18 December 2014

Prestigious EU grants for three SCIENCE researchers


Three SCIENCE researchers have threaded the needle and will now receive the European Research Council’s prestigious ERC Starting Grant. The ERC grants are worth roughly 1.5 million Euro, and are awarded to especially talented researchers at the beginning of their research careers.

Albert Schliesser, Oliver Gressel and Robin Andersson

The grants are of special significance for the three researchers. Besides the honour associated with having an ERC Starting Grant bestowed upon them, the grants also provide these researchers with a chance to establish themselves as research directors and assemble their own research groups, which presents them with unique opportunities for furthering their own research ideas.

SCIENCE at the top of European research

The ERC Starting Grant is awarded annually and attracts applications from thousands of researchers across Europe. Roughly 375 ERC Starting Grants are awarded to researchers in the humanities, social and natural sciences every year. The three grants for these SCIENCE researchers are a source of great joy for SCIENCE’s Associate Dean for Research, Morten Pejrup:

"That SCIENCE has received three Starting Grants is a wonderful recognition of the high academic standard here at the faculty. All three researchers are foreigners who have come to Denmark during the last couple of years, which is testimony to the faculty as an attractive research environment for talented researchers. It is also encouraging in relation to the targeted efforts we have made to increase external funding."

The ERC Starting Grant is aimed at younger researchers who are at the beginning of their careers and want to strengthen their field of research. The competition and selection process is a rigorous one. And, if one makes it to the final interview in Brussels, applicants are up against an incredibly capable group of competitors from the international young researcher scene. For the same reason, the ERC Starting Grant is also seen as a direct endorsement of a recipient’s research and their long-term research plans. An ERC Starting Grant runs for 5 years.

From solar systems to disease susceptibility

Below are the three very different research projects that will receive the tens of millions of kroner in ERC funding.

Assistant Professor Albert Schliesser of the Niels Bohr Institute will receive 11.4 million kroner for studies in hybrid systems of quantum states. Down the road, this could lead to breakthroughs in low frequency microwave signals that, for example, may be used in radio astronomy and nuclear magnetic resonance, including the MRI scans that people have become familiar with.

Associate Professor Oliver Gresel also hails from the Niels Bohr Institute. He will be awarded roughly 10.6 million kroner for a project designed to understand the processes in protoplanetary discs and their rotation around stars new and dead. This will occur by developing cutting edge computer simulations that model the discs, so as to investigate the earlier stages of solar systems.

Finally, Associate Professor Robin Andersson of the Department of Biology will receive 10.9 million kroner for his project focusing on how genetic structures determine one’s susceptibility to disease.