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Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) is increasingly used to help women become pregnant. The most common technique is in vitro fertilisation, i.e. the transfer of fertilised human eggs into a woman's uterus. However, ART can imply risks for the embryo during the pregnancy or even later in life. With a grant of the European Research Council (ERC), Polish researcher Dr Grazyna Ewa Ptak has analysed sheeps embryos. With her team at the University of Teramo, she has discovered the precise timing and nature of placental disorders consequent to ART. Her findings can greatly improve reproductive technologies and lead to safer pregnancies for both women and animals.
Why should people waste their time executing some repetitive time-consuming everyday tasks which do not require creativity and intellectual capacity? Such a reasoning stands behind Professor Bruno Siciliano’s ERC funded project aiming at the creation of a new generation of service robots.
Molecular electronics has raised increasing interest in recent years, in particular the use of molecules as nano-electrical components for electronic, photovoltaic and thermoelectric devices. With her ERC Starting grant, Dr Gemma Solomon studies how molecules carrying current heat up and cool down, potentially paving the way to new frontiers in power-generating materials.
Hallucinations have been the seeds of inspiration of legendary filmmakers such as Luis Buñuel, Terry Gilliam or David Lynch. Auditory hallucinations are a major symptom of schizophrenia. These inner voices people hear in the absence of any external acoustic input can be very disruptive for health and for social life. Professor Kenneth Hugdahl, who holds an ERC Advanced grant, has developed an iPhone app to help patients to re-focus their attention. Based at the University of Bergen in Norway, he participates in the “Horizons for Social Sciences and Humanities” conference in Vilnius on 23 and 24 September 2013 and exposes the first results of his ERC project.
During the 20th century, the experiences of post-communist states in Central and Eastern Europe were very different from those of much of Western Europe. Have these different experiences fostered different attitudes when it comes to public space, and ‘public goods’ like health care, education or the environment? Dr Natalia Letki of the University of Warsaw in Poland is using an ERC Starting Grant to carry out an ambitious multi-disciplinary study of attitudes and behaviour regarding ‘public goods’ across this region – drawing on political science, sociology, economics and even psychology.
Solar power is potentially an almost limitless resource. The sun provides enough energy in one minute to supply the world’s energy needs for one year. But turning this resource into affordable electricity is difficult – silicon-based solar cells still suffer from a decline in their effectiveness over time. Through her ERC-funded SOLARX project, Professor Hele Savin, of Aalto University in Finland, is investigating a possible route to solving this problem.
Major floods around the world have raised questions about the frequency and magnitude of such phenomena. Although changes in climate and land use are known to play a critical role in river floods, how they actually translate into considerable variations in intensity remains unknown. Prof. Günter Blöschl addresses this issue.
Providing new directions in the field of security, Dr. Feng Hao’s project aims to devise a secure and publicly verifiable system of e-voting - a “self enforcing e-voting system” - which does not rely on vote-tallying authorities. Awarded an ERC Starting grant in 2013, Dr. Hao is based at Newcastle University (UK).
The European Research Council (ERC) that supports world-class researchers in Europe, working in any field of research, has invested a total budget of around €95 million to support over 50 innovative projects dealing with water issues. Many of these projects tackle key topics in water research, involving disciplines as diverse as environment, life sciences, engineering, material sciences or social sciences.
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