3 September 2020

Young researcher talents get prestigeous career push


SCIENCE has just been enriched with three new ERC Starting Grants. The prestigous grants are awarded to young, promising researchers with a groundbreaking research idea.

Leonardo Midolo, Niels Bohr Institute.
The ERC starting grant means a lot to me, as it provides an important step forward in my academic career, says Leonardo Midolo, Niels Bohr Institute.

Mapping of tree and bush vegetation that will shed light on the interplay between humans, climate and trees in the dry areas on the planet, the realization of the next generation of programmable quantum devices for computers and secure communication and an identification of the climate and ecological factors that determines the size of the nitrogen fixation in moss. ​These are the groundbreaking research ideas, that have ensured Martin Stefan Brandt (IGN), Leonardo Midolo (NBI) and Kathrin Rousk (BIO) an ERC Starting Grant​. The grants, running for a five-year project duration, provides them with the opportunity of creating their own research group and thereby a unique chance of diving further into their research projects.

Micro machines with great impact

Leonardo Midolo, the ERC beneficiary from the Niels Bohr Institute, states about his research project: "The primary idea of the project is to realize ultra-small "nano-machines" (a thousand times smaller than the typical thickness of human hairs) that can control light on integrated chips. These machines more properly called "nano-opto-electromechanical systems" (NOEMS) are, in essence, tiny mirrors which can be moved over several nanometres using electric fields. Despite the small motion, these devices are capable of reflecting and routing light in different directions with low loss, low noise, and ultra-low power consumption, with exceedingly better performance than state-of-the-art optical switches. In my research, I will use these systems to efficiently manipulate single photons, single particles of light showing quantum behaviour. The combination of NOEMS and quantum photonics is a new field of research, which will allow me to explore new phenomena and realize the next generation of programmable quantum devices for computing and secure communication."

The excitement of the grant and acknowledgement from ERC is great, as the grant will both have a huge influence on his career and his research field: "The ERC starting grant means a lot to me, as it provides an important step forward in my academic career. On the one hand, it signifies having reached an influential position and international role as researcher in Europe, on the other, it is a stepping stone towards establishing an independent research group on these novel and very exciting topics. Moreover, the grant will give me the opportunity to lead a team of researchers for the first time, which is an important skill to further progress in my career."

Write in order for non-experts to understand your project

Besides having a groundbreaking research idea, Leonardo Midolo from NBI has a special advice to others about writing a succesful application for an ERC Starting Grant: “My advice to other applicants is to focus on writing a good so-called "Part B1", commonly known as the project description for non-experts. I invested most of my time (>70%) in making that part an easy to read story, and accessible for a broad audience. I think this was appreciated by the evaluators." 

This year, a total of six talented young researchers from UCPH have received an ERC Starting Grant, in which three of them are from SCIENCE.

Get ready for the next round

9th of March 2021 is the next deadline for applications for ERC Starting Grant. You can see a preliminary call already now here at Kunet, in which you may get informed and that provides you with the option of getting started with your application in advance. Remember that SCIENCE Research and Innovation are happy to help you with your application and answer questions. Read more about it in the call.