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04-09-2014 | © picture 4 mins read

Constructing the self

How does our acting, sensing and feeling body shape our mind? Dr Katerina Fotopoulou’s ERC-funded project is an ambitious exploration of the relationship between the body and the mind which spans philosophy, psychology and clinical neuroscience. She will be presenting her work at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting of the New Champions  in Tianjin, China (10-12 September). In preparation for her presentation, Dr Fotopoulou is concentrating on one particular aspect of her research: the ramifications of body image.

08-08-2014 | Portrait © Ben Green | Image: © www.istockphoto.com 4 mins read

A contagious passion for pure mathematics

Prof. Ben Green is all about pure mathematics. Asked what is at the heart of modern society, he would probably insist on mankind’s capacity to solve problems and pass its knowledge on to new generations. The 37-year old mathematician can actually boast about his contribution to both: the International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM) which takes place this year in Seoul (South Korea) will see him give a plenary session which he proudly qualifies as the pinnacle of his career. With his ERC grant, he is now providing young mathematicians with an opportunity to shine.  

08-08-2014 | Portrait © Brigitte Eymann – Académie des sciences | Image: © www.istockphoto.com 3 mins read

How abstract maths can help physicists better understand the universe

Mathematicians are similar to historians in that they are devoted to finding and interpreting patterns. Like historians, they have to deal with criticism that some theories are of little practical benefit. This is a futile debate, says mathematician Dr Francis Brown who is attending the International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM) taking place in Seoul this summer (South Korea). Through an ERC-funded project, he has developed an algorithm of immense importance to particle physics, using numbers first developed for their aesthetic appeal over 300 years ago. Sometimes the significance of mathematics – as with history – takes time to be revealed.  

08-08-2014 | Portrait: © Alfredo Brant | Image: © www.istockphoto.com 3 mins read

Proving the power of collaboration in mathematics

Artur Avila is a franco-brazilian leading mathematician and an ERC grantee since 2010. At the age of 16, he won the International Mathematical Olympic gold medal and before finishing high school, he received a scholarship for the Instituto Nacional de Matemática Pura e Aplicada (IMPA) of Rio de Janeiro. He is now senior researcher both at the National Center for Scientific Research - CNRS and IMPA. In this interview, Prof. Avila tells us about his international career and the research he conducts both in Brazil and France.  

21-03-2014 | Portrait ©Julia Frey | Image ©Alain Anglade / ©shutterstock - Littlesam 5 mins read

A hot topic for mermaids

To study something in detail you need to look at it from all directions, whether it is the Venus de Milo statue in the Louvre Museum, a car you are thinking of buying, or when using a CAT-scanner to image inside the human body. In the ERC-funded GLOBALSEIS project Professor Guust Nolet is doing this on a truly global scale, by developing a worldwide network of marine-based seismic-wave sensors that can give a much better picture of deep-earth structures and resolve a major paradox in geoscience.

04-02-2014 | Image: © Shutterstock 4 mins read

Beneficial social relationships in an increasingly urbanised world

It feels as if humanity has never been more connected. We live in ever-expanding cities, stay in constant contact and even have online friendships with people we have never met. But have human social relationships really changed that much since we were hunter-gathers some 200 000 years ago? Are we suited to living in a world where everyone is apparently supposed to know everyone else? And most pressing of all, how can we achieve social cohesion at a time of great urbanisation and globalisation?

29-11-2013 | Portrait: © Prof. Zoltan Takats, Imperial College, London | Illustration: © Imperial College/Youtube 3 mins read

A ‘smart’ knife to fight cancer, crime and contamination

Cancer is one of the most challenging medical issues we face. In the United Kingdom alone, there are 300,000 new cases every year – leading to almost two million surgical operations annually. Thanks to ERC funding, Dr Zoltán Takáts of Imperial College London has developed a ‘smart’ surgical knife that can ‘smell’ the tissues it is cutting through – with the potential to revolutionise cancer treatment, as well as food and drug analysis, and research into the human ‘microbiome’.

02-09-2013 | © Shutterstock 4 mins read

Towards next generation e-voting

Providing new directions in the field of security, Dr. Feng Hao’s project aims to devise a secure and publicly verifiable system of e-voting - a “self enforcing e-voting system” - which does not rely on vote-tallying authorities. Awarded an ERC Starting grant in 2013, Dr. Hao is based at Newcastle University (UK).

13-06-2013 | © Sunil Amrith 3 mins read

‘Frontier’ research: a century of change in South Asia

“The next war will be fought over water, not politics,” predicted United Nations Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali in 1991. But environmental changes and pressures also have impacts that – though just as important – may be slower and more difficult to spot. 

08-05-2013 | ©Cienpies Design 3 mins read

United in diversity: how to live with difference in Europe?

Nowadays, European cities are witnessing unprecedented levels of migration and population change. In an era of super mobility and super diversity, how do people develop the capacity to live with difference? This question is asked by Professor Gill Valentine, a social scientist financed by the European Research Council (ERC). Her research is particularly pertinent in these times of economic crisis, as history has shown a hardening of attitudes towards 'others' in difficult periods. She will collect a unique set of data on everyday understandings of difference in the UK and Poland with the view to inform and nuance European policies and strategies in the field.