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 301-350 group of the the best world class universities according to the World University Ranking 2020 issued by the Times Higher Education magazine.

UniTrento research can be powerfully illustrated through the list of the research topics of our 31 ERC projects (16 funded under FP7 and 15 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

7 projects: 3 projects in the Social Sciences and Humanities domain, 1 project in the Life Sciences domain and 3 projects in the Physical Sciences and Engineering domain

StrEnQTh - Strong Entanglement in Quantum many-body Theory (1.499.563 euro - 60 months) - at UniTrento dal 1/11/2019 (previous Host institution: Ruprecht-Karls-Universitaet Heidelberg) 
Philipp Hans Juergen Hauke
Department of Physics
This project addresses a frontier of modern quantum physics, entanglement in strongly correlated many-particle systems. At present, despite its importance for fundamental phenomena and potential applications, many-body entanglement is poorly understood theoretically and eludes experimental investigations. Three fundamental challenges are blocking further progress: there are infinitely many classes of many-body entangled states, the calculation of real-time quantum dynamics is inherently difficult, and the quantification of many-particle entanglement remains a hard experimental challenge. StrEnQTh adopts a radically novel approach to force a breakthrough in each of these challenges, concentrating on specific targets motivated by next-generation AMO setups. 1. By designing a dedicated quantum resource theory, I will establish a novel framework for topological long-range entanglement. 2. By implementing crucial improvements on a tensor-network method, thermalization dynamics in gauge theories becomes tractable, especially ydrodynamization after heavy-ion collisions. 3. By exploiting the untapped potentials of time-reversing quantum dynamics and measuring high-order correlations, mixed-state entanglement becomes accessible. Further, by introducing a new paradigm of detection bydissipation, unequal-time correlators become available as a novel toolset for witnessing many-body entanglement.To achieve these goals, StrEnQTh builds on (i) my expertise at the interface of quantum optics and information with quantum many-body theory; (ii) previous works and preliminary results that minimize risks; (iii) fruitful synergies between the goals; (iv) a high versatility of the developed methods.The impact of this project will reach far beyond its immediate field. It will elucidate fundamental theoretical questions of relevance to strongly correlated matter at large, and it will deliver a new generation of detection tools that can find application in other platforms.
MAGIC - Architectured Soft Magnetoactive Materials: Beyond Instabilities (1.999.085 euro - 60 months)
Stephan Rudykh
Department of Civil, Environmental and Mechanical engineering
Soft magnetoactive materials can change their properties and undergo extremely large deformations when excited by magnetic stimuli. These reconfigurable soft materials hold great potential for a large variety of applications from sensing devices to energy harvesting, noise and vibration mitigation, and soft robotics. However, these materials operate at high magnetic fields, thus, limiting potential application of the technology. A promising approach to significantly enhance the magnetomechanical performance, and reduce the required magnetic field, is to design soft magnetoactive composites through architectured microstructures. Highly ordered microstructures are an origin for multiscale magnetomechanical instabilities and possible failure of the materials. In this research proposal, we directly address this crucial aspect for MAE-based technology. Moreover, we declare an ambitious goal: Turning failure into functionalities.
Our strategy is to take the risk of operating MAEs in the unstable regime with predesigned instability developments. This novel MAE design concept will capitalize on controllable cascade microstructure transformations while attempting to avoid catastrophic failure. If successful, this concept will open a new avenue in design of morphing magnetoactive materials with new functionalities and superior performance. To achieve this ambitious goal, we will develop multiscale theoretical and computational frameworks to reveal and to predict the behavior of possible advantageous microstructures in the extreme regimes. If successful, we will fill the gap in magnetomechanical multiscale instability phenomena, and will significantly advance the frontier of knowledge about the reconfigurable soft matter. We will probe our ideas experimentally, and will fabricate the revealed advantageous materials with engineered microstructures and properties. We envision revealing the fundamental multiphysics mechanisms of the multiscale magnetomechanical instabilities.
NOAM - Navigation of a mind-space. The spatial organization of declarative knowledge (1.498.644 euro - 60 months)
Roberto Bottini
CiMeC - Centre for Mind/Brain sciences
Your brain is among the most complex existing systems, and it processes every second an amazing amount of data.
The most amazing thing, however, is that you get to know some of it.
Declarative knowledge, meaning the portion of knowledge that we can consciously access and manipulate, is one of the most enduring mysteries of the human mind. How did it evolve? And what are the mechanisms behind it?
One possibility is that the complex neural machinery that mammals evolved to navigate space has been recycled to "navigate" declarative knowledge. Research from single cell recordings in rodents to brain imaging studies with humans is converging toward the fascinating hypothesis that conscious declarative knowledge is spatially organized,
and can be stored, retrieved and manipulated through the same computations used to represent and navigate physical space. Crucially, this spatial scaffolding may be what makes knowledge accessible to us.
The time is mature for an integral and ambitious attempt to test and develop this innovative hypothesis. NOAM will be at the frontline of this endeavour relying upon cutting-edge neuroimaging and analysis techniques. In this project
we will test the relationships between spatial and conceptual navigation asking whether people that navigate space in a different way (congenitally blind individuals) also navigate concepts in a different way. Then, we will explore how low-dimensional cognitive maps interact with multidimensional semantic information, and we will test whether the spatial organization is a trademark of conscious declarative knowledge or extends to unconscious conceptual processing. Finally we will adopt a translational approach to characterize the neural basis of pre-clinical Alzheimer Disease. Thanks to its groundbreaking nature and high-risk/high-gain approach, NOAM has the potential to ensure major progresses in cognitive neuroscience, artificial intelligence and related fields, changing the way we think about the human mind. 
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 Advanced Grants

