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How can we develop new materials that meet the extreme challenges of aerospace applications? Seizing the great potential of magnesium as a lightweight metal or making steels more resistant to failure and corrosion are two engineering challenges whose roots lie deep down at the atomic scale. Using models that bridge across scales from the atomic to the observable level, an ERC funded scientist investigates why materials behave and fail the way they do.
Honey bees are an important species for ecology and economy, but their population has shrank worryingly. Prof. Philipp Engel focuses on gut microbiota, a critical factor for bee health, to understand how it evolved and diversified over time. His study addresses timely questions about evolution, ecology, microbiology and could eventually contribute to new strategies for managing bee colonies’ health.
Understanding complex structures means separating irrelevant information to get to something simpler and easier to understand. When you look at something from a distance – although you don’t see all the details, you can still describe what you see. ERC grantee Balázs Szegedy has developed several mathematical tools for providing a compressed yet useful view of complex structures.
How does one infer the dynamics of a DNA minicircle in solution? How does one align the neuronal firing patterns of several neurons across individuals? These questions are intrinsically statistical, but nevertheless escape the traditional tools of statistics. The ComplexData project investigated such questions from a mathematical and an applied context.
Originally published in May 2015
Updated in July 2018
With an aging population, Europe sees a rapid increase in the number of people affected by visual disorders requiring surgical intervention. Building on the recent advances in robotic assistance in surgery as well as in precisely targeted drug delivery therapies, Prof. Bradley Nelson has designed innovative microrobotics tools to overcome the particular difficulty of manual-performed eye surgery.
This year the European Research Council turned 10. But 2017 also marked two other important milestones: 20 years of Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellowships, which offer career development opportunities to early-career researchers, and 30 years of ERASMUS, that has shaped the new generation of young Europeans, launching students' mobility. What do researchers think about the impact of these European programmes on their professional and personal life? Let's hear from those who have benefitted from all three.
Prof. Gregoire Courtine believes paralysed patients will be able to walk again. This belief has represented the focus of years of work aimed at regenerating the functions of the spinal cord after injury. Thanks to his ERC funding in both 2010 and 2015, Prof. Courtine and his team have been able to develop so-called “personalised neuroprosthetics” that have led immobile rats, and more recently monkeys, to overcome their paralysis.
Many industries – and each of our cells – depend on emulsions. An EU-funded researcher has developed a method for studying molecules at the interface between oil nanodroplets and the water-based liquid contained in these substances. Her work advances understanding of liquid interfaces and emulsion stability, and is of great interest to industry.
While on court, beach volleyball players need to act as a whole in order to prevent the ball from touching the sand: in a fraction of a second - just before the opponent's hand spikes the ball - the passer has to predict and adjust to the attacker's action as well as to their teammate's block position. Thanks to her Consolidator Grant, cognitive science professor Natalie Sebanz is studying the cognitive and psychological mechanisms underlying joint action expertise – in other words, how individuals learn skilled actions, such as those performed by professional athletes, together.
The Theory of Mind - the ability to understand that others may have thoughts, beliefs, desires, and intentions different from ours - develops in early childhood and is considered as a key process to explain our social interactions. How do children acquire this ability? What are the cognitive and brain mechanisms that allow human beings to learn from others, to predict their behaviour and to communicate with them? These are some of the questions Dr Agnes Melinda Kovacs addresses, thanks to an ERC grant, in her laboratory in Budapest.