The research policy of the University of Trento is based on few key principles.
The first is the recruitment of highly-qualified, proactive, enthusiastic, young researchers able to develop, also thanks to the support of the University, both fundamental and ground-braking research areas.
We then foster networking among researchers and external partners through dedicated staff and facilities supporting the organization of meetings, conferences and other hosting programs;  the establishment and consolidation of research collaborations facilitates a continuous improvement in the participation in European and international funding programmes. 
Lastly, we pay great attention to the organizational structure for research support which is continuously redesigned in order to better help researchers during  the entire grant process, from project development and submission to grant management and reporting. 

As a result, UniTrento is the first among leading State universities in Italy for research quality (as stated by the National Agency for Research Evaluation, ANVUR report – Agenzia Nazionale di Valutazione del Sistema Universitario e della Ricerca for the period 2011-2014); Trento is also listed in the 201-250 group of the the best world class universities according to the Times Higher Education ranking 2016-2017

UniTrento research can be powerfully illustrated through the list of the research topics of our 26 ERC projects (17 funded under FP7 and 9, among which 2 PoC in the Grant Preparation phase, under Horizon 2020); the main goal of the ERC program is to encourage high quality research in Europe through a very selective and competitive evaluation based on the single criterion of scientific excellence. 


ERC Starting Grants

5 projects: 2 in the Social Sciences and Humanities domain, 1 in the Life Sciences domain and 2 in the Physical Sciences and Engineering domain

BigEarth - Accurate and Scalable Processing of Big Data in Earth Observation (1.491.479 euro - 60 months)
Begüm Demir
Department of Information engineering and Computer science
VARIAMOLS - VAriable ResolutIon Algorithms for macroMOLecular Simulation (1.339.351 euro - 60 months)
Raffaello Potestio
Department of Physics
Within the broad spectrum of biological systems, large proteins and protein assemblies occupy a central role. One of the most prominent problems in the computational study of these macromolecules is the extremely high cost of accurate atomistic models. Coarse-grained representations, on the other hand, often lack crucial chemical detail. The main goal of the VARIAMOLS project is to develop and apply novel computer-aided methods for the study of large molecular assemblies and their dynamics, thus bridging the existing gap between computational cost and chemical accuracy. The VARIAMOLS project rests on two complementary and strictly interconnected aspects: the theoretical and algorithmic advancement of the methods currently employed to represent and simulate biomolecules, and the systematic application of the developed methods to viruses and antibodies.
MetaPG - Culture-free strain-level population genomics to identify disappearing human-associated microbes in the westernized world  (1.499.482 euro - 60 months)
Nicola Segata
CIBIO - Centre of Integrative Biology
Investigating symbiotic gut microbes with large-scale comparative genomics would allow gaining crucial insights into the “epidemiology”, genetic diversity, and population structure of hundreds of scarcely characterized microorganisms. MetaPG will bridge the gap between the fields of metagenomics and population genomics by developing novel methodologies to extract strain-level genomic and genetic profiles from metagenomic samples with the resolution needed by comparative genomics. Among the novel lines of research enabled, we will focus on identifying those microbial strains that are currently disappearing in westernized populations as a consequence of urbanization, industrialization, high-fat diets. MetaPG defines the foundation for cultivation-free strain-level population genomics, provides comparative genomics results with unprecedented resolution for hundreds of under-investigated microbes, and compiles a catalogue of strains undergoing or at risk of primary, secondary, or ecological extinction in westernized populations.
HOMing - The Home-Migration Nexus: Home as a Window on Migrant Belonging, Integration and Circulation  (1.499.678 euro - 60 months)
Paolo Boccagni
Department of Sociology and Social research
The experience of home lies at the core of everyday life. Only through migration, though, it is revealed as a complex and elusive social construction, whose micro analysis illuminates macro social change. How home works in the life trajectories of those who left it behind, and what the search for home says of their belonging, integration and circulation, are the central questions of HOMInG. Building on a mixed-method design on labour and forced immigrants, related to different household arrangements, countries and groups of reference, HOMInG pursues four aims: (1) Analyze the patterns and determinants of migrants’ "ways of homing"; (2) Advance the theoretical connection between home, mobility and circulation, by understanding how (far) the physical, relational, cultural and emotional bases of home are reproduced over space; (3) Innovate the comparative study of belonging and place attachment among both mobile and sedentary populations; (4) Assess the conditions for private and public spaces to enable an inclusive home experience, marked by emplaced security, familiarity and control.   
CRASK - Cortical Representation of Abstract Semantic Knowledge (1.472.502 euro - 60 months)
Scott Laurence Fairhall 
CiMeC - Centre for Mind/Brain sciences
Conceptual representation in the brain has been studied in terms of simple concepts, like an apple (a red/green, round, edible, fruit). The challenge of CRASK is to move beyond this to our complex encyclopedic knowledge (the rebellious Swiss, William Tell, once shot an apple off his sons head with a crossbow).CRASK will use MEG, fMRI and fine behavioural manipulations to meet this challenge. First creating a cortical systems-model of simple concepts, then using this to unlock how the brain creates the combinatorial world-knowledge that is so important for our daily lives.

