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Four ERC Grants for Berlin Researchers

Mathematician Gavril Farkas at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and physicist Roland Netz at Freie Universität Berlin and two researchers from non-university research institutions to receive funding from the European Union of roughly two million euros each

News from Mar 28, 2019

Gavril Farkas, a professor of algebraic geometry at Humboldt-Universität, and Roland Netz, a professor of theoretical physics at Freie Universtität, have each won an Advanced Grant from the European Research Council (ERC) in the amount of roughly two million euros each over a five-year period. Additionally, Thomas Elsässer, director of the Max Born Institute for Nonlinear Optics and Short Pulse Spectroscopy at Forschungsverbund Berlin e. V. and an adjunct professor at the Institute of Physics, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, and a member of IRIS Adlershof, is receiving an ERC Grant for the second time. Svend Hansen, First Director of the Eurasia Department of the German Achaeological Institute and an adjunct professor at Freie Universität, has also won an ERC Advanced Grant.

Gavril Farkas intends to use the grant for a large research group that will continue to investigate the idea of connecting the different fields of algebra and topology. Professor Farkas, who was born in Transylvania in 1973, is a Hungarian mathematician whose previous career took him to Amsterdam, Princeton, and Texas prior to his professorship in Berlin. He is considered one of the world’s leading experts in the field of algebraic curves. He achieved a breakthrough by using completely new methods inspired from topology to prove Green’s conjecture about equations of algebraic curves, and his work led to a paradigm shift: Surprisingly, it was possible to answer questions in algebraic geometry with a counterpart from topology. Professor Farka is also a principal investigator at the Math+ Cluster of Excellence, a joint project of Freie Universität Berlin, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, and Technische Universität Berlin.

Roland Netz intends to use the grant money to implement a project on modeling time series. The project will focus on time-dependent data that are often used in physics, chemistry, medicine, and the world of finance. The researchers will explore a wide variety of time series such as the movement of protons in aqueous environments, the folding and unfolding of proteins, the migration of living cells, and the dynamics of currency exchange rates. The planned research covers very different time scales: protons move on the femtosecond scale (one femtosecond equals 0.000,000,000,000 001 seconds), while protein folding typically takes microseconds, cells move for hours, and exchange rates show characteristic fluctuations from days to many years.

With the ERC Advanced Grants, the European Research Council enables established researchers to conduct groundbreaking research.