Glioblastoma is the most aggressive form of brain tumours in adults. The incidence is about 4 per 100.000 people and the average survival after diagnosis is about 14 months with current treatments. The tumour’s location represents a major challenge – few drugs make it past the blood brain barrier. Researchers are working on designing a novel kind of drug that could help do just that.
Nobody is untouched by environmental chemical pollution, but most are unaware of how they are exposed, what to, and the possible health consequences. With over 350,000 registered chemicals in use, an important first step towards assessing their environmental impacts is to make chemical information more machine-readable and open. Environmental Cheminformatics is on the case.
Melanoma is a rare type of skin cancer, but it is the deadliest type – and incidence is on the rise. Metastatic melanoma has seen a rapid emergence in drug resistance: After a few months, treatment stops working and tumours begin to grow again. Molecular biologists are working to understand why this happens.
A rapid increase in both life expectancy and global population size has led to a rise in the prevalence of chronic ageing-associated diseases. Brain and heart age-associated diseases including hypertension, stroke, heart failure, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases are leading causes of mortality and disability worldwide. Researchers are working on much-needed ways to predict these diseases.
In many sciences, it is of fundamental importance to understand the internal structures of materials in detail and often to literally “shine through” them. For example, in chemistry and biology to understand crystal structures of proteins and thus their functions. Or in materials science, to understand – just one example of many – what makes magnets particularly powerful. Physicist Andreas Michels continues to develop methods that make it possible to understand material structures much better.
As COVID-19 reached the pandemic scale in Spring 2020, the FNR quickly launched a bespoke Call offering support for researchers in Luxembourg to come together to work on projects to help fight, monitor and analyse the pandemic. One such project plays an important role providing a detailed view of the evolution of the pandemic by tracking the presence of the virus in the Grand Duchy’s wastewater.
Launched in 2015/16, the FNR’s PRIDE programme provides block PhD grants to Doctoral Training Units (DTUs). The MASSENA DTU brings together 20+ PhD candidates and their supervising PIs, as well as two coordinators. Spread across four thematic clusters, the various projects are all centred around materials for sensing and energy harvesting. We take a closer look at the MASSENA DTU, one of the first 11 DTUs to be funded in the inaugural PRIDE Call.
Cardiometabolic complications threaten health and reduce life expectancy. In Luxembourg, 1 in 3 people have metabolic syndrome, as a risk factor for cardiometabolic complications such as obesity, high blood sugar and cholesterol, as well as hypertension. Science has shown a link between what we eat and our health – nutritionists are now investigating how dietary strategies could prevent these health complications.
Looking at popular culture, big tech and ongoing societal debates – technological progress in Artificial Intelligence (AI) affects us all. Researchers from numerous scientific fields are working on the best way to bring AI forward, including the study of systems able to autonomously reason over arguments – calculators for philosophical, ethical or legal debates.
In the last decades, how research is conducted has been profoundly changed by ICT, and there has also been a shift from the ‘sole genius’ towards teamwork and especially interdisciplinarity: Today, millions of researchers worldwide collaborate across organisational, disciplinary, and cultural boundaries, extending the possibilities of new scientific discovery. This, and the associated data, has paved the way for the scientific field Science of Science, where one key question is understanding exactly how scientific quality is fostered by research collaboration.
Using solar absorbers for collection and storage of heat from the sun is an environmentally friendly way to generate heat, yet only 16% of heating is generated from renewable energy. Material scientists are looking for ways to boost this number by making the solar absorber coatings more efficient.
Luxembourg start-up LuxAI, with their socially assistive robot QTrobot, has been making waves on an international level since it was created. The FNR has supported the project from its inception through the development of a prototype, helping bridge the gap between lab and commercialisation. We speak to LuxAI founders Dr Pouyan Ziafati and Dr Aida Nazarikhorram about the LuxAI journey so far; how QTrobot came to be and how parents can now have a QTrobot at home.
Carbs are all around us: a major constituent in food, they also play a role in many biological processes such as intercellular communication; they are in demand in the pharmaceutical industry, where they are currently used as anticoagulants and in skincare. With the goal of no longer having to rely solely on nature’s production of carbs, scientists have been working on ways to ramp up production. A case for chemistry!
Neurogenerative diseases and cancer affect millions of people worldwide, especially people over 60. While advances in diagnosis and treatment have been made, there are still many open questions on the path to better treatment and earlier diagnosis. Translational neuroscientist Pauline Mencke studies a gene that is involved both in Parkinson’s disease and the brain cancer Glioblastoma multiforme.
Luxembourg has its sights firmly set on the road to Circular Economy (CE), recently presenting a new strategy for promoting and developing the CE. The topic is also included in the National Research Priorities for Luxembourg, which came into force in 2020. What are potential barriers to Circular Economy? We speak to two researchers about their findings and research on the topic over the last years.
Digitisation has had a significant impact on humanities research: not only has it changed how many scholars conduct their research, it has also led to completely new fields of research, such as digital humanities, a highly interdisciplinary science. Linguist Lorella Viola is interested in how software can enable critical digital humanities practice.
Many of the things we furnish our homes and office with emit gases that we are oblivious to inhaling. As eliminating these items from our lives is unrealistic, science wants to understand that which we cannot eliminate, thus more effective sensors are needed. Material scientist Rutuja Bhusari combines materials at nanoscale to create a gas sensor powered by nature.
Can we predict the likelihood of a hazelnut tree becoming sick? Or what quality defects, and in what percentage, will be present in the final harvest? Science could soon make this possible, thanks to a hazelnut quality forecasting system based on a combination of machine learning and simulation models.
The digital transition of society over the last decades has brought with it a wealth of data about research – on funding, scientific outputs, collaborations, mobility, career trajectories and much more. Simultaneously, a new branch of science has emerged: the Science of Science. An interdisciplinary topic by nature, the field of research can be approached from many perspectives. We introduce the topic from the perspective of a funder, an economist, and a sociologist.
How does public research in Luxembourg measure up in terms of gender balance? What is being done to support and inspire a new generation of women in science? We delve into the situation in the Grand Duchy.
Much like a physician, Prof. Louis Chauvel from the University of Luxembourg identifies and compares symptoms, signs and co-morbidities of societies around the world using quantitative models. While sociological studies typically consider a limited number of factors, Chauvel has the ambition of creating a global picture of the dynamics spanning generations.
Anja Leist wants to find out how to resist the decline of our cognitive abilities in old age. Her international research has already achieved a first result: improving education helps prevent problems occurring decades later.
While machine learning and deep learning have come a long way, they are not yet at a stage where autonomous vehicles can handle unexpected situations. As part of a public research-industry collaboration, early career researcher Steve Dias Da Cruz investigates possibilities to reduce the amount of data needed to train reliable deep learning models for safety critical applications in the automotive industry.
A physicist has developed a new theory of thermodynamics to describe the microscopic world. It explains the astonishing efficiency of biological motors in our cells, improves the efficiency of chemical reactions and reveals the concrete role played by this abstract concept: information.
Studying the dynamics of microbial communities over several microbial generations, a team of Luxembourg researchers have gained insight into the microorganisms that live in biological wastewater treatment plants. This knowledge can ultimately help predict and control microbial communities – including the human microbiome.
If you want to reduce gender stereotypes in society, you must first make people aware of them. LISER researcher Carole Blond-Hanten has visited children’s and youth institutions to do this. In her luggage: a nine square metre board game.
A physicist invented a new method to authenticate objects by using the strange properties of liquid crystals. He also spun them into smart elastic bands for applications in soft robotics and wearable technologies.
Over the past two decades, Luxembourg has developed into an internationally recognised hub for science. An important driving force behind this development is Parkinson’s research. The Grand Duchy is now one of the leading locations for this field of research. This can be attributed in part to the FNR-sponsored project NCER-PD, the National Centre for Excellence in Research on Parkinson’s Disease. NCER-PD is so successful that, in 2019, the FNR gave the green light and six million euros for the second funding period.
