One Million Scientists. How to Obtain a Grant from Talents for Ukraine as a Talented Researcher

One Million Scientists. How to Obtain a Grant from Talents for Ukraine as a Talented Researcher

For the third consecutive year, talented Ukrainians who have chosen to remain in Ukraine despite the war have the opportunity to receive $1 million for development. This opportunity is made possible through the Talents for Ukraine program offered by the Kyiv School of Economics Foundation (KSE Foundation). In 2023, during the programʼs initial phase, 150 representatives from various sectors were awarded grants, which they could utilize as they saw fit.

The second wave of the KSE Foundationʼs program has been in progress since February 15th, and the names of the initial winners are already announced. This time, the KSE Foundation team prioritized candidates from the STEM branch, with 60% of the finalists coming from this domain. Why scientists? According to the KSE Foundation, science is pivotal for Ukraineʼs success, its future, and post-war recovery.

We are covering what it takes to secure a grant and the changes that winning Talents for Ukraine can bring.

Anastasiia Torianyk

24, radiobiologist, Zaporizhzhia

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Anastasiia Torianyk, radiobiologist

Anastasiia Torianykʼs passion for education and research traces back to her youth. «When I pursued my masterʼs degree in Kyiv, I noticed the disparity between the knowledge I gained in Zaporizhzhia and the level of education among Kyiv students. It struck me that education shouldnʼt be a privilege only for the elite», she reflects.

Before the full-scale invasion, Anastasiia dedicated herself to volunteer work, spearheading educational and scientific initiatives in Zaporizhzhia. Presently, she serves as an engineer at the Institute for Nuclear Power Plant Safety. Additionally, Anastasiia holds the role of methodologist at the Zaporizhzhia Regional Ecology and Nature Center. At the Khortytska Academyʼs local scientific lyceum, she instructs STEM courses, empowering students to present their research papers. Despite her diverse roles, Torianyk views her positions at the lyceum and the center not merely as jobs, but as a form of service to her country, the advancement of science, and the betterment of her community.

Many educational institutions from the occupied territories relocated to Zaporizhzhia during the war. To support them, Anastasiia allocated her KSE grant to ten such institutions.

«Winning the grant program enhances my reputation, enabling me to contribute more to education and science», Anastasia asserts.

She firmly believes that the resilience of Ukrainian scientists lies in their ability to yield meaningful results even with limited resources. Among her ambitious plans is launching a science museum in Zaporizhzhia and transforming Chornobyl into a space research laboratory. Additionally, she aims to promote education and science within the community.

Natalia Kravchenko

Natalia Kravchenko

Head of Talent and Community Development at the KSE Foundation

The philosophy of the Talents for Ukraine program is rooted in fostering diversity. The grant recipients come from diverse backgrounds, and there isnʼt a singular trait that defines them. When crafting the guidelines for the program, KSE made it clear that anyone could emerge as a winner, whether theyʼre recognized nationally or internationally, seasoned professionals or newcomers yet to make a mark in their field. What matters most are their accomplishments, drive, and passion.

The programʼs selection committee outlined the criteria upon which the selection process hinges, which participants must showcase in their motivation letters and videos:

  1. Creative energy. Participants should elaborate on their research and inventions. How did they navigate their educational paths? What breakthrough have they achieved, and what obstacles have they surmounted?
  2. Curiosity and inventive spirit. We are looking for those who dare to tread on uncharted territories.
  3. An unrepeated and imaginative perspective. Our winners approach their endeavors in a manner that sets them apart from the rest. Whether itʼs through technology, innovation, or an unconventional fusion of industries.
  4. Embodiment of a prominent idea. Applicants must conceive something impactful that resonates with others. Itʼs creativity coupled with utility: an invention, project, research, or product poised to revolutionize society.
  5. Tangible outcomes achieved. Candidates must demonstrate the improvements brought about by their efforts, showcasing the results of their attempt and the positive changes it has catalyzed.

