Chemist Ivalina Trendafilova is the new winner of the ‘13 Centuries of Bulgaria’ National Prize in support of young talent in contemporary arts and science

The ‘13 Centuries of Bulgaria’ National Endowment Fund presented the prestigious award for the second time in the Palace Ballroom

Dr Ivalina Trendafilova became the second recipient of the ‘13 Centuries of Bulgaria’ National Prize in support of young talent in contemporary arts and science. The competition, organised by the ‘13 Centuries of Bulgaria’ National Endowment Fund, is for Bulgarian citizens up to 35 years of age with indisputable achievements at the international level who are continuing their education in European institutions.


Ivalina received her diploma from Deputy Minister of Culture Vesela Kondakova, Chair of the authoritative jury, and an elegant graphic work from the Executive Director of NEF ‘13 Centuries of Bulgaria’, Ms Slava Ivanova. The artwork was created during the ‘River of Tolerance’ International Youth Art Festival organised by the Fund.


Ivalina thanked the jury and NEF ‘13 Centuries of Bulgaria’ for the honour and promised to return to Bulgaria after completing her second postdoctoral fellowship in Belgium.


Exclusively for the Fund’s website, she described her scientific career and the subject of her research:

‘In 2018, I won a one-month internship at the National Institute of Chemistry, Ljubljana, Slovenia, where I began developing an alternative application for the materials I obtained, namely as catalysts for decomposing hazardous pollutants in waste water and volatile organic compounds resulting from industrial processes.


‘After defending my doctoral degree at the Institute of Organic Chemistry with Centre of Phytochemistry (IOCCP) at BAS, I applied and was approved for a postdoctoral internship at the same institute in Slovenia from 1 January 2019 to 31 March 2020.


‘At the beginning of 2020, after succeeding in a competition, I was appointed to the position of Chief Assistant in the laboratory studying Organic Reactions of Microporous Materials at IOCCP at BAS.


‘At the end of that year, I won a 36-month postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Namur, Belgium, under the BEWARE Programme co-financed by Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions, where I continue to expand my knowledge of the synthesis and application of innovative porous silicate materials in the fields of pharmacy and green technologies.


‘At the moment, I am working on an extremely interesting project on the synthesis of new adsorbents for the purification and separation of proteins. Current industrial practices are complex, time-consuming and represent a large part of the cost of protein production (about 80% of the cost of the final product is due to complex methods of purifying and obtaining the desired product). Finding new and more efficient materials for the separation of proteins is the way to more easily accessible food supplements, medicinal drugs, and vaccines, as well as an opportunity to develop innovative applications for proteins in pharmacy.’


These scientific pursuits so important for medicine and pharmacy convinced the jury to award her the ‘13 Centuries of Bulgaria’ National Prize in support of young talent in contemporary arts and science, including a prize of BGN 5,000.


The other nominees for the prize are also young people with qualities and careers abroad. Slava Ivanova introduced them:

Ana Kostova, artist; at present, studying for her Master’s, at the Muthesius Academy of Art in Kiel, Germany, in the class of Prof. Antje Majewski.


Victoria Zhelyazkova, interdisciplinary researcher and photographer; studying for a Master’s Degree at the Faculty of Social of the Masaryk University in Brno, Czechia.


Delyan Balev, international affairs; studying for a Master’s Degree in Cultural Differences and Transnational Processes at the University of Vienna Programme.


They received their diplomas from the members of the Management Council of NEF ’13 Centuries of Bulgaria’: Assoc. Prof. Georgi Lozanov, Rashko Mladenov and Assoc. Prof. Ventsislav Velev.


The jury, which had to make a difficult choice, comprised figures with remarkable successes in their respective field:

Its Chair Vesela Kondakova, representative of the Ministry of Culture, was a deputy minister in the caretaker government of Prime Minister Stefan Yanev, and in the Cabinet of Prime Minister Kiril Petkov.

Between 2010 and 2017, she has consistently managed the Cultural Contact Point Unit under the Culture Programme of the European Commission and the Creative Europe Bureau, the Culture Office at the Ministry of Culture.


Acad. Vasil Nikolov, National Archaeological Institute with Museum, is a Bulgarian archaeologist and an academician of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences with extensive professional experience. He is a corresponding member of the Austrian Archaeological Institute and the Centre for Archaeology and Cultural History of the Black Sea Region (headquartered in Halle, Germany).

In 2017, he was awarded the Golden Age Honorary Sign, with necklace, for overall merit.


Prof. Adriana Blagoeva, D.M., Vice-Rector for Scholarly and Artistic Activities at Prof. Pancho Vladigerov National Academy of Music, is a professor of choral conducting, and a doctor of musicology and musical art.

Since 1989, he has been the conductor of the Sofia Boys’ Choir.

She was awarded the Order of Sts Cyril and Methodius, 1st Class, for great merit in the field of culture and art.


Prof. Dr Penko Gospodinov is Dean of the Faculty of Performing Arts at NATFA ‘Krastyo Sarafov’. He has taught classes in Acting for Drama Theatre since 2016.

He has played over 70 roles in theatre, cinema, and television; he is a member of the troupe of the ‘Behind the Canal’ Small City Theatre. In 2019, he was awarded the Best Actor Prize award at the 5th Gold Movie Awards International Film Festival, London, for his acting in the film, ‘Away from the Shore’, directed by Kostadin Bonev. In 2021, for the same role, he won an international prize for acting, at the Global Nonviolent Film Festival, Hollywood, California.


Prof. Stanislav Pamukchiev teaches at the Drawing Department of the National Academy of Arts. He is a member of the Board of Directors and Secretary of the Painting Section of the Union of Bulgarian Artists.

His awards include the Order of Sts Cyril and Methodius, 1st Class; the Grand Prize of the International Triennale of Painting in 1996 in Sofia; and the 2002 Golden Feather Annual Award for Culture.


After the celebration and the inevitable photographs with the awardees and the jury, Ivalina Trendafilova advised the other contenders not to give up and to apply again for the ‘13 Centuries of Bulgaria’ National Prize in support of young talent in contemporary arts and science, because in the previous edition of the competition she had been among the nominees.

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