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European research Council Grants

The European Research Council (ERC) supports cross-disciplinary research projects, ground-breaking ideas in emerging fields of research, and innovative and unconventional approaches. The ERC supports individual outstanding researchers from any country and of any age.

Prof Dr Alexandra Cuffel – ERC Consolidator Grant

Prof Dr Alexandra Cuffel

Under the umbrella of the project JEWSEAST, an international team headed by Professor Cuffel analyses in the ways which Jews and Christians outside Europe and the Byzantine Empire interacted and lived together after the Late Antiquity period. The results are intended to close a research gap: while the coexistence between European Jews and Christians is considered to be well researched, the interaction between Oriental-Orthodox Churches and Jewish communities has been only sporadically looked into. The researchers are going to study and evaluate manuscripts, books, headstone inscriptions and other archaeological artefacts in different languages, e.g. in Armenian, Arabic and Ancient Ethiopic.

Prof Dr Martina Havenith – ERC Advanced Grant

With her 2.5 million ERC Advanced Grant, Prof Dr Martina Havenith plans to develop a ground-breaking methodology called "Time-Resolved THz-Calorimetry". Scientists will tinker with Terahertz (THz) laser spectroscopy to deduce with nanosecond precision how proteins and solvent exchange energy and rearrange themselves in a biological process. Unfortunately, current calorimetric approaches are all based on heat transfer, hence they deliver results on time scales of 1 to 100 seconds and can analyse the system only at equilibrium, i.e. when molecules are already bound. However, the dynamic interplay between the partner molecules and the solvent is crucial to biological reactions. THz-Calorimetry promises to investigate these processes, for the first time in real time with a million time better time resolution. Martina Havenith’s research project is scheduled to start on October 1, 2016.
(Foto: © RUB, Marquard)

Prof Dr Thorsten Holz – ERC Starting Grant

With his 1.5 million ERC Starting Grant, Prof Dr Thorsten Holz plans to improve the security of the “Internet of Things”. The number of devices connected to the Internet is continuously on the increase, and they are thus liable to manipulation and misuse. Under the umbrella of the project “Leveraging Binary Analysis to Secure the Internet of thiNgs – BASTION”, developers at his Chair are designing new analysis tools for these devices, with the purpose of finding potential vulnerabilities. In addition, they design novel security mechanisms meant to protect such devices from attacks. A considerable challenge is making the new methods run on as many devices as possible. Therefore, Thorsten Holz’ team initially translates different software components into an intermediate language.

Prof Dr Stefan M. Huber – ERC Starting Grant

With his 1.5 million ERC Starting Grant, Prof Dr Stefan M. Huber has dedicated himself to developing novel catalysers. They are meant to pioneer the utilisation of so-called “halogen bridges”, a specific weak interaction between molecules. Thus, they will help to form one specific type of molecules, which are typically generated as two mirrored shapes in chemical reactions. This is relevant, for example, for the pharmaceutical industry, because often only one of the two mirrored molecules presents efficacy as a drug, while the other one frequently causes severe side effects.

Prof Dr Eike Kiltz – ERC Consolidator

Grant Small chips are a familiar sight: in the electronic passport, the electronic health card or automated electric strikes. They are also used in healthcare, i.e. in pacemakers. They contain information about us that have to be protected with cryptographic protocols. In collaboration with Prof Mihir Bellare from the University of California San Diego and Prof Christof Paar from the Chair for Embedded Security at RUB, Prof Kiltz develops novel security processes for such chips. Eike Kiltz will be granted a total volume of 1.8 million euros for his project, starting in November 2014. The grants awarded by the European Research Council enable research talents to realise new ideas. The research council backs young scientists with up to two million euros for the period of five years.

Press release

Juniorprofessor Lars Leichert – ERC Starting Grant


In November 2011, Bochum scientist junior professor Lars Leichert of the Medical Proteome Centre received a European Research Council  “Starting Grant” worth 1.5 million euros for his proposed research project.   

The aim of the project is to decode the previously unknown role of genes found by researchers in a glass of seawater. Leichert’s team is testing, for example, whether the proteins from the seawater could be relevant for industry – for instance for the manufacture of bio-fuels or detergents.  

Following appointments in Greifswald and the US state of Michigan, Leichert came to RUB, where, he has been Juniorprofessor at the Medical Proteome Centre, leading  the Redox Proteomics working group.  

Press release

Prof Dr Christof Paar – ERC Advanced Grant

The upcoming Internet of Things (IoT) will interconnect many devices of everyday life. Even though there are many new services for consumers, this development also poses a major security challenge. Attacks that target the hardware chips that are present in all IoT devices, rather than the software, are considered particularly dangerous. By manipulating integrated circuits attackers can, for instance, circumvent security solutions and gain control over crucial devices and systems. The project of IT security expert Christof Paar, which is funded with 2.5 million euros by the ERC, intends to avert that. In a first step, the researchers plan to analyse the different ways in which hardware can be manipulated. In the second phase, countermeasures will be developed. Estimated start date of the research project: October 1, 2016. (Foto: © RUB, Nelle)

Press release