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

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 Armeniaproviding them an opportunity to produce internationally competitive research.


The first round of the program is implemented with Yerevan State University. Two grants will be distributed among two newly formed 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, details of each project can be found on the “Research Projects” page.


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 
  • Salaries for the local researchers 
  • International travel costs for the local researchers’ participation in the conferences or collaborative research activities abroad 
  • Laboratory supporting materials, consumables 
  • 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 International Committee, involving also the PI.

The application packages are accepted until March 15.


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

Research Team:Tigran Galstyan, Arshak Minasyan

Vacancies:Senior Researcher

Monthly Remuneration:1000 USD/30 hours a week

Anticipated duration:4 years


Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible for the project the applicant is expected:

  • Have PhD degree in Mathematics, Applied Mathematics, Physics or Computer Science
  • Have research experience in mathematical aspects of Machine Learning or Statistics
  • Have experience in publishing in top journals (or participating in top conferences) of the field
  • 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 30 hours per week (20 hours commitment will also be considered)
  • 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: Development of innovative biobased technologies to promote circular economy

Principal Investigator: Prof. Garo Antranikian

University: Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH), Germany

Research Team: Sargis Aghayan, Ani Paloyan, Anna Poladyan, Karen Trchounian, Ella Minasyan, Diana Ghevondyan

Anticipated duration: 4 years


Project Importance

In Armenia, the management of waste from various industries e.g. food industries are not well developed to date. Especially the production of cheese, wine and beer has grown significantly in the last years causing environmental problems. 18,000 to 23,000 tons of cheese are being produced annually in Armenia and more than 200,000 tons of whey is produced. In Armenia, there are 11 brewing factories that produce 150,000 liters of beer. From 2015 to 2019 beer production reached up to 26 million liters generating 6.5 million tons of organic waste. Besides beer, around 50 grape processing companies use around 265,000 tons of grapes and produce 12 million liters of wine every year generating 3.6 million tons of waste. The waste generated from the above-mentioned companies are released to the environment or used in some cases as fertilizers. These organic wastes, however, are composed of various high-value organic compounds that can be used for various applications in food, feed and energy generation. The implementation of circular economy will guarantee the utilization of waste streams from the industry and generate employment and economic value.


Expected Results and Impact

The results obtained in this project will be needed to develop sustainable environmentally friendly processes for whey, wine, and beer producing companies. This will lead to utilize the biological resources more efficiently and minimize waste. The developed technology will be transferred to the partner industries. The project will provide various microorganisms and enzymes that will be deposited in a culture collection and will be used as a tool for application in related industries. Advanced methods in analytics, genetics and biochemistry will be established. Furthermore, training programs in the field of bioeconomy will be organized for students and scientists from academia and industries. The team will act as a consultant for biotech companies during the transformation process from linear to circular bioeconomy. The results will be presented at international conferences and discussed with representatives from politics, society and industry. Due to the exchange of scientists with international labs, an international network in the field of bioeconomy will be created.


The outcome of this research project will have a great impact on the development of Science and technology in Armenia. Especially the fields of biotechnology, food industry, chemical industry and environmental sciences will benefit from the success of the project. The know-how generated by this team will be transferred to various groups from academia and industry and will create an atmosphere allowing collaborations within various disciplines in Armenia. In the long run, a new generation of scientists will be generated that are well trained in basic research, but at the same time capable of developing applied technologies required for society. In particular, the awareness of environmental issues will belong to the mindset of the new generation of young Armenian researchers. It is planned that these activities will lead to the establishment of a center of biotechnology/circular bioeconomy in Armenia with different expert laboratories including enzyme technology, microbiology and process engineering.