ERC Grants at the University of Vienna

The funding of pioneering basic research is one of the priorities of the European Union. To this end, the European Research Council (ERC) has been established. To receive support, research projects must have a high potential for innovation. 62 ERC grants have already been awarded to researchers of the University of Vienna since 2007.

Current ERC projects

List organised according to years and types of grants (in alphabetical order)

2020

 ERC Advanced Grants

Stefan Dullinger

picture of Stefan Dullinger
Photo: rossboth

Animals and plants are trying to evade climate change by migrating to cooler habitats. This strategy works as long as cooler habitats are available or almost available within their range. This applies, in particular, to alpine plants that are already growing at the highest alpine and nival altitudes. On the other hand, the microclimate near the ground that is decisive for these low-growing alpine plants can vary greatly over a short distance at such high altitudes. Therefore, it is unclear whether in times of climate change the high altitudes of mountains are a dead end for the plants growing there or whether the great microclimatic diversity rather provides an excellent opportunity to migrate to alternative habitats. Together with his team comprising employees of the University of Vienna and the Austrian Academy of Sciences, Stefan Dullinger aims to find an answer to this question. In his ERC project, the researchers combine long-term observation data, methods in remote sensing, experiments and computer simulations.

Peter Schweitzer

picture of Peter Schweitzer
Photo: Margit Schmid

The Far North increasingly becomes a residence for groups of people who do not live there permanently, such as shift workers, tourists or military personnel. Over the next five years, cultural and social anthropologist Peter Schweitzer will investigate the existing and planned transport infrastructure in the Arctic. He examines whether this infrastructure facilitates the sustainable and satisfactory settlement of humans in the Far North or will, instead, lead to increased migration from the region. Using a mixed-methods approach, a team of anthropologists and geographers will make a series of case studies in the North of Russia, North America and Fennoscandia. They are aimed at investigating the material and immaterial ties between the local population and the transport infrastructure. The collected data will then be used to develop locally relevant narratives and options for decision-making in the form of interactive future scenarios.

 ERC Consolidator Grants

Maria Ivanova-Bieg

picture of Maria Ivanova-Bieg
Photo: Oliver Fink, Universität Heidelberg

Archaeologist Maria Ivanova-Bieg investigates in her ERC project how the earliest agrarian societies in Europe established and maintained sustainable livelihoods. The researcher and her team will explore data from archaeology, paleoclimatology, and paleo-ecology and conduct analyses on stable isotopes and molecular residues from prehistoric animal and plant remains as well as ceramics. Using habitat- and agent-based models, the team will explore the relationships between environment, agricultural practices, and society and will test hypotheses on the value of social cohesion, mobility, diversity, and ecological responsibility for the sustainability of Neolithic societies.

 ERC Proof of Concept

Markus Muttenthaler

Picture of Markus Muttenthaler
Photo: Anjanette Webb

The medicinal chemist Markus Muttenthaler of the Department of Biological Chemistry at the University of Vienna conducts research on the further development of a method that allows for the labelling of amino acids using isotopes. In the future, the production of amino acids should be facilitated. Amino acids that are labelled with isotopes can lead to a better understanding of complex biological problems, such as the structure elucidation of proteins, the interactions of molecules with their receptors or the distribution and metabolisation of drugs in the human body.

2019

 ERC Consolidator Grants

Glenn van de Ven

picture of Glenn van de Ven
Photo: private

Stellar dynamicist Glenn van de Ven and his research group at the Department of Astrophysics focuses on understanding the structure and evolution of nearby galaxies and stellar clusters. They construct advanced dynamical models to infer the luminous and dark matter distribution in these stellar systems, as well as to uncover the 'fossil record' of their formation history. Within the ERC-funded project ArcheoDyn, his team aims to unlock the full potential of globular clusters as living fossils of the past of galaxies. Globular clusters are compact stellar systems of around a million stars which can be observed out to large distances surrounding galaxies like a halo of fireflies. Since globular clusters are typically as old as the Universe, they are thus surviving witnesses to the formation history of their host galaxies.

Stefan Schmid

picture of Stefan Schmid
Photo: Stefanie Rochel

Computer scientist Stefan Schmid investigates whether and how innovative optical technologies can be used to dynamically develop a network infrastructure and adjust it to the growth in data traffic. His vision of self-adjusting networks includes using empirical structures in data traffic to make communication networks more efficient. In his ERC project, Stefan Schmid investigates methods that allow us to measure structure in data flows. For this purpose, he develops measurement and evaluation criteria to analytically characterise the potential of self-adjusting networks. In addition, Stefan Schmid studies algorithms and implements prototypes to ensure the optimal adjustment of network resources.

