ERC Stories

  • Conflicted consumers: anxiety and food decisions

    June 2015
    Conflicted consumers: anxiety and food decisions
     June 2015

    Surveys such as the 2010 Eurobarometer show that people around Europe are worried about what they eat and where it comes from. But what causes this? And does it affect behaviour? An ERC project studied consumer choices about shopping, cooking and eating – offering a more accurate picture of what shapes their decisions. The results could lead to better-informed policies on health, sustainability and business.
    © www.istockphoto.com

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  • Into the Deep

    June 2015
    Into the Deep
     June 2015

    Submarine canyons are counted among the richest ecosystems in the deep sea. These steep-sided valleys cutting into the sea floor offer a wealthy environment for diverse range of species, yet, they also host fragile habitats increasingly affected by human activities. Dr Veerle Huvenne, one of Europe's leading scientists in the fields of cold-water coral research and habitat mapping, wants to further understand these deep-sea terrains and the biological species they are hosting. With her ERC grant, she has set up a multidisciplinary research group and she is now about to explore the depths of the Whittard Canyon, in the Bay of Biscay.
    © National Oceanography Centre, UK

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  • The driving forces of cell division

    June 2015
    The driving forces of cell division
     June 2015

    With her ERC grant, the 5000th awarded to a leading scientist in Europe, Dr Iva Tolić wants to push forward the frontiers of knowledge on the mechanical principles of cell division.  To reach her goal, after spending several years in the USA, Denmark, Italy and Germany, she has moved back to Croatia where she is setting her new research team. The results of her ERC-funded project could lead to new insight in cell and molecular biology, potentially opening novel ways to treat cancer.
    Image: Microtubules in action during chromosome division © Iva Tolić

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  • Spotlight on ERC projects

    June 2015
    Spotlight on ERC projects
     June 2015

    In June 2015, the ERC celebrates its 5000th grant to a leading researcher in Europe. This is the occasion to  present some of the ERC ground-breaking projects at the frontier of knowledge in life sciences; physical sciences and engineering; and social sciences and humanities. These projects are just a snapshot of the 5000 ERC grants that have been pursued in more than 600 institutions in 32 countries across Europe. To date, 40 000 publications in top scientific journals have derived from these projects. The ERC expects that its grants will help bring about new and unpredictable scientific and technological discoveries - the kind that can form the basis of future industries, markets, and social innovations.

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  • Exploring the history of Central European forests

    June 2015
    Exploring the history of Central European forests
     June 2015

    Significant changes in woodland vegetation pose a long-term threat to native flora and fauna. To understand the functioning of current ecosystems, we need detailed knowledge on management history and on the driving forces of historical forest changes.
    Portrait: © Martin Rychlik, LN  Image: © Radim Hédl

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  • Music’s transformation in the digital era

    June 2015
    Music’s transformation in the digital era
     June 2015

    Music has been a vital part of human cultures for millennia, and today it continues to evolve, taking vastly different forms around the world. Proceeding from the rich diversity of human music-making, Prof. Georgina Born has been investigating its transformation in the current digital era.
    Portrait: © Georgina Born  Image: Kenyan music producer Eric Musyoka at his studio in Nairobi

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  • Setting eyes on the dark side of the universe

    June 2015
    Setting eyes on the dark side of the universe
     June 2015

    More than 95% of our universe comes in the mysterious form of dark matter and dark energy that we can neither explain nor directly detect. Dr Catherine Heymans leads a team of researchers who were the first to “map” dark matter on the largest of scales. She now uses her research to confront Einstein’s theory of general relativity in an attempt to explain the nature of dark energy.
    Portrait: © Catherine Heymans  Image: NASA, ESA, the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA), J. Blakeslee (NRC Herzberg Astrophysics Program, Dominion Astrophysical Observatory), and H. Ford (JHU). www.spacetelescope.org

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  • The role of civil society in democratization processes

    June 2015
    The role of civil society in democratization processes
     June 2015

    What do the Velvet revolution, the transitions in Baltic countries in the 1990s and the Gezi Park protests in Istanbul have in common? Prof. Donatella Della Porta is leading an ambitious project to compare the most relevant democratization processes led by social movements of the last 25 years.

    Portrait: © Donatella Della Porta  Image: © www.istockphoto.com

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  • Minimizing the effects of climate change on drylands

    June 2015
    Minimizing the effects of climate change on drylands
     June 2015

    Drylands cover 41% of the Earth’s land surface and support some 38% of the human population for goods and services. However, because of their aridity, they are highly vulnerable to global environmental changes. Prof. Fernando T. Maestre studies how biodiversity enhances the ability of drylands to maintain their essential functions and their ecosystems worldwide.
    Semiarid landscape in Argentina © Juan Gaitán  Portrait: © María Dolores Puche Herrero

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  • An early detection kit for colorectal cancer

    June 2015
    An early detection kit for colorectal cancer
     June 2015

    Prevention and early detection largely determine the outcome of most cancers. Prof. Päivi Peltomäki studies how tumours arise and progress, with a view to identifying biomarkers of our susceptibility to developing cancer. With the ERC grant, the team has created a single-step, early diagnosis kit for colorectal cancer.
    Portrait: © Prof. Päivi Peltomäki  Image: © www.istockphoto.com

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