Three University of Vienna researchers win ERC Starting Grants
Three of the prestigious “Starting Independent Researcher Grants” awarded by the European Research Council will be given to University of Vienna researchers Goulnara Arzhantseva, Professor at the Faculty of Mathematics, as well as to Sascha Martens and Florian Raible, Junior Group Leaders at the Max F. Perutz Laboratories in the area of Life Sciences.
ERC Starting Grants aim to support up-and-coming young researchers who are about to establish or consolidate a research team in Europe. Competitive applicants must have already shown a high potential for independent research. Scientific excellence is the sole criterion for the selection of proposals by a panel of international experts. “This is a great success and again shows the excellence of the young researchers that we were able to attract”, says Heinz W. Engl, Vice Rector for Research and Career Development.
Goulnara Arzhantseva: Analytic properties of infinite groups: limits, curvature and randomness
Groups are mathematical structures expressing symmetries and hence the beauty of the world. Their study is a central part of algebra and applications reach many mathematical areas as well as physics, chemistry, biology and computer science. The overall goal of this project is to develop new concepts and techniques in geometric and asymptotic group theory for a systematic study of the analytic properties of infinite groups. An emphasis will be placed on creating a new community involving young mathematicians and scientists with widely disparate expertise around the project. As a result, Arzhantseva believes her results will contribute to the establishment of a new subject, analytic group theory.
Goulnara Arzhantseva, born in Russia, studied Mathematics at the Lomonosov Moscow State University. From 1998 to 2010 she worked at the University of Geneve and the University of Neuchâtel. Since 2010 Arzhantseva has been Professor of Algebra at the University of Vienna.
Florian Raible: HOR.MOON
Florian Raible will study moonlight-dependent hormones that orchestrate the reproductive periodicity of the bristle worm Platynereis dumerilii. Reproductive rhythms under lunar control are widespread in marine species ranging from corals to fishes, but the molecular processes that underlie these phenomena remain enigmatic. Florian Raible’s group has made major contributions to establish Platynereis dumerilii as a molecular and functional model species for the investigation of lunar periodicity. They have already been able to show that the hormone machinery of this animal has unexpected similarities with the hormone system of humans and other vertebrates. With the support of the ERC grant, Florian Raible’s team will now be able to gain its first insights into the molecular nature of the hormonal network that underlies the phenomenon of moonlight-dependent reproductive periodicity.
Florian Raible studied Biology at the University of Heidelberg and at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. After finishing his PhD at the Max-Planck-Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics and the University of Technology in Dresden, he worked as a PostDoc at EMBL/Heidelberg. His research group at the Max F. Perutz Laboratories (MFPL) was established in 2008.
Sascha Martens: Recycling in the cell
Sascha Martens will investigate the molecular mechanisms of autophagosome formation. Autophagosomes are membrane-bound structures that are formed during a process called autophagy. Autophagy serves to recycle essential components during starvation, to degrade damaged organelles such as mitochondria or to kill intracellular pathogenic microorganisms. Consequently, autophagy has been implicated in a plethora of pathogenic conditions such as neurodegeneration, deficient immune response and ageing. Despite its importance, little is known about the mechanisms by which cells form autophagosomes, in particular with regard to the underlying membrane shaping and remodeling processes. With the support of the ERC grant, Sascha Martens’ group will study these fascinating processes.
Sascha Martens was born in Berlin and studied Biology at the University of Cologne, where he also received his PhD in Genetics. From 2005 to 2009 he worked as a PostDoc at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, and since 2009 at the MFPL.