€2.5m ERC Advanced Grants awarded to two University of Helsinki researchers

Highly esteemed grants will be used to investigate the early conditions of the universe, and how work around temples reshaped the economy and society in the Persian Empire.

Kari Rummukainen from the Faculty of Science and Jason M. Silverman from the Faculty of Theology have received Advanced Grants from the European Research Council (ERC). The grant sums are approximately €2.5 million each. 

Professor Kari Rummukainen’s ERC-funded research in the field of cosmology investigates the early stages of the universe with the help of gravitational waves.

Next-generation devices for measuring gravitational waves, such as the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) probes due to be launched into space in the 2030s by the European Space Agency, are sufficiently sensitive to detect gravitational waves born in the first nanoseconds of the universe.

The project investigates how gravitational waves can be used to determine the conditions of the very early universe and how potential gravitational wave observations and new experiments in particle physics support each other. These gravitational waves are also a sign of the need to expand the theories of currently known and experimentally tested physics.

The previous results of Rummukainen’s research group have been important in the planning of LISA’s cosmological research programme.

How work around temples reshaped the economy and society in the Persian Empire

University Researcher Jason M. Silverman’s ERC-funded project re-analyses the ways pre-industrial economies were socially constructed and assesses the implications for how economics are  understood today.

The project looks at temples in one region of the Persian Empire for locally supplied and imperially demanded labour. 

Social structures enabled temples to function and to fulfil imperial labour demands, but this was not always wholly voluntary. Understanding the various levels of dependency and coercion is essential for recreating how imperial labour demands reshaped social relations.

Work, taxation and religious institutions remain key elements of the human experience, and this research will expand our understanding of their histories and alternate possibilities.

Read about the awarded Advanced Grants on the website of the European Research Council.

ERC Advanced Grant

The ERC Advanced Grant is a grant scheme of the European Research Council (ERC) targeted at established, leading researchers to pursue groundbreaking projects with potential for extremely high-level impact. 

The five-year grants can be awarded to active researchers who have a track record of significant research achievements.

Read more about ERC-funded research conducted at the University of Helsinki.