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A European bioengineer has pushed the boundaries of cell manipulation by pioneering a new, droplet-based method of study. His innovation, allowing for the highly detailed observation of cells, has resulted in the launch of a spin-off company as well as further research into cell cultures. Fuelled by a European Research Council (ERC) grant, the technology promises to open doors to new applications in pharmaceuticals, diagnostics and medical research.
This 8 March, the ERC celebrates the achievements of grantee Dr Mariana Graña, a determined researcher in a branch of physics where women are still noticeably underrepresented. She reflects on how far women have come in Theoretical Physics and what is still needed to overcome the gender-role stereotypes associated with this appealing but abstract field of science.
Emulsions play a key role both in natural and industrial processes, as they allow the combination of two liquids that do not normally mix and make the blend stable. Yet, when materials solidify or freeze, the complex interactions that take place and affect the final microstructure of the solidified components, are still poorly understood. ERC grantee Sylvain Deville and his team at CNRS have showed that it is possible to use an optical imaging technique to study the freezing of emulsions while the process takes place, a novel method presented in the prestigious journal Science.
Our immune system recognizes and fights infections in a constantly changing environment, where new pathogenic threats emerge. At the crossroad between physics and biology, Prof. Aleksandra Walczak investigates the fascinating process that allows the immune system to be always ready to adapt and evolve to face new dangers.
Headscarves, mosques and halal shops — many EU citizens are Muslims, but visible signs of their faith are often viewed with distrust. What some Europeans see as a right to express their identity, others regard as a threat to societal core values. Insights from ERC-funded research into emblematic controversies may help to find a way forward.
Most of our actions can have an impact on the environment, be it minor, long-lasting or simply irreversible. But how can this effect be measured, avoided, predicted? What are the specificities of long-term risks and how can collective decisions be taken effectively to tackle those threats?
It has long been a sci-fi dream to have a humanoid robot in our everyday life. Soon that dream may seem even more vivid, thanks to Dr Pierre-Yves Oudeyer’s ERC-funded project. His team has developed the first complete open-source 3D printed humanoid robot, called “Poppy”. Poppy is a robot that anybody can build – its body is 3D printed and its behaviour programmed by the user. The technology will be of benefit to the fields of science, engineering, education and even the arts.
As Europe continues to confront the consequences of the 2008 financial crisis it becomes ever-more important to fathom not only how Europe can return to productive levels of employment, but why it is failing to do so. Professor Pissarides’s ERC research examines both what kind of jobs Europeans do and future trends in employment. He will present his research to the public at TEDx Brussels event on 1 December.