Our ERC grant holders

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Our University has a successful track record in EU framework funding, with almost EUR 10 million of European Research Council (ERC) grants awarded since 2011.

Competition is extremely high and these prestigious grants are only awarded to the most promising and innovative research projects. Leicester ERC grantholders sit alongside Nobel Prize winners and Fields Medal holders.

Here's a snapshot of some of the trailblazing research being undertaken by our successful ERC grant holders...


Leigh Fletcher

Physics Consolidator Grant (2016) EUR 2 million approx.

Planetary science stands at a unique threshold – the discovery of thousands of new worlds beyond the confines of our own solar system is bringing a fascinating new perspective on the forces shaping both the architecture of our planetary system and the fragile climate of our home planet. As exoplanetary studies move from a discovery phase into an era of atmospheric characterisation, our own solar system offers an extreme test of our understanding of how planetary climate, dynamics and chemistry differ from world to world, and whets our appetite for the myriad possibilities that remain to be discovered.

Richard Alexander

Physics Consolidator Grant (2015) EUR 2 million approx.

The last few years have seen an explosion in our knowledge of extra-solar planetary systems. However, most exoplanetary systems look nothing like our own: we see “hot Jupiters” which take just days to orbit their parent stars, planets which meander across entire solar systems on highly eccentric orbits, and even planets orbiting twin, binary suns. These planets formed in relatively homogenous discs of cold dust and gas around young, newly-formed stars, but we do not yet understand how this extraordinarily diverse range of planetary architectures was assembled. BuildingPlanS will establish how the observed architectures of exoplanets link to the physics of their formation.

Clare Anderson

History Starting Grant  (2013) - EUR 1.5 million approx.

This project centres ‘the carceral archipelago’ in the history of the making of the modern world. It analyses the relationships and circulations between and across convict transportation, penal colonies and labour, migration, coercion and confinement. It incorporates all the global powers engaged in transportation for the purpose of expansion and colonization - Europe, Russia, Latin America, China, Japan – over the period from Portugal’s first use of convicts in North Africa in 1415 to the dissolution of Stalin’s gulags in 1960.

Laura Morales

Politics Starting Grant  (2011) - EUR 1.5 million approx.

To what extent are democratic governments responsive to citizens’ demands and preferences between elections? Are governments more likely to be responsive to the interpretation of public opinion through surveys or to collective and publicly expressed opinion –generally in the form of protests? When does one ore the other type of expression prevail as a mechanism to foster governmental responsiveness? What happens when both forms of expression of the public mood are in clear contradiction? This project will answer these questions by developing a comparative study of governmental responsiveness in established democracies between 1980 and 2010.

David Mattingly

Archaeology Advanced Grant (2011) - EUR 2.5 million approx.

Recent research in southern Libya suggests that there was a significantly higher level of Trans-Saharan trade and contact in the pre-Islamic period than hitherto recognised. The existence of an early state, contemporary with the Roman Empire, in the Central Sahara can be demonstrated from the archaeological remains of the Garamantes of the Libyan region of Fazzan. Their technological sophistication in terms of irrigated agriculture, urban settlements, mastery of pyrotechnical processes and manufacturing achievements in textiles and beadmaking are all quite remarkable. It is already clear that their population comprised a mixture of Sub-Saharan and Mediterranean African types and there is indisputable evidence that they traded with both the Mediterranean and Sub-Saharan zones. This has profound implications for understanding the nature and effects of human contact in the Trans-Saharan zone.

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