Physicist Daniele Brida develops ultrafast lasers to follow in slow-motion chemical reactions and the inner working of electronic devices. This new kind of microscope allows the observation of phenomena at the nanoscale that were until now just too fast to be seen – improving photovoltaics and electronics devices.
“The Natural State” is the official nickname of the state of Arkansas in the South Central United States. Fittingly, the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST) and the University of Arkansas have been collaborating since 2015 to make improvements to the “natural state” of various electronic components. An INTER Mobility project is involved.
Chemical compounds can have several stable forms – with dramatic consequences. A physicist at the University of Luxembourg can predict when this can occur: he has develop methods to precisely calculate the stability of molecules. These tools are now used by hundreds of scientists worldwide. They could also help understand why the new coronavirus is so contagious.
In industry, computer simulations and optimizations are established approaches to inform and improve engineering designs. As part of his Industrial Fellowship, Postdoc Martin Řehoř works on numerical solvers that could help solve design problems that involve the processing of fluids.
Countless microorganisms live peacefully in our body, but they also can be involved in many diseases. To find out exactly what role they play, a biologist has given himself a Herculean task: survey all the biomolecules produced by the microbes residing in our guts.
It is Nobel Prize season. The 2020 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine has been awarded to three scientists who discovered that the majority of blood-borne liver inflammations (hepatitis) are caused by the Hepatitis C virus. Their work made possible blood tests and new medicines that have saved millions of lives. Interview with two scientists, who – either in the past or present – worked on Hepatitis C in Luxembourg or in collaboration with Luxembourg. One of them even did his doctoral thesis in the laboratory of Charles Rice, one of this year’s Nobel laureates.
Machine learning algorithms seem all-powerful, but still function passively: they merely analyse the data they are fed with. Björn Ottersten makes them smarter by letting them actively probe their environment. His work aims to improve sensors of self-driving cars, sharing of mobile bandwidth and Internet traffic.
Together with an international team of scientists, Luxembourg researchers led by FNR PEARL Chair Prof. Rejko Krüger, have clarified the cause for certain genetic forms of Parkinson’s disease. The seven-year interdisciplinary research effort also identified potential pharmacological treatments.
The Fulbright Program gives young researchers the opportunity to embark on an international research stay. Chemistry researcher Jean Haler spent one year as a postdoc at the Florida International University. We speak to the Luxembourg national about how the experience broadened his horizon and why he highly recommends other young researchers to benefit from the opportunities a Fulbright exchange offers.
While we frequently hear about new trends in mobile and wireless technologies, challenges remain, such as the need to charge devices on a stationary device. At the SnT at the University of Luxembourg, Postdoc Sumit Gautam works on solving the future information and energy requirements of wireless devices, via radio frequency (RF)-based techniques.
The FNR’s new communication campaign LetzSCIENCE is the first campaign in Luxembourg to blend traditional ‘postering’ with AR technology. Striking science images intrigue passers-by, who by scanning a QR code can discover a real-time 3D model overlaid on top of the image. People get to play around with a new, interactive technology and learn about research in Luxembourg in the process. We speak to Matthieu Bracchetti from Virtual Rangers, the start-up that created the AR experiences for letzSCIENCE, about the challenges in the creation process, and how Luxembourg is AR-ready.
Luxembourg is one of many countries experiencing the arrival of asylum seekers and refugees that have been displaced for reasons such as conflicts or instability in their own country. Managing a research team for the first time, CORE Junior PI Lucas Oesch leads the project ‘REFUGOV’ at the University of Luxembourg, which looks at the accommodation of asylum seekers and refugees in cities and camps.
Researchers at the Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH) are developing a novel molecule that binds to and blocks a previously unknown opioid receptor in the brain – holding great promise for the design of alternative therapeutic strategies.
At KU Leuven, Luxembourg national Jill Kries is part of a research team driven by understanding how cognition and brain structure develop over time in language-related disorders and how this knowledge can be applied in a clinical or educational setting. We take a closer look at the work of the young team.
Anupam Sengupta went from being an engineer in India to studying physics in Germany, before diving into biology in the US and Switzerland. Combining his expertise in these fields, the Indian national came to Luxembourg in 2018 with an FNR ATTRACT Fellowship to set up his research group at the University of Luxembourg as a tenure track Professor in Physics. We speak to the biophysicist about his journey and passion for uncovering the secrets of how the smallest of living organisms regulate our health and happiness, and get impacted by the changes in their environment.
While solar panels appear on more and more rooftops, researchers are still developing ways to boost their efficiency. As part of her PhD at the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST), Indian national Hameeda Jagalur Basheer is developing alternative materials that can help capture the sunlight better and improve efficiency of solar panels.
Floods across the world have resulted in tremendous economic damage and loss of lives: better tools to predict flood rise and recession are needed. The biggest question facing researchers like Mohammad Zare is how to accurately simulate and predict this complex phenomenon. As part of an Industrial Fellowship between the University of Luxembourg and company RSS-Hydro, the Postdoc Works on improving the simulation and prediction of flash floods, with the goal to develop a decision-making model for flood protection in Luxembourg.
As part of her Industrial Fellowship – a collaboration between the University of Luxembourg and company Husky – PhD candidate Yamila Mariel Omar helps industry to monetize their proprietary data by means of big data analytics. We speak to the Argentinian national who also became a mother during her PhD.
In a collaboration with pharma company Sprint Bioscience, researchers at the Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH), have developed an innovative approach to improve cancer immunotherapy by turning “cold” tumours “hot”.
Excessive use of fertilisers in agriculture has led to nitrogen pollution, and calls for bio substitutes are getting louder. PhD candidate Bella Tsachidou from Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST) gathers scientific evidence on the benefits of biogas residues and their suitability as biofertilisers, while providing support for the modification of nitrogen-policies on European and global level.
In the current situation of legal uncertainty, PhD candidate Antonio Ancora’s research at the University of Luxembourg aims to improve tax certainty in the context of state aid investigation on Transfer Pricing transactions among multinational enterprises.
A team of scientists at the Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH), led by FNR ATTRACT Fellow Prof Dirk Brenner, have discovered a novel mechanism through which the immune system can control autoimmunity and cancer. The findings set a new direction for the development of future treatments of metabolic diseases. In a nod to the significance of the findings, the research graces the cover of the journal ‘Cell Metabolism’.
Paul Johanns works in a research field one does not read about every day: knots. As part of his AFR PhD at the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), the Luxembourg national combines high-precision model experiments, computation and theory to untangle the influence of topology on the mechanics of complex knots, particularly those used in surgical procedures.
Eating disorders affect up to 5% of people. At the University of Luxembourg, Dr Annika Lutz and Lynn Erpelding study the brain mechanisms that help form body image, and want to understand how eating disorders develop. Using a multidimensional approach, the team’s ultimate goal is to improve treatment for people suffering from eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa.
Growing up in Botswana and Zimbabwe, Nathasia Mudiwa Muwanigwa did not see science as a career option. Fast forward a few years: Nathasia is studying Parkinson’s disease as part of her PhD at the LCSB at the University of Luxembourg, and has co-founded a STEM initiative that was featured in Forbes.
With his interdisciplinary research group, metabolism expert and analytical chemist Johannes Meiser from the Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH) wants to uncover the role metabolism plays in the spread of cancer. We speak to the German national about his experience going from Postdoc to managing a research group; finding your niche; and the importance of a healthy work environment.
Industry and research join forces on many fronts, including the sustainable use of natural resources. Postdoc Claudio Petucco works on developing a decision support system for enhancing and assessing the provision of forest ecosystem services. The goal: improving the sustainable use of natural resources in Luxembourg.