ERC Consolidator grants

1 project in the Life Sciences domain

 SPICE- Synthetic Lethal Phenotype Identification through Cancer Evolution Analysis (1.996.428 euro - 60 months)
Francesca Demichelis 
CIBIO - Centre of Integrative Biology
The overall goal of the SPICE research project is the development of an innovative methodology to nominate genomic predictors of lethal cancer and to identify co-targeting solutions based on synthetic lethal combinations, i.e. events that are lethal for cells when concurrent. The innovation stems from the capability of quantifying genomic lesions clonality to infer tumor evolution patterns and allows for the unbiased search of potential co-targeting solutions not yet explored. The methodology exploits information down to base-pair resolution and patient's genetic code from sequencing experiments and combines computational and mathematical tactics to handle highly aberrant genomes typical of advanced and treated tumours. Extensive experimental work will validate the prioritized combinations. Successful results will translate into drug targeting opportunities that will selectively destroy cancer cells.

ERC Proof of Concept Grants

1 project in the Physical Sciences and Engineering domain

SILKENE - Bionic silk with graphene or other nanomaterials spun by silkworms (149.944 euro - 18 months)
Nicola Pugno
Department of Civil, Environmental and Mechanical engineering
We aim at producing bionic silk and related super performing macroscopic tissues directly spun by silkworms fed with  nanomaterials such as graphene. 


ERC Starting Grants

8 projects: 2 in the Physical Sciences and Engineering domain and 6 in the Social Sciences and Humanities domain.

