Friday, February 05, 2016

Would your department refuse to host the recipient of a very competitive post-doctoral award?

Suppose that your department were given the chance to host the recipient of a very competitive post-doctoral award. That award would pay 95% of the salary of the post-doctoral researcher, who also leads a project funded in 2016 (worth 185,373.66€) and one funded in 2015 (worth 222,568.50€). I am fairly confident that your department would welcome that award- and grant-winning post-doctoral researcher with open arms.

This is not what has happened to Vincenzo Dimonte, an Italian set theorist who is presently a post-doctoral researcher at the Kurt Gödel Research Center for Mathematical Logic in Vienna. Dimonte was one of the three recipients in the field of mathematics  of a prestigious and competitive Rita Levi Montalcini award for 2016. In his application for the award, Vincenzo Dimonte gave a ranked list of five three mathematics department in Italy that were willing to host him, the top one being the Department of Mathematics at the Politecnico di Torino. I presume that he even enclosed a letter from someone at that department saying that they were willing to host him. The choice of Turin as top location in his list was natural since Turin hosts a group of top-class set theorists Andretta, Viale, Motto Ros and Camerlo (who is actually at the Politecnico).

However, when Vincenzo Dimonte won the grant, the department twice refused to host him! Of course, he'll go down his own list and I trust that one of the four other destinations he chose will actually welcome him. The fact remains that such decisions are hard to understand when viewed from a purely scientific perspective and may have a negative impact on the future career of someone who has been deemed to be worthy of a top award for young researchers in Italy.

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