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Finnish universities awarded ERC Advanced Grants

ERC Advanced Grant recipient Judith Pallot and her research team will be based at the University of Helsinki’s Aleksanteri Institute. University of Helsinki/Linda Tammisto

Two Aalto University professors and two professors at the University of Helsinki have received European Research Council (ERC) Advanced Grants worth up to 2.5 million euros each.

ERC grants are aimed at researchers breaking new ground in their respective fields. The grant recipients in Finland this year are Aalto University professors Peter Liljeroth and Orlando Rojas, as well as University of Helsinki professor Jan von Plato and Oxford University professor Judith Pallot, who will bring her research to the University of Helsinki.

Professor Liljeroth from Aalto will use the grant to explore and fabricate new, artificial and unnatural designer materials. “There are plenty of exciting and exotic predictions in theoretical physics of never-before-seen materials with unique electrical properties,” Liljeroth comments. “Very few of these have actually been realised in experiments – and this what we intend to achieve.”

Professor Rojas, meanwhile, is planning to build next-generation supra-colloidal systems. “Ultimately, my goal is to design and develop the materials of the future based on micro and nanoparticles from cellulose and lignin resourced from plants and lignocellulosic waste,” Rojas points out.

Over at the University of Helsinki, professor Pallot will look at how the Russian punishment system affects different ethnic minorities. “My argument is that we need to first understand the general processes involved in prisoners’ identity construction before we take the next step to understanding political radicalisation,” Pallot explains.

Finally to philosophy professor von Plato, who is hoping to find a deeper understanding of the central discoveries of Kurt Gödel, the late Princeton logician. “Gödel’s works belong to logic, mathematics, philosophy and physics, but he published very little,” von Plato explains. “Most of his notebooks seem to consist of unpublished results. Whatever surprises his notebooks contain will be revealed in the project.”

Part of the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme for research and innovation, the ERC awards long-term research grants to promising and experienced researchers – a significant accolade for both the researcher and recipient university.

Published on 09.04.2018