ASciNA Award: Austro Scholars in the United States Honored

Each year, the ASciNA prizes reward excellent scientific articles by young Austrian researchers written during their stay in North America and published in renowned journals. The Austrian Science Fund FWF selects the winners each year.

The relevance of sovereign wealth funds

This year, political scientist Jürgen Braunstein was able to win the “Junior Principal Investigator” prize, endowed with an endowment of 10,000 euros.

His book “Capital Choices” was published by University of Michigan-Press and analyzes the creation and importance of sovereign wealth funds. The native of Waldviertel focuses on the first phase of founding funds, a critical phase but, according to him, still little understood field. With an analytical approach, Braunstein aims to offer companies and financial organizations and policy makers practical lessons on how to create a sovereign wealth fund.

Braunstein obtained his master’s degree in political science at the University of Vienna, followed by a master’s and a doctorate at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He has worked at Harvard University Kennedy School since 2019 and is supported by the FWF Erwin Schrödinger Fellowship.

New treatment options for childhood cancer

Sabine Heitzeneder, a doctor from Upper Austria, was honored in the “Young scientist” category. This prize is endowed with an endowment of 7,500 euros.

The publication, which received the ASciNA award, was published in the specialized journal “Cancer Cell”. In it, Heitzeneder describes the development of a new cellular immunotherapy. The work focuses on endogenous T lymphocytes equipped with so-called chimeric antigen receptors (CAR), which can be used against a tumor antigen. The results could be useful in the future, especially in the case of cancers such as medulloblastoma, which mainly occurs in childhood. A clinical study to test the research results in detail is already being planned.

Heitzeneder studied medicine at the Medical University of Vienna and began his scientific career in the field of transplantation immunology at St. Anna Children’s Cancer Research Center. She then worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland. Heitzeneder has been at Stanford University since 2016, where she works on developing immunotherapies for aggressive forms of cancer.

Fundamental research in mathematics

The mathematician Niclas Technau was also honored in the “Young Scientist” category. Although originally from southern Germany, he did much of his training in Austria.

The prizes will be awarded this year in Vienna. The award ceremony by Federal Minister Martin Polaschek, FWF President Christof Gattringer and ASCINA President Dietrich Haubenberger will take place on June 22, 2022.

Technau’s publication, which appeared in the famous journal “Memoirs of the American Mathematical Society”, deals with the approximation of real numbers. Approximations used in engineering, physics, and mathematics, for example, replace real numbers like π with a simpler number, like a fraction. In his work, Technau examined these approximations and the so-called Littlewood conjecture in more detail. He was able to prove that the number of conceivable exceptions to this assumption is very small.

The mathematician obtained his master’s degree at the University of Würzburg, followed by a doctorate in mathematics at the Graz University of Technology. Research positions as a postdoctoral fellow brought Technau to the University of York (UK), Tel Aviv University (Israel) and the University of Wisconsin-Madison (USA), where his research was supported by an Erwin Schrödinger grant from the FWF. started. Technau has been conducting research at the California Institute of Technology since 2021.

20 years of ASciNA

“The winners have studied at Austrian universities and, thanks to their successful activities at renowned international research institutes, are important ambassadors for Austrian universities”, explained Martin Polaschek, Federal Minister of Education, Science and Research in a press release.

This year, the ASciNA Awards coincide with the 20th anniversary of ASciNA (Austrian Scientists & Scholars in North America). Many promising young researchers have already been supported in their career development, said Dietrich Haubenberger, president of the association, on this occasion. The ASciNAAwards exist since 2008.

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