His work has been portrayed in well-known journalistic platforms such as New York TimesFinancial Times and The Guardian.

Valentina Sessini holds a Marie Curie postdoctoral scholarship at Alcalá University, Spain, after a postdoc position in Chemistry at Mons University, Belgium. Her PhD in Engineering was defended at Perugia University, Italy, in 2016, and for her BA and MA in Material Science she studied at Cagliari University and Sassari University, Italy, and at Menéndez Pelayo University, Spain, where she has also been an assistant researcher in 2017. She has received important grants and awards. Sessini’s research interests focus on the development of bio-based materials and nanotechnology, which have provided her with the opportunity to be involved in broad European research networks. She has published ca. 20 peer reviewed articles and several book chapters in significant international outlets and has taken out a patent.

Valentina Sessini impressed the jury with her broad European research experience and continuous engagement in European networks. Together with her innovative approach to tackle several Sustainable Development Goals including smart energy, responsible production and climate action, she integrates high impact research with wide ranging social and political implications without compromising research quality, a unique qualification which has earned her a patent already and generated numerous prestigious articles. Her research is at the forefront of the interdisciplinary field of Material Science, which no doubt will make her name known in the years to come. The EYRA jury also acknowledged her strong engagement in public communication and scientific outreach.

The popular prize

During the EuroScience Open Forum – ESOF2020 in Trieste, the EYRAward Ceremony took place as a virtual event with an audience following the open access live streaming. All participants voted online for the winner in each category of the EYRA Popular Prize after presentations by the six finalists. In the PhD category: Michael Bossetta, Francisco Valente Gonçalves, Sophus Helle; in the postdoc category: Valentina Sessini, Elaine Toomey, María  Viñas.

The winner of the 2019 – 2020 EYRA Popular Prize in PhD category is Sophus Helle: a writer, translator, and cultural historian. He holds a PhD in Comparative Literature from Aarhus University and an MA in Assyriology from the University of Copenhagen, and has been a visiting researcher at Universität Würzburg and Columbia University. He has published a Danish translation of the Babylonian epic Gilgamesh, which was praised by reviewers as “one of those miracles that makes life worth living”; his English translation of the same epic will appear with Yale University Press in early 2021. He specializes in ancient literature, especially the Babylonian epics, but his interests range widely, from the oldest poetry to present-day pop culture. His work has primarily focused on Gilgamesh; the poems of Enheduana, the first known author; the history of philology; and the historical study of sex, gender, and affect. He has 15 international articles to his name, including in leading journalists such as Modern Language QuarterlyJournal of Near Eastern Studies and Orbis Litterarum.

The winners of the 2019-2020 EYRA Popular Prize in Postdoc category are María Viñas and Valentina Sessini. María Viñas is a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute of Optics of the Spanish Research Council (IO-CSIC). Her B.S. and MSc in Optics and in Optical Engineering, and her PHD in Physics, also from Complutense University, have developed her ongoing research interests in Optics, which brought her a number of important grants and awards and have involved her in research collaboration in the USA and across Europe, both in research institutions and industrial research labs. Her research achievements lie within the development of Visual Optics and Biophotonics. María Viñas has published c. 40 international publications in high impact journals.

Valentina Sessini who had been selected by the International committee as the EYRA Jury winner in Postdoc category, has also been voted as the winner of the Popular Prize which she shares in a tied vote by the audience with María Viñas.

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