2004 EU Marie Curie Awards - The winners and their research

November 9, 2004

Brussels, 7 November 2004

Dr. Benedetta Ciardi (Italy): Unveiling the Primordial Universe

In their own words:

“To me, research means trying to answer questions about the environment that surrounds us, with the goal of expanding the scope of knowledge. I believe that the Marie Curie Award will contribute enormously to the further development of my research and career. It can be used to fund my participation in conferences and to visit collaborators at different institutes. I also hope that it will allow me to take some steps towards forming my own research groups in Europe.”

Dr Ciardi is conducting her research at the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics with the goal of shedding some light on the period when the Universe was in its infancy. During this time a number of important events happened which shaped the structure of the Universe we have today. Specifically, she has focused her research on what effects the radiation produced by the first stars had on the different gases that permeate the Universe and on the process of galaxy formation. (theoretical study of cosmic re-ionisation) To achieve this, she ran high-resolution computer simulations and the results were used to guide observational programmes.

Christian Marc Keysers (Germany): The mirror system and the neural basis of empathy

In their own words:

“My main motivation in my research is to understand how our brains work. This award will contribute to my career by increasing the visibility of our research and contributing to my standing within the department and the financial contribution will help me to travel to scientific conferences.”

Mr. Keysers is researching at the BCN Neuro-Imaging Centre at the Rijksuniversiteit Groningen in the Netherlands. He is investigating how people empathise with each other by using single cell recordings in monkeys and functional magnetic resonance imaging in humans. His research found that when we observe the actions, sensations and emotions of others we also activate areas in our brains that normally are used for our own actions, sensations and emotions. Therefore, we appear to understand other people when our brain translates the visual and auditory stimuli. The research showed that understanding and empathising with people becomes very intuitive and simple.

Dr. Jens Marklof (Germany): Semi-classical Correlations in Quantum Spectra

In their own words:

“From the time I started studying physics at university I quickly realised the enormous satisfaction that can be got from exploring unknown territory and cracking previously unsolved problems. Public communication of science is an important academic responsibility and this award will provide a vehicle for public lectures that can convey the excitement of fundamental research.”

Dr. Marklof is a Reader of Mathematical Physics at the University of Bristol and his main area of research is quantum mechanics. Quantum mechanics shows that microscopic particles such as electrons or atoms are not solid masses but behave like interfering waves. The theory of quantum chaos studies the wave dynamics in chaos geometries and compares it with the corresponding classical motion of macroscopic particles. One of the main objectives in quantum chaos is to characterise and measure the nature of the quantum fluctuations around the macroscopic mean. One of his current projects focuses on the localisation properties of chaotic quantum states and the results may have important applications in the design of micro-electronic devices.

Dr. Gadi Rothenberg (Israel): Mobility – A catalyst for Research Excellence

In their own words:

“Research offers new challenges every day and gives the opportunity to work with talented and enthusiastic people – there is no other occupation like it. I hope that the Marie Curie award will raise my profile so that I will be able to set up collaborative programmes to encourage young scientists to engage in interdisciplinary research.”

Dr. Rothenberg is attached to the University of Amsterdam where his work focuses on combining advanced computational and experimental methods to discover new catalysts and materials for sustainable development – specifically to find new and environmentally friendly methods to make bulk and fine chemicals. He has devised solutions for data explosion problems in catalysis and in 2004, together with a colleague, he set up a company called Sorbisense in Denmark that manufactures and sells new water monitoring devices based on their own patent.

Dr. Stefano Zapperi (Italy): Internal avalanches and crackling noise in materials

In their own words:

“I was attracted by a research career for the excitement involved in discoveries and for the intellectual challenges it posed and was motivated by the possibility of contributing in some part to human knowledge. The Marie Curie Award will certainly give a high visibility to my research activity and help me to establish new international collaborations.”

The aim of Dr. Zapperi’s research activity is to find common patterns in apparently different materials. He investigates how internal avalanches give rise to a measurable crackling noise in materials. Crackling noise arises when a system responds to changing external conditions through discrete, impulsive events spanning a broad range of sizes - from earthquakes to crumpling pieces of paper. A general theory cannot be expected to describe all particular cases however his research is a good starting point for more detailed analysis.

The grand jury 2004

Professor Gerard ‘t Hooft (Netherlands) is the chairman of the Grand Jury. He won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1999 for elucidating the quantum structure of electroweak interactions. At present he is Professor of Theoretical Physics at the University of Utrecht. He has won a great number of other prizes and is the author of several books. He is actively involved in popularising science and encouraging young people into careers in science.

Prof. Cesar Nombela Cano (Spain) is Professor of Microbiology of Faculty of Pharmacy at the University Complutense in Spain. He is also Director of the Chair of Genomics and Proteomics, President of the European Federation of Microbiological Societies and Member of the International Bioethics Committee of UNESCO.

Prof. Aurelia Meghea (Romania) is Professor of Applied Physical Chemistry and Electrochemistry at the University of Bucharest. She also is a Scientific Director of the National Consulting Centre for Environmental Protection at the Technical University of Bucharest.

Prof. Josef Syka (Czech Republic) lecturers at Charles University and has been appointed President of the Czech Science Foundation (the national research funding agency). He is also chairman of Czech Neuroscience Society and the Czech representative to the International Brain Research Organisation. He was vice-chairman of the Research and Development Council of the Czech Government and a member of the US-Czech Joint Board for Scientific and Technological Co-operation.

Professor Eva Lindencrona Ohlin (Sweden) was the first female in Sweden to be awarded a PhD in Information Sciences. She is currently the Director of the Swedish Agency for Innovation Systems.

Dr. Arend Oetker (Germany) holds a doctorate in Business Administration and Political Science. He is the Chief Executive Officer of the Dr. Arend Oetker Holding and since 1998 has been President of the German “Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft”.

Cordis article

Item source: MEMO/04/254 Date: 05/11/2004 =>=>

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