Technical University of Denmark: Two ERC Starting Grants for young researchers

Starting Grants from the European Research Council (ERC) are awarded to talented young researchers. According to the ERC, inventiveness, a willingness to take risks, and ground-breaking research ideas are vital in receiving funding.

With the grants, the researchers can build their own research teams and—together with a group of postdocs and PhD students—go on to create ground-breaking research results.

Seven early-career scientists based in Denmark won European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grants this year. In total, 397 young researchers across Europe have won Starting Grants, and the total investment from the ERC is 619 million euros.

The two researchers from DTU are Sophie Beeren and Andrea Crovetto.

Sophie Beeren is an associate professor at DTU Chemistry.

Her project – ENZYME-DCC – will explore a conceptually new approach to using enzymes for chemical synthesis that combines tools and concepts from synthetic chemistry with enzymology. In this new methodology, enzymes catalyze reversible reactions and generate complex dynamic mixtures of interconverting products. So-called template molecules are then added to recognize and select desired products from the mixtures.

In nature, biomolecular templates define the outcomes of enzymatic reactions in some of the most fundamental biological processes, such as DNA replication, transcription and translation.

This project investigates the possibility of using synthetic (artificial) templates to direct enzymatic reactions and access different products to what is formed in nature.

Read more about Sophie Beeren’s research.

Andrea Crovetto is currently a Marie Curie fellow at Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin in Germany and National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in the US. Come April, Andrea Crovetto will move to DTU Nanolab.

In his project – IDOL – Andrea Crovetto will tackle the fundamental question: Where can we find a material with precisely the desired functionality from the vast pool of more than a trillion possible materials?

The central tool to attack the question will be an on-demand experimental database of material properties. The database will be loaded with high-throughput combinatorial experiments designed and interpreted by a mix of human and artificial intelligence.

The insights generated by this project will lead to the development and testing of a new solar cell material containing sulfur and phosphorus. This material could overcome some issues relating to the current generation of solar cells.

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