Getting involved in COST Actions opens up networking opportunities that can really boost your research career. Professor Urszula Stachewicz is a young polish materials scientist who has participated in multiple COST Actions since 2014 and has recently been granted a European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant to work on innovative insulation materials: the first such grant awarded to a researcher at the AGH University of Science and Technology in Krakow.

Urszula’s first involvement with COST was in 2014 when she started teaching at Krakow. “The first two Actions that I was involved with were on electrospinning and biomaterials for bone regeneration,” she says. “I joined both towards the end of their respective programmes.

The initial Action on electrospinning is closely related to the ERC grant research area, which started at the beginning of 2021. The ERC research will look to replicate the properties of highly insulating materials from nature, such on polar bear fur or penguin feathers, using electrospinning to produce innovative composite materials.As well as being highly thermally efficient and helping to save energy, these new materials will also be biodegradable and easy to recycle.” explains Urszula.

For her three subsequent COST Actions Urszula joined from the start. “COST Action CONTEXT looked at the development of advanced textiles, on the biomedical side BIONECA continues work on biomaterials for regenerative applications, and AERoGELS works on these advanced materials that have a very high porosity and tuneable properties,” says Urszula.


Participation in COST allowed her to learn about new material science. “For example, aerogels was a totally new area for me,” she says. Involvement with COST Actions has clearly been especially useful from a technical perspective for Urszula, but it offers much more than that.

COST has given me excellent possibilities to network, to get the viewpoints of different disciplines and to see how different techniques can be applied in diverse application areas such as biomaterials or nanomaterials and smart textiles,” she says. “For example, I joined a group related to applications in architecture, a completely new area for me, where I learnt about possible novel applications of the materials I work on.”

Working with COST has enabled Urszula to grow her network, learn about issues in different sectors and listen to experts in her field. “This gave me creative ideas for translating techniques to different application areas: using the material science skills and knowledge I had but applied to new and different problems,” she says.

I was very open about my ideas for the ERC proposal and talking them through with COST collaborators helped improve my concepts or added new aspects.”

Professor Urszula Stachewicz, University of Science and Technology Krakow, Poland

Networking at COST events, especially in the more informal parts of the programme such as over dinner gave Urszula the opportunity to talk through ideas for future work with colleagues. “I was very open about my ideas for the ERC proposal and talking them through with COST collaborators helped improve my concepts or added new aspects,” says Urszula. “I was also able to ask colleagues about their experience in writing ERC proposals.” In this way she learnt how to approach grant writing and was also able to ask people to read her draft proposal and comment on it.

Without COST I would not have been able to access this feedback and opinion,” concludes Urszula. “Which was very important in developing my ideas, understanding the challenges, and helping in the creative thinking to develop the ERC proposal.

Read more about the COST Actions that Urszula has participated in here:

COST Action MP1005

COST Action MP1206

COST Action CA17107

COST Action CA18125

COST Action CA 16122

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