Two ERC Starting Grants awarded to the University of Helsinki

The recipients of this eminent funding are studying the climate effects of fine particles and increasing the accuracy of modelling real-world problems through computation.

Two researchers working at the University of Helsinki have been awarded a Starting Grant by the European Research Council. Alexandru Tomescu, a computer scientist, and Federico Bianchi, a specialist in atmospheric sciences, will receive funding for a period of five years.

Federico Bianchi works as a researcher at the Institute for Atmospheric and Earth System Research (INAR) of the University of Helsinki. His work focuses on the fine particles found in the atmosphere that have an effect on the climate. A number of uncertainties are still associated with the overall effect of such particles.

“This uncertainty is the result of a lack of knowledge on how and where these aerosols naturally originate,” Bianchi says.

To determine this, the history of the atmosphere needs to be studied from the time before the Industrial Revolution.

“In pre-industrial times, the only aerosols occurring in the atmosphere were natural. For us to understand the current state of our atmosphere we need to understand the environments of the pre-industrial era.”

Bianchi’s particular research focus is the original formation of atmospheric fine particles from gas molecules emitted into the atmosphere. The research involves field observations in pristine and extreme environments, such as the Arctic, Siberia, mountain ranges and oceans.

Increasing the accuracy of DNA sequencing

The ERC project of Alexandru Tomescu, a specialist in computer science, studies the modelling of real-world problems with computational methods. Such modelling often utilises incomplete data, which results in a large number of potential solutions.

Choosing a single correct solution from among the multitude of possibilities poses a problem. Tomescu’s aim is to establish a technique which would help in identifying all of the sub-solutions that are definitely part of the correct solution.

In other words, the aim is to take a certain kind of mathematical leap towards understanding which solutions are safe to be included in further reporting.

“We draw our motivation mainly from bioinformatics where reassembling DNA sequencing data back into the original DNA sequence is among the key problems. Transferring technology based on sequencing from research laboratories to hospitals requires accuracy from the sequences we are putting together,” Tomescu explains.

ERC Starting Grants are for researchers of any nationality with 2–7 years of experience since completion of PhD, a scientific track record showing great promise and an excellent research proposal.

Read more:
European Research Council: Winners of 2019 ERC Starting Grants
University of Helsinki research funded by the European Research Council ERC
Previous ERC Starting Grants

Genome-Scale Algorithmics Group