Science has no gender, but gender bias is an undeniable issue and can have an effect on the development of a scientific career. We find ourselves making assumptions about gender, based on the scientific domain, or the level of seniority. Do you assume the gender of this scientist based on their profession, or maybe based on their experiences? We present: A scientist in the field of social geography.
Science has no gender, but it is an undeniable issue that the gender of scientists can have an impact on the development of their scientific career. We find ourselves making assumptions about gender, based on the scientific domain, or the level of seniority. Do you assume the gender of this scientist based on their profession, or maybe based on their experiences? We present: A scientist in the field of telecommunications engineering.
Science has no gender, but gender bias is an undeniable issue and can have an effect on the development of a scientific career. We find ourselves making assumptions about gender, based on the scientific domain, or the level of seniority. Do you assume the gender of this scientist based on their profession, or maybe based on their experiences? We present: A scientist in the field of experimental psychology.
Science has no gender, but gender bias is an undeniable issue and can have an effect on the development of a scientific career. We find ourselves making assumptions about gender, based on the scientific domain, or the level of seniority. Do you assume the gender of this scientist based on their profession, or maybe based on their experiences? We present: A scientist in the field of computer science.
Science has no gender, but it is an undeniable issue that the gender of scientists can have an impact on the development of their scientific career. We find ourselves making assumptions about gender, based on the scientific domain, or the level of seniority. Do you assume the gender of this scientist based on their profession, or maybe based on their experiences? We present: A scientist in the field of ecohydrology.
Science has no gender, but it is an undeniable issue that the gender of scientists can have an impact on the development of their scientific career. We find ourselves making assumptions about gender, based on the scientific domain, or the level of seniority. Can you tell the gender of this scientist based on their profession, or maybe based on their experiences? We present: A scientist in the field of mathematics.
Science has no gender, but it is an undeniable issue that the gender of scientists can have an impact on the development of their scientific career. We find ourselves making assumptions about gender, based on the scientific domain, or the level of seniority. Can you tell the gender of this scientist based on their profession, or maybe based on their experiences? We present: A scientist in the field of psychology.
Noémie Catherine Engel has just begun her researcher journey – and she has found her niche already: As part of her AFR PhD at the University of Bath, the Luxembourg national investigates the evolution of sex role traits in a small shorebird species in Cape Verde.
On Friday, 31 January 2020, the United Kingdom becomes the first country to leave the European Union. Even as the exit day arrives, much uncertainty remains, including for scientists. We speak to Phillip Dale – a British scientist in Luxembourg – and Raphaël Le Brun, a Luxembourgish PhD candidate in the United Kingdom.
In 2015, the ambitious National Centre of Excellence in Research on Parkinson’s Disease (NCER-PD) was launched with the support of the FNR. This research programme brings together research institutions focusing on Parkinson’s disease in Luxembourg, with the aim of answering urgent questions on Parkinson’s disease. As of the end of 2019, the Luxembourg Parkinson’s Study has reached its ambitious goal: 800 patients and 800 controls have been recruited in Luxembourg and the Greater Region.
Over the past many decades, science fiction has shown us scenarios where AI has surpassed human intelligence and overpowered humanity. As we near a tipping point where AI could feature in every part of our lives – from logistics to healthcare, human resource to civil security – we take a look at opportunities and ethical questions in AI. In this article, we speak to AI expert Prof Dr Patrick Glauner about AI bias, as well as which impact – good and bad – AI could have on industry and workers.
This year, the FNR celebrates 20 years. Over these two decades, Luxembourg research has developed in an impressive way: From almost non-existent, Luxembourg is now on the research world map. In his opinion piece, FNR Secretary General introduces a few researchers in Luxembourg.
On Friday, 29 November 2019, on the occasion of the 20 year existence of the FNR, the FNR organised an off-beat event – The House of Frankenstein – where citizens and scientists came together to immerse themselves in some of the biggest controversial science topics facing society, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), genome editing, gender balance and the use of space resources. Join us on a journey as we revisit the evening.
In the scope of the FNR PEARL programme, sought-after sociology Professor Louis Chauvel and his team analyse large-scale inequalities over long periods of time. The PEARL Institute for Research on Socio-Economic Inequality has gathered enough empirical data to understand the transformation of generations and inequalities dating back to the 1980s in around 30 countries.
Renowned neuropathologist Prof Dr Michel Mittelbronn came to Luxembourg in the framework of the FNR’s PEARL programme in early 2017. At the Laboratoire National de Santé (LNS), the Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH) and the University of Luxembourg’s LCSB, Prof Mittelbronn and his team is working to increase and improve neuropathological research and diagnosis in Luxembourg.
‘You are what you eat’ – an increasing amount of scientific evidence suggests that our diet has an impact on many aspects of our health, and it promises to play a key role in personalised healthcare in the future. We speak to scientist-turned-entrepreneur Alberto Noronha, who recently launched the LCSB/University of Luxembourg spin-off NIUM about his mission to use metabolism as a tool to improve health and which support helped him bring his idea from lab to market.
When Dr. Irina Burlacu completed her AFR PhD thesis on the tax and benefit system for cross border workers in Belgium and Luxembourg, she asked herself: Now that I have spent years on this research, how can I best communicate it? The answer: translating the research outcome into a board game combining income and tax levels from 41 countries with country knowledge – ‘Mobility Era: Play Your Taxes!’.
For each Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting, the FNR runs a Call for promising young researchers with a connection to Luxembourg to attend. For the 2019 Lindau Meeting, dedicated to physics, Hannah Rana, PhD candidate in Space Cryogenics at Oxford University had this rare opportunity. Hannah shares her highlights – from speaking to all 39 Nobel Laureates in attendance, including Donna Strickland; realising the importance of science communication; feeling inspired, and much more.
The number of genes possessed by the trillions of microbes in a human body outnumbers the host’s genes at least 150 times, justifying the comparison of the microbiome to a second genome – or even an overlooked organ. Global microbiome research over the past 15 years has therefore focused on answering a single question: are our microbiota affected by our health status, or are they are actively involved it?
The number of people affected by dementia is steeply rising and new, innovative ways of assistive care are needed. Stëftung Hëllef Doheem (SHD) – the largest network of assistance and home care in Luxembourg – is involved in an international project that uses an innovative technology approach to assist people with cognitive problems with daily tasks, helping them live independently for longer.
The first days of September 2017 were full of excitement for Dr Enrico Benetto. The 8th Life Cycle Management Conference he had brought to Luxembourg City was an enormous success. More than 700 participants from 46 countries had accepted his invitation to discuss sustainability. Prominent keynote speakers like the Swiss adventurer Bertrand Piccard and the founder of Global Footprint Mathis Wackernagel inspired the audience. The most emotional moment for Benetto came quite unexpectedly when Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg graced the hall of the European Convention Center Luxembourg (ECCL) to attend the closing event.
Splitting her time between the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST) and company LuxSpace as part of an Industrial Fellowship, Postdoc Ramona Pelich uses data from earth observation satellites to improve maritime surveillance and flood hazard monitoring.
Language is a means of communication, a tool, a toy. Language is objective, dreamy, misleading. Language is as diverse as the people who speak it. And now, in the middle of the digital revolution, we expect machines to be able to understand texts, capture their content and comprehend the inner logic. To enable this, it is first necessary to convert language in all its variability into a formal framework which can be processed by algorithms. A challenging task for computer scientists and logicians. And just the right task for Prof. Leon van der Torre and Prof. Beishui Liao.
Are creative people better at regulating emotions, and are there cultural differences? This is one of the questions Henderika (Herie) de Vries wants to answer. Having already discovered that cultural differences impact the creative potential of children, the Dutch-Luxembourgish national hopes to understand more aspects of how our cultural circumstances can influence our capacity for creative thinking.
