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A team of 28 scientists and engineers led by ERC grantee Dr Veerle Huvenne has just returned from a successful 5-week expedition on board the RRS James Cook. They used tailored marine equipment to provide some of the first detailed acoustic maps of the fauna inhabiting the vertical cliffs of the Whittard Submarine Canyon. In this interview, Dr Huvenne shares her impressions on an extraordinary scientific journey.
Music has been a vital part of human cultures for millennia, and today it continues to evolve, taking vastly different forms around the world. Proceeding from the rich diversity of human music-making, Prof. Georgina Born has been investigating its transformation in the current digital era.
More than 95% of our universe comes in the mysterious form of dark matter and dark energy that we can neither explain nor directly detect. Dr Catherine Heymans leads a team of researchers who were the first to “map” dark matter on the largest of scales. She now uses her research to confront Einstein’s theory of general relativity in an attempt to explain the nature of dark energy.
Prevention and early detection largely determine the outcome of most cancers. Prof. Päivi Peltomäki studies how tumours arise and progress, with a view to identifying biomarkers of our susceptibility to developing cancer. With the ERC grant, the team has created a single-step, early diagnosis kit for colorectal cancer.
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?
Embodied intelligence is a very dynamic research field. With this ERC project, Doctor Jean-Paul Laumond intends to contribute to the advancement of basic research in this field bridging the gap between robot engineering and neuroscience thanks to geometric models.
Prof. Michael Schneider is a leading authority in the field of cardiac molecular biology. In 2008, he obtained an ERC grant to identify the mechanisms governing self-renewal of cardiac progenitor cells, a population of stem cells located in the heart itself that might be exploited to play a key role in regenerating this vulnerable organ in heart disease. With his team at Imperial College London, he has now identified a stem cell injection that could mend broken hearts, a discovery in the field of regenerative medicine published this week in Nature Communications.
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.
We normally think of anthropologists studying ‘exotic’ cultures – ancient tribes that live in faraway places. But how about cultures that are closer to home? Professor Rebecca Cassidy has devoted herself to anthropological studies of European cultures of gambling. In the ‘Gambling in Europe’ (GAMSOC) project – funded by the ERC – Prof. Cassidy and her team have taken this a step further, and conducted an anthropological study of the gambling research community itself.
Space exploration may one day reveal clues to the origin of the universe and life on Earth. In the meantime, scientific advances in the field have supported “space services” for everyday life such as weather forecasts and satellite navigation on our phones. With his ERC grant, space engineer Prof. Colin McInnes explored the mathematics of new families of orbits around the Earth for spacecraft, from micro-satellites to large solar sails. The objective was to map these orbits and to uncover potential applications for new space technologies in fields as diverse as space science, Earth observation and telecommunications.