3 projects: 1 project in the  Physical Sciences and Engineering domain and 2 projects in the Life Sciences domain

VACCIBIOME - Cancer Vaccines and Gut Microbiome: a rational approach to optimize cancer immunotherapy (2.450.000 euro - 60 months) 
Guido Grandi
Department CIBIO
SPANUMBRA - Number-space associations in the brain (2.628.333 euro - 60 months) 
Giorgio Vallortigara
CiMeC - Centre for Mind/Brain sciences
Research in cognitive science has revealed that the temporal, spatial, and numerical features of a stimulus can interact with one another. An example is the tendency to map increasing numerical magnitudes with a left-to-right orientation. Numerical-spatial associations (NSA) are pervasive in human behaviour and have relevance to health (e.g., dyscalculia is thought to be related to improper understanding of the so-called «mental number line»). NSA have been shown to occur in human newborns and in non-human animals for non-symbolic numerousness. SPANUMBRA aims to investigate NSA in different animal models (domestic chicks, mice and zebrafish) and in human neonates and infants to provide a comprehensive and comparative perspective on the developmental, neural and genetic origins of this phenomenon. The project will be guided by a new hypothesis that links the direction of NSA to a differential role of the two sides of the brain to the perceived value (valence) of changes in magnitudes. The role of the experience (WP1) in the development of NSA will be investigated making use of early exposure to light in chicks’ embryos to modulate brain asymmetry, and controlled-rearing experiments in which newly-hatched chicks will be exposed to correlated and anti-correlated discrete and continuous magnitudes. Development of NSA will be also studied in human neonates and infants (WP2) before, during, and after the exposure to culture-specific NSA associations (numbers organized in spatially oriented layouts) to investigate the role of culture in shaping/reinforcing NSA. The study of the neural basis of the NSA (WP3) will combine neurobiological techniques (immediate early gene expression in chicks and zebrafish), and non-invasive methods (EEG and fNIRS in human neonates). The genetic bases of NSA (WP4) will be investigated using transgenic lines of zebrafish and mice, in order to understand the role of some genes implicated in the development of lateralization and in dyscalculia.
BACKUP -  Unveiling the relationship between brain connectivity and function by integrated photonics  (2.499.825 euro - 60 months) 
Lorenzo Pavesi 
Department of Physics
I will address the fundamental question of which is the role of neuron activity and plasticity in information elaboration andstorage in the brain. I, together with an interdisciplinary team, will develop a hybrid neuro-morphic computing platform.Integrated photonic circuits will be interfaced to both electronic circuits and neuronal circuits (in vitro experiments) to emulate brain functions and develop schemes able to supplement (backup) neuronal functions. The photonic network is based on massive reconfigurable matrices of nonlinear nodes formed by microring resonators, which enter in regime of self-pulsing and chaos by positive optical feedback. These networks resemble human brain. I will push this analogy furtherby interfacing the photonic network with neurons making hybrid network. By using optogenetics, I will control the synapticstrengthen-ing and the neuron activity. Deep learning algorithms will model the biological network functionality, initially within a separate artificial network and, then, in an integrated hybrid artificial-biological network.My project aims at:1. Developing a photonic integrated reservoir-computing network (RCN);2. Developing dynamic memories in photonic integrated circuits using RCN;3. Developing hybrid interfaces between a neuronal network and a photonic integrated circuit;4. Developing a hybrid electronic, photonic and biological network that computes jointly;5. Addressing neuronal network activity by photonic RCN to simulate in vitro memory storage and retrieval;6. Elaborating the signal from RCN and neuronal circuits in order to cope with plastic changes in pathologi-cal brainconditions such as amnesia and epilepsy.The long-term vision is that hybrid neuromorphic photonic networks will (a) clarify the way brain thinks, (b) compute beyond von Neumann, and (c) control and supplement specific neuronal functions.

