Have you ever wondered why our world is green? For decades, the most accepted answer has been that predators control herbivores, allowing plants to flourish. But is that really so? ERC grantee Katerina Sam at the Biology Centre of the Academy of Sciences in the Czech Republic is testing novel aspects of this ‘green world hypothesis’ to get a more realistic answer. Her work has important implications for protecting our planet’s biodiversity.
Why do children believe in Santa Claus, and how could Christmas rituals bring us closer together in the current pandemic crisis? By exploring the fundamental causes and consequences of cultural rituals, ERC grantee Harvey Whitehouse at the University of Oxford could provide answers to these questions. His research seeks to help policymakers tackle major global challenges such as COVID-19, terrorism and climate change.
War and post-war periods have a strong impact on the life of people, but women are often invisible in the historical accounts relating them. ERC grantee Marta Verginella at the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia explores the position of women in post-war times and the role that they played in border areas in the North-Eastern Adriatic area.
What holds Europe together? In the face of economic instability, shifting political trends and a global pandemic, this question comes to mind more and more often. ERC grantee Anelia Kassabova is part of a team of four researchers who, in 2019, won a Synergy Grant to investigate this issue and find what really ‘unites us in diversity’.
By the end of the 21st century, sea levels are estimated to rise between 40 and 60 centimetres worldwide. Coping with this will be a major challenge for many European coastal communities. ERC grantee Jadranka Šepić at the University of Split in Croatia is investigating how climate change will affect the strength and frequency of tsunami-like flooding events along European coastlines. Her research could help coastal communities prepare better for future challenges.
Beans, peas, lentils and other legumes are key elements in a balanced diet as they are a source of high-quality proteins. ERC grantee Jens Stougaard leads one of the most prominent research groups in legume science whose results may have long-term implications for sustainable agriculture and food security.
Researchers from anywhere in the world can apply for European Research Council grants, provided the research they undertake will be carried out in an EU Member State or Associated Country. But how and why would researchers from far flung countries hope to win ERC grants? Two Australian ERC Grant recipients share their experiences and motivation.
Corals are one of the most beautiful and fascinating ecosystems in the world. However, due to rising sea temperatures, pollution and ocean acidification, they are also one of the most threatened. Pioneering work of ERC grantee Tali Mass shows that corals might be less vulnerable to some of these changes in their environment than previously thought, bringing new hope for their conservation.
Some COVID-19 patients have low oxygen levels without being aware of it. This ‘silent hypoxia’ puzzles clinicians. We talked about this with Sir Peter Ratcliffe, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine last year for his “discoveries of how cells sense and adapt to oxygen availability.” Professor Ratcliffe is a Distinguished Scholar of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research and Director for the Target Discovery Institute at Oxford University, as well as Director of Clinical Research at the Francis Crick Institute in London. The European Research Council has supported the groundbreaking work of Professor Ratcliffe for five years from 2008 to 2013.