Climate change affects vegetation and water resources. In order to understand these changes, scientists use models – an abstract, mathematical representation of an ecological system. The challenge: Making accurate predictions under change, without ‘tuning’ models with data. We speak to Dutch national Remko Nijzink, Postdoc in the group of FNR ATTRACT Fellow Dr. Stan Schymanski at the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST), about his modelling work and the importance of an open science approach.
There are currently over 800 running PhD projects in Luxembourg. To continue attracting young talent, it is vital for the country’s research system to offer modern and high quality work, research, training and supervision conditions for doctoral candidates. We speak to the FNR’s doctoral training coordinator Marie-Claude Marx about the assessment of the country’s National Quality Framework for Doctoral Training (NQFDT) and what changes it will bring to doctoral training in Luxembourg.
A conflict often arises whenever several states simultaneously claim jurisdiction to prosecute criminal offences for themselves. Together with research colleagues, jurist Katalin Ligeti has found a way out of this dilemma.
In school, we are taught three states of matter: solid, liquid and gas. The focus of University of Luxembourg PhD candidate Anjali Sharma’s research lies between solid and liquid: liquid crystal. She studies them in unusual shapes that are no larger than the width of a human hair, yet they are considered as large by the scientists of the field. As part of her research, the Indian national got an opportunity for a rare experiment: Taking her research into a zero gravity environment.
In this article, we speak to mining expert Carlos Daniel Espejel and ispace Europe, who as part of an Industrial Fellowship between the lunar exploration company, the University of Luxembourg and the University of New South Wales, have joined forces to come up with a methodology for space mining.
In this article, we speak to PhD researcher Philippe Ludivig and ispace Europe, who, as part of an Industrial Fellowship between the space exploration company and the University of Luxembourg’s SnT, have joined forces. The goal of they research project is to teach a small lunar rover how to find its way around on the Moon, so that it can take decisions autonomously.
In this article, we speak to Mechanical Engineer and PhD researcher Joshua Rasera, who as part of an Industrial Fellowship collaboration between ispace Europe and Imperial College London is working on a technique to enrich materials found in the Lunar soil.
The immune system enables the body to fight off illness – but if it works too little, or too much, this can lead to anything from inflammation, to autoimmunity to cancer. At the Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH), FNR ATTRACT Fellow Prof Dr Dirk Brenner works on understanding the functionality that underlies a healthy immune system.
When one thinks of banks and financial institutions, the word ‘research’ may not come to mind. However, research has much to offer these institutions, for example new tools to help with delivering critical services. As part of his PhD at the University of Luxembourg, Italian national Pier Mario Lupinu researches issues related to post-resolution in banking and finance.
Divya Balakrishnan, Dipti Rani and Serena Rollo are women in science working in a field that could have a major impact on how health is managed: In the group of FNR ATTRACT Fellow César Pascual García at the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST), the team works on developing sensors for biochemical applications focusing on medicine.
For ten years now, Mr Science has been getting his audience excited about science, informing them about relevant research and, above all, making sure they have lots of fun. What many do not know: Joseph Rodesch, the man behind the fictional character Mr Science, is an employee at the FNR and fulfills an important strategic task in the Grand Duchy: he is a mediator between science and non-scientists. This mediation has always of key importance for the FNR.
Quantum computing is one of the hottest topics in physical sciences. As part of his AFR PhD at the University of Sussex, Luxembourg national Foni Raphaël Lebrun-Ricalens works on developing a quantum computer – a technology that has the potential to revolutionise computing. Recently, he was also asked to evaluate the science behind the ‘quantum realm’ in the final ‘Avengers’ film.
Rarely has a scientific discovery led to a Nobel Prize as quickly as the first production of graphene. The British researchers who managed to make it in 2004 were honoured with the Nobel Prize in Physics only six years later. What is particular about this material, which consists of pure carbon, is its two-dimensional structure: the atoms in this material are arranged in a single, extremely flat layer. Electrons can only move within this 2D plane, and always feel the influence of their constraint. This leads to unusual properties that are not found in ordinary, three-dimensional crystals.
Can we truly trust current blockchain technology to securely automate important processes in the financial sector? Christof Ferreira Torres wants to answer this question. In the framework of his Industrial Fellowship PhD with the University of Luxembourg and the bank Spuerkeess (BCEE), the Portuguese national works on the security of smart contracts and the detection of fraudulent transactions – because gaps in security can quickly mean high costs for thousands of people.
Sparked by a collection of over 2,000 images, two projects led by Prof Karin Priem from the Luxembourg Centre for Contemporary and Digital History (C²DH) reflect on the industrial heritage and societal impact of major Luxembourg-based steel and iron producing company ARBED, examining the social and educational initiatives of the company and how it helped shape Luxembourg’s national and international identity in a time of industrialisation.
An international, interdisciplinary team of scientists, led by the Luxembourg of Health (LIH), has been able to show that the cells of Glioblastoma – an extremely aggressive type of brain tumour – can adapt to their environment and transform their surface structure. The new insights could help optimise future treatments.
Stemming from Italy, Indonesia, Luxembourg, Portugal and Spain, the members of the Experimental & Molecular Immunology Group truly are an international team. In the group of FNR ATTRACT Fellow Prof Dr Dirk Brenner at the Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH), the team of young researchers investigates different aspects of the immune system with one common goal: Understanding how our immune system is regulated by different mechanisms – and how this knowledge can be used to combat disease.
The FNR’s INTER Mobility programme enables exchange between researchers based in Luxembourg and abroad. We speak to Dr Spero Paravantis from the University of Luxembourg about his six-month research stay UC Berkeley in the United States and the tremendously positive effect the exchange continues to have on his research.
Silvia Girardi is a sociologist with an interest in studying policies that aim to contrast poverty. As part of her joint PhD at Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research (LISER) and KU Leuven, the Italian national looks at the social policies that support low-income households in Luxembourg, taking the perspectives of the citizens on the receiving end, and the social workers involved in implementation.
Why can our bodies defend itself against some diseases but not others? This is something Carole Lara Veiga de Sousa has always been eager to understand. In the framework of her PhD at the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB) and Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH), the Portuguese national took at closer look at the microglial cells – immune cells in the central nervous system – and what impact they have on the brain’s ability to fend of infections.
Adham Ayman Al-Sayyad is a PhD researcher working on multidisciplinary cross-border project. In our article, we explore the Egyptian national’s research around the topic of laser beam joining; why his next step post-PhD would be to spend some time working in industry to understand his research topic from new angles; and his passion for bridging cultures to bring people together.
Researchers from the University of Luxembourg have discovered a combination of dietary factors and gut bacteria that inhibits the progression of colorectal cancer. The findings, published in the open-access journal Cell Reports, could help exploit dietary regimens for therapeutic purposes to improve chemotherapy efficacy and reduce toxicity.
Thomas Schaubroeck specialises in sustainability assessment of products. We speak to the Belgian national about the research he is undertaking in the framework of an Industrial Fellowship between the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST) and company Tarkett; how working with industry differs from academia; and how he hopes his research can help industry steer toward a more sustainable future.
Senior Postdoc Sebastian Scheer’s thirst for understanding how biological systems work led him to dive into the world of immunology research. After moving from Germany to Canada, the Luxembourg national got the chance to set up his group leader’s new lab in Australia, where his research revolves around the T cell, a key player in the shaping of immune responses.
The Copyright Directive passed by the EU Parliament in March 2019 was shrouded in controversy and was cause for much dispute. In an opinion piece, FNR Secretary General Marc Schiltz explains what impact the new directive has on research.
Postdoc Damien Brevers has a passion for studying self-control abilities in humans. Having spent time in Belgium and the US building expertise in areas including clinical psychology, sport psychology and brain imaging, the Belgian national has just joined the University of Luxembourg and embarked on a project looking at gambling addiction in the age of online betting.
