BIST Community researchers awarded ERC Advanced Grants

Dr Morgan Mitchell (ICFO), Dr Emilio Palomares (ICIQ) and Dr Pere Roca-Cusachs (IBEC) have been awarded European Research Council (ERC) Advanced Grants.

ERC 2022 Advanced Grant recipients from the BIST Community. Left to right: Dr Morgan Mitchell (ICFO), Dr Emilio Palomares (ICIQ) and Dr Pere Roca-Cusachs (IBEC)

The ERC announced today the winners of the ERC Advanced Grants, an award worth up to €2.5 million for a five-year project. This call for proposals attracted nearly 1,650 applications, with an overall success rate of 13.2%. Spain is among the countries with the highest number of accepted projects.

These three new ERC Grants are very good news for the BIST Community; the grants are expected to create new jobs for postdoctoral fellows, PhD students and other staff at the host institutions, in addition to strengthening Europe’s knowledge base.


Field Sensors with Exceptional Energy Resolution

The Field-SEER project will develop magnetic sensors with combined spatial, temporal and field resolution beyond what is possible with existing sensing approaches. It aims to overcome current quantum mechanical limits experienced by sensors such as those that detect gravitational, electrical, magnetic or other fields. If successful, the project will make possible new sensors for everything from brain imaging to detection of dark matter, the mysterious substance that accounts for 85% of the mass of the universe and which has never been seen.

Morgan Mitchell earned his PhD in Physics from the University of California at Berkeley in 1999 with a thesis on the quantum optics of photon-photon interactions. He joined ICFO in 2004 and ICREA in 2011. He leads the Atomic Quantum Optics research group at ICFO and coordinates the Quantum Technologies Emergent Community in Catalonia (QuantumCAT). This is the third ERC award Prof Mitchell has received, having been awarded an ERC Starting grant in 2011 and an ERC PoC in 2016.


Engineering Excited States, Orbital Coupling and Quantum Coherence Phenomena in Photoelectrochemical Energy Conversion Devices

The “Excited” project goes well beyond the fabrication of molecular solar cells and measuring their physical properties. It will pave the way for the development of solar cells that will be tailor-made to take advantage of quantum coherence, molecular hybridisation and orbital coupling effects between the electron-donor couple.

Emilio Palomares is the ICIQ director and an ICREA professor. He studied Biology at the UVEG and, after graduating, joined Prof Hermenegildo García’s group at the UPV-ITQ-CSIC where he earned his PhD (2001). In 2001 he was awarded a “Marie Curie” Fellowship ICL (London, UK) and in April 2006 he took up a position at ICIQ. This is the third ERC award Prof Palomares has received, after an ERC Starting grant in 2009 and an ERC PoC in 2015.


Engineering synthetic mechanotransduction through nucleocytoplasmic transport

This project, called MechanoSynth, focuses on mechanotransduction, a process by which cells transform mechanical changes into biological responses, regulating processes such as embryonic development, tumor progression, or wound healing.

Pere Roca-Cusachs is the leader of the Cellular and Molecular Mechanobiology research group at IBEC. He obtained his PhD in cellular biophysics in 2007 from the Medical School at the University of Barcelona. His group studies the physical and molecular mechanisms by which cells detect and respond to mechanical signals. He currently coordinates an EU-funded Future and Emerging Technologies (FET) project dedicated to understanding the mechanical control of biological function.


About the ERC

The ERC, set up by the European Union in 2007, is the premier European funding organisation for excellent frontier research. It funds creative researchers of any nationality and age, to run projects based across Europe. The ERC offers four core grant schemes: Starting Grants, Consolidator Grants, Advanced Grants and Synergy Grants. With its additional Proof of Concept Grant scheme, the ERC helps grantees to bridge the gap between their pioneering research and early phases of its commercialisation.

ERC grants are a top recognition and a significant commitment from our best researchers. The €544 million funding puts our 218 research leaders, together with their teams of postdoctoral fellows, PhD students and research staff, in pole position to push back the boundaries of our knowledge, break new ground and build foundations for future growth and prosperity in Europe” – Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth.

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