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Teaching is certainly one of the most important professions in our society, yet its status and attractiveness have been systematically diminishing in the last decades. At the Université catholique de Louvain, Prof. Xavier Dumay is using his ERC Starting Grant to investigate the cultural and institutional transformations that have led to this "teaching profession crisis".
Epithelial tissues cover all body surfaces and line most of our organs, internal cavities and passageways, including the digestive tract. Prof. Elena Martínez is engineering intestinal epithelial tissues that mimic the physiological characteristics of human intestinal tissue with the aim of advancing the in vitro modelling of diseases, the preclinical screening for drug efficacy and toxicity, and the understanding of organ development.
Nature is a major source of inspiration for scientists. ERC grantee Giulia Lanzara is one of them. The unique sensing and shaping abilities of birds, dolphins and other living creatures inspired her to engineer novel multifunctional materials which could make a difference in a wide variety of industrial fields.
In the highlands of Asia, an area spanning the mountain regions between the Pamirs and the eastern Himalayas, livelihoods are shaped as much by remoteness as by connectivity. With ERC funding, Dr Martin Saxer intends to shed new light on these areas at the edge of nation-states yet in the centre of geopolitical concerns.
Dr Joaquim Alves Gaspar is a man of the sea. After many years in the Portuguese Navy, he gave up plans to become an admiral in favour of pursuing a PhD in the History of Cartography. This second career led him to receive an ERC Starting Grant, the first awarded in this budding discipline. With his highly multidisciplinary team (he likes to say that, to work with him, one must be a mathematician fluent in Latin), and the experience obtained as a navigator and navigational instructor, Dr Gaspar hopes to understand how and when the first nautical charts were created. The MEDEA-CHART team is the best place in Portugal, and probably in the world, to study the history of nautical cartography, hoping that this work will provide the domain with its rightful recognition within world history.
ERC grantee Renata Sõukand is exploring to what extent local ecological practices concerning the use of plants, among selected ethnic minorities in Eastern Europe, have declined due to the centralization imposed by dominant practices through the impacts on natural resources, health, economies and the well-being of local communities.
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.
Metal fatigue and ice-layer accumulation are challenges faced by the aviation industry and prove costly in terms of fuel waste. Sometimes nature can provide solutions to problems such as these. ERC grantee Nicola Pugno combines biological observations with nanotechnology to create some of the most remarkable materials in the world.
Peer pressure plays an important role in spreading new trends and habits. But what impact does social influence have in the diffusion of disruptive innovations that challenge prevailing transport technologies and mobility practices? Funded by the ERC, a team led by Dr Charlie Wilson is looking into this matter.
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.