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President Kaljulaid: it is important to fight against the “flat Earth” theories

President Kaljulaid: it is important to fight against the “flat Earth” theories
In the photo from the left: recipient of the Special Young IT Specialist Award, Maksim Jenihhin; recipient of the Special Young Specialist Award, Heli Lukner; the President, Kersti Kaljulaid, and the recipient of the Young Scientist Award, Tõnu Esko.
© Arno Mikkor


"I have recently given a lot of consideration to science, as the world is raising people who can not make a distinction between sciences and pseudo-sciences. It is very important to help people distinguish science from entertainment," said President Kersti Kaljulaid today as she handed over the Young Scientist Awards of the Cultural Foundation of the President of the Republic.

The Head of State presented the Young Scientist Award of the Cultural Foundation of the President of the Republic in Kadriorg today to Senior Research Fellow, Tõnu Esko; Senior Research Fellow, Heli Lukner, received the Young Scientist Award for popularizing scientific thinking and Senior Research Fellow, Maksim Jenihhin, was awarded the Young IT Scientist Award.

"Today, when a considerable share of people has become used to looking forward to their annual horoscope at the start of every year, it is extremely important to fight against "flat earth" theories. Therefore, I am very pleased that you have also contributed to speaking about science apart from your everyday research work," said the President of the Republic.

The Young Scientist Awards are sponsored by Väino Kaldoja. The Young IT Scientist Award, which was established last year, is sponsored by Skype Estonia. "Automatisation and intelligence have become today's trend in the landscape of information technology – and this is the field in which the laureate of the Young IT Scientist Award, Maksim Jenihhin, is engaged; he develops systems that can independently test themselves to identify mistakes," said the CEO of Skype Estonia, Andrus Järg. Active international co-operation with other research institutions and the sharing of his scientific achievements have brought success to Maksim and lots of attention to Estonia, added Andrus Järg.

Laureate of the Young Scientist Award, Tõnu Esko, is a Senior Research Fellow and Assistant Director of the Estonian Genome Centre of University of Tartu. After defending his doctoral thesis in 2012 at the University of Tartu, Tõnu Esko passed post-doctoral studies at Boston Children's Hospital and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard University in Boston, which is one of the best centres in the world that focuses on investigating human genomics. The international co-operation network of the Estonian Genome Centre of University of Tartu, including close co-operation with the Broad Institute, largely operates thanks to Tõnu Esko.

Tõnu Esko has already deserved a place among the global top molecular biology and genetic scientists and was elected among the Thomas Reuters 2016 most influential scientists in the world. Among other things, Tõnu Esko has studied the genetic characteristics of Estonians, explained which nations are genetically the closest to Estonians and described genomes linked to human body length and mental abilities.

This year, the Cultural Foundation of the President of the Republic also decided to present a Special Young Scientist Award for the popularisation of scientific ways of thinking, which went to Heli Lukner, a researcher of physical optics.

Heli Lukner is a Senior Research Fellow and lecturer of the Physical Optics of the Institute of Physics of University of Tartu. After defending her doctoral thesis in physics at University of Tartu summa cum laude, she passed post-doctoral studies at Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light in Erlangen, Germany. The research work of Heli Lukner belongs to the sphere of modern optics and involves wave optics, the distribution of light in optical fibres, non-linear optics and the shaping and measurement of ultrashort pulses in time and space.

Apart from her everyday research work, Heli Lukner has been actively involved in the popularisation of science-oriented ways of thinking. She was one of the initiators of Teadusbuss (the Research Bus) project and was, back in 2005 and 2006, a presenter and project leader of the minutes of physics of the morning programme of the Estonian Public Broadcasting. She has been an initiator of a photonics club for enterprising students since 2015, and she has been one of the panel of judges and a member of the science team of the Rakett 69 (Rocket 69) educational programme for the 6th season.

Maksim Jenihhin received the Special Young IT Scientist Award, which was awarded for the second year . He is a Senior Research Fellow at the Department of Computer Systems of Tallinn University of Technology where he does research on reliability and quality of nanoelectronic systems. He focuses on the assessment and mitigation of the ageing phenomenon in nanoelectronic chips.

Jenihhin has brought to Estonia several research projects and co-ordinates a large European Union Marie Skłodowska-Curie research action RESCUE. He belongs to the organisational and programme committees of various journals and the largest research conferences in the field of electronics in the world, often being the only representative from Eastern Europe. Jenihhin founded and leads an international doctoral summer school BELAS which takes place alternately in Europe and Latin America. He was the first Estonian to receive the "IBM faculty award" (2011) for research in the field of design and verification of digital systems. As a cooperation within the Estonian centre of excellence CEBE, Maksim Jenihhin led the development of a new type of mobile brain signals analyser for diagnosis of human depression.

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