two researchers looking at silicon device in clean room at DGIST

Researchers in a clean room for processing silicon devices at Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology, South Korea.Credit: DGIST

If ideas are the flames burning from the torches of discovery, scientists are the hands that hold them. Creative minds uphold the scientific enterprise.

In recognition of their leading role, Nature Index 2018 Rising Stars profiles 11 up-and-coming researchers in the natural sciences. These scientists are highlighted based on their recent contributions to the 82 journals tracked by the Nature Index, and their standing in the League of Scholars Whole-of-Web ranking, which assesses individuals on their research quality and impact, industry links and co-authorship networks. Their work ranges from analysing peatland and permafrost, to developing wearable electronics.

The researchers have all demonstrated excellence, and the passion, ambition and resilience to rise higher — essential for surviving in academia. As competition for jobs intensifies, researchers are expected to do more earlier in their careers, from publishing high-quality research to achieving impact, attracting funding, teaching, and cultivating international connections.

This supplement also tells the stories of institutions, countries and regions that have exceeded expectations over the past three years in their contribution to the Nature Index. The ones we have selected as rising stars experienced exceptional absolute and percentage growth in their output of high-quality research, either across the breadth of subjects in the natural sciences, or in specific areas. As always in the Nature Index, our primary quantitative measurement is fractional count (FC) — a metric that accounts for the relative contribution of each author to an article. All FC figures are adjusted to 2017 levels.

A section on young universities explores their progress in the research world, achieved without the years of experience of established competitors. We expect to see more of these high-flying contributors to the Nature Index, in reports of scientific inquiry and the testimonies of social change.