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Over One Million Euros of Funding for Innovative Research: ERC Starting Grants for Junior Researchers at LUH

Over One Million Euros of Funding for Innovative Research: ERC Starting Grants for Junior Researchers at LUH

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Three young professors at Leibniz University Hannover have been awarded the highly prestigious EU grant

Great success for LUH in the current approval process for the award of the renowned ERC Starting Grants: Three young researchers have acquired funding – each grant encompasses award money amounting to a maximum of 1.5 million euros. The Starting Grants of the European Research Council promote outstanding early-career researchers conducting excellent and visionary research. The aim is to foster scientific independence by establishing their own research group over a period of up to five years. Researchers with two to seven years of experience since completion of their doctoral degree are eligible to apply. The fact that three researchers from Leibniz University Hannover have acquired the renowned ERC Starting Grants in this round is a tremendous success.  

The following LUH researchers have been awarded funding: Professor Michael Kues (Hannover Centre for Optical Technologies, HOT), Professor Matthias Müller (Institute of Automatic Control, Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science) and Professor Stefan Schreieder (Institute of Algebraic Geometry, Faculty of Mathematics and Physics).

Professor Michael Kues, who conducts research within the scope of the Cluster of Excellence PhoenixD at Leibniz University Hannover, received the Starting Grant for a project that aims to develop photonic quantum co-processors. This will enable him to expand his research on photonic quantum technologies at the interdisciplinary LUH research facility Hannover Centre for Optical Technologies. The 36-year-old researcher was conferred an appointment at LUH in spring 2019. Within the framework of his project QFreC, Professor Kues intends to boost the potential of machine learning through “intelligent photonic frequency-based quantum circuits”. Machine learning procedures are used to solve complex tasks, such as identifying patterns in order to optimise investment strategies in financial trading, for steering self-driving cars or for improving medical diagnoses. However, the necessary computing power to complete these tasks currently pushes the resource limits of existing computers. Professor Kues and his team intend to solve this issue. The physicist plans to employ quantum photonic circuits for machine learning in order to determine how this combination could increase computing power. Furthermore, using photonic technology has the potential to minimise energy consumption.

Professor Matthias Müller was awarded an ERC Starting Grant for a project in the field of automatic control. The 35-year-old researcher has held the position of director of the Institute of Automatic Control at LUH since February 2019. His project Cont4Med focuses on estimation and control processes for non-linear dynamic systems with little or incomplete information. For example, this is the case if it is only possible to conduct sporadic measurements of quantities or if the system or its dynamic behaviour is (partially) unknown. The project examines these phenomena in the context of biomedical applications such as the hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid axis, where hormone levels are usually only measured every few days or weeks. Cont4Med intends to analyse how many and which measurements of a non-linear system are necessary to reconstruct the status of internal systems. In addition, the project aims to develop estimation and control processes for these systems – among other things via machine learning methods. In simulations, the developed procedures will be tested in various biomedical applications to develop optimal and personalised treatments.

Approaching a famous and unsolved problem in algebraic geometry: Within the scope of his research project, the 32-year-old ERC grant holder Professor Stefan Schreieder and his work group will look into rationality problems in algebraic varieties. Their research primarily focuses on the question which algebraic equations have a general formula, an algebraic formula that describes (almost all) solutions of the equation. The Equation of the Circle is perhaps one of the oldest non-trivial equations that has a general formula. As a matter of fact, the ancient Greeks already knew that (almost) all solutions can be described with one explicit algebraic formula. For many important equations, the existence of a similar formula is a famous unsolved problem in algebraic geometry. Over the past years, considerable progress has been made in this field via modern methods applied in algebra, number theory and geometry. Stefan Schreieder received a professorship in Munich at the age of 29 and joined LUH in spring 2020. His research contributed significantly to these advancements.

In addition to the three new grant holders, five researchers with an ERC Starting Grant and one researcher with an ERC Consolidator Grant (funding line for researchers with seven to twelve years of experience since completion of their doctoral degree) conduct research at Leibniz University Hannover. Due to the tough selection process, ERC grants are considered the highest accolade awarded by the European Research Council. Important selection criteria include visionary research topics as well as excellent achievements that the applicants have accomplished to date.

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