Four SB researchers awarded ERC Consolidator Grants

Yimon Aye, Jean-Philippe Brantut, Raffaella Buonsanti, and Giuseppe Carleo. Credit: EPFL

Yimon Aye, Jean-Philippe Brantut, Raffaella Buonsanti, and Giuseppe Carleo. Credit: EPFL

Four professors at EPFL’s School of Basic Sciences have been awarded Consolidator Grants from the European Research Council (ERC). As Switzerland currently has a non-association status to Horizon Europe, their projects will be financed by Switzerland’s State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI).

The European Research Council’s (ERC) Consolidator Grants are given annually to researchers of any nationality with 7-12 years of research experience after completion of their PhD, as well as “a scientific track record showing scientific talent and an excellent research proposal”. The Grants are part of the EU’s Horizon Europe programme, and will support mid-career researchers, helping them consolidate their teams and conduct “pioneering research on topics and with methods of their choosing.”

Finalizing the Starting Call of 2021, the ERC has now awarded 313 Consolidator Grants of the 2,652 original applicants (~12%) amounting to a total of €632 million. The grants are estimated to create 1,900 jobs for postdoctoral fellows, PhD students, and other staff at 189 host institutions across 24 countries.

“Even in times of crisis and conflict and suffering, it is our duty to keep science on track and give our brightest minds free reign to explore their ideas,” says Professor Maria Leptin, the ERC’s president. “We do not know today how their work might revolutionise tomorrow - we do know that they will open up new horizons, satisfy our curiosity and most likely help us prepare for unpredictable future challenges. So, I am thrilled to see a new group of ERC grant winners funded for their scientific journey. I wish them the best of luck on their way to push the frontiers of our knowledge!”

Four of the Consolidator Grants have been awarded to professors at EPFL’s School of Basic Sciences:

Yimon Aye (ISIC)

Cys-CODE:Unmasking context-specific functional protein cysteines in living systems: understanding spatiotemporal stress signaling and precision ligand-target design

Project description: Aye proposes a means to gain a full control of manipulating local proteomes by mimicking nature’s chemical communication mechanisms, conserved across evolution. The lab will leverage these insights to directly guide and inform on new ligand-target pairs and mechanism-of-action for precision therapies.

Jean-Philippe Brantut (IPHYS)

DDisQS: Driven and Dissipative Quantum Simulators

Project description: DDisQS proposes to use the tools and methods of quantum optics to explore some of the most complex quantum systems, where a large number of particles interact strongly with each other. This gives rise to a wide variety of phenomena, encountered in different areas such as material science or high-energy physics, which cannot be easily understood by other means.

Raffaella Buonsanti (ISIC)

TuLiP: Developing the Chemistry for Tunable Liquid Metal Nanoparticles towards Reconfigurable Materials

Project description: TuLiP will pioneer the chemistry of liquid metal nanoparticles and study their behavior as reconfigurable catalytic materials.

Giuseppe Carleo (IPHYS)

NEQS:Neural Quantum Simulation

Project description: Predicting the properties of physical and chemical systems described by the laws of quantum mechanics is a traditionally hard task. The NEQS project proposes to push the frontiers in the computer simulation of interacting quantum systems by developing advanced computational techniques based on machine-learning methods.

Following negotiations, between the EU and Switzerland, the latter is now considered as a non-associated country to Horizon Europe. As a result, host institutions in Switzerland are not eligible for funding. However, as the Consolidator Grant 2021 call – and the Starting Grant 2021 call – was already closed before the end of the negotiations, the successful Swiss applicants will be instead funded by Switzerland’s State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI).

ERC Press release