Romanian computer scientist granted EUR 1.5 M to develop its project on DNA se­quen­cing

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Two researchers working at the University of Helsinki have been awarded a Starting Grant by the European Research Council, with the Romanian Alexandru Tomescu being one of them. Tomescu is a computer scientist, while his fellow, Federico Bianchi is a a specialist in atmospheric sciences.

The money is to fund their science projects for a period of five years, namely to enable the recipients to study the climate effects of fine particles and increasing the accuracy of modelling real-world problems through computation.

The ERC project of Alexandru Tomescu studies the modelling of real-world problems with computational methods. Such modelling often utilises incomplete data, which results in a large number of potential solutions.

Choosing a single correct solution from among the multitude of possibilities poses a problem. Tomescu’s aim is to establish a technique which would help in identifying all of the sub-solutions that are definitely part of the correct solution.

In other words, the aim is to take a certain kind of mathematical leap towards understanding which solutions are safe to be included in further reporting.

“We draw our motivation mainly from bioinformatics where reassembling DNA sequencing data back into the original DNA sequence is among the key problems. Transferring technology based on sequencing from research laboratories to hospitals requires accuracy from the sequences we are putting together,” Tomescu explains.

Federico Bianchi works as a researcher at the Institute for Atmospheric and Earth System Research (INAR) of the University of Helsinki. His work focuses on the fine particles found in the atmosphere that have an effect on the climate. A number of uncertainties are still associated with the overall effect of such particles.

This uncertainty is the result of a lack of knowledge on how and where these aerosols naturally originate,” Bianchi says.

ERC Starting Grants are addressing to researchers of any nationality with 2–7 years of experience since completion of PhD, a scientific track record showing great promise and an excellent research proposal.

Part of the EU programme for research and innovation Horizon 2020, the starting grants for researchers to pursue an independent career are worth EUR 621 million, so far being granted to around 400 scientists, in order to help them carrying out pioneering research activities in various fields. These grants have generated roughly 2,500 jobs.

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