University of Oslo: Prestigious EU funds awarded to established researchers

This is a big day for us, and I want to congratulate professors Garipzanov and Renard, as well as the entire apparatus around them, says Rector of UiO, Svein Stølen.

The ERC distributes funds for groundbreaking research. The so-called ERC Advanced Grant goes to established researchers who throughout their careers have shown that they are leading in their field. As many as 2,678 researchers from across Europe applied for funding in this round. Only eight percent of the applications went through.

– We know that the competition is extremely tough, and we had very good applicants among those who did not make it all the way as well, says Stølen.

Praise from the Norwegian Research Council
Mari Sundli Tveit, CEO of the Norwegian Research Council, congratulates UiO on the great result:

– The University of Oslo accounts for 45 percent of all ERC grants to Norway in the Horizon 2020 period. It is nothing short of impressive! Today, you have every reason to be extra proud of your efforts, and we at the Norwegian Research Council both hope and believe that you will succeed at least as well in Horizon Europe, she says.

Tweets from the Middle Ages
Professor Ildar Garipzanov is a professor of medieval history at the Department of Archeology, Conservation and History, and is the recipient of one of the awards in this round.

– I feel honoured, and at the same time assured that my research has a broader intellectual significance and academic appeal. This is very encouraging when you choose to put aside the more traditional and “safe” research topics and rather cross over into unknown research fields. I also hope that this award will contribute to the establishment of a more robust academic environment for interdisciplinary research on medieval culture here at the University of Oslo, says Garipzanov.

Garipzanov’s research team will study a largely overlooked body of text, namely very short texts that were added to blank spaces in Latin manuscripts in early medieval Europe. These additions, ranging from a page or two to a short note reminiscent of a modern tweet, represent a unique collection of early medieval practical knowledge left behind by a large number of anonymous people. The MINiTEXTS project will systematically analyse the different types of practical knowledge that these texts convey, and study the social, religious and cultural practices indirectly referred to by them.

– Where traditional research is focused on a well-defined corpus of texts related to kings, bishops, and intellectual elites, my project will study texts that are closer to the personal and common needs of ordinary people. Among these were the need for personal care for body and soul caused by the precarious conditions people lived under in medieval societies. The study of these texts will also enable me to show that the modern academic distinction between religious orthodoxy and deviation, as well as the distinctions between religion, magic and medicine, is not very helpful when trying to understand such earlier societies, explains a happy Garipzanov.

A foreboding of earthquakes
Professor Francois Renard at the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences receives the second ERC Advanced Grant, for his research project BREAK.

– BREAK will look at what mechanisms control the run-up to earthquakes. Through the project, I expect that we will get a better understanding of the course of signals leading up to large earthquakes, says Renard.

He also greatly appreciates the award from the ERC.

– The award will give me a large degree of freedom to develop high-risk research, but with a correspondingly high gain. In addition, I get the opportunity to develop researchers who are early in their careers, he continues.

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