BIHSNAM - Bio-inspired Hierarchical Super Nanomaterials (810.996 euro - 60 months)
Nicola Pugno 
Department of Civil, Environmental and Mechanical engineering
The idea of the project is to combine nature, nanotechnologies and nanomaterials, such as graphene, in order to design bio-inspired hierarchical supermaterials with still unattained mechanical properties such as strenght, toughness, adhesion, self-cleaning, self-healing, etc. This research has already led to the discovery of the strongest natural material yet documented (limpet teeth) and to the development of the world’s strongest artificial fiber (inspired by spider web anchorages). 
CoPeST - Construction of perceptual space-time (1.002.102 euro - 60 months)
David Paul Melcher
CIMeC - Centre for Mind/Brain sciences
Our subjective experience of the environment is that it consists of objects and events occurring at a particular time (“now”) and in a particular three-dimensional space (“here”). How the brain constructs our perception of space and time is a mystery, since the individual neurons in our brain respond to local, specific details in a range of different spatial coordinate systems and with different temporal delays. This project brings together behavioral, neuroimaging and computational approaches to investigate the mechanisms that underlie our subjective experience of continous space and time, in order to uncover how uni-sensory, ego-centric sensory responses give rise to the rich, multisensory experience of unified space-time.
Win2Con - Brain-State Dependent Perception: Finding the Windows to Consciousness (963.101 euro - 60 months)
Nathan Weisz 
CIMeC - Centre for Mind/Brain sciences
The grant was transferred to another host institution on 30/09/2015. 
COMPOSES - Compositional Operations in Semantic Space (1.117.636 euro - 60 months)
Marco Baroni 
CIMeC - Centre for Mind/Brain sciences
We tackle the meaning induction and composition problem from a new perspective that brings together corpus-based distributional semantics (that is very successful at inducing the meaning of single content words, but ignores functional elements and compositionality) and formal semantics (that focuses on functional elements and composition, but largely ignores lexical aspects of meaning and lacks methods to learn the proposed structures from data).
STiMulUS - Space-Time Methods for Multi-Fluid Problems on Unstructured Meshes (918.000 euro - 60 months)
Michael Dumbser 
Department of Civil, Environmental and Mechanical engineering
We develop new algorithms for the solution of general nonlinear systems of time-dependent partial differential equations in the context of non-ideal magnetized multifluid plasma flows with thermal radiation. We will produce new high-order schemes on unstructured tetrahedral meshes that are applicable to a rather general class of problems in general geometries, thus, opening a wide range of possible applications in science and engineering.
FAMINE - Families of Inequalities – Social and economic consequences of the changing work-family equilibria in European Societies (478.494 euro - 48 months)
Stefani Scherer 
Department of Sociology and Social research
The project investigates social and economic inequalities associated with changes in labour markets, welfare states and family configurations over recent decades in European countries. 
Particular focus is given to the new work-family (dis-)equilibria, thus the changes in women’s labor-market behavior, the linkage between employment and family decisions, and the (divergent) capabilities of different types of families to compensate for increasing market risks and to shelter family components from increasing economic and occupational insecurity. The role of the state in moderating the consequences of institutional changes is a core theme.
NeuroInt - How the brain codes the past to predict the future (978.678 euro - 48 months)
Uri Hasson 
CIMEC - Centre for Mind/Brain sciences
The overarching objective of this research program is to use neuroimaging methods to determine how the recent past is coded in the human brain and how this coding contributes to the processing of incoming information.
A central tenet of this proposal is that being able to maintain a representation of the recent past is fundamental for constructing internal predictions about future states of the environment.
Why are we able to predict the future? 
MADVIS - Mapping the Deprived Visual System: Cracking function for prediction (917.289 euro - 60 months)
Olivier Marie Claire Collignon 
CIMeC - Centre for Mind/Brain sciences  (from 1/1/2016 the Host Institution is the Universite Catholique de Louvain)
The main goal of MADVIS is to make a breakthrough on two fronts: (1) understanding how visual deprivation at different sensitive periods in development affects the functional organization and activity of the occipital cortex; and (2) use the fundamental knowledge derived from (1) to test and predict the outcome of sight restoration. Using a pioneering interdisciplinary approach that crosses the boundaries between cognitive neurosciences and ophthalmology, MADVIS will have a large impact on our understanding of how experience at different sensitive periods shapes the response properties of specific brain regions. Finally, in its attempt to fill the existing gap between cross-modal reorganization and sight restoration, MADVIS will eventually pave the way for a new generation of predictive surveys prior to sensory restoration.

ERC Consolidator Grants

1 project in the Social Sciences and Humanities domain.

Transfer-Learning: Transfer Learning within and between brains  (1.999.998 euro – 60 months)
Giorgio Coricelli  
CIMeC - Centre for Mind/Brain sciences
 We intend to study social learning mechanisms underlying cortical and subcortical activity in humans. The long-term objective is to develop a neural theory of learning: a mathematical framework that describes the neural plasticity and computations mediating social learning. We plan to develop and test a model of adaptive learning based on three basic principles: (1) the observation of the outcome of the un-chosen options improves the learning process, (2) learning can be transferred from one domain to another, and (3) learning can be transferred from one agent to another (i.e. social learning). The potential findings of this project could lead us to suggest general principles of social learning, and we will be able to measure and model neural activation to show those general principles in action.

ERC Advanced Grants

6 projects: 5 projects as Host Institution (1 in the Social Sciences and Humanities domain and 3 in the Physical Sciences and Engineering domain) and  1 project as partner institution (in the Social Sciences and Humanities domain).   

