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. 53 ERC grants have already been awarded to researchers of the University of Vienna since 2007: 14 Advanced Grants, ten Consolidator Grants, 26 Starting Grants and three Proof of Concepts.

ERC Advanced Grants

 2017

Herlinde Pauer-Studer

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

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.

 2016

Christa Schleper

Christa Schleper

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.

 2013

Monika Henzinger

Monika Henzinger

The computer scientist Monika Henzinger is Professor of Computational Science – Algorithmics and Information and Communication Technology at the Faculty of Computer Science. The goal of her ERC project "Challenges in Graph Algorithms with Applications" is to develop more efficient algorithms to address graph algorithmic problems and to finally employ them in particular fields of application.

Martin Kusch

Martin Kusch

The philosopher Martin Kusch is Professor of Applied Philosophy of Science and Epistemology. With his ERC project "The Emergence of Relativism – Historical, Philosophical and Sociological Perspectives" he aims at achieving a better understanding of the relativistic position. The initial objective is to study the development of relativistic motives, in particular among German-language culture and academia of the 19th and early 20th century, from the perspective of the history of ideas. Moreover, efforts are made to explain important stages of this process from the angle of sociology of science and to better identify the strengths and weaknesses of different relativistic positions. 

 2012

Markus Arndt

Markus Arndt

Over the past years, the Quantum Nanophysics (QNP) Research Group led by the physicist Markus Arndt has managed to reveal surprising, unusual phenomena such as quantum delocalisation and quantum interference on the basis of highly complex molecules composed of hundreds of atoms. The goal of his ERC project "PROBIOTIQUS" (Processing biomolecular targets for interferometric quantum experiments) is to develop different new tools for new quantum physics experiments based on biomolecules such as amino acids, nucleotide clusters, proteins, DNA strands and self-replicating molecules at the limits of life.

 2008

ERC Consolidator Grants

 2018

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.

 2017

Claudine Kraft

Claudine Kraft
Photo: MFPL/Daniel Hinterramskogler

Claudine Kraft, group leader at the Max F. Perutz Laboratories (MFPL), a joint venture of the University of Vienna and Medical University of Vienna, is awarded prestigious ERC Consolidator grant from the European Union. The funding amounts to EUR 2.000.000 over the course of five years.

The ERC Consolidator grant funded project focuses on the cell’s own waste disposal system, called autophagy. Dr. Kraft and her team wish to understand how this process works, as defects have been associated with different human diseases such as cancer and neurodegenerative disorders. Specifically, they will focus on how the cell’s waste bags, called autophagosomes, are formed, and how they are transported to the incinerators, the vacuoles or lysosomes. This will allow for a better understanding of the process and hopefully, novel therapies for the future.

Maria Rentetzi

Maria Rentetzi
Photo: private

In the next five years in the context of a historically and philosophically informed ERC consolidator grant entitled “Living with Radiation: The History of Radiation Protection and the International Atomic Energy Agency” Rentetzi will address the central question of how the IAEA, a diplomatic and political international organization, came to dominate scientific institutions with a long tradition in radiation protection. Despite the importance of international organizations for the development of postwar science there is no work on the history of radiation protection in relation to the development of the IAEA. The project addresses this lacuna in scholarship in a groundbreaking way: it analyses what is usually treated as a strictly techno-scientific issue—how best to protect us from ionized radiation—using methods from history, philosophy, and sociology of science, and in the context of international history. The main hypothesis is that scientific knowledge about radiation protection has been shaped by diplomatic, social, economic, and political concerns. This approach casts new light on important aspects of postwar history of science but also on the epistemology of standardization combining attention to technological devices, state actors, science diplomacy, and the roles played by international organizations. In addition, it advocates a diplomatic turn in history of science: the concept of diplomacy becomes central in analyzing postwar science. At the same time it aims to inform diplomatic and international history about trends in history of science and advances in the social history of scientific knowledge.

 2015

Nuno Maulide

Nuno Maulide

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. 

 2014

Markus Aspelmeyer

Markus Aspelmeyer

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.

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.

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.

 2013

Paul Winkler

Paul Winkler

The physicist Paul Winkler focuses on basic research with regard to cloud formation. The goal of his ERC project "Quantifying Aerosol Nanoparticle Dynamics by High Time Resolution Experiments" is the quantitative analysis of mechanisms that occur during nanoparticle formation. A phase transition takes place not only during cloud formation but also during nanoparticle formation, making it possible for several gas molecules in the air to form a new particle of only a few nanometres through nucleation. Through the addition of further molecules, these new particles can become cloud condensation nuclei.

ERC Starting Grants

 2018

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.

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.

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.

 2017

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.

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.

Markus Muttenthaler

Markus Muttenthaler

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.

 2016

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.

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

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. 

Christian Göbel

Christian Göbel

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. 

 2014

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

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.

 2013

Jannik Meyer

Jannik Meyer

The physicist Jannik Meyer examines novel materials (e.g. graphenes) via high-resolution electron microscopy. With his ERC project "Picometer scale analysis of novel materials" (PICOMAT) the team led by Meyer tests and develops new innovative approaches. The basis for the project is a unique electron microscopy lab that is currently being established at the University of Vienna.

Kristin Teßmar-Raible

Kristin Teßmar-Raible
Photo: Barbara Mair

The neurobiologist Kristin Teßmar-Raible studies the marine bristle worm Platynereis dumerilii that synchronises its reproduction rhythm with the lunar cycle, thus serving as an "internal clock". With her ERC project "Molecular neurobiology of a moonlight entrained circalunar clock" she tries to unravel how this can work on a molecular level: She is looking for the light-sensitive sensory cells that detect lunar light, so-called moonlight receptors.

 2012

Nuno Maulide

Nuno Maulide

The chemist Nuno Maulide studies new synthetic techniques for the extraction of medical substances. The goal of his ERC project "From Flat to Chiral: A unified approach to converting achiral aromatic compounds to optically active valuable building blocks" (FLATOUT) is to convert flat molecules that can be produced at low cost, e.g. benzene, into chiral molecules using light and catalytic processes.

 2009

 2007

ERC Proof of Concept

 2018

Nuno Maulide

Nuno Maulide

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

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.