Prestigious European funding awards to advance the work of world-leading researchers have been made to two Edinburgh academics.
Professors Loeske Kruuk and Alice Turk have both been awarded European Research Council (ERC) Advanced Grants, which are made to researchers with a track record of excellence in their field.
The University has secured €5 million in funding from the scheme, which supports academics whose achievements mark them out as exceptional leaders in terms of the originality and significance of their research.
The grant awardees from Edinburgh, who each received €2.5M of funding, seek to address complex scientific questions.
With mounting evidence that climate change is having major impacts on natural populations, Professor Loeske Kruuk’s EVOWILD project will seek to shed light on how environmental variation shapes evolutionary and ecological processes.
Using cutting-edge genomic and statistical technologies, Professor Kruuk, of the School of Biological Sciences, will improve understanding of the evolutionary and ecological dynamics of wild populations.
Professor Alice Turk’s PlanArt project seeks to answer long-standing questions about the basic underpinnings of human speech.
Using a two-pronged research approach involving experiments and computer models, Professor Turk, of the School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences, will explore the key building blocks and processes of speech production.
The ERC, set up by the European Union in 2007, is the leading European funding organisation supporting excellence in frontier research.
Its mission is to encourage the highest quality research in Europe through competitive funding and to support academics in identifying new opportunities and directions in any field.
The University has secured more than €145M across almost 100 projects during Horizon 2020, the ERC funding program which ran from 2014-2020. The University is the tenth most successful in Europe, and fourth in the UK, in terms of securing ERC awards.
For this last ERC call under Horizon 2020, over 200 researchers will be funded to follow their scientific instinct and dreams. Still, the great increase in demand led to a very fierce competition: only 8% of candidates were successful. We look forward to seeing what major insights and breakthroughs will spring from this investment and trust. We are pleased with the continued positive trend for women researchers showing that ERC’s sustained efforts on this matter pay off.
New UK-EU relationship
UK-based researchers are still eligible to apply for ERC awards.
Horizon Europe is the latest Framework Programme through which the EU will fund research and innovation. It will run for seven years from 2021 to 2027.
Although the UK is no longer an EU member state, it will become an Associated Country to Horizon Europe and will be eligible to participate in the programme as though it were a member state.
These important awards mark the highest research excellence. This is fitting testimony to the exceptional quality of Professors Kruuk and Turk, two of our finest research leaders. I am pleased that the awards illustrate the spread of Edinburgh’s leadership of research across major challenges, including ecology and how the brain functions.