ERC Proof of Concept Grants

4 projects: 1 project in the Physical Sciences and Engineering domain and 3 projects in the Life Sciences domain

NeuroSoNew - Portable EEG-based screening of social predispositions in newborns (149.945 euro - 18 months)
Giorgio Vallortigara
CiMeC - Centre for Mind/Brain sciences
Predispositions to preferentially orient towards cues associated with social partners, such as face-like stimuli or biological and animate motion, appear to guide human social behavior from the onset of life and are typically impaired in children with autism-spectrum disorders (ASD). An early detector of social predispositions and their impairment in newborns might provide a valuable biomarker for ASD, an indicator of utmost relevance since infants with ASD greatly benefit from early behavioral intervention. This proposal builds on a study performed within my ERC grant in which, by designing an innovative oscillatory visual presentation of face-like patterns and perceptually equivalent controls, we identified an EEG-based index of face processing, present in each newborn tested and obtainable with less than 2 minutes of newborn’s visual attention. However, recording newborn’s EEG is currently possible only in laboratory settings, as no fully portable EEG system adapted for newborns exists in the market. The goal of this proposal is to design a portable, wireless EEG-based device that allows easy, rapid and automatic testing of face processing in newborns in any context, including their homes. This device is ground-breaking because it will combine the efficacy of our innovative experimental paradigm tailored to newborn’s restricted visual attention with a portable, low-power, wireless EEG device based on dry electrodes and an automatic algorithm that will extract on-line the EEG-based index of face processing. Its realization will enable the development of an early, objective and easy-to-test EEG-based biomarker on newborns at risk, potentially opening the way to large-scale screening protocols. Given the flexibility of the paradigm with respect to the content of the visual stimulation, this method might be used for research purposes to explore the neural bases of other perceptual and cognitive functions in newborns.
MoVis - An innovative screening protocol device for early identification of neonates at high-risk for Autism Spectrum Disorders (144.186 euro - 18 monthsi)
Giorgio Vallortigara
CiMeC - Centre for Mind/Brain sciences
Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) compose an early-onset neurodevelopmental syndrome primarily characterized byimpairments in social perception, cognition and communication, and by a restricted pattern of interests and behavior.Without any doubts, infants and children with ASD greatly benefit from early behavioral intervention, therefore an earlydetection and treatment of ASD has placed as a major health care priority. Unfortunately, nowadays, ASD diagnosis occursat 2.5-4 years of age. In my previous ERC AdG Project, I proved that inborn predisposition to visual social stimuli (i.e., facelikepatterns, eye-gaze and biological motion) is different between newborns at high-risk for ASD (HR, younger siblings ofaffected children) and newborns at low-risk (LR). Significant predictors for HR newborns were obtained and an accuratebiomarker was identified. Starting from this, the goal of MoViS Project (Mobile Visual Stimulation) will be to develop, for thevery first time, a simple and innovative tool for early screening and monitoring of neonates social behaviour by means ofvisual stimulation.This is an innovative and a promising idea because, behind providing an important contribution in expanding our currentknowledge about the ontogenesis of the ASD. The possibility of targeting high-risk infants during the first days of their life,via a behavioral marker for social orienting, could allow for a new generation of early therapeutic interventions forrehabilitation, starting in a time when brain plasticity allows reorganization of cortical circuits.
OMVCRC - Engineered bacterial Outer Membrane Vesicles (OMVs) for colorectal cancer immunotherapy  (93.750 euro - 18 months)
Guido Grandi
CIBIO - Centre for Integrative Biology
This proposal originates from recent results obtained in the course of the Advanced ERC Project “OMVac”, the scope of which is to exploit the unique adjuvanticity properties of bacterial Outer Membrane Vesicles (OMVs) for developing innovative vaccines against infectious diseases and cancer. In particular, Synthetic Biology was applied to engineer OMVs with FAT1, a tumour associated antigen expressed in most primary and metastatic colorectal cancers (CRC). Using cancermodels in immunocompetent mice, immunization with FAT1-decorated OMVs inhibited subcutaneous growth of FAT1-positive CT26 cancer cells and protection correlated with an increase in tumour infiltration of CD4+/CD8+ T cells andconcomitant decrease of Treg and MDSCs. These promising results prompted the submission of the present proposal which has as main objectives: 1) the demonstration that FAT1-OMV immunization can synergise with the protective activity of checkpoint inhibitors, and 2) the development of a scalable FAT1-OMV production and purification process which could allow testing FAT1-OMV/checkpoint inhibitor combination in the clinical setting.
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

5 projects: 1 in the Social Sciences and Humanities domain and 3 in the Physical Sciences and Engineering 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.
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.