The Promoting Science to the Public (PSP)-Flagship scheme supports large, multiannual projects that aim to have a lasting impact on Luxembourg’s society. We take a look at the PSP Flagship supported Scienteens lab – a hands-on laboratory for high school pupils.
From 25 – 29 March 2019, the 9th edition of Chercheurs à l’école took part in schools across Luxembourg, involving more than 100 researchers and science communicators. The FNR spoke to a handful of the researchers who took part about why they took part and why it is important to inspire the next generation.
The Promoting Science to the Public (PSP)-Flagship scheme supports large, multiannual projects that aim to have a lasting impact on Luxembourg’s society. We take a look at the PSP Flagship project BEE CREATIVE for kids, which stimulates digital and scientific skills in children.
What is the connection between the gut of a termite and renewable energy? What binds them is anaerobic digestion, the process by which microorganisms break down biodegradable material without oxygen. We speak to four young researchers in the Biosystems and Bioprocessing Engineering group at the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST) about how understanding the termite gut could help unlock the full potential of anaerobic digestion, and the associated benefits for green and cleantech.
Jose-Luis Sanchez-Lopez works with multirotor aerial robots – drones. Despite being early in his research career, the Spanish national’s research is already taking off, having secured him several awards at international competitions. After completing his PhD in 2017, Jose-Luis set his sights on Luxembourg, where he works as a Postdoc at the SnT at the University of Luxembourg, with the goal of giving drones enough AI that they can safely operate autonomously in a range of environments.
Ernesto Gargiulo has always had a curious and inquisitive disposition, which as a child saw him spending hours outdoors, in a quest to discover. At University, Ernesto’s attention turned to oncology. Set on applying and strengthening his knowledge, the Italian national embarked on a PhD at the Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH), where he works on characterising exosomes, small extracellular vesicles, linked to cancer development, progression and chemo-resistance.
The United Kingdom is one of the most important research partners in the EU. Scientists are accordingly concerned about Brexit – on both sides of the Channel. In his capacity as FNR Secretary General, Marc Schiltz discusses Brexit’s implications for European research.
When Thomas Elliot (Tom) cycled from Indonesia to London, he witnessed many people living in hardship. Motivated to research how consumption affects social and environmental justice in a bid to help reduce the hardship witnessed, the New Zealand national applied for an open PhD position at the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST), where he now works on a project that fuses urban metabolism and ecosystem services.
Economist Prof Conchita d’Ambrosio has been FNR PEARL Chair at the University of Luxembourg since 2013, where she leads a team of scientists investigating how different factors determine individual and social well-being.
Prof Paulo Esteves-Veríssimo, a renowned expert in his field, has been FNR PEARL Chair at the University of Luxembourg’s Centre for Security, Reliability and Trust (SnT) since 2014. There he leads a team working on technologies to improve cyber security in highly critical areas.
Professor Erik Proper has been FNR PEARL Chair at the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST) since 2010. There he leads a team of scientists who create enterprise models to strategically advise decision-makers and develop new business areas.
Prof Rejko Krüger has been FNR PEARL Chair at the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB) of the University of Luxembourg since 2014. There he leads a team of scientists working on new approaches for the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of Parkinson’s disease. Rejko Krüger also works as a medical practitioner at the Centre Hospitalier de Luxembourg (CHL).
An international team of researchers, including scientists from the University of Luxembourg’s LCSB, have identified the genetic cause of a severe novel childhood disease. The findings provide a solid basis for investigations into therapeutic strategies that could delay or prevent the onset of this rare, but deadly disease.
Results of public research should be accessible to everyone, but the reality is different: Publishers lock scientific publications behind paywalls and make huge profits in doing so. In his capacity as President of Science Europe, FNR Secretary General Marc Schiltz and is at the head of an initiative that wants to abolish the paywalls.
When a child is born by vaginal birth, important immune system-stimulating bacteria pass from the mother to the baby, which could explain why babies delivered by caesarean are more prone to diseases linked to the immune system. This important discovery was made by a team of researchers in a study led by FNR ATTRACT Fellow Associate Prof Dr Paul Wilmes from the LCSB at the University of Luxembourg.
Dr Stan Schymanski is passionate about nature and the outdoors, so much that he shaped his education and career around it. At the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST), the biologist studies various aspects of how plants interact with their surroundings. We spoke to the German national about dual science careers, understanding plants, and what it’s like to be a scientist studying the effects of a changing climate.
Researchers at the University of Luxembourg have discovered a molecular mechanism that is responsible for the spread of cancer cells in the body and the development of metastases in patients with colon cancer. Their findings, published in ‘Cancer Research’, could help to develop treatments that inhibit tumor growth.
As part of a research project to better understand the human mind, a research group at the University of Luxembourg, led by FNR ATTRACT Fellow and experimental psychologist Prof Pedro Cardoso-Leite, has developed a game to help children learn to count. The game is a research tool in itself: the goal is to help children learn by understanding how they learn.
Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) has shown particular effectiveness in treating symptoms associated movement disorders, but uncertainty still looms over the most effective spots to target, and surgeons need a more automated way of testing the implanted electrodes. As part of his AFR PhD project at the Centre Hospitalier de Luxembourg (CHL), computer scientist Dr Andreas Husch developed innovative image-based computational approaches to aid DBS, which are already being used by scientists across the world.
Theoretical physicist Associate Prof Dr Thomas Schmidt came to Luxembourg in 2015, working on theoretical questions that help in the building of nanodevices with exciting potential technological applications. We spoke to the Swiss and German national about the impact science outreach had on him as a student, what it means to be a theoretical physicist and why he wants to keep his scientific focus broad.
Ahead of Luxembourg’s general elections on 14 October 2018, it is a welcome development that research has found its way into the political party programmes. In his newest opinion piece, FNR Secretary General Marc Schiltz discusses which role the political parties envision for research in Luxembourg and what future Governments can do to further strengthen this asset of the country.
At the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST), FNR ATTRACT Fellow Dr César Pascual García uses nanotechnology to develop sensors that could one day scan our proteins for diseases. We spoke to the Spanish national about why he will not be tied down to one discipline, where he finds inspiration, and why we are at the edge of the proteomics era.
In the preamble to ‘cOAlition S for the Realisation of Full and Immediate Open Access’ – an initiative to make full and immediate Open Access to research publications a reality – Science Europe President and FNR Secretary General Marc Schiltz discusses how open access to research results is foundational to the scientific enterprise, and how decisive steps toward open access need to be taken now.
Davide Franchina, PhD researcher at the Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH) in the lab of FNR ATTRACT Fellow Dirk Brenner was among two researchers from Luxembourg to be selected to attend the 2018 Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting, dedicated to physiology and medicine. We spoke to the Italian national about the experience and how he got the chance to discuss his own project with a Nobel Laureate.
An interplay of people connected via Parkinson’s disease and mitochondria led Prof Dr Anne Grünewald to Luxembourg, where she started her FNR ATTRACT Fellowship at the LCSB at the University of Luxembourg in 2016. We spoke to the German national about how she fell in love with mitochondria; the importance of team spirit; interdisciplinarity and what it was like to be a full-time PI with a new-born at home and a husband abroad.
Maciej Piotr Chrzanowski never thought he would become a researcher, but a successful attempt at applying for a PhD changed all of that, and the Polish national found himself moving to Luxembourg. Now in the 3rd year of his AFR-PPP PhD, Maciej is embedded both at the University of Luxembourg and in R&D Application Department of steel manufacturing corporation ArcelorMittal, where he works on development of new solutions for structures.
September 2017 saw the most renowned experts on the law of the sea and the law of international watercourses converge in Luxembourg for the Max Planck Institute Luxembourg conference “A Bridge Over Troubled Waters: Dispute Resolution in the Law of International Watercourses and the Law of the Sea”.
