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The new generation of CREAF scientists, rewarded by pre and postdoctoral grants by “la Caixa” Foundation

The INPhINIT and Junior Leader grants of the "la Caixa" Foundation provide good professional conditions for scientific talent from Spain and Portugal and, at the same time, attract research professionals from beyond their borders. Image: "la Caixa" Foundation.
The INPhINIT and Junior Leader grants of the "la Caixa" Foundation provide good professional conditions for scientific talent from Spain and Portugal and, at the same time, attract research professionals from beyond their borders. Image: "la Caixa" Foundation.

CREAF’s youngest scientific talent has received a boost from the Doctoral INPhINIT 2023 fellowships and the Junior Leader 2023 postdoctoral call awarded by the Fundació la Caixa. CREAF pre-doctoral researcher Laura Ciot has received an INPhINIT grant, which will allow her to further her research on the decline of pollinators and the effect of pesticides used in agricultural production on wild bees. CREAF researchers Oliver Binks and Ferran Sayol Altarriba have also been awarded Junior Leader postdoctoral grants. Oliver Binks’ work seeks to understand how forests function and how they interact with climate, with the vision that, “ultimately we will be able to manage the hydrological cycle from regional to global scales, through the use of vegetation and natural systems”. Ferran Sayol Altarriba’s research aims to understand how biodiversity originates and is organised and how something essential for life is impoverished by the impacts of human action. 

Laura Ciot

“Receiving the INPhINIT fellowship has allowed me to return to Spain after completing my Master’s degree to pursue a research topic that I am passionate about, under excellent working conditions. Moreover, it has introduced me to a community of fellows where I know I can always find support and participate in enriching exchanges.”
LAURA CIOT, predoctoral researcher at CREAF

The momentum and timeliness of the award is evident. Oliver Binks stresses that “the Junior Leader grant from the “la Caixa” Foundation is the ideal bridge enabling me to build a team and project some of my ideas forward. The duration of 3 years is also enough to make and achieve goals that will facilitate my establishment within academia”. For his part, Ferran Sayol Altarriba explains that the Junior Leader fellowship “represents a turning point in my academic career, as it allows me to set up my own research group at CREAF”.

Oliver Binks

“The Junior Leader grant is the ideal bridge that allows me to create a team and project some of my scientific ideas. The duration of 3 years is also enough to achieve the goals to establish myself in the academic environment”
OLIVER BINKS, postdoctoral researcher at CREAF

The INPhINIT and Junior Leader calls are highly competitive and have a dual purpose: on the one hand, to provide good professional conditions to scientific talent from Spain and Portugal and, at the same time, to internationalize the research system of both countries by attracting researchers from outside their borders.

Ferran Sayol Altarriba

“It represents a turning point in my academic career, as it allows me to start my own research group at CREAF”
FERRAN SAYOL ALTARRIBA, postdoctoral researcher at CREAF

In the 2023 edition, CREAF’s research into pollinators, forests, climate change and biodiversity will be positioned alongside international centres specialising in high-impact fields. Through this call, CREAF is fully integrated into the group of research centres and universities that promote high quality research with social impact in Spain and Portugal. 

Strengthening scientific talent 

In the edition that is now being made public, that of 2023, the Fundació al Caixa has awarded 65 INPhINIT scholarships and 40 Junior Leader scholarships. Of the 105 people selected in this edition, 49 are Spanish and 56 are foreign, from 21 countries. Of these, Italy is the country with the highest number of people distinguished, 16. It is followed by Portugal, with 9, Germany, with 6, and the United States, with 4. 

INPhINIT and Junior Leader fellowships 2024.
From left to right, Oliver Binks and Ferran Sayol Altarriba, CREAF postdoctoral researchers, and Laura Ciot, CREAF predoctoral researcher.
The INPhINIT and Junior Leader fellowships provide good professional conditions to scientific talent from Spain and Portugal and, at the same time, internationalize the research system of both countries by attracting researchers from outside their borders.

The “la Caixa” Foundation’s research fellowships programme is one of the most important of those promoted by private entities in Spain and Europe, both in terms of the number of grants awarded and the variety of disciplines it covers. In the 2023 call that is now being published, 65 doctoral and 40 postdoctoral grants have been awarded to excellent research staff, with the aim of offering them an attractive environment in which to carry out benchmark research. The annual INPhINIT and Junior Leader events aim to strengthen scientific talent and provide training in transversal skills to research staff. 

The specialties distinguished by the 2023 call are theoretical physics and mathematics, followed by materials science and technology, biomedical engineering and technology. As for the Junior Leaders – co-financed by the European Commission through the Marie Skłodowska-Curie COFUND Action – they are intended to hire excellent research personnel, of any nationality, who wish to continue their research career in the areas of health and life sciences, technology, physics, engineering and mathematics.

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