Three SB Professors receive SNSF Starting Grants

Professors Victor Gorbenko, Florian Richter, and Mats Stensrud. Credit: EPFL

Professors Victor Gorbenko, Florian Richter, and Mats Stensrud. Credit: EPFL

Professors Victor Gorbenko, Florian Richter, and Mats Stensrud at EPFL’s School of Basic Sciences have received Starting Grants from the Swiss National Science Foundation.

Due to Switzerland’s status as a non-associated third country in the Horizon Europe programme, the federal government mandated the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) to launch the funding scheme "SNSF Starting Grants". This integrative call is a transitional measure covering the ERC Starting Grants 2023 as well as the former SNSF funding schemes Eccellenza and PRIMA.

Among the 2022 awardees of the SNSF’s Starting Grants are three Professors at EPFL’s School of Basic Sciences: Victor Gorbenko (Institute of Physics), Florian Richter (Institute of Mathematics), and Mats Stensrud (Institute of Mathematics).

Victor Gorbenko – The Fundamental Description of the Expanding Universe

The project aims at developing a theoretical description of the cosmological expansion of the universe. On very large scales our universe is not static, and as far as we can observe it, it has always been growing in size. At the fundamental level this expansion poses challenges to our theories of gravitation, especially when quantum effects come into play. Simply phrased, the main question can be formulated as follows: if the universe is all there is, and if it keeps growing, where does the ''material'' of which it is made of keeps coming from? We hope to answer this question using the modern theoretical tools of quantum field theory and quantum gravity.

Florian Richter – Ergodic Methods in Number Theory

The purpose of this project is to consolidate old and forge new connections between ergodic theory (the study of time-dependent processes) and number theory (the study of arithmetic structures in the integers). The interplay between these areas has stimulated remarkable advancements in recent years, propagating innovative methods for solving long-standing conjectures in mathematics. Florian Richter and his team at ERG aim to build new dynamical frameworks for analyzing arithmetical questions. This will further bridge the gaps in understanding the relationship between ergodic theory and number theory and contribute to problems that otherwise seem intractable.

Mats Stensrud – A causal framework for infectious disease control

The goal of Mats Stensrud and his team is to build a new framework that fills the gap between causal inference methodology and infectious disease models. This requires development of new causal and statistical theory, allowing scientists and decision makers to encode medical domain knowledge in a rigorous, transparent and intelligible way.

Infectious diseases pose a severe threat to human health, despite the successful development of sanitary measures, vaccines and antibiotics. When facing infectious diseases, healthcare workers and policymakers constantly have to make decisions under uncertainty. Causal inference is crucial for decision-making, because decisions are justified by their anticipated (causal) effects.

Official SNSF announcement