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NCN grant winners, Dr Agnieszka Brylak and Dr hab. Piotr Skowron from the University of Warsaw, win prestigious ERC Starting Grants.

Dr Agnieszka Brylak, from the Faculty of Modern Languages of the University of Warsaw specialises in Mesoamerican studies. Thanks to her ERC Starting Grant, she will be able to work on a project entitled The Concept of Teotl: a Complex Approach to the Principal Religious Category of pre-Hispanic Central Mexico. Teotl was a key concept in the religious worldview of the Nahua Indians. Brylak will try to determine whether it referred to a god, an otherworldly being or a kind of energy. She will also trace the use of the category in Christian writings. Her budget is almost 1.5 million euro.

Within the framework of NCN’s UWERTURA 3 scheme, Dr Brylak has previously completed a fellowship with a foreign ERC grant team that helped her gain important experience with the international grant system and prepare her ERC proposal. She has also finished two other NCN projects: PRELUDIUM 1, devoted to Pre-Hispanic performances of the Nahua Indians, and SONATA 11, focused on humour and laughter in the pre-Hispanic culture of this group.

Dr hab. Piotr Skowron from the Faculty of Mathematics, Informatics and Mechanics of the University of Warsaw specialises in theoretical computer science, social choice theory and artificial intelligence. His ERC grant will go toward a project entitled “Proportional Algorithms for Democratic Decisions” (PRO-DEMOCRATIC). The scientist will analyse algorithms that could be used in complex voting systems, such as citizens’ budget decisions. Dr Skowron and his team will determine whether specific formal fairness criteria can be met by voting and then design tools for the analysis of electoral data and voting systems. His budget is close to 1.5 million euro. Dr Skowron is a double NCN grant winner, currently working on an OPUS 18 project devoted to committee selection systems.

Starting Grants are awarded to researchers who have earned their PhD 2 to 7 years earlier, for projects of up to 5 years. The grants help them set up their first independent research team or programme and achieve research independence.

The last round of ERC Starting Grants ended in November 2022. The list of winners featured four Polish scientists. Some proposals were put on the waiting list. The European Research Council later decided to allocate additional funding to more proposals, which means that the two scientists from the University of Warsaw will soon be able to start on their projects. ERC Starting Grants

ERC Starting Grants

Source: PAP Nauka w Polsce