While the United States is the acknowledged leader in the creation of research-based spin-offs, Europe and especially Luxembourg lag behind tremendously. The FNR’s Head of Innovation, Andreea Monnat, explains why the country needs both start-ups and research-based spin-offs – and why they need different support measures in order to succeed.
During his Bachelor studies in physics and photovoltaics at the University of Luxembourg, Max Hilaire Wolter was exposed to live-action research for the first time. The experience left such a positive impression that Max proactively sought out to return to the same lab for a PhD after completing his Master’s studies abroad. We spoke to the Luxembourg national about why research is fun, solar cells and the importance of science outreach.
“Startup Nation Luxembourg” – for several years, the Government, private actors and local communes have joined forces in an effort to make this label a reality. Entrepreneurs from inside and outside the country can now rely on various support structures to establish themselves on the Luxembourgish market. When the University of Luxembourg launched its Entrepreneurship Programme in September 2017 and created the University of Luxembourg Incubator, a fundamental component was added to the national ecosystem, supported by an FNR KITS grant.
After completing her master’s degree, Luxembourg national Dominique Santana decided to spend time in her mother’s birth country Brazil. While there, she became intrigued by Brazil’s communities of Luxembourgish nationals and wanted to investigate further. Now in the first year of her AFR PhD at the C²DH at the University of Luxembourg, Dominique is examining the paths of Luxembourgers who emigrated to Brazil from 1920 – 1965, which has already rekindled old friendships.
With his research group, Assistant Prof Dr Pedro Cardoso-Leite combines experimental psychology with video games, in an effort to understand how our mind works, and how this knowledge can be leveraged to improve learning. We spoke to the Portuguese-Luxembourg national about his return to Luxembourg after almost two decades, what he wants to achieve in the next five years, and how his interdisciplinary team is broadening his horizon.
Gilles Tossing’s fascination for the human brain – and why it sometimes fails – led him to the path of research. Now in the second year of his AFR PhD at Université de Montréal in Canada, the Luxembourg national investigates neurodegenerative diseases, with the aim of improving treatments for those affected.
For László Sándor research is the ultimate war against ‘fake news’. After completing his PhD in Economics at Harvard, the Hungarian-American national chose a Postdoc position at the Luxembourg School of Finance at the University of Luxembourg, where his work includes big data projects, field experiments in household finance and applied microeconomics.
Ramona Pelich uses data from satellites in space to improve maritime surveillance and flood hazard monitoring. Splitting her time between the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST) and the company LuxSpace as part of her AFR-PPP Postdoc, the Romanian national’s work has already found direct application when flood maps she co-developed were used in the aftermath of destructive 2017 hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
Blood, sweat & tears: This is the story of how a Luxembourg research group discovered the unlikely contamination of a widely used lab kit – compromising their data and setting a question mark over the validity of data in countless journal publications. We speak to group leader FNR ATTRACT Fellow Prof Dr Paul Wilmes about the implications of their discovery, reproducibility, scientific due diligence – and how his group teamed up with the kit manufacturer to find a solution.
Archaeologist and trained anthropologist Maxime Brami works on uncovering the origins and spread of agriculture, and has just landed a sought-after Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship. We speak to the Luxembourg national about what it’s like to be an archaeologist in academia, the collaborative nature of the field and why archaeologists have a certain responsibility.
After stays in Germany, Switzerland and Australia, physicist Andreas Michels found himself moving to Luxembourg in 2010, with an FNR ATTRACT Fellowship in his pocket. 8 years on, we spoke to the German/Luxembourgish national about his research group’s work to get a ‘behind the scenes’ look at materials, why they get to travel the world for their experiments, and his thoughts on the development of research in Luxembourg.
Anna Monzel cites her thirst for new knowledge and discoveries as a key contributor in her choosing to follow the path of science. Drawn to Luxembourg because of its interdisciplinary approach, the German national developed a 3D model of the human midbrain for her PhD at the LCSB at the University of Luxembourg – which earned her a Lush Young Researcher Prize.
FNR ATTRACT Fellow Prof Dr Ines Thiele works on creating a virtual representation of the human metabolism, together with her team and colleagues at the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB) at the University of Luxembourg. The aim is simple, yet wide: Understanding what role our gut and diet play in the development of diseases, but also how this knowledge can be leveraged to improve health and well-being.
During his computer science studies, Konstantinos Papadopoulos realised how many unexplored areas there are in the field and his desire for becoming a researcher was born. Now in the 2nd year of his PhD at the SnT at the University of Luxembourg, the Greek national works on developing innovative new approaches to security surveillance.
Laurie Maldonado’s research focuses on single-parent families. After suddenly becoming a single parent herself, she experienced first-hand how quickly single-parent families can fall into poverty in the United States, not knowing if she could continue her research. Then Laurie secured an AFR PhD grant, conducting her research at the LIS Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg and at UCLA. A few years and a successful PhD defence later, we talked with Laurie about her journey and her close-to-home research.
Antoun Al Absi has been fascinated by microscopes ever since his parents gave him one as a child. Unsurprisingly, the Syrian-French national cherishes the long hours spent on the microscope as part of his AFR PhD at the Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH), where he investigates how tumour cells escape the ‘immune surveillance system’, enabling them to spread to other parts of the body.
The Promoting Science to the Public (PSP)-Flagship scheme supports large, multiannual projects that aim to have a lasting impact on Luxembourg’s society. We take a look at the PSP Flagship pilot project SciTeach, an initiative supporting teachers in Luxembourg in their natural sciences education.
When Katharina Baum was a teenager, her mother took her to a presentation about the Human Genome Project. Fascinated, she stood up and asked what she would have to do to be able to study genes. Some years and a degree in mathematics later, the German national and mother of two children now splits her time between Luxembourg and Berlin as part of her two postdocs. In her work at the Luxembourg Institute of Health, Katharina combines computer science, maths and biology to identify faulty regulatory mechanisms in cancerous cells.
Almost half of the 5,000 children to start pre-school in Luxembourg each year struggle to learn to read, failing to reach the minimum national reading standard by age nine, with 10 percent going on to develop severe reading difficulties. In an innovative approach to help the children before they fail, a University of Luxembourg team led by psychologist Dr Pascale Engel de Abreu has developed the pre-literacy programme ‘LALA – Lauter lëschteg Lauter’, tested with over 200 preschool children and showing positive results.
Paul Wilmes’ original background is in Environmental Sciences, but with his FNR ATTRACT Fellowship and move from the United States to Luxembourg in 2010, the Luxembourg national branched out into biomedicine. We spoke to the prolific scientist about his ‘gut-on-a-chip’ model, the importance of carving out research niches, his goals and recent parental leave period.
For his AFR PhD at Trinity College Dublin, historian Michel Summer is re-assessing the political activity of medieval Anglo-Saxon missionary Willibrord, who in addition to being a landowner, scholar and ambassador, founded a monastery in Luxembourg. We spoke to the Luxembourg national about how history promotes critical thinking, and why he believes historians are needed more than ever.
During her Master’s studies, Amy Parrish found her passion for research with a clinical aspect. Having come from London to Luxembourg to pursue her AFR PhD at the Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH) in the research group of Mahesh Desai, the American national studies the bacteria that inhabit our gut, to shed light on the development of diseases such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD).
After doing his Master’s degree and working in the private sector in Argentina, German Castignani decided to do a research internship in France, which piqued his interest for research. After completing his PhD in wireless networking in France, the Italian-Argentinian national came to Luxembourg, where he added an entrepreneurial perspective to his vehicular telematics research, co-founding the SnT’s first spin-off Motion-S.
As part of a new series, the FNR speaks to five experts about research trends in their domain. Deep learning has allowed scientists to make computers function in a way much closer to how humans think than ever before: Djamila Aouada from the SnT at the University of Luxembourg explains how deep learning works, and her efforts to make it 3D capable.