«Our» folks possess the potential and drive to enact global change. This person is like an engine, a butterfly whose fluttering wings bring around significant changes. Encountering such individuals is not easy. Thatʼs why KSE provides every avenue possible to connect with them: anyone can apply, nominating a teacher, mentor, colleague, or friend worthy of support. Case in point is this yearʼs Oscar winner, Ukrainian documentary filmmaker Mstislav Chernov: he didnʼt seek out the grant but was nominated by his peers, underscoring the power of community recognition.

To fill out the application form for the second stage of the Talents for Ukraine program, please follow this link on the KSE website.

Denis Sheka

54, theoretical physicist, Kyiv

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Denis Sheka, theoretical physicist

After completing his studies at the Faculty of Radiophysics and postgraduate studies at Kyiv National University in 1991, Denys Sheka embarked on his career at the Department of Mathematics and Theoretical Radiophysics. Since then, he has defended his doctorate, authored over 250 scientific papers, been honored with the O.S. Davidov Prize from the National Academy of Sciences, and received numerous awards and grants.

For the past 10 years, Sheka has collaborated with colleagues from Ukraine and abroad to develop the theory of curvilinear magnetism. While Ukrainian researchers focused on the theoretical aspects, their counterparts from Germany, the United States, France, and Denmark translated the theory into practical applications due to Ukraineʼs lack of technical infrastructure. The research findings made a significant impact on the global scientific community, marking a breakthrough in the field. Consequently, Denys Sheka emerged as one of the pioneers of curvilinear magnetism theory.

The practical implications of this research extend to fields such as physics, robotics, and even medicine, particularly in aiding artificial insemination, notes the scientist.

Winning the KSE grant surprised Denys Sheka, as he did not apply for it himself. It was his students or colleagues who put his name forward. «I was pleased and grateful that my work received recognition. Itʼs reassuring to see initiatives supporting scientists», says Sheka. He plans to utilize the grant for travel and acquiring scientific literature.

«The strength of Ukrainian science, – Sheka believes, – lies in its robust educational system and the high caliber of student training, despite the existing challenges. Even amidst wartime, many Ukrainian students remain eager to pursue scientific endeavors. So there is someone to teach for and to whom to pass on knowledge».

Olena Karlova

43 years old, mathematician, Chernivtsi

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Olena Karlova, mathematician

Olena Karlova has been promoting mathematics among Chernivtsi residents both before the full-scale war and during these challenging times. In 2017, Olena founded the Mathematical Workshop, a scientific and creative association that has evolved into a community of 25 members, including students, teachers, and professors. The workshops, organized by age groups, are led by faculty members, graduate students, and experts from the Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Science at Chernivtsi National University. They aimed at sparking childrenʼs and young adultsʼ interest in learning mathematics.

Olena believes in the importance of popularizing science to enhance societyʼs understanding of the world and dispel common myths. She allocated a portion of the grant from the Kyiv School of Economics to promote mathematics among schoolchildren in the region and to travel with her students. Additionally, she earmarked funds for publishing popular science books, a project she plans to pursue shortly.

Olena Karlovaʼs plans involve establishing a museum of mathematics and a math cafe in Chernivtsi. «It will feature a ʼmathematicalʼ ambiance and a small library equipped with puzzles and reference materials, serving as a gathering spot for scientists, educators, and students to convene several times a week for mathematical exploration. Theyʼll engage in problem-solving and discussions on mathematical topics», explains the scientist.

Svitlana Denysenko

Svitlana Denysenko

Director of the KSE Foundation

The grant is awarded to people who clearly understand their purpose and generate ideas poised to impact society. Itʼs not about single-handedly changing the entire world; itʼs sufficient to demonstrate how youʼre making a difference within your community.

Of all the applications received, 15% were inspired by loved ones, with over 20% of the winners falling into this category. Sometimes, colleagues are better positioned to recognize the talent of individuals who may be modest about discussing their achievements.

During wartime, the voice of Ukrainian science resonates as strongly as ever, contributing to the defense of Ukraineʼs interests. To achieve this, itʼs essential to elevate the profile of the Ukrainian scientific community and represent its interests on international scientific platforms.

