Europe’s most promising young minds in air traffic management (ATM) research were celebrated at the SESAR Young Scientist Award ceremony, which took place during the closing plenary of the SESAR Innovation Days virtual conference on 10 December.

Awarded annually, the prize aims to recognise young scientists, who have demonstrated excellence in ATM and aviation-related research fields. The award also provides researchers starting out in their career with an opportunity for further professional development. A further objective of the award is to showcase the potential of young talent to formulate fresh ideas and solutions to the challenges facing ATM and aviation.

The award was presented during a virtual ceremony, presided over by Dr.-Ing. Peter Hecker, Chair of the SESAR Young Scientist jury/evaluation, and featured presentations from all three short-listed scientists.

In third place, Eulalia Hernández Romero, Universidad de Sevilla was recognised for her research into how available meteorology data can be better integrated into conflict detection and resolution processes – the jury commended the research for trying to solve a very realistic, everyday problem.

Alvaro Rodriguez Sanz, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM), was awarded the second place for his thesis work on uncertainty management and performance optimisation in airport operations using probabilistic reasoning and reinforcement learning techniques, which the jury described as innovative, scientifically sound and convincing.

Finally, this year’s top award went to Christian Eduardo Verdonk Gallego, CRIDA, for his research into data-driven trajectory prediction. While the basic concept of trajectory prediction has been extensively studied, the jury commended Verdonk Gallego for adopting state-of-the art approach, broadening the scope of data and operational factors that impact the trajectory and looking at the wider air transport system.

I want to congratulate all the applicants, short-listed candidates, and Christian Gallego, our overall winner. The fresh thinking that Christian brings to his research and the collaborative spirit he demonstrates through his participation in numerous SESAR projects, makes him an asset for the ATM community,” said Florian Guillermet, Executive Director of the SESAR Joint Undertaking. “Seeing the talent displayed during this year’s SESAR Innovation Days, I am confident that we can deliver innovative solutions to build a smart and sustainable aviation for generations to come!