This week, 25 young scientists were offered a European Young Investigator Award (EURYI) in a ceremony that kicked off the World Science Forum in Budapest, Hungary. Although these generous prizes will go a long way toward assuring these scientists’ future success, what these young scientists have been given above all is a vote of confidence and an affirmation of the professional--and sometimes personal--choices they've made so far.

The EURYI scheme was launched in 2004 by the European Heads of Research Councils (EuroHORCS) and the European Science Foundation (ESF) to give young scientists an incentive to stay in, or come back to, Europe. Offering up to 1,250,000 euros to be spent over the next 5 years, the awards will allow each of the winners to assemble their own research group and state-of-the-art laboratory.

The 25 EURYI awardees selected this year will be developing their independent career in 11 countries from across Europe; Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom are all represented. Starting this week and continuing for the next several weeks, Next Wave will profile some of the winners, asking them about the choices they've made, why they've made them, and how things have worked out for them. We'll also be asking them about their career paths and what made them successful, both in their EURYI awards and in their young careers in general.

Finding a Niche

Dutch scientist Edwin Cuppen admits to initially have found his vocation almost by chance. Now a group leader at the Netherlands Institute for Developmental Biology in Utrecht in the Netherlands, Cuppen believes that finding a good research niche is essential to making it as a scientist.

Using Maths to Predict Physical Phenomenon

Predicting how black holes collide is one of the challenges EURYI award winner, Snorre Christiansen, hopes to tackle over the coming years.

An International Scientist

Born in London, raised in Paris, and trained in Switzerland, the United States, and the Netherlands, Adrian Bachtold is finally enjoying the feeling of being in the right place and the right professional situation, though he is settling down in yet another new country.

An Italian Researcher with Vision

Not many scientists have the audacity to change research directions in the early stages of their independent research career, and fewer still have the courage to leave a tenure-track position for a postdoc. But for Valentina Emiliani, changes like this have become commonplace.

The third call for the EURYI awards is now open. Researchers with between 2 and 8 years postdoctoral experience from anywhere in the world may apply. Applications will go through a stage of selection at the national, then European, level. For more information on the awards and how to apply, please see the ESF Web site.The deadline for applications is 30 November 2005.

Elisabeth Pain is contributing editor for Europe.