Two Faculty Awarded ERC 2022 Starting Grants

Two Faculty Awarded ERC 2022 Starting Grants

We are pleased to announce that both James Bryson and Julie Cosmidis of Oxford Earth Sciences have been awarded European Research Council (ERC) starter grants this year.

Part of the Horizon Europe Programme, the funding is worth in total €636 million shared among 408 researchers. The funding is to help outstanding early career scientists, who have 2 to 7 years’ experience after their PhDs, to pursue their most promising ideas and build their teams.

James Bryson, Associate Professor of Mineralogy in the Department of Earth Sciences, has been awarded an ERC Starting Grant to advance his research on measuring the properties of meteorites to better understand how the planets in our solar system formed.

‘Meteorites give us a rare opportunity to make highly detailed analyses of bodies which formed at the same time of the planets, 4.5 billion years ago. This grant will provide me with the time, finances, equipment, and personnel to scrutinise meteorites with a new level of clarity. Ultimately, this will enable me to address major unanswered questions about the processes that occurred during the first 5 million years of our solar system that led to the planets we observe today, including what processes led to Earth becoming uniquely habitable.’

‘I would like to thank everyone who has mentored me throughout my career so far. I would also like to acknowledge everyone in Oxford who has made me feel so welcomed in my first few years here and helped me shape my proposal and provided valuable feedback that led to it being funded.’

Julie Cosmidis, Associate Professor of Geobiology in the Department of Earth Sciences, researches biomineralization (the process that living organisms use to grow minerals) in bacteria. ‘Because bacteria can grow minerals with very well-defined properties, we can potentially use biomineralization as a way to obtain advanced “green” materials for different technological applications’ she said. ‘This grant will allow our group to design and build a new analytical platform to gain a deeper understanding of the biological mechanisms behind microbial biomineralization including the genes and biological processes involved.’ Ultimately, she intends to apply this knowledge to develop new bioengineering strategies to produce biominerals for different technological applications, such as energy storage or wastewater treatment.

‘This ERC Starting grant will give me time and freedom to focus on a challenging project that could be an exciting step towards the development of mineral material biomanufacturing’ she said. ‘I am particularly thankful to my academic mentors, my colleagues in the Department of Earth Sciences, and the Oxford administrative staff who provided feedback on my proposal and helped me to navigate the application process.’

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. The ERC is led by an independent governing body, the Scientific Council. Since 1 November 2021, Maria Leptin is the President of the ERC. The overall  ERC budget from 2021 to 2027 is more than €16 billion, as part of the Horizon Europe programme, under the responsibility of the European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, Mariya Gabriel.