From 19 – 23 March 2018, the 8th edition of Chercheurs à l’école took part in 28 schools, involving more than 120 researchers and science communicators – more than ever before. The FNR spoke to a handful of the researchers who took part about why it is important to inspire the next generation.
Eva Lagunas has always been curious about technology, even building her own makeshift smartphone when she was a child. A couple of degrees later, the Spanish national set her sights on coming to Luxembourg, family in tow, to take up a Postdoc position at the University of Luxembourg’s Interdisciplinary Centre for Security, Reliability and Trust (SnT). Now, she feels lucky to spend her time researching satellite communications in the 5G era.
As part of a new series, the FNR speaks to five experts about research trends in their domain. With climate change comes extreme weather: Hydrologist Laurent Pfister from the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST) explains the challenges this poses for weather prediction models.
For his part-time AFR PhD in Political Science with Ghent University’s Conflict Research Group, Michel Thill researches a little-studied subject: everyday policing practices and interactions between police and people in Bukavu, a provincial capital in the East of the Democratic Republic of Congo. We spoke to the Luxembourg national about insatiable curiosity being a virtue for researchers; the experiences gained during his PhD; and why his research subject is important.
As part of a new series, the FNR speaks to five experts about research trends in their domain. As the world becomes increasingly digital, historian Prof Andreas Fickers explains how digitisation affects all stages of scientific discovery in humanities, while the impact on the formulation of new historical questions is yet unknown.
Maria Pires Pacheco is a problem solver with a fondness for coding, who was always drawn to the scientist in a group of heroes, rather than the classic hero. During her AFR PhD, the Luxembourg national worked on building tools that help simulate the metabolism of a cell, tools she applied to cancer research during her postdoc.
As part of a new series, the FNR speaks to five experts about research trends in their domain. A key research question for solar cell scientists is how to make the cells more efficient. Prof Dr Susanne Siebentritt from the University of Luxembourg explains how thin-film tandem solar cells could play a role in the solution.
Prof Ines Thiele was still in high school when she fell in love with genetics, soon followed by a passion for systems biology and especially programming. After research stays in the US and Iceland, she came to Luxembourg where she and her team work on a virtual representation of human metabolism. We spoke to the German national and ERC grantee about how she considers science a hobby, how she juggles family and career, and her goals.
The science sector in Luxembourg has developed enormously over the last decades. Significant funding has been and continues to be invested in the sector, and modern infrastructure has been established. In an opinion piece, FNR Secretary General Marc Schiltz discusses how one piece of the puzzle is still missing in the quest to transform Luxembourg’s knowledge economy vision into reality.
As part of a new series, the FNR speaks to five experts about research trends in their domain. Biomedical scientists are fascinated with microbiome research: Mahesh Desai of LIH explains how important bacterial communities living in and on the human body are for our health.
After spending over 6 years in Canada, immunology researcher Prof Dr Dirk Brenner set his sights on returning to Europe, choosing Luxembourg and the Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH) not only because of his FNR ATTRACT Fellowship, but also for the opportunity to build up something new. Three years in, we spoke to the German national about how international collaboration is the essence of high-impact research, team spirit, and how important it is to have fun on the job.
Led by Dr Valérie Maquil, a team of researchers at LIST have developed a programmable micro-controller called ‘Kniwwelino®’, entirely designed for children from fundamental schools and “maisons relais” in Luxembourg. The micro-controller is not only a big success with children, but also introduces them to what will likely become a fundamental skill in the future: programming.
Universities train tomorrow’s highly skilled workforce. Many students and researchers will work in jobs outside academia that currently do not even exist. It is therefore important that they have a notion of other sectors and that their training equips them with flexible skills. In a contribution for the latest EUA-CDE Doctoral Education bulletin, Ulrike Kohl, Head of Talent Attraction and Capacity Building at the FNR, explains that intersectoral mobility is a way to stimulate such flexibility and one that can take a variety of forms.
Once home to Luxembourg’s largest steel foundry, the southern town of Belval is today the headquarters of public research, where breakthroughs in biomedical and ICT research are just on the horizon. Marc Schiltz, the FNR’s Executive Head and Secretary General, tells about how Luxembourg is positioning itself as a global hub of innovation.
In 2008, British national Phillip Dale arrived in Luxembourg as the first ever FNR ATTRACT Fellow, setting up his energy materials (physics.uni.lu) group at the University of Luxembourg. Ten years on, we spoke to Phillip about learning you can’t always win; why he feels a strong sense of responsibility toward his students; and his gradual transition from a chemist to a physicist.
In times of post-truth it seems scientific facts do not count for much anymore, and topics are often treated as nothing but questions of faith. In his opinion piece, FNR Secretary General Marc Schiltz explains why we can continue to trust scientific facts.
In September 2017, the FNR announced that five bilateral projects involving Luxembourg researchers were selected for funding in an international Call with French agency ANR. One of the successful projects involves the Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH) collaborating with French project partners to investigate the epigenetic origins of concurrent diabetes and neuropsychiatric disorders.
Massimiliano Esposito works in one of the few research fields that still use a blackboard, pen and paper: theoretical physics. After research stays in Belgium and the US, the Italian-become-Luxembourg-national returned to Luxembourg, to take up his FNR ATTRACT Fellowship. Five years later as the ATTRACT funding concludes and he embarks on a prestigious ERC-funded project, Massimiliano spoke to us about how his team is stronger than ever and how lucky he feels that he can focus on his research and put funding concerns aside.
For many of us, research elicits images of test tubes and lab rats. Innovation, on the other hand, calls to mind space travel, startup moguls and exciting tech gadgets. Although innovation might seem like research’s distant, cooler cousin they are actually two sides of the same coin. The research community and startup ecosystem are natural allies that the FNR hopes to bring closer together.
Psychologist Samuel Greiff’s connection with Luxembourg already started mid-way through his PhD, when he started collaborating with a Professor from the University of Luxembourg on an international project. We spoke to the German national about how – despite considering himself a workaholic – he cherishes the flexibility and freedom of his work, and how he considers mentoring students a privilege.
Dr Alex Redinger, Luxembourg national and experimental physicist embarked on his FNR ATTRACT Fellowship in March 2017 and has big goals: Turning Luxembourg into a European photovoltaics hub. We spoke to Alex about the challenges he expects as he learns to be a mentor, the eternal quest for funding – and why he feels it is his duty to inspire the next generation of physicists in Luxembourg.
Lifting yourself up with a pulley or feeling electrical tension on your body – all this is possible at the new Luxembourg Science Center, which is supported by the FNR’s Promoting Science to the Public (PSP) programmes.
By the time Parkinson’s disease manifests in symptoms such as tremors, parts of the brain have already been damaged beyond repair. In a quest to shed light on the early stages of the disease, a team of researchers led by FNR ATTRACT Fellow Prof Paul Wilmes, has discovered that the gut of Parkinson’s patients differs from that of healthy people – even at early stages of the disease.
What can be done do increase the share of women in STEM careers, and why is there such a disparity? In this opinion piece, FNR Secretary General Marc Schiltz delves into the issue of gender inequality in science and research and explains a cultural shift is needed.
Two young promising economists from Luxembourg had the rare opportunity to be surrounded by 17 Economics Nobel Prize winners, along with hundreds of talented economists, when they were selected to attend the 2017 Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting on Economic Sciences. The FNR spoke to them about the experience.
Miguel Angel Olivares Mendez works on mobile robots – more specifically: he develops algorithms that enable drones to fly around and perform various tasks autonomously, such as inspecting big structures. The Spanish national came to Luxembourg in 2013 after he came across a Postdoc position that fit like a glove.
Zhe Liu’s passion for research grew from a desire to find out how things work and why. Considering himself as a ‘Luxembourg-made Chinese researcher’, Zhe came to Luxembourg in 2011 for his AFR PhD, a project for which he later won an FNR Award for ‘Outstanding PhD Thesis’ in 2016.
