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Our soils are inhabited by millions of microorganisms; however, the majority of them lay dormant. In her ERC project, Prof. Dagmar Woebken explores the mechanisms that allow soil microorganisms to go into dormancy and thus survive unfavorable conditions. It is further the goal to reveal the environmental signals that lead to their resuscitation to perform important ecosystems functions.
ELECTION SERIES #4
The EU-funded POLCON project aims to understand the impact that the Great Recession has had on the development of political conflict in Europe.
Space has a wealth of resources for humanity. Scientific missions enable new discoveries and increase knowledge of our solar system. Satellites orbiting around the Earth provide us with a broad range of services for telecommunications, weather forecasting, marine and air traffic, forest mapping, etc. However, intense space activity comes at a cost both in terms of energy consumption and dangerous space debris produced.
Matchmaking science ready for release on the market with investors in start-ups is the aim of Y Science 2018, the official side event to the world-renowned Slush. Techy events like these may seem almost science fictional at moments and it can be easy to forget that many of the ideas being pitched on stage began with really basic science.
Agnieszka Wykowska is a senior researcher of the Social Cognition in Human-Robot Interaction at the Italian Institute of Technology (Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia) in Genova, Italy. In 2016 she has been awarded an ERC Starting Grant for her project “Intentional Stance for Social Attunement” whose goal is to investigate if humans are ready to engage in social interactions with humanoid robots. Dr Wykowska will present her findings at the ERC's conference Frontier Research and Artificial Intelligence.
Being able to generate human tissue in vitro in a dish is expected to revolutionise biomedical research. European researchers generated brain organoids to study the mechanisms of various neurological disorders and discover novel drugs to treat them.
Nature is a major source of inspiration for scientists. ERC grantee Giulia Lanzara is one of them. The unique sensing and shaping abilities of birds, dolphins and other living creatures inspired her to engineer novel multifunctional materials which could make a difference in a wide variety of industrial fields.
Prof. Giulio Superti-Furga and his team work on understanding the movement of molecules across human cells. In a paper recently published on Cell Host & Microbe, they outline the significance of a single protein, SLC4A7, in phagocytosis, the body's first line of defence against infection. These results, however, go beyond the context of infectious diseases, with repercussions on our knowledge of processes like inflammation and cancer.
ERC grantee Renata Sõukand is exploring to what extent local ecological practices concerning the use of plants, among selected ethnic minorities in Eastern Europe, have declined due to the centralization imposed by dominant practices through the impacts on natural resources, health, economies and the well-being of local communities.
Metal fatigue and ice-layer accumulation are challenges faced by the aviation industry and prove costly in terms of fuel waste. Sometimes nature can provide solutions to problems such as these. ERC grantee Nicola Pugno combines biological observations with nanotechnology to create some of the most remarkable materials in the world.