Fundación General CSIC has resolved the call for the third edition of ComFuturo, a public-private collaboration initiative to attract the best young research talent, which from 2022 belongs to the COFUND program of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA). Created by FGCSIC in 2014, the ComFuturo program aspires to generate a pool of researchers with scientific profiles of excellence that, at the same time, provide capacities and initiatives for knowledge transfer, innovation and entrepreneurship.
After two previous editions of the program, this third has an international focus and is aimed at improving the employability prospects of researchers, so that they can achieve leadership in their fields of specialization and become versatile and multifaceted scientists.
Open between April 28th and June 23rd, 2022, the ComFuturo call was aimed at young scientists of any nationality capable of proposing an innovative research project, focused on producing results of transferable impact to the productive framework and society, and that could be carried out in one of the research institutes of the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC). As a requirement to participate in the process, candidates must have defended their doctoral thesis in the last 10 years and must not have resided or carried out their main activity in Spain for more than 12 months in the last three years (except in the exceptional cases contemplated in the rules of the call).
The beneficiaries of the third edition of ComFuturo will enjoy a three-year employment contract with a competitive salary and an annual allowance for expenses associated with the development of their research. Their projects will be developed from the first quarter of 2023 within the CSIC, the largest research institution in Spain, which will hire the researchers and make its infrastructures, resources and scientific and technical capabilities available to them.
As a novelty in this edition, ComFuturo researchers are required to carry out at least one mandatory stay in the non-academic sector for two to six months, in order to acquire new skills for their research and have the opportunity to apply their knowledge in a different environment. The program will also provide them with training in a variety of useful subjects to strengthen their transversal skills, such as communication, transfer, entrepreneurship and scientific integrity.
A total of 82 applications were received from applicants of 22 different nationalities, the most common being Spanish (46% of cases). Of these, 75 were eligible and underwent a rigorous selection process, which included a first phase of scientific-technical evaluation by the State Research Agency, followed by a second phase of personal interviews with the 39 highest scoring proposals. As for the areas of knowledge of the applications, 12% were from Humanities and Social Sciences, 34% from Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and Engineering, and 54% from Life Sciences, Biological and Environmental Sciences.
In addition to the fundamental support of the CSIC, the third edition of ComFuturo includes outstanding entities committed to scientific talent, as collaborating partners: Fundación Banco Santander, Acerinox, Fundación Cepsa, Agbar, Fundación Domingo Martínez, Lilly and the Fundación Española para la Ciencia y la Tecnología (FECYT).
The implementation of the 15 selected projects will have a profound impact on society. All of them denote a great commitment to science and its capacity to transform the world, and address, from an interdisciplinary perspective, the search for solutions to problems of enormous importance, ranging from climate change, energy use, waste revaluation and the reduction of CO2 emissions into the atmosphere, to the optimization of available quantum technologies, the generation of sustainable energies, the prevention of catastrophes, the study of the molecular basis of cancer and the conservation of architectural heritage, among others.
Based on the results obtained in the selection process, the beneficiaries of the 15 grants awarded in the third edition of ComFuturo are the following:
>> Marta Álvarez Presas, with the project Biodiversity to address the origin of animals: the origin of animal genomic regulation.
>> Berta Bonet Sánchez, with the project Decomposition and effects of bioplastics in freshwater ecosystems under the threats of global change.
>> Gustavo Javier Chacón Rosales, with the project Tailor-made multifunctional nanophotocatalytic devices: a tactical green pathway for CO2 capture and conversion.
>> Xavier De Bolós Granados, with the project Impact of climate change on single-gene eruptions.
>> Carlos del Cerro Sánchez, with the project Revalorization of lignin and aromatics in yeast.
>> Stefano Falcone, with the project Land property rights and class politics. The case of Catalonia.
>> José Carlos García-Abadillo Uriel, with the project Scaling energy-efficient quantum computing.
>> Lucía Morales Rivas, with the project Austenitic stainless steel with composite microstructure and improved mechanical properties.
>> Alberto Muñoz de las Heras, with the project Variational quantum optical simulators.
>> Olivia Muriel López, with the project A cryocorrelative high-resolution microscopy approach for the study of the activation of innate immunity by immunogenic cell death.
>> Diego Núñez Villanueva, with the project Template-driven stapling: towards functional helical peptides.
>> Javier Ortega Heras, with the project Sonic tomography based on deep-learning for the digital reconstruction of architectural heritage and structural diagnosis.
>> Jonathan Ruiz Esquius, with the project High entropy nanoparticulate materials with low Ir/Ru loading as catalysts for oxygen evolution in acidic media.
>> Mary Luz Uribe Ríos, with the project Harnessing novel programmed cell death processes for safer cancer therapy.
>> Thomas Sebastiaan Van Zanten, with the project Transduction of cellular signals with photonic antennas inserted in bi-lipidic layers.