Meet our ERC grantees
European Research Council (ERC) grants support top researchers of any nationality and age who wish to pursue frontier research. The ERC particularly encourages proposals that cross disciplinary boundaries and pioneer ideas addressing new and emerging fields and applications that introduce unconventional, innovative approaches.
The International Research Office is available to provide guidance, information and support in the preparation of project proposals.
Helen Foxhall Forbes
SSE1K - Science, Society and Environmental Change in the First Millennium CE
The project SSE1K will pioneer an approach which is both multi- and interdisciplinary, centring on these questions: How did humans experience and perceive environmental and climatic variation across the Mediterranean in the first millennium CE, and how did they respond both intellectually and socially to these changing conditions? Financed by an ERC Consolidator Grant, SSE1K addresses issues which have been raised as significant challenges for collaborative study of climate change but have yet to be fully addressed: it will investigate how the circulation of knowledge and adaptability intersect with sustainability and resilience in premodern societies, and how human perceptions and ways of thinking shaped societal, political or religious responses to environmental / climatic change.
WARMCOASTS - Sea level and extreme waves in the Last Interglacial
Funded by an ERC Starting Grant, the project aims to improve the knowledge on coastal processes related to the last interglacial. This period (117-130 thousand years ago) was the last in geologic history when the climate was warmer than it is today. Thus, it represents a good analogue for understanding how the Earth might respond to further temperature rises. By how much did sea level rise in the last interglacial? Were there rapid sea-level changes? Were there more intense sea storms than we observe today? A team of researchers consisting of geologists and modelers will work to answer these questions, integrating approaches typical of field geology with geologic and hydrodynamic models.
Compressed Indexes for Regular Languages with Applications to Computational Pan-genomics
The research project, financed by an ERC Starting Grant, will develop efficient algorithms and data structures for processing large quantities of highly structured data (labeled graphs and regular languages) in order to accelerate searches inside them. These techniques will find applications in the development of algorithms for finding DNA mutations. As a matter of fact, the differences between the genomes of a population (for example, all human genomes) can be modeled as a (very large) graph: the problem of finding a particular mutation translates to that of finding a path in this graph.
Polyphonic Philosophy: Logic in the Long Twelfth Century (c.1070-1220) for a New Horizon in the History of Philosophy
The project focuses on logical commentaries written in Latin from c. 1070-1220, the fascinating period of schools and discussions from which European universities were then to emerge. Focusing on thirty-five special manuscripts, and taking advantage of a unique corpus of preliminary transcriptions of texts, the research team is interested in the concept of "polyphonic" philosophy we can detect in this material: not the product of a single individual only, but of the interactions of many different "voices" (the authoritative text, the various commentators, and the discussions among contemporary rival commentators).
HealthXCross - Remaking Health in a Microbial Planet by Crossing Space, Time, Species and Epistemic Cultures through Data
Microbiome science is popularizing a symbiotic understanding of health and ecology. What microbiome science now knows is that microbes entangle the health of people and environments; what we don’t know is how, in this process, new cultural concepts and practices of health may emerge. This project asks: how does health come to be reconfigured in a world entangled through microbial data? HealthXCross is a multi-sited, comparative ethnographic study of how scientists produce and coordinate knowledge within interdisciplinary platforms that collect, compare and integrate microbial data across time, space and species in order to produce simulations for intervening in both environmental and human health. HealthXCross is an ethnographic inquiry into the implications of the environment as a body - and vice versa - through analysis of the tensions between the emancipatory and the dystopian effects of dissolving boundaries between human bodies and environments. With this aim, my project will examine how these research platforms 1) remake notions of biological diversity through technology by crossing conventional categorizations (space, time, species) and epistemic cultures, 2) create and emerge from the diverse spacetimes of innovations across the global North and the global South and 3) shape new trends in healthcare and health governance. HealthXCross will create a participatory design with scientists, who are among stakeholders in the public discourse about what it means to be human and how to live in an entangled planet. My project will offer timely insights into the interplay between knowledge making and changing health practices in times of profound ecological, socio-technical and economic transition. HealthXCross will dramatically advance anthropological understandings of the contradictory but constitutive aspects of living together and being in relation.
