NAWA Grants – foreign scientists to carry out research at the AGH UST

Two scientists from foreign research centres, the grant holders of the Polish National Agency for Academic Exchange (NAWA), will carry out research at our university as part of the third edition of the Stanisław Ulam Programme.

Dr Youjun Deng will work at the Faculty of Geology, Geophysics, and Environmental Protection in the MBA group (Mineral-based Architectures Group) led by Professor Jakub Matusik. The scientist’s research visit will begin in March 2022 and will last six months. The research will be related to the modification of argillaceous minerals and hydrotalcite materials (LDH) to detoxify zearalenone, a common toxin produced by fungi and occurring in crops, food, and forage. Past work by Dr Youjun Denga has shown that argillaceous minerals, mainly smectites and hydrotalcite minerals (LDH), can successfully remove other toxins: aflatoxins and fumonisins. However, an efficient mineral adsorbent for zearalenone remains unknown. The research subscribes into the issues studied by the MBA group, which focus chiefly on the use of natural and synthetic minerals to produce functional materials for industry and environmental protection.

Dr Youjun Deng is a mineralogy professor at Texas A&M University (USA). His research revolves around soil minerals, including argillaceous minerals, both natural and synthetic. The research carried out by his team aims to determine the relationship between mineral structures and their potential applications.

The second grant holder – Dr Vitaliy Bilovol, will join the Functional Materials and Nanomagnetism team (at the AGH UST Academic Centre for Materials and Nanotechnology – ACMiN) led by Assoc. Professor Marcin Sikora. The research visit will begin in February 2022 and will last 24 months.

Dr Vitaliy Bilovol is a physicist specialising in magnetic nanomaterials research with the use of Mössbauer spectroscopy and synchrotronic techniques. He is an employee of the Argentinian government agency Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET) and the University of Buenos Aires. Within the framework of the grant, he will carry out syntheses and studies of spinel- and hexaferrite-structured magnetic iron oxide nanocomposite materials. Such materials can become cheaper and more eco-friendly substitutes for the currently used permanent magnets containing rare-earth elements. The project implies the use of the ACMiN research infrastructure and the Solaris synchrotron research stations.

In the 3rd edition of the Stanisław Ulam Programme, 51 scientists will receive the NAWA grant. They will begin their research visits to Polish universities and scientific and research institutes in 2022. This year’s grant holders have been selected from 291 people who were interested in conducting research in Poland.

The objective of the Stanisław Ulam Programme is to increase the level of internationalisation of Polish universities and scientific institutions. It allows not only renowned researchers, but also promising young Doctors to come to Poland to increase the scientific potential of Polish institutions and to contribute to the scientific activities carried out here, especially research projects and education. The project creates an opportunity to invite researchers from abroad, regardless of their age, discipline, or country of origin, including Polish scientists permanently working abroad. Universities and research and scientific institutes can invite specialists who subscribe to their respective priority research areas to help boost the scientific activity of a particular institution, strengthen education, or support it in the preparation of applications for prestigious grants.

The programme funds visits aimed at: carrying out research, complete a postdoctoral internship, and acquire materials for research or a scientific publication.

Visits of foreign scientists to Poland can last from 6 to 24 months, and the grant holder will receive PLN 10,000 monthly and a mobility bonus to cover the costs of relocation.