2018

 ERC Advanced Grants

Peter Kruschwitz

Portrait of Peter Kruschwitz

A classical scholar and epigraphist, Peter Kruschwitz is Professor of Ancient Cultural History at the Faculty of Historical and Cultural Studies. For many years he has researched the poetic culture and song culture as well as the history of mentality of the Roman Empire. Based on the substantial amount of (often neglected) verse inscriptions that survive from Roman times, his ERC project “Mapping out the poetic landscape(s) of the Roman Empire: ethnic and regional variations, socio-cultural diversity, and crosscultural transformations” fundamentally transforms our understanding and appreciation of Roman poetry as an expression of a complex and pan-societal, though ethnically, socially, and linguistically diverse cultural practice.

 ERC Consolidator Grants

Christina Kaiser

Christina Kaiser
Photo: Han-Fei Allen Tsao

In the coming five years, ecologist Christina Kaiser will examine the complex system of soils. Through the continuous decomposition of organic matter, microorganisms are of central importance in the world’s carbon and nitrogen cycle. In addition, they contribute to the long-term carbon sequestration in soils, as well as to the availability of nutrients for plant growth. The ERC project investigates the soil microbial ecosystem from the perspective of a science of complex systems. It aims at understanding how interactions between microorganisms at microscopically small scale can lead to the self-organisation of decomposition processes in soils, and how this is relevant to the response of soil to climate change.

Tarja Knuuttila

Tarja Knuuttila
Photo: Barbara Mair

Philosopher of science Tarja Knuuttila investigates how contemporary life sciences extend biology beyond the actual evolved life on Earth  in her ERC project. The main focus is on the philosophical significance of this transformation to possible life . To carry out research on possible life, Tarja Knuuttila conducts a philosophical analysis of synthetic biology and astrobiology. Key biological themes studied include unnatural biochemical bases and organisation principles of life, synthetic life, evolutionary possibilities and constraints, as well as the habitability of exoplanets. These topics are studied in cooperation with six leading laboratories in Europe and the USA. The biological study of possible life provides a resource for the development of philosophical theories within the fields of philosophy of science and naturalised metaphysics.

Kristin Teßmar-Raible

Kristin Teßmar-Raible
Photo: Barbara Mair

Kristin Tessmar-Raible, neurochronobiologist at the Max F. Perutz Laboratories of the University of Vienna, focuses on the molecular and cellular timing systems of the "rhythms of life" in her research. Many organisms rely on endogenous oscillators (“circadian clocks” and “circalunar clocks”), which are synchronised by external cues such as sunlight and moonlight. Tessmar-Raible aims at investigating the underlying mechanisms based on the example of the marine bristle worm Platynereis and the midge Clunio. The ERC Consolidator Grant will fund projects that investigate in particular how the often varying natural environments can actually be compared to conditions in the laboratory. On the other hand, they aim at examining the critical molecules that regulate the endogenous clock to understand how a self-regulating circalunar oscillation in biological systems can work.

 ERC Starting Grants

Thomas Juffmann

Thomas Juffmann
Photo: private

Physicist Thomas Juffmann examines how electron microscopy enables us to obtain images that provide as much information as possible per detected photon/electron or per interaction with the sample. In 2016, Juffmann developed an imaging method at Stanford University, which can provide images with a better signal-to-noise ratio per photon/electron. With this method, every single photon/electron repeatedly interacts with the sample, leading to a signal amplification. In a publication of 2017, Juffmann and his colleagues showed that this method could make it possible to show the folding of a single protein. In the framework of an international collaboration, financed by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the physicist currently works on a first prototype of such a microscope.

Dennis Kurzbach

Angela Hancock

Dennis Kurzbach is working on the development of new methods at the interface between biology, physics and chemistry. His research focuses on advancing NMR spectroscopy using hyperpolarisation to open up new possibilities for analysing arrangements of atoms in space and time. In the course of his ERC project, the chemist aims at investigating intrinsically disordered proteins, which play a major role with regard to breast cancer. Kurzbach’s research objective is to investigate the interaction between proteins and transcription factors in real time and under physiological conditions such as in human cells, using dynamic NMR hyperpolarisation.

