On Sunday October 21 in Brussels, Solvay Awards rewarded 21 PhD students and bright minds from the Faculty of Sciences and the Faculty of Engineering of both Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) and Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) in Belgium, renewing Solvay’s commitment to Open innovation to help address shared future challenges with the best of scientific advancement.

 

The Solvay Awards ceremony organized by the Solvay Institutes for Physics and Chemistry chaired by Jean-Marie Solvay, celebrates the talent and expertise of the laureates, their specialties, and distinguished academic career in chemistry or physics presenting ground-breaking research.

Beside, guests attended two outstanding public lectures by Professor David Baker (University of Washington)  on “De novo protein design: bringing biology out of the Stone Age", and  the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics Professor Andre Geim (University of Manchester) on “Random Walk to Graphene”.

 

Excellence in innovation, young talents first

The promotion of excellence in science by supporting education initiatives and encouraging talents is part of Solvay DNA. It is key to bridge academia and industry.

The Solvay Awards is well aligned together with the major biennial The Chemistry for the Future Solvay Prize. Another initiative created in 2013 by the Solvay group to reward major scientific discoveries that could shape tomorrow’s chemistry and help human progress. The Chemistry for the future Solvay Prize was awarded to Professor Peter G. Schultz (2013), Professor Ben Feringa (2015), who in 2016 won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, and to Professor Susumu Kitagawa (2017).

Since its beginning in 1988, Solvay Awards has contributed to span the impact of research for more than 500 students, postdocs and scientists from ULB and VUB hyping their possibility to emerge both in academia and in the industry.

Among them, Vincent Ginis (Solvay Awards 2014) is now an Assistant Professor at VBU but also a Visiting Professor at Harvard University (USA).

 

Selecting the talents

The selection done by the Solvay Awards Jury takes into account work submitted for evaluation  both for basic or applied nature, focusing on one of the following fields:

  • the investigation and understanding of matter (structure, properties, transformation, chemical reactivity, material science)
  • the study of the mechanisms and chemistry of life
  • new production technologies
  • new resources, energy storage and generation
  • environmental sciences and sustainable development
Solvay Awards Group Pic

The nominators also evaluate the ability to summarize and communicate the key scientific messages to non-specialists. Furthermore, the candidates are invited to present their own view on the potential contribution of their work to the Society, towards more future. It is a real challenge!

The duality of the sustainability of synthetic materials such as polymers intrigues me very much. Their excellent properties and tunable functionalities with respect to their lightweight offer great potential in improving the sustainability of Society but their recycling is still a challenge. Sustainability and durability are key aspects I'm focusing on.

Joost Brancart from VUB (Solvay Awards, 2018 edition)