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UDE reaps research success

Two ERC Synergy Grants on highly topical issues

  • von Astrid Bergmeister
  • 26.10.2023

Researchers from the UDE were able to prevail in international competition by obtaining two prestigious ERC Synergy Grants of 2.55 million euros each. With this success, the university shows how it is taking responsibility in cutting-edge research with two highly topical issues: The analysis of the carbon cycles of prehistoric microbes opens up enormous potential for biotechnological processes. The question of what new inequalities are developing as a result of a rapid increase in artificial cooling addresses important socio-political questions about the connection between technologies and cultural change. Structurally and in terms of higher education policy, both projects are anchored in the profile-forming research of the UDE.

Rector Prof. Dr. Barbara Albert explains the strategic and research policy push: "With outstanding ideas, two of our researchers were able to acquire two ERC Synergy Grants in the international competition - a great success for the UDE, together with its national and international cooperators."

The ERC Synergy Grant 'Archean Park' aims to gain insights into life under primordial conditions. The scientists led by project leader Prof. Dr. Alexander Probst are searching for previously unknown metabolic pathways that made life possible for microorganisms on the primordial Earth 4,000 to 2,500 million years ago. The research project strengthens the expertise of the profile focus on water research at the UDE.

Probst adds: "With our research focus, we are looking at the function of a microbial cell under high CO2 pressure. So we are diving deep into molecular understanding. This means we fit in well with existing coordinated research programmes such as the RESIST Collaborative Research Centre. Our goal is to use the laboratories of the new Active Sites research building in the future, so that we can carry out analyses at the single cell level and under extreme CO2 conditions. Once we know the metabolic pathways, they can be tailored to improve the efficiency of biotechnological processes, for example in biomass production."

In the ERC Synergy Grant "Cultures of the Cryosphere", Dr Stefan Höhne from the Institute of Advanced Study in the Humanities Essen (KWI) is researching how technologies of cooling and freezing have shaped modern societies and what impact this has had. Over the next few years, the international project team will conduct interdisciplinary case studies in Central Europe, India, North America and Australia to initiate a change towards a fairer and more sustainable use of these technologies. Project leader Höhne was the first cultural scientist in Europe to be awarded an ERC Synergy Grant. As he describes his research goal: "We want to understand how artificial coldness has become such a fundamental feature of modern cultures, shaping more and more aspects of our everyday lives. Particularly exciting and relevant to me is the question of what new inequalities manifest themselves in these processes, for example in access to medical care, such as vaccines or assisted reproduction, or in the protection of populations during heat waves."

For more in-depth information on the two ERC Synergy Grants, please visit:
ERC Synergy Grant on Cultures of the Cryosphere
ERC Synergy Grant on Archean Park

Further information:
Prof. Dr. Alexander Probst, ERC Synergy Grant "Archean Park", Tel. 0201/18 3-7080, alexander.probst@uni-due.de
Dr. Stefan Höhne, ERC Synergy Grant "CultCryo", Tel. 0201/183-8104,stefan.hoehne@kwi-nrw.de

Editor: Astrid Bergmeister, Press Officer and Head of Press Department, Tel. 0203/37 9-2430, astrid.bergmeister@uni-due.de

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