The EUCYS contest (EU Contest for Young Scientists) gives students aged 14-20 years old from all over Europe and beyond, the opportunity to present their scientific projects to a panel of international judges. Each year of the competition, EUROfusion offer a prize visit to the JET facilities at Culham for one of the lucky competition winners.
This year’s winner Patricia González Piquero won one of the prices in the 2022 contest in Leiden, NL with a high school research project titled “Influence of the cultural level in the extinction of Homo neanderthalensis in its competition with Homo sapiens: analysis through the game of contests”.
Mixing mathematics and history
In an interview with the digital newspaper Pozuelo.es, González Piquero explained her research topic: “It is about the development of a mathematical model based on game theory, with which we try to find answers to what could have happened thousands of years ago. Why the Neanderthal went exctinct remains unknown today, but the fact that their extinction occurred only 20,000 years after the arrival of Homo Sapiens in Europe suggests that the interaction with this new species and the competition for resources between them was the cause of their extinction.
It is true that it is not very common to mix such different fields as mathematics and history, but really the message that can be conveyed with this is that mathematics can be applied to many situations and is really useful for obtaining information, studying events and obtain results in all fields of research.”
Having won the EUROfusion prize within EUCYS, Patricia recently travelled from Spain to visit Culham for a week and took part in a range of activities. She received an introduction on fusion and a tour of the JET facilities from UKAEA’s Fernanda Rimini, Morten Lennholm and Adam Parrott. In addition, Patricia had the opportunity to meet some of the scientists and engineers working on the programme for fusion energy research.
During the visit, Patricia said: “It has been a fantastic opportunity, so inspiring. I study physics so it’s been great to learn what paths I could take in the future. After coming here, I want to know more about fusion and explore career options and subjects linked to this when I get back to Spain.”
EUCYS2022 saw over 65,000 young scientists enter the contest, of which 132 were selected from 33 countries to compete in the final hosted in Leiden.