PREMESOR - Predisposed mechanisms for social orienting: A comparative neuro-cognitive approach (2.367.922 euro - 66 months)
Giorgio Vallortigara 
CIMeC - Centre for Mind/Brain sciences
The aim of the project is to develop a detailed animal model of vertebrate social predispositions, using the domestic chicken, and relating this work closely to the equivalent behavioral and neural measures in human newborns, including those at risk of autism, for which there is no widely-accepted animal model.
INSTABILITIES - Instabilities and nonlocal multiscale modelling of materials (2.379.359 euro - 60 months)
Davide Bigoni 
Department of Civil, Environmental and Mechanical engineering
The aim of the research ERC project "Instabilities" is to analyze failure mechanisms of ductile materials, which usually occur through a multiscale interaction of discrete microstructures hierarchically emerging through subsequent material instabilities and self-organizing into regular patterns (shear band clusters, for instance). Through the analysis of material instabilities and taking advantage of analogies with laboratory models of structures, innovative microstructures will be designed to be embedded in solids, in order to open new possibilities in the achievement of ultra-resistant materials and structures. The target will be the realization of a material exhibiting flutter instability or microstructures evidencing strain-gradient effects or innovative metamaterials. 
This activity will enable the achievement of innovative dynamical properties, defining, for instance, flat lenses for elastic waves, evidencing negative refraction and superlensing effects, thus opening up new horizons in the dynamics of materials and structures.
QGBE - Quantum Gases Beyond Equilibrium (1.638.560 euro - 60 months)
Sandro Stringari 
Department of Physics
This project aims at theoretically exploring novel dynamic and transport properties of quantum gases at both finite and zero temperature, with special emphasis on the effects of quantum statistics, superfluidity and the role of interactions. An important motivation of the project is to identify questions of broad interest which might be relevant also beyond the realm of quantum gases, as well as to develop advanced theoretical approaches to challenging problems of statistical mechanics and many-body physics.
Lucretius - Foundations for Software Evolution (2.462.095  euro - 60 months)
Ioannis Mylopoulos 
Department of Information engineering and Computer science
The main objective of the project is to develop a theoretical foundation for concepts, tools and techniques that support and facilitate software evolution.
A focal point is the design of adaptive software systems that can evolve automatically in response to unsatisfactory results. Evolution here means that the system monitors its environment and adapts (i.e., changes its own behavior) if its own performance is not consistent with system requirements. 
Software evolution is often caused by new rules and regulation, such as new laws. A second is to study systematic, tool-supported techniques for ensuring that an existing software system complies with a new law. This research includes developing new techniques for building formal models of laws and requirements, also for ensuring their mutual consistency.
The third focal point is the development of new models for software requirements founded on new sets of concepts for modeling requirements, laws, designs and business objectives that lead to software requirements.
Perceptual Awareness- Perceptual Awareness in the Reorganizing Brain (563.636 euro – 60 months)
Angelika Lingnau 
CIMeC  - Centre for Mind/Brain sciences (partner) - Host Institution: University of Verona 
The project aims at casting light on the neural and cognitive reorganization of the visual function, following unilateral lesion at various levels of the central visual system, such as, the optic tract, optic radiation, primary visual cortex, and extrastriate visual areas. This objective will be pursued by means of behavioural paradigms associated with fMRI scanning and ERP and MEG recording. The result should lead to the development of novel imagery-based visual rehabilitation protocols which are individually tailored.
OMVac - Outer Membrane Vesicles (OMVs) from "Vaccinobacter": a Synthetic Biology approach for effective vaccines against infectious diseases and cancer (2.201.828 euro – 60 mesi)
Guido Grandi 
CIBIO - Centre for Integrative Biology
The project will involve applying Synthetic Biology to create Vaccinobacter, a new bacterial species for the production of multivalent, highly- effective vaccines. The idea originates from the evidence that Outer membrane Vesicles (OMVs) naturally produced by all Gram-negative bacteria can induce remarkable protective immunity, a property already employed in anti-Neisseria vaccines, now also available for human use. OMV protection is mediated by Pathogen- Associated-Molecular Patterns, known to play a key role in stimulating innate immunity.

ERC Proof of Concept

2 projects in the Physical Sciences and Engineering domain.

REPLICA2 - Large-area replication of biological anti-adhesive nanosurfaces (147.000 euro – 12 months)
Nicola Pugno 
Department of Civil, Environmental and Mechanical engineering
We aim at producing large area super-hydrophobic and self-cleaning surfaces inspired by the morphology of lotus leaves. 
KNOTOUGH - Super-tough knotted fibers (149.490 euro – 12 months)
Nicola Pugno 
Department of Civil, Environmental and Mechanical engineering
We aim at producing super-tough fibers and related macroscopic tissues inspired by spider silk and web.