Pouyan Ziafati programmed and developed “QT”, so that it can be easily used by therapists to support their work with children with special needs
Funding of public research institutions in Luxembourg is to rise by €205m over the next four years, it was revealed at the annual national research awards.
Speaking at the ceremony on Friday, research minister Marc Hansen announced the cash boost, stressing the importance of shaping research in regard to economic and or social benefits and making science tangible through communication and other activities.
Hansen, along with Fonds National de la Recherche chair Véronique Hoffeld and general secretary Marc Schiltz, awarded seven research projects on Friday, four of which were related to microbiology.
Outstanding PhD thesis was awarded to Esther Breithoff (University of Bristol) for her PhD thesis “Conflict Landscapes of the Chaco War”, which was described by evaluators as “uniquely innovative, poetic and provocative”. The young researcher (originally from Luxembourg) studied the Chaco War fought between Paraguay and Bolivia from 1932 to 1935 from an archaeological point of view. This is a little-known conflict which took place in an inaccessible part of the world and for which limited resources are available in different languages.
Two awards were presented in the category of outstanding promotion of science to the public, one to high school teachers Guy Putz and Will Reiter of the Lycée technique d’Ettelbrück for their contributions to the “Windmobile” project, providing a platform for learning and hands-on activities around renewable energy harnessed from wind power. Since the project was founded in 2006, over 3,000 students and children participated in Windmobile workshops.
Christian Penny at the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology, was meanwhile recognised for his involvement in the bacteria study “What do we bring home from school?” of award-winning Jonk Fuerscher Camilla Hurst. Originally from Luxembourg, Christian Penny is a microbiologist and environmental scientist at the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology, where his research deals with water quality and safety.
Outstanding scientific publications
The prizes for outstanding scientific publications were awarded to Mahesh Desai of the Luxembourg Institute of Health for the publication “A dietary fiber-deprived gut microbiota degrades the colonic mucus barrier and enhances pathogen susceptibility”, published in the prestigous journal “Cell”. In his publication, Mahesh Desai showed that this community of “good” bacteria can turn “bad” when they don’t receive natural fiber, a component of lots of fruits and vegetables. As a consequence, the bacteria start eating up the mucus lining of the gut, which usually serves as the first line of defense against external aggressions and pathogens. The publication presents the results from a collaboration between Mahesh Desai, researchers at the University of Luxembourg, LIH and at the University of Michigan in the US.
The “Humix” team was also awarded in the category outstanding research-driven innovation, alongside Pouyan Ziafati of Interdisciplinary Centre for Security, Reliability and Trust (SnT) of the University of Luxembourg for the socially assistive robot “QT”.
Pouyan Ziafati programmed and developed “QT”, so that it can be easily used by therapists to support their work with children with special needs or health-impaired people. Pouyan and his partner, Aida, have founded the Luxembourg-based Start-Up LuxAI, with the goal to make socially assistive robots economical and user-friendly.