Four researchers in Ireland secure grants from ERC €624m fundLeigh Mc Gowranon April 26, 2022 at 10:00 Silicon RepublicSilicon Republic

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Four researchers in Ireland have been awarded grants from the latest European Research Council (ERC) grant competition, worth more than €624m.

The 2021 Advanced Grants competition awarded a total of 253 leading researchers across Europe with funding that will allow them to advance their work.

Some of the successful projects in European countries include using mathematics to find better ways to use antibiotics, protecting island biodiversity, exploring the ‘Cosmic Dawn’ period after the Big Bang and understanding how language sounds change over time.

The four researchers based in Ireland to receive funding are Joanna Bruck, Eoin Casey and Robert Gerwarth from University College Dublin and Rob Kitchin from Maynooth University.

A total of 1,735 grant proposals were submitted, with more than 20pc coming from women researchers. The ERC said the share of Advanced Grants going to women has been grown from 10pc in 2014 to more than 25pc in the latest competition.

“By following their scientific curiosity, these senior researchers are pushing the frontiers of our knowledge in a wide range of fields,” ERC president Prof Maria Leptin said. “It’s essential to fund this type of cutting-edge research to keep Europe at the scientific forefront”

Bruck is a professor in archaeology and head of the School of Archaeology at UCD. She will lead the Ansoc project, which aims to investigate animals and society in bronze age Europe.

Casey is the head of the School of Chemical and Bioprocess Engineering at UCD. He will lead the Absolute project, which will analyse the biofilm solid interactions that underpin wastewater treatment.

Gerwarth is a historian and professor of modern history at UCD, who previously served as head of UCD’s School of History. He will lead the CivilWars project, which will look at civil wars in Europe that took place between 1914 and 1949.

Kitchin is a professor in the Maynooth University Social Sciences Institute, for which he was the director between 2002 and 2013. He will lead the Datastories project, which will look at producing stories about and with property and planning data.

The ERC said the latest batch of research projects should lead to the creation of 2,300 jobs for  post-doctoral fellows, PhD students and other research staff across the successful countries.

“The ERC Advanced Grants support ground-breaking researchers throughout Europe,” European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth Mariya Gabriel said. “Their pioneering work contribute to solve the most pressing social, economic and environmental challenges.”

Four Ireland-based researchers were successful in the 2020 Advanced Grants competition, which awarded more than €500m to 209 leading researchers.

The ERC noted that the final list of UK researchers that were awarded grant funding is “provisional” as the UK is still considered to be “non-associated” to Horizon Europe, the successor to the Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.

More information about applications for the next round of Advanced Grant funding can be found on the ERC’s website.

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