Jillian Petersen

Jillian Petersen
Photo: Han-Fei Allen Tsao

Microbiologist Jillian Petersen investigates how different organisms live together in mutualistic relationships. Virtually all animals – including humans – live in so-called symbiosis with bacteria that have a significant positive impact on our health, metabolism and evolution. The ERC Starting Grant project aims at researching previously unexplored yet fundamental processes of symbiotic relationships. For this purpose, Petersen has established a unique model system in her laboratory, in which marine lucinid clams host certain bacteria in their gills. These bacteria, in turn, provide the clams with nutrients. This symbiosis has existed for hundreds of millions of years and is one of the oldest known natural symbiotic relationships. A deeper, fundamental understanding of the function and evolution of symbioses is an essential foundation for using “good” bacteria in future technologies and therapies for medicinal purposes.

Filipa Sousa

Filipa Sousa
Photo: private

Biochemist Filipa Sousa conducts research on bioenergetics and ecology of microorganisms at the University of Vienna. The aim of the ERC Starting Grant project "Evolution of Physiology: The Link Between Earth and Life" is to find out how microorganisms such as archaea can make energy available for metabolic processes and how these processes evolved in the course of geological development. This project will contribute significantly to creating an understanding for the course and evolution of life processes, and to making them conceivable. Research on the development of life processes is important for both science as well as society.

Alice Vadrot

Alice Vadrot
Photo: Centre for Science and Policy (CSaP), University of Cambridge

In the course of her ERC project "The Politics of Marine Biodiversity Data: Global and National Policies and Practices of Monitoring the Oceans" (MARIPOLDATA), political scientist Alice Vadrot will use negotiations for an agreement on high seas protection to investigate the interaction between power and science in international environmental policy. Despite existing scientific knowledge of the dramatic consequences that marine pollution, climate change and overfishing have on marine biodiversity, it was only in April this year that the international community agreed on developing a new treaty. In her project, Vadrot develops a new multiscale and interdisciplinary approach, allowing her to investigate the (geo-)political role of global and national research and data infrastructures and to rethink the interaction between science and politics in the digital age.

Nicla De Zorzi

Nicla De Zorzi
Photo: private

Assyriologist Nicla De Zorzi focuses on “scholarly” literature of ancient Mesopotamia, in particular from the 1st millennium BC. The ERC Starting Grant project sheds new light on essential aspects of this particular kind of literature and the worldview on which it is based. In particular, the researchers will focus on the innovative question of how the culturally specific analogical worldview, according to which similar things (and words) are interconnected and interact with each other in a never-ending network, is reflected in the structure of literary, magical and mantic texts. This will help create a deeper understanding of the functions of this kind of literature.

 ERC Proof of Concept

Nuno Maulide

Nuno Maulide
Photo: derknopfdruecker.com

Chemical scientist Nuno Maulide discovered a carbon-carbon bond forming reaction that allows producing menthol from citronellal and without using metals in the reaction – in only a single step. “Now our task is to optimise the metal-free conversion of citronellal to menthol in a single step, to demonstrate the technical implementation of the reaction on a large scale, and to study its market implementation”, says Nuno Maulide about his Neutramenth Proof of Concept Grant.

Bojan Zagrovic

Bojan Zagrovic
Photo: Barbara Mair

Molecular biologist Bojan Zagrovic investigates how biomolecules in cells find each other and how they interact. He works at the Max F. Perutz Laboratories (MFPL) within the framework of the ERC Starting Grant that he received in 2011. The scientist from Croatia has also been awarded a Proof of Concept Grant, which he will use to further develop high-concentration monoclonal antibody therapeutics.

2017

 ERC Advanced Grants

Herlinde Pauer-Studer

http://medienportal.univie.ac.at/videos/uni-wien-forscht/detailansicht/artikel/philosophin-herlinde-pauer-studer-ueber-ihren-zweiten-erc-advanced-grant/
Photo: Barbara Mair

The philosopher Herlinde Pauer-Studer have been dealing with questions of analytic philosophy for years. Her focus was, in particular, on issues of ethical theory, social philosophy and political philosophy. In her project "The Normative and Moral Foundations of Group Agency”, the humanist researches the conditions under which groups and institutions, who are attributed a normative identity and responsibility for their doing, are reckoned as acting intentionally.

 ERC Consolidator Grants

  • Claudine Kraft
    (now: Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg)
  • Maria Rentetzi
    (now: National Technical University of Athens)

 ERC Starting Grants

Maximilian Hartmuth

Maximilian Hartmuth
Photo: René Steyer

The art historian Hartmuth focuses on Eastern Europe, for which there is still no clear definition in the discipline. He is author of fundamental publications on the history of Islamic architecture in the Balkans. In his ERC project "Islamic architecture and Orientalizing style in Habsburg Bosnia", he is the head of a large research team. He and his team wish to study this cultural heritage, which is not widely known, from different perspectives.

