ESET Science Award Laureates announced, led by Nobel Prize Laureate Kip Thorne

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BRATISLAVA — October 19, 2021 — The international jury, chaired by Nobel Prize Laureate in Physics, Professor Kip Thorne, has selected material physicist, Ján Dusza, as the recipient of the Outstanding Individual Contributor to Slovak Science Award 2021. Ladislav Valkovič won the Outstanding Young Scientist in Slovakia under the age of 35 award, and Jozef Zajac received the award in the Outstanding Academic category. The laureates were announced on Saturday, October 16 at a gala dinner which concluded a week-long series of activities celebrating science, including a thrilling discussion between Professor Kip Thorne and UK science icon, Professor Brian Cox on October 12 in the National Theatre in Bratislava.

The chairman of the international jury, Kip Thorne, praised the world-class level of Slovak scientists saying: “The selection of laureates was extremely challenging this year. This confirms that science in Slovakia has an international quality. However, large scientific projects require not only excellent science, but also the support of public and private institutions, and therefore I wish the finalists to find such support for their research. The ESET Science Award is an important example of such support."

Laureates of all three categories were selected based on rigorous criteria, including current scientific research results and publications, measurable scientific data, their roles in communicating and popularizing science, collaboration with other scientific disciplines, feedback from close collaborators or students and much more.

"The laureates, as well as the finalists of the ESET Science Award, repeatedly prove the world-class level of science in Slovakia," says Richard Marko, CEO of ESET. "Regardless of the area they are working in, their work is extremely important, both to Slovakia and to the world. Today, society faces major global challenges, including spreading misinformation and mistrust in science and its results. However, our confidence in scientists remains strong and we are happy to continue to support their work. We believe that scientists and scientific knowledge are moving our country forward."

This year's gala evening was attended by the President of the Slovak Republic, Zuzana Čaputová, under whose auspices the Award takes place, as well the Prime Minister of the Slovak Republic, Eduard Heger. In addition to Professor Kip Thorne, members of the international jury  were also in attendance, including biologist Fiona Watt, chemist and philanthropist Hana Dvořáková, professor of inorganic chemistry Ralf Riedel and professor of mathematics Tibor Krisztin.

The Slovak public also had a chance in selecting their laureate through an online voting through Slovak National TV. This year, the public vote was awarded to the biochemist Katarína Mikušová, who researches the bacillus that causes tuberculosis at the Department of Biochemistry, at the Charles University in Prague. The laureate of the category of Outstanding Academic was selected by a committee composed of representatives of Slovak universities.

Ján Dusza, Laureate of the Outstanding Individual Contributor to Slovak Science Award
Ján Dusza works at the Institute of Materials Research of the Slovak Academy of Sciences in Košice. He has devoted his entire professional life to research and development of progressive ceramic materials. The properties of these materials render them suitable for use in the most demanding conditions, in terms of temperature and mechanical stress in aggressive environments. He comes from an agricultural family but, thanks to his uncle, adopted an educational focus on physics and was significantly influenced by a later stay in Stuttgart, at that time one of the best workplaces in the world for research in the field of progressive ceramic materials. However, his professional scientific career is associated with Košice, where he, along with other colleagues, founded the PROMATECH Research Center, which generates world-class results. He maintains a love of music and sports from his younger days, although nowadays he devotes his free time mainly to his granddaughter and gardening.

More information on Ján Dusza here.

Ladislav Valkovič, Laureate of the Outstanding Young Scientist in Slovakia under the age of 35 Award
Ladislav Valkovič works at the Institute of Measurement of the Slovak Academy of Sciences (SAS) in Bratislava and at the Oxford Center for Clinical Magnetic Resonance Research at Oxford University, where he is working to determine how to measure the metabolism of the heart and other internal organs as quickly, accurately and non-invasively as possible. He works on the development and application of using magnetic resonance imaging. Having completed his studies in biomedical engineering in Žilina, he worked at the Medical University in Vienna and at the Slovak Academy of Sciences. During a research placement stay in Zurich, he became interested in metabolic imaging. He considers his greatest achievements to date to be the development of a rapid method for measuring metabolic processes in muscles, which allows them to be measured during exercise, and a non-invasive method for measuring metabolic processes in the liver. Lately, he has mainly been focusing on the human heart.

More information on Ladislav Valkovič here.

Jozef Zajac, Laureate of the Outstanding Academic award

Jozef Zajac is the dean of the Faculty of Production Technologies of the Technical University in Košice where he deals with the topic of progressive production technologies. These have been used in the industry for several decades, but according to Jozef Zajac, the best years are still ahead. Unlike conventional methods of machining materials, they are not based on mechanical work, but on physical, chemical and non-traditional motion principles, such as machining using water jet, laser, plasma, ultrasound and similar. In many cases, according to Professor Zajac, this is the only possible way to produce mechanical parts. Jozef Zajac emphasizes the importance of connecting university studies with practice. His faculty achieves up to a 99 percent success rate in employing graduates within three months of graduation, while 70 to 80 percent of them remain working in Slovakia.

More information on Jozef Zajac here.

More information about the ESET Science Award is available here:

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