Discovering the Future
2020
ADVANCE
Unprecedented platform to bring the top-notch expertise in the targeted STEM-related fields in Armenia
Call Ended
Stages
General Information
About the program

FAST ADVANCE STEM Research grant program serves as an unprecedented platform aimed to bring the top-notch expertise in the targeted STEM-related fields in Armenia. ADVANCE grant program connects the distinguished international researchers with the local research groups for them to work jointly on innovative research projects. FAST will ensure comprehensive long-term institutional and financial support for outstanding research groups in Armenia providing them an opportunity to produce internationally competitive research.

The first round of the program is implemented with the support of A.I. Alikhanyan National Science Laboratory and Yerevan State University. Three grants will be distributed among three research groups in Armenia. Each group will be recruited to work under the supervision of an international Principal Investigator (PI), around a certain topic identified by the PI, starting from May 2020. The researchers from any institution in Armenia and beyond are welcome to apply based on their interests and qualification in the suggested topic. The program aims to create inter-institutional connections; therefore the composition of the research groups might be very diverse. The duration of the projects will be from 2 to 4 years.

The research activities will be conducted primarily in Armenia. The PI will both visit Armenia and coordinate the group’s work remotely throughout the entire duration of the research project. The PI will also be involved in intensive teaching activities in the local universities to have a broader impact on the ecosystem.

About the PIs

The PIs are scientists who have solid expertise in a related field, extensive experience in leading groups of researchers, as well as ties with international institutions and labs to connect local researchers to the global scientific network. The PIs submit the project proposal, introduce their vision for the project development and, in a broader sense, the subfield’s development in Armenia. They also define the needs of a proposed project and requirements for the researchers, participate in the selection of the researchers and, throughout the project implementation, ensure the project quality.


Granting scheme
  • PI’s travel expenses and some remuneration during their visit to Armenia (from 7 000 USD to 10000 USD per year)
  • Salaries for the local researchers (from 300 to 500 USD per month)
  • International travel costs for the local researchers’ participation in the conferences or collaborative research activities abroad (up to 14000 USD per year per group)
  • Laboratory supporting materials, consumables (depending on the project)
  • Publications in journals, patenting costs, wherever applicable


Selection process

Application packages can be found under the description of each project. The packages include but are not limited to the application form, CV, and recommendation letter(s). After reviewing the application packages, FAST Committee will short-list the most motivated and qualified candidates for the PIs’ review. The PI will identify the finalists, who will be invited to the interview with the Committee, including the PI.

The application packages are accepted until April 10. The interviews will be conducted at the end of April. All the candidates will be notified about the selection outcomes.


Appeal process

Applicants will be sent a letter about the decision of the Selection Committee. In case of rejection, the Selection Committee might not be able to provide individual information on the specific reasons for rejection. Assessment is competition-based, and applicants with the highest scores are admitted to the program. It is unlikely that any decision made by the Selection Committee will be reversed, as every applicant’s candidacy is going through extensive reviews through a carefully planned and objective assessment process. Still, if the applicant has a serious and compelling reason that they feel the committee should consider, they can appeal the decision. The appeal must represent significant new professional information that was not present at the time of application review. This information should validate the application as stronger than when originally reviewed.

The appeal should be submitted by the applicant to programs@fast.foundation with all the necessary and final information within 5 days after receiving the decision letter. If the appeal is submitted after the deadline, it will not be considered. Each applicant may only submit one appeal per admission term. Once the appeal is received, it will be reviewed by the Selection Committee who will make a final decision. Applicants will be notified of the appeal decisions via email within 10 days after the appeal was received by email. All appeal decisions are final.

