Sat, May 12, 2018 - Page 3 News List

‘Young scholars’ urge time for pregnancies

INNOVATION:At a ceremony in Taipei, Minister of Science and Technology Chen Liang-gee encouraged those given fellowships to ‘bravely sail toward uncharted areas’

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

Minister of Science and Technology Chen Liang-gee (陳良基) yesterday presented “young scholar” fellowships to 46 academics, one of whom suggested that female researchers be allowed more flexibility in carrying out projects during pregnancy.

To encourage young researchers to conduct more ambitious and innovative projects, the Ministry of Science and Technology last year launched the Einstein Program and the Columbus Program.

The Einstein Program targets doctorate holders younger than 32, with recipients receiving annual subsidies of up to NT$5 million (US$167,937) for three to five years. The Columbus Program targets doctorate holders younger than 35, with recipients receiving annual grants of up to NT$10 million for three to five years.

The ministry has admitted 67 projects to the two programs, including 32 projects in engineering, 14 in natural science, 13 in biotechnology, seven in the humanities and one in scientific education.

At a ceremony in Taipei yesterday, Chen presented program recipients with fellowship certificates, encouraging them to “bravely sail toward uncharted areas in this age of exploration.”

Einstein Program recipient Chen Yun-nung (陳縕儂) said that she had been conducting research on artificial intelligence (AI) before its commercial applications gained more popularity after 2011 and was glad to see that AI research and applications are now booming.

Having earned a doctorate at Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania, Chen is now assistant professor in National Taiwan University’s (NTU) Department of Computer Science and Information Engineering.

Researchers in Taiwan can enjoy more academic freedom, as those in the US have more difficulty obtaining government funding and are subjected to business requirements if their research is funded by private firms, Chen added.

While expressing her gratitude for the ministry subsidy, she said the ministry should allow female researchers more flexibility to extend their projects and deadlines, given that many could experience childbirth during their career.

The ministry plans to study the feasibility of this idea when next year’s budget plans are proposed for the Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program, the minister said.

Among the few humanities academics receiving the fellowship, NTU Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures assistant professor Hsu Yi-hsin (許以心) said she is working on Shakespearean studies in Taiwan, Japan and South Korea, and expects the ministry subsidy to support her field trips to the two nations.

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