Three ERC Consolidator Grants for researchers at Science and Technology

The recipients of the coveted Consolidator Grants from the European Research Council (ERC) have just been announced. Aarhus University has received six out of the seven Danish grants, and three recipients come from Science and Technology.

2018.12.04 | Rasmus Rørbæk

Three recipients of ERC Consolidator Grants come from Science and Technology. (Ill: Colourbox)

The aim of the ERC Consolidator Grants is to strengthen excellent and innovative research, and they target experienced researchers who are about to consolidate their research and research careers. On this basis, in future, new projects will be forged at Science and Technology to examine bacteria in ice, artificial tissue to treat liver diseases, and mathematical approaches to big data.

Although the projects are eye-catching in themselves, another factor about this year's award is also worth noting: Of the seven Danish grants, six went to AU, and no less than three to researchers at Science and Technology.

"ERC grants target excellent research and visionary scientists who can find and tread new paths in a number of vital research areas. There is good reason to be particularly pleased with this year's grants in that, out of the total seven Danish grants awarded, no fewer than six are going to researchers from Aarhus. It is an inspiration for us all to know that here at the faculty we possess such far-reaching and innovative research talents. Congratulations to all three here at Science and Technology," says Dean Niels Christian Nielsen.

The grants are awarded by the European Research Council (ERC) to promising young research talents and research group leaders between seven and twelve years after they have obtained their PhDs. Up to EUR 2 million is awarded for ground-breaking research projects over a five-year period.

The three recipients at Science and Technology are:

Professor Mark Podolskij, Department of Mathematics
Statistical Methods for High Dimensional Diffusion, "STAMFORD", will address the mathematical challenges in the explosion over last 20 years in the amount of so-called dimensional data, better known as big data. The need for a better understanding of data within areas such as economics, traffic and genetics has resulted in revolutions within statistical research, machine learning and a number of numerical methods of analysis. The purpose of STAMFORD is to develop methods and algorithms that can manage complex data sets from the high-dimensional diffusion models we already know from the worlds of physics, economics or cell biology. This area of mathematics has so far been somewhat under-researched. The project will enhance the capacity of mathematical statistics and probability calculations to handle the complexity of modern mathematics.

Associate Professor Brigitte Städler, Interdisciplinary Nanoscience Center, iNANO
The incidence of obesity and type 2 diabetes is growing throughout the world. This means that there are more cases of chronic liver disease, and these generate greater demand for transplants and equipment to stabilize patients with liver failure. The ArtHep project will attempt to develop a hepatic-like tissue, consisting of biological and synthetic entities that can mimic the structure and functionality of the liver. With three international collaborators, the AU group will apply an interdisciplinary approach to investigate artificial enzymes as well as organelles and cells, which may subsequently be developed into bionic tissue to transplant into animal models and for applications in medical devices. ArtHep will perform pioneering work in the interface between cell mimicry and tissue development for liver-related applications.

Associate Professor Tobias Weidner, Department of Chemistry
How do bacteria cause freezing in their surroundings? INP - or ice-nucleation proteins - can cause frost damage in plants, and in the air they can nucleate ice crystals in clouds and influence global precipitation. It is relevant to understand this process in a number of contexts, such as climatology, biomedicine and materials research, but so far it has not been possible to forge a deep understanding of the process initiated by INPs in their environment. F-Bioce will ask a large number of questions to identify the interaction, including questions about the structural basis for proteins’ cooling control, and regarding the role of structural dynamics and surface cooling. They will seek the answers using methods such as advanced spectroscopy, computer simulation and cryo-electron microscopy. The information collected will provide essential input for climate models and could potentially revolutionize freezing techniques within food production, cryo-medicine and cloud seeding, which accelerates precipitation in cloud formations.

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