Research projects
Research projects

Research Project in Machine Learning

Title: Statistical analysis of machine learning algorithms (SAM-lab)

Principal Investigator: Prof. Arnak Dalalyan

University: ENSAE Paris, France

Anticipated duration: 4 years

Research groups size: 4, including 2 senior researchers and 2 (M.A. or Ph.D.) students

Hosting institution in Armenia: Yerevan State University


Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible for the project the applicant is expected:

  • Have (or being in the process of obtaining) at least a master’s degree in Mathematics, Applied Mathematics, Physics or Computer Science
  • Have perfect knowledge of Linear Algebra, Analysis, and Probability Theory
  • Have some experience of coding in R, Matlab, or Python
  • Have essential reading and writing knowledge of English
  • Have experience of high-level research in some field of applied mathematics (for the local coordinator)
  • Be available at least 30 hours per week
  • Good writing and pedagogical skills will be a plus

Project Importance

The current trend in Artificial Intelligence is to tackle most problems by statistical methods using Machine Learning algorithms. The progress needs to be backed by thorough mathematical analysis for understanding the strengths and weaknesses of various methods and for preparing the solid ground for future innovations. Another trend of recent years is that the strongest students in mathematics and computer science are choosing to specialize in Machine Learning. Master programs in Machine Learning/Data Science/Artificial Intelligence are attracting many students all over the world. This is the case in Armenia as well, but the absence of a decent Ph.D. program in this field forces the best students to leave the country. One of the aims of this project is to offer the possibility to some of them to complete their Ph.D. in Armenia.


Expected Results and Impact

  • Put Armenia on the map of cutting-edge research in Machine Learning and AI
  • Publish in average 4 research papers per year starting from the second year of the project
  • Initiate several international collaborations by organizing a) PhD-level mini-courses taught by renowned researchers and b) an international workshop on Statistics and Machine Learning
  • Foster collaborations with some potential local industrial partners such as PicsArt, Mentor Graphics, Krisp, etc.

Required Documents

  • CV
  • Motivation statement (with the detailed description of how the applicant’s qualification corresponds to the project)
  • Recommendation letter (with the referee’s contacts)

Optional:

  • An example of a research paper written by the candidate (no matter the language, it might be a master thesis, a Ph.D. thesis, or an article)
  • An example of code produced by the candidate (link to a github or another repository suffices)


Research Project in Biotechnology

Title: Biotechnology - towards a sustainable circular bioeconomy

Principal Investigator: Prof. Dr. Garo Antranikian

University: Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH), Germany

Anticipated duration: 4 years

Research groups size: 5, including 2 Postdocs, 2 Ph.D. students, 1 technician

Hosting institution in Armenia: Yerevan State University


Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible for the project the applicant is expected:

  • Have a background in Biology / Microbiology / Molecular Biology / Bioinformatics / Chemistry / Biochemistry / Process Engineering
  • Be a postdoc/Ph.D. student/technician


Project Importance

The challenges that our society is facing are enormous. The development of intelligent concepts will play a pivotal role in future developments, based on the more efficient use of the resources of our planet aiming at the sustainable production of a new generation of chemicals, carbohydrates, chiral compounds, pharmaceuticals, and diverse bio-based materials and biopolymers. The fields of application include food, health, pharma, feed, agriculture, environmental sciences, and consumer goods. The successful transition from the crude oil era to the circular bioeconomy will be dependent on the efficient conversion of biological resources by biological processes to produce novel products. Digitalization will have a great impact on this transformation process as well as advanced training and qualification programs. This transition of the oil-based economy towards a sustainable economy completely relying on biotechnological processes requires the concerted action of academia, industry, politics, and civil society. An interdisciplinary approach of various fields such as microbiology, molecular biology, chemistry, genetics, chemical engineering, agriculture, in addition to cross-sectional technologies such as economy, logistics, computer science, and digitization is necessary to meet the future global challenges.


Expected Results and Impact

  • Provide the fundamental technologies needed to develop and establish sustainable processes in life sciences
  • Bring together young scientists with senior scientists
  • Provide young researchers a forum for debate and discussion and the opportunity to build a network
  • Foster the culture of interdisciplinary research between university labs in Armenia and industry
  • Create a science-related startup ecosystem in biotechnology
  • Create a network of expert laboratories in Armenia
  • Attract scientists from abroad


Required Documents

  • CV
  • Motivation statement (max 2 pages)
  • Concept for a project which fits the call (up to 5 pages)
  • Three recommendation letters