Photo: Bjørn Lymann

Five young researchers can step up their research

Monday 23 Jan 17

Young Investigator Programme

Each year VILLUM FONDEN grants a number of large amounts for young researchers at universities to accelerate their research careers.

VILLUM FONDEN’s Young Investigator Programme was established in 2011 to target funds to the younger—Danish as well as foreign—research talents, who often stand in the shadow of the more well-known and well-established professors.

In 2016, This year a total of 20 researchers from five Danish universities receive a total of DKK 119 million from the VILLUM FONDEN’s Young Investigator Programme.

Five DTU researchers under the age of 40 receive a total of almost DKK 46 million (EUR 6,2 million) from VILLUM FONDEN and can now speed up their research careers.

VILLUM FONDEN's Young Investigator Programme awards millions to five young DTU researchers from DTU Chemistry, DTU Physics, DTU Fotonik, and DTU Compute, respectively. The funding is earmarked for giving their research projects a significant boost.

The funded projects also entail the appointment of other young researchers with a view to completing the projects in question, typically within 3-5 years.

VILLUM FONDEN's Young Investigator Programme was established in 2011, and the focus on young researchers has proved fruitful. Director of Science Thomas Sinkjær, VILLUM FONDEN, says:

"As a result, several of the young researchers have established independent research groups, and several have been able to attract additional, attractive research funding, for instance from the EU. It's also gratifying for the foundation to see that many of the researchers, due to their high academic skill levels, have subsequently been offered permanent employment with a Danish university. This confirms that we got it right when we decided to focus on young researchers. They have the good, creative ideas and are able to deliver research of high academic quality."

Read about the five young DTU researchers:


Foto: Privat

Postdoc Sophie Beeren, DTU Chemistry
granted DKK 10 million.

Non-natural selection of carbohydrate-based receptors

Carbohydrates play vital roles in biological systems but our ability to study them is currently limited by a lack of efficient methods for their synthesis. This project aims to develop a new biotechnological approach for the synthesis of carbo¬hydrate oligomers using template molecules to select pro-ducts from enzymatic reactions that would not naturally be produced. The grant supports the research for 5 years and recruitment of two PhD students and two postdocs.

Sophie Beeren received the Danish Women in Science Award from L’Oréal-UNESCO in 2016.

Foto: Privat

Associate Professor Hau Hu, DTU Fotonik,
granted DKK 10 million.

Energy-efficient optical communications at 2 micron beyond capacity crunch

Optical communications is the backbone of our information society; however, currently optical fiber transmission at con¬ventional band is approaching the capacity limit. This project will explore optical communications at 2 um terra incognita and explore novel ways of using photonic chips for large-ca¬pacity energy-efficient optical communications at 2 um be¬yond the ‘capacity crunch’. The grant will allow the recruit¬ment of three PhD students, one postdoc and purchasing of new equipment

Hau Hu is part of the DTU team of researchers who, in November 2016, were awarded the prestigious Horizon prize of EUR 500,000 for a technology that allows optical data transmission with ultra-high capacity and presents huge energy- and cost-saving potential.
Read the article.

Foto: Privat

Postdoc Søren Hauberg, DTU Compute
graned DKK  9,7 million. 

Measuring with no tape

At the heart of most statistical calculations is a distance measure used to determine the similarity between different observations. Surprisingly often, a suitable distance measure is not known up front but is estimated from the given data. The inherent uncertainty of data, however, implies that the estimated measure is also uncertain, which raises several unsolved problems. The grant will allow the recruitment of three PhD students, five years of postdoc work and key data collection.

Søren Hauberg has been part of a research collaboration between DTU and MIT to improve artificial intelligence based on so-called deep learning.
Read the article.

Foto: Privat

Postdoc Kasper Steen Pedersen, DTU Chemistry, granted DKK 8,6 million.

Advancing 2D materials by chemical engineering

Two-dimensional (2D) materials offer a wealth of extraordi¬nary properties, which are unparalleled in the 3D world and are key for meeting the compelling demand for higher per-formance electronics and spintronics. This project will devel¬op new approaches to 2D materials using synthetic assem¬bly of molecular building blocks, which provides chemical encoding of specific material functionalities. The grant will finance the recipient, one postdoc, two PhD students, and equipment

 Foto: Privat

Associate Professor Stefan Kragh Nielsen,
DTU Physics, granted DKK 7,8 million.

Will the three-wave interaction prevent the fusion dream?

Fusion energy holds the potential to power the Earth with virtually unlimited clean energy. While fusion energy success¬fully powers the Sun, the fusion energy produced on Earth is still below the heating energy needed to drive the fusion reaction. This project will address how to optimize heating efficiency of fusion plasmas by characterizing the interaction between the heating beams and the fusion fuel. The grant will provide funding for two PhD students, one postdoc and experimental equipment.

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