Börries Kuzmany

Portrait of Börries Kuczmany

The historian Börries Kuzmany works on the history of Eastern Europe and the Habsburg Empire. His ERC project Non-Territorial Autonomy as Minority Protection in Europe: An Intellectual and Political History of a Travelling Idea, 1850-2000 investigates a little-known concept of how to deal with national diversity within a state. In the case of non-territorial autonomy, the holder of self-government is neither the individual nor a specified area but the ethnic group itself, which is understood as a corporate unit. This ERC project explores how this idea emerged in the Habsburg Monarchy in theory and practice. Furthermore, our team addresses the ideological adaptability of this concept in inter-war Eastern Europe. Finally, we investigate the extent to which non-territorial forms of autonomy were discussed in European debates on the protection of minorities.

Markus Muttenthaler

Markus Muttenthaler
Photo: Anjanette Webb

The medicinal chemist Markus Muttenthaler will henceforth be conducting research on new therapeutic approaches for gastrointestinal disorders at the Department of Biological Chemistry of the University of Vienna. Since 2015, he has been leading his own research group at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience in Brisbane (University of Queensland) on the basis of a highly respected Australian research grant. Muttenthaler will come to the University of Vienna in autumn 2017. In his ERC project, Muttenthaler will focus on new gastrointestinal wound healing mechanisms and, among others, assess the therapeutic potential of the receptor for the hormone oxytocin.

Toma Susi

Toma Susi
Photo: peterrigaud.com

In 2014 the Finnish physicist Toma Susi has discovered, together with collaborators from the UK, that silicon impurities, occasionally found in graphene, jump during imaging. This discovery has built the foundation for his current multidisciplinary ERC Starting Grant "Atomic precision materials engineering (ATMEN)", it will allow Susi to combine experiment and simulation to develop electron beam manipulation into a practical tool. Its goals are to improve our understanding of the mechanism, advance the implantation of atoms beyond silicon, accelerate accurate modeling, and automate manipulations.

2016

 ERC Advanced Grants

Christa Schleper

Christa Schleper
Photo: derknopfdruecker.com

The microbiologist Christa Schleper has been studying archaea for many years. Together with bacteria, these microorganisms were the first living organisms on earth. In her ERC project "TACK Superphylum and Lokiarchaeota Evolution - Dissecting the Ecology and Evolution of Archaea to Elucidate the Prokaryote to Eukaryote Transition" Christa Schleper studies newly discovered groups of archaea that could shed light on important transitions in early evolution.

 ERC Starting Grants

David Berry

David Berry

The microbiologist David Berry conducts research on thousands of microorganisms that inhabit the human body and form our gut microbiome. These microorganisms survive by maintaining a close symbiotic relationship with their human hosts. They are vital for our nutrition and health. Together with his team, David Berry examines the underlying principles of the gut microbiome’s structure and function. Subsequently, these principles form the basis for the development of new strategies for the health-promoting modification of the gut microbiome.

Andrii Chumak

Portrait of Andrii Chumak

The physicist Andrii Chumak is Professor of Nanomagnetism and Magnonics at the Faculty of Physics. Magnons are quanta of spin waves that propagate in magnetic materials having nano-scale wavelengths and carry information in the form of a spin angular momentum. The goal of the ERC Project “MagnonCircuits” (Nano-scale magnonic circuits for novel computing systems) is to explore the ways of using magnons as data carriers in next-generation low-loss computing systems. The main challenges addressed by the projects are the development of magnon conduits and circuits of sub-100 nm sizes and the understanding of nonlinear magnon scattering phenomena in them.

Georg Schiemer

Georg Schiemer

The philosopher Georg Schiemer studies structuralism as a central position within modern philosophy of mathematics. Its central claim is that mathematical theories only describe abstract structures or structural properties of their objects. His ERC project "The Roots of Mathematical Structuralism" aims at broadening the understanding of this position and of its origins in the history of philosophy and the history of mathematics.

Bernadett Weinzierl

Bernadett Weinzierl

The research focus of the physicist Bernadett Weinzierl is aerosol physics. Aerosols are tiny particles suspended in air. They can be transported over long distances impacting air quality, weather and climate thousands of kilometres downwind of the source. In her ERC project "A-LIFE" (Absorbing aerosol layers in a changing climate: aging, lifetime and dynamics) the physicist examines absorbing aerosol layers as well as the interaction between the absorption and lifespan of aerosols.

