COST Action Blog: FUR4Sustain and Young Happy Hour


A way to help young researchers network and develop presentation skills

Blogs are written by COST Actions

European network of FURan based chemicals and materials FOR a Sustainable development (FUR4Sustain) is a multidisciplinary network of polymer scientists, general materials developers, and industrial stakeholders who aim to encourage market introduction of sustainable furan-based polymer products. Modern society relies on a huge quantity of polymeric materials however these materials are still almost exclusively based on fossil-resources. Evolution to a more sustainable model of development is required. FUR4Sustain will organise and master the European activity in the area of FDCA-based chemicals, products, and materials to target scientific, technical and industrial solutions towards sustainable furan-products market introduction.

We heard many times that ‘Young people are the future!’. So, truly believing in this motto, we have created a way to empower, secure and train the Young Scientists of FUR4Sustain for a more sustainable future!

Everyone who works or worked as a researcher knows that conference attendance, visits to other institutions, live presentations, and, in general, mingling with other researchers, is of utmost importance for career development. Also, young scientists are often very willing to communicate their research, but can lack confidence and a nuanced approach in communication, so live presentations help them to gather communication skills. On the other hand, they are very digital and prone to innovation, where more experienced researchers tend to resist more. Empowering young researchers, the next generation of scientists, is one of the priorities of COST, and therefore of FUR4Sustain.

Introducing Young Happy Hour

So, we at FUR4Sustain decided to try to help young researchers to overcome their difficulties by using their ‘natural’ abilities, by organizing a series of online events where young researchers could present their work. So, FUR4Sustain Young Happy Hour (YHH) was born.

During the first YHH our young researchers have shown the diversity of approaches and methodologies within and across scientific disciplines covered in FUR4Sustain to boost furan chemicals, polymers and materials from lab-to-industry-to-market! It was also an opportunity to show the work they have done during their Short-term Scientific Missions (STSMs) and how they used their grants for Virtual Mobility (VM). It was also quite noticeable that discussions after presentations were much lively and energetic. Evidently, young researchers felt more comfortable to both ask and answer questions among themselves.

Testimonials from Young Researchers

Lazaros Papadopoulos

Lazaros Papadopoulos, a PhD student from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, gave a pitch during YHH about his STSM grant to visit Fraunhofer WKI in Braunschweig, Germany. Lazaros told us: “This was a wonderful experience, as a young researcher, to be given the opportunity to work in another country, develop new skills and interact with scientists from different backgrounds. It allowed me to gain valuable knowledge in my field and build self-confidence from a small tenure to an unknown environment, between people that I met for the first time, and whom I now call friends.

After the STSM was over Lazaros presented his work during Young Happy Hour. “The FUR4Sustain COST Action gave me the opportunity to present the work that was carried out during the STSM period, with the Young Researcher Happy Hour event. This was also a valuable experience for a young researcher, because you are allowed to present your work, your results, and your ideas in front of your peers. In research, this is a valuable skill to have, and the COST Action develops this aspect of young researchers as well. Therefore, I would like to thank the Action for the opportunity, and I hope that there will be more of them in the near future!

Beatriz Agostinho

Beatriz Agostinho from the University of Aveiro, Portugal, did an STSM at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. Beatriz believes that without the help of our COST Action it would be much harder for her to travel and do science outside her university, and to meet researchers from all over the world. Regarding Young Happy Hour, Beatriz said: “To have an event dedicated to young researchers is excellent, I was very happy to present the results from my STSM for the first time and to watch very interesting work from my colleagues.”  

Eleftheria Xanthopoulou

Another PhD student from Greece, University of Ioannina, took a chance to visit other university. Eleftheria Xanthopoulou was a VM and STSM grantee at the Université Côte d’ Azur in Nice, France. “The Action Grants, such as VM and STSM, as well as the Young Happy Hour, gave me the opportunity to be educated about novel techniques, to exchange knowledge with researchers across Europe concerning the synthetic routes and the characterization of biobased polymers. These grants achieved the objectives of the Action concerning the building of “scientific bridges” and the active involvement of young researchers on the COST Action. As a young female researcher, these grants helped me to move forward with my research on the synthesis and characterization of biobased polymers, to broaden my scientific horizons by being a part of a different research group, and to acquire the necessary recognition by being a main part of these important sections of the Action objectives. I would like to acknowledge the Fur4Sustain COST Action for the opportunity to live beautiful moments in France and work with interesting young and senior researchers.

Next steps

The idea is to go on organizing a series of online events that will help young researchers to develop their communication skills. But not only presentational skills, we encourage them to discuss each other’s work and potential collaborations. To share knowledge and get to know each other. To try to train and empower them. YHH was created under the umbrella of FUR4Sustain Happy Hour seminar series dedicated to polymers sustainability but to more general audiences. On the contrary, the YHH is ‘made’ from young researchers (overseen by experienced ones) for young researchers.

First Young Happy Hour event showed as a great success, so we will keep on having them! Watch this space for the next events.


Prof Pavle Spasojevic, Innovation Center of the Faculty of Technology and Metallurgy at the University of Belgrade. Science Communication Coordinator for FUR4Sustain.