EU-funded research grants for two researchers from Bern

tudied particles in the Standard Model of particle physics. Given their peculiar features, they are believed to be a key to understanding our universe. In FASERnu, neutrinos will be studied using the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN in Geneva. “It will be the first experiment using particle colliders for neutrino research, and it will also be the only neutrino experiment to be conducted in Europe with a particle accelerator this decade,” says Akitaka Ariga. “We expect to collect data from about 10,000 neutrino interactions in the years 2022-2024”. FASERnu should thus represent a breakthrough in neutrino research.

The largest part of this ERC grant will be dedicated to the promotion of early career researchers. “FASERnu is a small project compared to the standard of particle physics experiments, so it will be a valuable experience for PhD students and postdocs as they will be involved in all steps of the experiment: detector construction, data acquisition and physics analyses,” says Akitaka Ariga. “The Laboratory for High Energy Physics at the Albert Einstein Center of the University of Bern (AEC) has a tradition of developing particle detection technologies which are tailored for many physics purposes. In recent decades, this has been increasingly focused on neutrino research”.

SUSTAINFORESTS: Forest patches in West African agricultural landscapes
The SUSTAINFORESTS project analyzes the roles of forest patches in the highly fragmented agricultural landscapes of the rainforest and savannah zones of West African countries Togo, Benin, Nigeria and Cameroon. “The innovative potential of these areas as biodiversity habitats, for adapting to climate change and mitigating climate change continues to be neglected,” explains Chinwe Ifejika Speranza. The project will investigate how forest patches preserve livelihood functions and even provide new ecosystem services such as food. “I will also investigate the conditions under which these forest patches can have a sustainable future,” says Ifejika Speranza. The results should clarify the theories about forest patches in agricultural landscapes and open up paths for new research. The knowledge gained will be incorporated into efforts to conserve forest areas and to promote sustainable agriculture and forest management.

“The funds from the grants will be used to train geographers at the beginning of their careers,” says Chinwe Ifejika Speranza. “With my team of researchers from Africa, Europe and other regions of the world, I will conduct field research on selected tropical forest patches in West African forest and savannah regions to understand their dynamics and functions and to learn how they can be managed sustainably”. Generating and communicating such knowledge about the shift towards sustainability is an important focus of research and teaching at the University of Bern, says Ifejika Speranza.