EddyCovariance mm

 

ERC grants to four researchers at the University of Helsinki

Posted September 13th, 2017 by HelsinkiUniv

European Research Council funding

The European Research Council ERC, a funding organisation under the European Union, supports top research in various fields by offering long-term research grants. Grants are divided into three groups: the Starter Grant for promising researchers, the Consolidator Grant for researchers with 7–12 years of experience and the Advanced Grant for established top academics.

Established in 2007, the ERC is celebrating its first active decade in 2017. During 2017, it will offer approximately €1.8 million in grants. ERC is currently part of the European Union’s Horizon 2020 framework programme for research and innovation.

Grants awarded to the University of Helsinki:

University of Helsinki's re­search fun­ded by European Re­search Coun­cil ERC

By grant:

 

Three of the funded projects are at the Faculty of Arts, and one at the Faculty of Science and at the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry.

Academy Research Fellow Josephine Hoegaerts, Associate Professor Maria Lasonen-Aarnio from the University of Michigan, Academy Research Fellow Mari Pihlatie and Postdoctoral Researcher Marja Vierros have received Starting Grants from the European Research Council (ERC).

Hoegaerts’, Lasonen-Aarnio’s and Vierros’ research projects are based in the City Centre Campus at the Faculty of Arts, and Pihlatie’s project in the Kumpula and Viikki Campuses, in the Department of Physics at the Faculty of Science and the Department of Forest Sciences at the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry.
Digital humanism targeting papyri and 19th century political discourse

The purpose of Marja Vierros’ Digital Grammar of Greek Documentary Papyri project is to develop an openly accessible tool for studying Greek to benefit the academic community. In her previous research, Vierros has developed tools for studying fragmented papyri with modern methods.

“We have long used digital methods in the study of modern languages, but these methods have not been particularly applicable for the study of ancient Latin and Greek."

“The papyri display the development of the Greek language in a different way than literary texts. They give us a peek into the everyday lives and language of the Greeks and let us study the changes in the language,” Vierros explains.

Greek papyri exist from c. 300 BCE to c. 700 CE, spanning a millennium. The material has already been digitised.

“We have long used digital methods in the study of modern languages, but these methods have not been particularly applicable for the study of ancient Latin and Greek."

Getting European funding for my project is a wonderful thing. It’s a positive signal for our small field in general,” elates Vierros.

Josephine Hoegaerts’ Vocal articulations of parliamentary identity and empire project studies the political landscape of the 19th century as well as the impact of political rhetoric in Europe and its colonies.

The study, which combines methodologies of voice research and political history, focuses on the time period before sound recording equipment existed. The project studies and models the articulation of politicians as well as the embodiment of administrative language, voice and power relations. The material includes manuscripts of speeches given in parliaments as well as contemporary reports and news.
From epistemology to atmospheric sciences and forest ecology

Maria Lasonen-Aarnio’s project Success and Competence in Epistemology and Beyond develops and applies a new approach in epistemology.

The normative questions “How should we form our beliefs?” and “How should we evaluate beliefs?” are at the core of the project. The concept of competence has a key role in the project’s perspective. In this sense it falls into the tradition of virtue epistemology.

The central hypothesis of the research project is that practically any normative success is possible without competence. For example, incompetent information exists. The project shows how examination of the categories incompetent success and competent failure could help scholars solve the central problems in epistemology. The approach is also applied to the study of rationality and ethics.

Mari Pihlatie’s research project From processes to modelling of methane emissions from trees (MEMETRE) focuses on the processes of methane emissions in trees and their significance in the methane production of forests. The project studies climate change and Boreal forests and seeks to uncover the role of trees in the Boreal zone in the production and binding of methane, a greenhouse gas.
Highly esteemed ERC funding

Dean Hanna Snellman from the Faculty of Arts is delighted by the grants and points out that researcher mobility brings new intellectual resources to the University of Helsinki.

“There has been a great deal of talk and concern in Finland regarding the academic brain drain and how academic research has become more difficult. These ERC grants, however, are evidence to the contrary.”

Maria Lasonen-Aarnio completed her Master’s degree at the University of Helsinki and then completed her doctoral degree and began her academic career at the University of Oxford and the University of Michigan. The ERC funding is bringing her back to the University of Helsinki. Meanwhile, Josephine Hoegaerts arrived two years ago to conduct research at the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies. She did her PhD at Leuven University, and have since also had visiting fellowships at Birkbeck College (London), the Felix Mendelssohn Hochschule für Musik und Theater (Leipzig), and the University of Pennsylvania (US).

“There has been a great deal of talk and concern in Finland regarding the academic brain drain and how academic research has become more difficult. These ERC grants, however, are evidence to the contrary,” states Snellman.

The European Research Council supports research in all fields of science. The intensely competitive ERC funding is also considered in university rankings. This year, the ERC granted a total of 605 million in funding as Starting Grants offered to a total of 406 researchers around Europe.

The share of women amongst the new grantees (40 %) is the largest ever in an ERC competition.

Video: Professor Anna-Liisa Laine received the esteemed ERC Consolidator Grant in 2016. In her research, Laine studies the relations between plants and their diseases – how the plants survive and build immunity when barraged by multiple pathogens. The goal is to use this research to determine how global food crises could be tackled.