2015

 ERC Consolidator Grants

Nuno Maulide

Nuno Maulide
Foto: derknopfdruecker.com

The chemist Nuno Maulide studies new synthetic techniques for the extraction of medical substances. With his ERC project "VINCAT" (A Unified Approach to Redox-Neutral C-C Couplings: Exploiting Vinyl Cation Rearrangements) Maulide wants to succeed in rendering chemical reactions more efficient and environmentally friendly in order to develop new reactions that can take place without generating such waste products. 

 ERC Starting Grants

Christian Göbel

Christian Göbel
Photo: Barbara Mair

Christian Göbel is an expert in Chinese studies, in particular in political innovation in China, and political scientist. With his ERC project "The Microfoundations of Authoritarian Responsiveness: E-Participation, Social Unrest and Public Policy in China" he examines the impact of digital mechanisms of participation on government performance and the relation between the state and individual social groups. The results should help to get a better understanding of the Chinese governments' responsiveness to citizens' needs and social stability in China. 

Qi Zhou

Qi Zhou

The evolutionary biologist Qi Zhou explores the evolution and function of the Y chromosome, which determines the male sex. In the course of his ERC project "Evolution and Impact of Heterochromatin on a Young Drosophila Y chromosome" Qi Zhou now wants to study how genomic parasites  of the Y chromosome can be "tamed" in order to prevent them from harming other parts of the genome. Moreover, he wants to gain insight into the dynamics of sex chromosomes and find out how they develop during the evolution of a species. 

2014

 ERC Consolidator Grants

Markus Aspelmeyer

Markus Aspelmeyer
Photo: Jacqueline Godany

The quantum physicist Markus Aspelmeyer examines optical precision measurements and the quantum optical control of micro- and nanomechanical systems and their application to fundamental and applied questions of quantum physics. The goal behind his ERC Consolidator Grant is to develop methods for the quantum control of levitated massive objects. Unlike previous quantum experiments on micromechanical resonators, this should allow to gain access to an unprecedented parameter regime of large mass and long quantum coherence time.

Christophe Erismann

Christophe Erismann

The philosopher Christophe Erismann is an expert in the history (of philosophy) of the Early Middle Ages. With the ERC Consolidator Grant he wants to implement a project based on the history of philo sophy that aims at achieving a better understanding and fairer assessment of the contribution of authors from the 9th century in the field of philosophy, in particular the field of logic. From a transcultural perspective, a team comprising philologists and historians of philosophy thus studies the four big linguistic traditions of the Mediterranean that saw thinkers who addressed the Aristotelian categories and the logic inspired by Aristotle in general, namely the Greek, Latin, Syrian and Arabic traditions.

Sascha Martens

Sascha Martens

The molecular biologist Sascha Martens studies the molecular mechanisms of autophagy – the process that is responsible for the degradation of cellular components. Autophagy does not only help the cell during periods of starvation by recycling the cell's own components and using them to produce energy but also during the "disposal" of defective cellular components and pathogens. With the ERC Consolidator Grant Sascha Martens wants to find out how cells generate autophagosomes. Autophagosomes are little vesicles (blisters) that transport unnecessary or unwanted cellular components to the cellular waste-bin, the so-called lysosome.

 ERC Starting Grants

Dagmar Wöbken

Dagmar Wöbken

The research activities of the microbiologist Dagmar Wöbken focus on studying microorganisms in the soil, in particular so-called dormant organisms that are in some kind of resting state. Her ERC project "Revealing the function of dormant soil microorganisms and the cues for their awakening" aims at identifying the dormant organisms in the soil for selected processes and at revealing their involvement in the processes as well as the mechanisms that regulate their activity and dormancy. 

Dagmar Wujastyk

Dagmar Wujastyk
Photo: Carola Moon, Rolaa Photography

Using sources from the Middle Ages, the Indologist Dagmar Wujastyk conducts research on the application of yoga, ayurveda and Indian alchemy in medicine. In the course of her ERC project "Medicine, Immortality, Moksha: Entangled Histories of Yoga, Ayurveda and Alchemy in South Asia" she studies the historical background of the links between the three South Asian disciplines of yoga, ayurveda and Indian alchemy and iatrochemistry. She examines how the reciprocal exchange between these disciplines that took place during the medieval and early modern period shaped today's medical orientation of modern yoga.

Completed ERC projects

2013

ERC Advanced Grants

ERC Consolidator Grants

ERC Starting Grants

2012

ERC Advanced Grants

ERC Starting Grants

2008

ERC Advanced Grants

2007

ERC Starting Grants