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Scholarship opened the door to Princeton

Joel Röntynen works at the core of the international research of his field - while one of the winners of the Nobel Prize in Physics is just next door
Postdoctoral researcher Joel Röntynen moved this autumn to Princeton University which is one of the top international universities in his research field of topologigal matters.

A scholarship granted by the League of Finnish-American Societies (SAYL) secured postdoctoral researcher Joel Röntynen a place for postdoctoral studies and research in an American top university. The Björn Savén scholarship granted by SAYL is intended for talented young Finnish students and researchers of economics, business administration or technology.

Röntynen defended his doctoral dissertation at the beginning of the summer. He knew very early that, at his postdoctoral stage at the latest, he would want to go to the USA, where especially Princeton, Stanford and MIT among the top universities are famous for their high-standard research in technology. Topological materials, new and unique substances, are an active field of study as their protected boundary states are expected to have many technological applications in future.

With the scholarship, Röntynen can work at the core of the international research in this field.

‘It has all started well. This year’s Nobel prize in physics was granted to my field of research and the office of one of the winners of the prize, Duncan Haldane, is two doors away from mine. Now is a great time to be here,’ says Joel Röntynen from Princeton University, delighted about the scholarship.’

‘In Princeton I can continue research on the subject area of my doctoral dissertation and collaborate with experimental groups. It is great to be able to participate in the high-profile research conducted here.’

In Princeton, Joel Röntynen is in great company. One of this year’s winners of the Nobel Prize in Physics has his office almost next door.

Set the bar high

A typical postdoctoral period lasts between two and three years, and the minimum funding required for the top universities in the United States is usually about $40,000. The Björn Savén scholarship covers Joel Röntynen’s first year, so he is tirelessly applying for funding also from other sources, such as different foundations and the Foundations’ Post Doc Pool, to secure the whole research period.

It is also important to build contact networks.

‘I received a lot of good advice from professors and other researchers during my doctoral studies. The support given by Professor Christian Flindt was extremely important in the whole process. Also, I got in touch with Professor B. Andrei Bernevig at Princeton University in advance, and he invited me to do postdoctoral research in Princeton,’ Joel Röntynen says.

Joel Röntynen has a clear message to other postgraduate students.

‘Don’t be too shy, be bold and set the bar high!’

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