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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 #5
One would not be mistaken to assume that traditional party politics has become side‑lined by the rise of an angrier, more direct form of protest politics, supercharged by years of austerity following the financial crash of 2008-2009. One ERC-funded project, POLPART, has been dedicated to understanding how and why people become engaged in politics and what this means for ongoing efforts to strengthen and preserve our democracies for the future.
An EU-funded project is exploring what keeps people committed to a task even when they get bored, distracted or are tempted to stop. The findings could foster productivity-boosting strategies, improve robot-human interactions and even help treat borderline personality disorder.
On 30 November and 1st December, the G20 2018 Summit will take place in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The leaders and Ministers of finances of the World's major economies, including the European Union, will address the pressing concerns and challenges related to the global economy and finances. In this high decision-making forum, Prof. Irma Mosquera Valderrama has managed to make a place for her independent expertise, raising the voices of developing countries.
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.
Toxicology and pharmacology assays are currently carried out in cell lines or experimental animals. Scientists of the TOXANOID project developed mini organs in a dish, which outperform existing in vitro systems.
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 Erik van Sebille is developing advanced modelling tools to help assess the full extent of the problem of plastic pollution in our oceans and how it is affecting the marine environment. The tools will help policymakers design targeted measures to address a big and growing issue.
In urban areas, an increasing number of travellers are turning to more sustainable means of transport such as walking and cycling. The ALLEGRO project studies pedestrians and cyclists’ behaviour in traffic, a field that offers many opportunities for ground-breaking knowledge.
Fascinated by clouds and planes since childhood, she became a meteorologist and aerosol scientist. Prof. Bernadett Weinzierl looks at the atmosphere but she also flies through it, aiming to understand what happens in the upper layers of the sky. Using an ERC starting grant for her A-LIFE project, she chases aerosols, those tiny particles suspended in the air which are critically important to the global climate system.