Each year, the European Research Council launches a call for proposal for Starting Grants. The funding is part of the Horizon 2020 research and innovation program of the European Union and it is given to outstanding early-career scholars, who achieved significant results in their research fields. This year, Edit Mátyus – assistant professor at the Institute of Chemistry at ELTE – was the only scientist from Hungary who was selected for the international award. The funding supports the ELTE research with 1.5 million euros for 5 years.
Mátyus and her team are conducting special research in the fields of chemistry, which is still unique around the world. Their main goal is to understand the internal structure and movement of molecules. The results of previous researches are based on high-resolution laser spectral analysis, which is an entirely new method. According to Mátyus, a new theoretical framework is needed to understand these results. "The problem is that right now, after a point, we do not understand what we are seeing. This is what we want to change: we need to develop theoretical frameworks to interpret the data."
The young chemist plans to work on her project at ELTE, even though there is a huge competition for ERC winner researchers across the whole of Europe. "After many years of research abroad, I realized the benefits of working in Hungary" – says Mátyus during the interview. "Traditionally, ELTE has been strong in the fields of theoretical chemistry. In the future, it would be great to keep this characteristic or even improve it." Also, she highlights that "there are excellent intellectual workshops and knowledgeable lecturers in Hungary as well, from which students can get inspiration."
Mátyus also graduated in Hungary at Eötvös Loránd University and she received her PhD in 2010. After finishing her doctoral dissertation she participated in several kinds of research and worked for such famous institutions as Princeton University, ETH Zürich or Cambridge University. She returned to Budapest as an experienced scholar and in 2016, she founded her research team at ELTE. The group has five members right now but Mátyus emphasizes she always welcomes the application of new members. “We are able to involve motivated and talented students in our work. In the future, it would be great if they knew more about this special field.”
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