Science serves as the engine driving the nationʼs development. Yet, both before and during the war, the stateʼs funding for scientific endeavors falls short of whatʼs truly needed. Hence, itʼs imperative to support Ukrainian scientists to ensure they remain a vital part of the countryʼs academic heritage and donʼt move abroad.

Nana Voitenko

56, neuroscientist, Kyiv

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Nana Voitenko, neuroscientist

Nana Voitenko earned her PhD in 1995 and her doctoral thesis in 2004 at the Bohomolets Institute of Physiology. For two decades, she has delved into the intricacies of chronic pain mechanisms and the human immune systemʼs influence. Collaborating with her peers, she spearheaded the establishment of Brain Day, observed annually in the third week of March.

Three years ago, Voitenko assumed the role of rector at the Dobrobut Academy, a focal point for postgraduate medical education. In 2022, she secured a grant from the National Research Foundation to pioneer cutting-edge nerve regeneration implants. «Currently, weʼre conducting trials on animals. Following that, we plan to proceed with patient testing in partnership with the Institute of Neurosurgery», she explains.

The neuroscientist emphasizes the importance of government support and attention for scientists to promote science. «Itʼs crucial to showcase Ukrainian scientific endeavors globally. Given that our state budget relies on Western investments, itʼs essential to consistently demonstrate our research efforts, methodologies, and the expertise of our laboratories and teams. It will enable us to secure funding for scientific innovations, especially those aimed at improving the lives of the wounded», emphasizes Nana Volodymyrivna.

Nana Voitenko was nominated for the grant by the KSE Foundation jury. The neuroscientist utilized it to make donations to the military, provide scholarships for internally displaced interns, and contribute to a scholarship established in honor of her colleague, Bizhan Sharopov, who died at the front.

Yuriy Halavka

41, chemist, Chernivtsi

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Yuriy Halavka, chemist

Yuriy Halavka, a doctor of chemistry, serves as a lecturer at Chernivtsi National University and chairs the jury of the All-Ukrainian Chemistry Olympiad. Each year, he dedicates himself to training schoolchildren for participation in the young chemistsʼ tournament and instructs at the Small Academy of Sciences. During the full-scale war, Yuriy and his colleagues embarked on educational initiatives among Ukrainians, elucidating the operation principles of explosive devices, highlighting the hazards of nuclear facility accidents, and outlining protocols for handling nuclear weapons usage.

Yurii states a decline in the popularity of scientific disciplines among children, noting a need for more skilled personnel even in lucrative knowledge-intensive enterprises. He attributes this trend to the resource-intensive nature of studying scientific professions, which prompts young individuals to opt for uncomplicated career paths.

«Teachers excel at delivering subject material, yet they frequently overlook showcasing the vast career prospects available in chemistry to children», Yurii emphasizes. «These opportunities are immense: spanning production, medicine, and pharmaceuticals!». The scientist firmly believes that science should be promoted in Ukraine and globally. According to him, grasping the logic of discovery and cultivating rational thinking within the scientific framework — these points are pivotal for human advancement. Furthermore, he stresses that promoting Ukrainian science worldwide is a diplomatic way to raise the trust in the country.

The grant provided Yuriy with much-needed support, offering stability and instilling hope that his work would become somewhat more manageable. Using the funds from KSE, the chemist invested in charging stations for the Fedkovych Institute, enabling experiments to be conducted even in the absence of electricity.

Tymofiy Mylovanov

Tymofiy Mylovanov

President of the Kyiv School of Economics

Without scientific advancements and technological innovations, our ability to defend Ukraine, modernize medicine, and save lives would be severely compromised. Whether itʼs installing a modern prosthesis or developing cutting-edge medical treatments, science, and technology are integral to our societyʼs progress. Yet, not everyone in Ukraine fully grasps the vital role of science. Some view it as abstract or irrelevant, fueled by ignorance and the spread of pseudoscience. This misconception is exacerbated when bureaucratic officials, rather than qualified scientists, lead scientific institutions. Additionally, instances of plagiarism in scientific dissertations undermine the integrity of academic research. In a modern, democratic society, we must prioritize genuine achievements and contributions to science over mere credentials. Programs like Talents for Ukraine play a crucial role by recognizing and supporting individuals truly advancing scientific knowledge rather than those with impressive resumes alone.

