The 2017 KAIST Grand Challenge 30 Project is open to submissions until October 31. KAIST has organized this initiative to encourage researchers to tackle globally problematic issues and study fundamental and basic sciences for an extended period of time up to 30 years, without any mid-project evaluation of the “fruits” of the research being pursued. Full-time employees of KAIST with more than five years of service and undergraduate students are eligible to submit proposals, which are valid regardless of their relevance to the applicants’ current field of expertise. Selected projects will receive an annual government grant of up to 20 million KRW for at least five years.
The myopic tendency recently more pronounced in the Korean research community has been repeatedly criticized by researchers and policymakers alike. In that regard, the Grand Challenge 30 Project is already being well-received by media, one of which has called the initiative a “fresh experiment”. Indeed, for practical, business, and economic reasons, combined with the rapid development of the country and an underlying hope that such a rapid growth may continue, fundamental or theoretical studies that require decades of time have merited little attention and only sporadic instances of funding from corporations and the government due to the limited immediacy of readily commercializable results.
One selected proposal from last year’s submissions has been submitted by Professor Aviv Segev of the Graduate School of Knowledge Service Engineering. His proposal, titled “Finding Research Hypothesis in Natural Sciences”, outlines his study, which aims to “build a hypothesis generator based on existing search methodologies, databases representing known scientific structures, and published research documentation.” It is not hard to agree that such a topic of meta-research is deserving of sustained funding without being demanded for some speedily merchandisable product.
Not surprisingly, more time-consuming research proposals are expected to arrive at the Grand Challenge 30 Project this year. Submissions should be addressed to the Academic Affairs Team of the College of Natural Sciences, and inquiries should be directed to 042-350-2472 or e_ktw@ kaist.ac.kr. The selection process will take place in mid-November.