Awards and honors are an important metric for measuring research excellence. The most prestigious grants for basic science on the European level are awarded by the European Research Council (ERC). The Council aims to stimulate scientific excellence in Europe by encouraging competition for funding between the very best, creative researchers of any nationality and age.
In Austria the Wittgenstein Award as well as the START Grant, both granted by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF), are the most generously supported research programmes. As such, they attract considerable media attention and thus contribute significantly to the understanding and acceptance of scholarly/scientific research by society.
Furthermore, the Faculty of Life Sciences and the rectorate of the University of Vienna have been fostering young scientists by awards such as the Young Investigator Award, the Gertrud Pleskot Award and the Back to Research Grant. The latter two are instruments to support female scientists in an early stage of their scientific career.
So far 8 ERC Grants, 1 Wittgenstein Award and 4 START Grants have been awarded to researchers from the Faculty of Life Sciences.
The microbiologist Christa Schleper has been studying Archaea for many years. These microorganisms, together with bacteria, are among the first living beings on Earth. In her ERC project "TACK Superphylum and Lokiarchaeota Evolution - Dissecting the Ecology and Evolution of Archaea to Elucidate the Prokaryote to Eukaryote Transition", Christa Schleper examines two newly discovered groups of Archaea, which can provide information about important transitions in early evolution. press release
The microbiologist David Berry received an ERC starting grant from the European Research Council. David Berry has focused on the thousands of microorganisms found in the gut. These microorganisms live in close symbiosis with their human hosts and are vital for our food supply and health. David Berry and his team are examining the laws governing the structure and function of the intestinal microbiome. These laws are subsequently used to develop new strategies for the health-promoting modification of the intestinal microbiome. press release