While Ukraine may not boast an abundance of scientific resources, it undeniably exists and warrants protection. It falls upon scientists themselves to champion the cause of science. They must demonstrate its significance to society, engage with the public, and inspire them with the romance of scientific exploration and the quest to uncover the worldʼs mysteries.

In Ukrainian culture, few individuals could be labeled as rock stars of science: popular and authoritative figures. Conversely, American scientists often shine as stars on social media, penning popular science books and inspiring children and teenagers to the extent that they aspire to pursue similar careers. They are influencers and opinion leaders, having found a language to engage with society freely.

To fill out the application form for the second stage of the Talents for Ukraine program, please follow this link on the KSE website.

Serhiy Simchenko

38, physicist, Kyiv

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Serhiy Simchenko, physicist

Sergiy specializes in physics, solid-state electronics, microelectronics, and nanoelectronics.

Candidate of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, Associate Professor, and Senior Researcher at the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, before the full-scale war, he taught at Berdiansk University and worked at a childrenʼs creativity center, where he taught students applied physics and precision instrumentation. Now living in Kyiv, he continues his research work and does not abandon his developments. Simchenko has pioneered an innovative device — a system for autonomously detecting explosive objects underwater.

«The practical application of this development lies in safely detecting explosive objects in rivers and seas. The unmanned device is equipped to locate and disarm them, significantly enhancing safety. Remote control functionality extends its operational duration underwater, reaching depths beyond human capacity and endurance», explains Sergiy. Currently, he and his colleagues are refining the design further. To expedite this endeavor, Simchenko utilized a grant from KSE.

«The grant is a validation of success», says Simchenko. «I wanted to showcase the development, and I could barely believe I would win. And I have to say, it is very motivating to continue working!»

Today, Ukrainian science holds its ground admirably compared to the most developed countries, he notes. «While the level of funding may not be equal, we have a wealth of talented individuals who deserve recognition. Time is humanityʼs most precious resource, and we must utilize it judiciously. We need to popularize science, allocate funds, and incentivize innovations that will enhance peopleʼs lives and bring us closer to victory», Sergiy concludes.

Bohdan Rublev

59, mathematician, Kyiv

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Bohdan Rublev, mathematician

Bohdan Rublev graduated from the Faculty of Cybernetics at Kyiv National University in 1986. He ascended from assistant to professor, achieving a doctorate in physics and mathematics, and earning recognition as an honored Worker of Education in Ukraine. He has also spearheaded the organization of numerous math competitions.

Rublev won the All-Union Mathematical Olympiad as a schoolboy, solidifying his passion for the discipline. The scientist firmly believes that to effectively instill a comprehensive understanding of mathematics in children, itʼs essential to bolster their extracurricular scientific engagement beyond just clubs. Thus, in 2005, Bohdan Vladyslavovych took the helm as the organizer of math competitions, which have been steadily gaining popularity each year. Since 2009, he has been preparing children for international math competitions, where they proudly represent Ukraine.

«Ukrainian schoolchildren are keenly interested in math. The popularity of our competitions speaks volumes. I donʼt need to visit schools to drum up participation; a simple announcement on the website fills up the event», shares the mathematician. «Itʼs quite encouraging because the neural connections formed in a childʼs brain while tackling math problems foster creativity and logical thinking that lasts a lifetime».

«We have incredibly talented young individuals—sometimes even surpassing those in the United States and the United Kingdom—so they must stay in Ukraine», summarizes the mathematician. «We can prevent brain drain by showcasing the opportunities available domestically. We need to make science appealing with adequate funding. The government should provide support because, at 25, one faces the choice between pursuing a career in science with uncertain prospects or opting for a well-paying job».

The Talents for Ukraine program was conceived and is being executed for everyone. «Ukrainians should keep an eye out for their friends, relatives, colleagues, and teachers—what if a grant from the KSE Foundation is meant particularly for them? It could serve as a testament that Ukraine values its accomplishments and stands by them during challenging times», says Svitlana Denysenko.

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