Foundation for Polish Science Prizes, so-called Polish Nobel Prizes presented

Foundation for Polish Science Prize, sometimes called the "Polish Nobel Prize", was presented in Warsaw to three scientists. The winners are Stanisław Penczek, Kazimierz Rzążewski and Jerzy Jedlicki. The prize amount is 200 thousand zlotys.

During the ceremony, one of the winners, Prof. Kazimierz Rzążewski spoke about the problems of the academic community and wished that the new Minister of Science and Higher Education Jarosław Gowin try to instil the ideas of de-regulation in Polish science.

"It seems to me that we are overregulated - shackled with a mass of detailed rules and regulations. The new Minister of Science brings with him a tradition of de-regulation. I sincerely wish him to try to instil the same ideas in Polish science" - emphasised the professor.

Deputy Minister of Science and Higher Education Aleksander Bobko declared that the Ministry will seek to "do everything possible to remove many - often unnecessary - burdens of the people of science".

Foundation for Polish Science Prize is among the most important awards for researchers. It is awarded for outstanding achievements and scientific discoveries that advance the boundaries of knowledge and open up new cognitive perspectives, and make outstanding contribution to the progress of civilization and culture of our country.

The prize is awarded in four fields: chemical and materials sciences; mathematical, physical and engineering sciences; humanities and social sciences; life and Earth sciences. This year, the prize in the latter field has not been awarded.

The winner in the field of chemical and materials sciences is Prof. Stanisław Penczek from the Centre of Molecular and Macromolecular Studies Polish Academy of Science (PAS) in Łódź. The researcher was honoured for developing the theory of ring-opening polymerisation and its use for the synthesis of biodegradable polymers.

To produce compounds with specific properties, researchers need to carefully examine how these macromolecules are formed and what can interfere with their synthesis. "The theory - which is the result of the team, which I have been leading for years - tells how to prevent foreign substances from interfering with the continued polymer growth" - Prof. Penczek told PAP.

The prize in the field of mathematical, physical and engineering sciences went to Prof. Kazimierz Rzążewski from the Center for Theoretical Physics PAS in Warsaw. His achievements include seminal publication, which for the first time predicts the phenomenon of magnetostriction - changing the shape and volume of the atomic cloud in connection with the internal magnetic forces - in ultracold dipole gases.

According to the Foundation for Polish Science, the winner is today one of the most influential European scientists in the field of quantum optics and one of the most important authorities in the field of ultracold atomic gases.

In turn, Prof. Jerzy Jedlicki of the Institute of History PAS received the prize in the field of humanities and social sciences for his fundamental studies of the phenomenon of the intelligentsia as a social class and its role in the processes of modernization in Central and Eastern Europe.

Three-volume "Dzieje inteligencji polskiej do roku 1918" ("History of the Polish intelligentsia until 1918") by Prof. Jedlicki is among the most outstanding achievements of Polish historiography.

Jedlicki said during the ceremony that the intelligentsia was and is a critical class, and that it is "a class, which retains the belief that things could be better, things could be more righteous". According to the winner, this critical feature should be preserved as a "legacy of passing from generation to generation".

Prof. Maciej Żylicz, president of the Foundation Board brought attention to the mark that this year's winners have left in society. In his opinion, we should "not only appreciate the work of our winners in narrow scientific fields, but also appreciate them as people who have contributed to our daily lives".

He noted that a student of Prof. Penczek is another winner of the Foundation for Polish Science Prize, an outstanding chemist and expert on polymers, Krzysztof Matyjaszewski. In turn Prof. Rzążewski is not only an expert in quantum physics, but also the co-author of the book "Każdy głos się liczy" ("Every vote counts") about the elections.

Żylicz also spoke about Prof. Jedlicki’s research on the intelligentsia in the nineteenth century. He noted that what the researcher describes can also be applied to the later history of Poland. According to the president, these are very important elements of their activity.

Foundation for Polish Science Prize is awarded since 1992. Candidates may be proposed by eminent representatives of science, invited in name by the Foundation’s Council. The group of winners, including this year's laureates, is already 87 people.

PAP - Science and Scholarship in Poland