AdriArchCult - Architectural Culture of the Early Modern Eastern Adriatic
Between the 15th and 18th c. the Eastern Adriatic, partitioned between Venetian and Dubrovnik Republics, the Kingdom of Hungary-Croatia and Habsburg and Ottoman Empires, has been politically transformed into a vast archipelago, even mainland coastal towns divided from the hinterland. This process triggered the formation of fluctuating and floating architectural market functioning within a multilingual and multiconfessional context. The aim of the AdriArchCult project is an overall study of the architectural culture of the region, examining its political, religious, cognitive and practical sphere, and thus overcoming the divisions of historiographies in different languages and traditional approaches based on the national or centre/periphery paradigm. The result will be an innovative and dynamic vision of the architectural production of a region that connects the various faces of European culture.
EJCM - Early Jewish and Christian Magical Traditions in Comparison and Contact
This interdisciplinary project will contribute to the study of both Mediterranean magic and Jewish-Christian relations during late antiquity (III–VII CE) by providing the first sustained, comparative analysis of early Jewish and Christian magical texts and objects (e.g., amulets and incantation bowls). In particular, EJCM will focus on the similarities, differences, and contacts between these traditions in five central areas of their magical practices: biblical texts and traditions; sacred names and titles; healing and demonic protection at the interface of literary and material sources; the word-image-material relation; and references to illicit rituals. Accordingly, EJCM will illuminate the dynamics of religious assimilation, cooperation, and differentiation in the everyday lives of ancient Jews and Christians.
PURA - PURism in Antiquity: Theories of Language in Greek Atticist Lexica and their Legacy
In periods when national or cultural identity is at stake, language is often perceived as decaying or in danger, thus leading to the wish to ‘save’ it from its natural evolution and foreign features. This common phenomenon, known as linguistic purism, finds an example already in antiquity, when the Greeks attempted to bring back post-Classical Greek to the stage represented by Attic, the dialect of Classical Athens, the ideal symbol of their culture. PURA will produce a diachronic study of Greek purist theories and the works which defended them: from 2nd c. AD Greece, through Medieval Byzantium, down to Renaissance Italy. The research team will adopt a multidisciplinary methodology combining linguistics, philology, Byzantine studies and codicology to deliver a novel study of the cultural history and significance of Greek purism.
Water-Cultures - The Water Cultures of Italy, 1500-1900
This project, funded by an ERC Advanced Grant, conceptualises a new way of writing history, with water at its core. The Water Cultures concept is based on the synergistic braiding of five key “Streams”: the symbolic beliefs and practices associated with water; the circulation and evolution of knowledge about water and disease and its effects; the water management systems of large cities and demands on them; the changing hydraulic landscape of rural areas; and the occupations of water, exploring the professions and trades associated with water and its delivery and uses. Italy has been chosen as the case study - for its rich archives and social, political and geographical variety - and the 'longue durée' to identify change and continuity.
Enrica De Cian
ENERGYA - Energy use for Adaptation
This project (ERC Starting grant) will explore how our energy needs may evolve in the future facing climate changes, in particular the increase in average temperatures and in extreme events. Furthermore it will evaluate the implications of the energy needs on revenues and inequalities. Recent climate changes will be investigated as well as future climate scenario and data on climate, economics, society will be elaborated. The research will have a global reach and will focus on emerging countries which are facing a challenge with much unknown: India, Indonesia, Brazil and Mexico. Enrica De Cian will carry her project leading a team of six international researchers and experts.
FLOS – Florilegia Syriaca. The Intercultural Dissemination of Greek Christian Thought in Syriac and Arabic in the First Millennium CE
Between the eighth and the tenth centuries, Christians in Mesopotamia who talked and wrote in an aramaic dialect, Syriac language, had to face an intellectual confrontation with Islam in the Muslim caliphate. On the one hand they referred to Greek Christian texts translated in Syriac, the Florilegia, to preserve and reconfigure Christian thought in the past centuries; on the other they started writing in Arabic as well to debate with Muslim intellectuals but also with other Christians churches and faiths. FLOS will study the Syriac Florilegia for the first time as they were brought to us in old manuscripts from the first millennium, and will investigate how the analysis of Greek Christian thought found in these texts have decisively influenced the content of the interconfessional and interreligious polemic in the first centuries of Islam in the Middle East.
