Two top European grants for young researchers at Bielefeld University
ERC Starting Grants for Professor Dr Martina Hofmanová and Dr Toni Goßmann
The European Research Council (ERC) has awarded ERC Starting Grants to two researchers from Bielefeld University. They will each receive 1.5 million euros for top-level research in their disciplines. In her project, Professor Dr Martina Hofmanová from the Faculty of Mathematics is investigating fluid flows and studying how they are influenced by randomness. Dr Toni Goßmann from the Faculty of Biology is working on epigenetic programming—that is, he is investigating flexible changes in the genomes that control, for example, which genes are activated in body cells. As recipients of this research funding, Hofmanová and Goßmann now belong to Europe's best young scientists.
How randomness influences equilibria and turbulence
The ERC is funding the project ‘Mathematical analysis of fluid flows: the challenge of randomness’ (FluFloRan) as part of Professor Dr Martina Hofmanová’s award. Funding will run for five years from March 2021. Martina Hofmanová’s research group is investigating how randomness influences fluid flows. Unlike physicists, she is not using experiments for this purpose, but working with mathematical equations. Like many scientists worldwide, she is working on finding the right equations to describe flows in liquids and gases. One of her major goals is to develop a mathematical theory for the origin of turbulence. ‘I am trying to do this by considering randomness—that is, random perturbations on a microscopic level.’ Research in this field is relevant to many applications ranging from aerospace engineering to the development of racing bikes. ‘If we succeed in preventing turbulent flows or making use of them, this will save energy or power,’ says Hofmanová. The further development of corresponding mathematical models is also important for meteorology and will enable it to make more precise predictions.
‘The equations we are working with in the project come from physics. We want to clarify them with mathematical methods: Do the equations really have a solution? And if so, is this solution also unique?’ says Hofmanová. Experts are familiar with the Navier–Stokes equations and the Euler equations. Engineers and meteorologists use them for simulations. ‘However, they repeatedly produce strange, unphysical results that cannot exist in reality,’ says Martina Hofmanová. ‘I would like to find out how we can use mathematics to distinguish such impossible solutions from the good, physical solutions.’
Martina Hofmanová obtained her Master's degree in mathematics at Charles University in Prague, the largest university in the Czech Republic. She obtained her doctorate at the École Normale Supérieure Cachan, L’antenne de Bretagne, in France. Before coming to Bielefeld in 2017, she spent a year researching in Leipzig at the Max Planck Institute for Mathematics in the Sciences and three years at the Technical University of Berlin. She is a member of the Collaborative Research Centre (SFB) 1283 at Bielefeld University, in which the mathematical theory of randomness plays a central role.
Toni Goßmann graduated in bioinformatics at the Friedrich Schiller University in Jena. He then received his doctorate in biology from the University of Sussex (UK). Afterwards, he carried out research at the University of Hohenheim and the University of Sheffield (UK) before moving to Bielefeld University in 2019. His move to Bielefeld was made possible by the university’s ‘ERC Preparative Fellowship’. The fellowship is designed to help outstanding young academics prepare a proposal for an ERC Starting Grant. Goßmann is an associate member of the Transregio Collaborative Research Centre (SFB/TRR 212) NC³ at Bielefeld University and the University of Münster that is focusing on the individualization of animals and their ecological niches.
The European Research Council (ERC) awards its Starting Grant to outstanding young researchers in the first seven years after completing their doctorates. The award will fund their research over five years with up to 1.5 million euros. To be eligible for the award, researchers must have already published their own work as first authors and have demonstrated their future leadership role in research. There are two researchers at Bielefeld University who have already been awarded the ERC Starting Grant: the sociologist Professor Dr Minh Nguyen (2018) and the mathematician Dr Dawid Kielak (2019).