Further information about FLOS on the Participant Portal
MAGNETIC-SPEED-LIMIT - Understanding the speed limits of magnetism
In the past decade, researchers have been able to observe magnetic dynamics in materials at femtosecond time scales (1 femtosecond = 0.000 000 000 000 001 s). This has opened up the possibility for processing digital information at a much faster rate than today’s, and also consuming much less energy. The understanding of the physics related to this phenomenon is, however, still partial. The recent appearance of two new types of light, broadband terahertz and x-rays generated at free electron lasers, has provided researchers with a whole new set of capabilities to tackle this challenge. This ERC project (Starting Grant) will use these novel techniques to achieve an encompassing view of ultrafast magnetism. The goal is to advance the understanding of the speed limits of magnetism, and to lay the building blocks for the technology of tomorrow.
Further information on the Participant Portal
Pietro Daniel Omodeo
EarlyModernCosmology - Institutions and Metaphysics of Cosmology in the Epistemic Networks of Seventeenth-Century Europe
This research endeavor, funded by an ERC Consolidator Grant, is a comparative inquiry of early-modern Protestant and Catholic cosmologies in their institutional, political, and ideological settings. Science is seen as a contested field of confessional struggles for cultural hegemony, shaped and transformed through its circulation within international scholarly and academic networks. This comparative inquiry is fundamental for an assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of epistemic networks and vice versa their concrete reconstruction provides materials for a better understanding of mechanisms of scientific transactions in general.
Website: Early Modern Cosmology
DiGe: Ethnobotany of divided generations in the context of centralization
Funded by an ERC Starting Grant, the project's wider aim is to create an advanced understanding of the mechanisms of changes in the popular use of plants as food and medicine. Four case studies will be conducted within ethnic minorities that for shorter or longer periods have been subjected to various influences affecting their plant use. The research team will aim to predict the extent and depth of the changes occurring in the ethnobotanical knowledge and therefore create a platform for further development of education tools aiming to a sustainable maintenance and utilization of local plant resources to support health and well-being of people.
Further information on the Participant Portal
DomEQUAL: A Global Approach to Paid Domestic Work and Social Inequalities
Thanks to an ERC Starting Grant, the researcher will focus on the relationship between globalization and social inequality, through a study on paid domestic work that will involve nine countries located in three continents. The research will consider working men and women with an important role in society, but who often operate in poor conditions and do not enjoy adequate social protection. The project also aims to identify the most effective global and local actors that can improve their legal framework. DomEQUAL engages three post-doc researchers in Italy, supported by nine experts in the countries involved.
BIFLOW: Bilingualism in Florentine and Tuscan Works (ca. 1260 - ca. 1416)
The research explores multilingualism in central and northern Italy from the thirteenth century to the beginning of the fifteenth. It will begin with the systematic gathering of texts available in multiple languages and then lead to the construction of the first digital catalogue of these works. This will then facilitate the creation of a map of the multilingual environments in which intellectuals were immersed at the time of Dante. The subject of the study, therefore, is not merely the texts themselves, but also the mindset of mediaeval intellectuals, whose immersion in a multilingual context in some ways parallels our contemporary experience of globalization.
Aristotle in the Italian Vernacular: Rethinking Renaissance and Early-Modern Intellectual History (c. 1400 - c. 1650)
Funded by an ERC Starting grant, this project aims to offer the first detailed and comprehensive study of the vernacular diffusion of Aristotle through a series of analyses of his primary texts. Works that fall within the two main Renaissance fields of speculative philosophy (metaphysics, natural philosophy, mathematics and logic) and civil philosophy (ethics, politics, rhetoric and poetics) will be studied. In light of their respective competencies, two research teams in Venice and at the University of Warwick will each generally focus their investigation on one of these two bodies of work.
Website: Aristotle in the Vernacular
EARLYhumanIMPACT – How long have human activities been affecting the climate system?
Funded by an ERC Advanced grant, this project analyses how human activities, including fossil-fuel burning, are currently altering the global climate system. The research group has pioneered a ground-breaking technique for measuring a globally present molecular marker of biomass burning. The proposed research incorporates continuous ice and lake core climate records from seven continents with parallel histories of fire activity. These fire histories can provide essential insight into the interplay between climate and human activity.
Website: Early Human Impact
Last update: 05/12/2023