Xianqing Mao comes from a family of professors and doctors and thus has always had a natural interest in science. The Chinese national completed a medical degree, but felt she still had unanswered questions, so she decided to go abroad and took a leap into biomedical research. After stays in France, the UK, the United States and Belgium, Xianqing is now transitioning from junior to senior researcher at the Luxembourg Institute of Health, where she has already been involved in several projects investigating cancer progression.
Ulrike Kohl, who heads up the ATTRACT programme, spoke to Ines Thiele and Anne Grünewald – the only female FNR ATTRACT Fellows – about the challenges they faced, and what they think can be done to make the programme more attractive to women, such as offering more support for spouses/partners also working in research.
In early 2017, the FNR helped organise an exhibition and colloquium surrounding the topic of ‘WiSE Women’ – women in science and engineering in Luxembourg. Following the colloquium, a report has now been compiled summarising the key issues and recommendations surrounding gender balance in research in Luxembourg. The FNR’s Michele Weber explains the situation, and what the FNR can do to improve it.
Luxembourg nationals Max Greisen and Véronique Cornu have many things in common: They are both educated in the field of psychology, they are both PhD researchers at the University of Luxembourg – and they both work with language-free approaches to early mathematical development of multilingual children. Max develops and implements animations that help assess early numerical competencies, while Véronique develops training methods to help overcome language barriers in early math education.
Isabel Z. Martínez has been interested in how policies are put in place and how they affect people’s lives for as long as she can remember. After completing her Masters in Economics, she realised that academia was the ideal way to quench her thirst for analysing large data sets and finding answers to questions addressing people’s well-being and policy decisions. The Swiss-Spanish national has been studying income and wealth inequality in Switzerland for years and has now come to Luxembourg as a Postdoc at LISER to expand her research to the Grand Duchy. We spoke to Isabel about life as a research economist, and how it has already enabled her to travel across the globe, as well as work with some of the foremost researchers in her field.
In March of this year, it was announced that medical education in Luxembourg will be expanded and will also grow to include specialties. What is still missing is a clear framework to bridge the divide between medical research and applied medicine. In an opinion piece, FNR Secretary General Marc Schiltz explains why researcher-clinicians can provide this bridge.
Passion and competitiveness is at the heart of being a researcher for Pit Losch, who describes life in research as a rollercoaster ride. The Luxembourg national, who completed his AFR PhD at the University of Strasbourg, is currently a Postdoc at Max Planck Institute for Coal Research, where he investigates and shapes materials for the future. We spoke to Pit about his life as a scientist.
Svenja Bourone is a chemist who has always had a fascination for natural sciences. During her master studies at RWTH Aachen, she became captivated by functional nanomaterials and as chance would have it, a doctoral position opened up in just that field. During her AFR PhD, Svenja developed a new protocol to help with the synthesisation of gold nanoparticles, which she is now putting to use in her work as a Postdoc. The Luxembourg national has a strong desire to return home to the Grand Duchy to continue her work on nanomaterials.
Kacy Greenhalgh has always had an affectation for medicine and health, and how health can be influenced by dietary habits. During her Master studies, the Luxembourg-American national was introduced to FNR ATTRACT Fellow Paul Wilmes and the ‘gut on a chip’, HuMiX. Fascinated by its potential, and how it could be used to study the relation between diet and health, Kacy’s curiosity led her straight to an AFR PhD at the LCSB at the University of Luxembourg.
Interview with the FNR’s Head of Innovation Unit, Andreea Monnat, about the definition of innovation in the Luxembourg context, the importance of encouraging and supporting it – and what the FNR is doing to tick these boxes.
Paul Hauseux was always interested in science, but only recently settled on the researcher path. Before that, his career ambitions stretched from working in sports or music to teaching science. Some years and a PhD later, the French national has come to Luxembourg for his computational engineering Postdoc in the team of ERC grantee Stéphane Bordas at the University of Luxembourg.
Léon-Charles Tranchevent says he has found the perfect job in being a researcher. Cherishing the freedom and unexpectedness of his line of work, the computational biologist also feels it’s his duty to contribute to the training of the next generation of researchers. The French national has recently begun his AFR Bilateral Postdoc at the Luxembourg Institute of Health in collaboration with Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore.
University of Luxembourg physicist and ERC grantee Prof Dr Jan Lagerwall and former University of Luxembourg Prof Dr Tanja Schilling organised the interdisciplinary conference ‘Twisted’, which brought together chemists, chemical engineers, physicists and biologists to discuss various aspects of nanotechnology, such as possible future applications of cellulose nanorods. The conference was a part of Lagerwall’s and Schilling’s FNR CORE project MISONANCE.
Surveillance cameras have become a permanent feature in our daily routine. In order to improve the resolution of the acquired images and the results from their automatic analysis, complicated and expensive cameras have always been required until now – More affordable cameras are still limited with regards to automatic detection of flexible and dynamic non-rigid movements.
Dr Sven Dorosz is a basic researcher: ‘My Junior Core Project has led to basic findings for materials research and generated numerous very good publications.’ The topic that Dorosz was involved with at the University of Luxemburg is called Colloidal Physics, specifically, the ‘statistical mechanics of many-particle systems out of equilibrium’, as Dorosz explains.
Prof Dr Karsten Hiller was awarded an FNR ATTRACT Fellowship in 2010, with which he brought experimental and computational research in cellular metabolism to Luxembourg. The German national set up the Metabolomics Group at the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB) at the University of Luxembourg and during the 5 years that followed, the group implemented a high-quality mass spectrometry-based profiling platform and applied their expertise to study metabolism in-depth.
What do a French, a Spanish, a Brazilian and an Algerian researcher have in common? In the case of Adeline Boileau, Antonio Salgado Somoza, Clarissa P. C. Gomes and Torkia Lalem, it’s that they are all early-career researchers who came to Luxembourg to join forces in the Cardiovascular Research Unit (CVRU) at the Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH), which aims to identify new personalised strategies to diagnose and treat cardiovascular disease.
Eric Finn Schaanning was drawn to research by a thirst to understand what mechanisms drove the financial crisis. He has just defended his AFR PhD at Imperial College London, during which he developed an operational ‘stress test’ model that is already being used by two European Central Banks. The half Luxembourg, half Norwegian national is now a Senior Advisor at Norges Bank, where he continues to analyse and help improve understanding of how financial institutions react to economic shocks.
Ever since he was a child, Jo Hoeser wanted to understand the function of complex systems. He found himself taking apart and trying to fix broken electronic devices. Then fascination for chemistry came into the mix. Fast forward some years and the Luxembourg national completed his AFR PhD in biochemistry at the Albert-Ludwigs University Freiburg – and wants to return to the Grand Duchy to continue his career in research.
In high school, Anna Schleimer thought everything there was to know in science was already known. When she discovered how many unanswered questions there still are, curiosity drove her to become a researcher. The Luxembourg national is now in the 1st year of her AFR PhD, in what is not your most common topic: As a marine biologist, Anna studies fin whales as part of her joint PhD at University of Groningen and University of St Andrews.
Scientists at the Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH) have discovered a previously unknown way in which our immune system activates its immune cells. The team, led by FNR ATTRACT Fellow Prof Dr Dirk Brenner, found that a molecule called ‘glutathione’ boosts the energy metabolism of a type of white blood cells known as T-cells, giving them more power to fight off e.g. viruses. The novel findings – which could lead to new treatments for cancer and autoimmune diseases – have just been published in ‘Immunity’, the world’s most prestigious immunology journal.
From 9 – 13 April, the FNR’s Secretary General Marc Schiltz is in the US as he joins Etienne Schneider, Minister of the Economy, as well as Crown Prince Guillaume and Crown Princess Stephanie on the Luxembourg economic mission to the US. With visits to Planetary Resources, SSL and the NASA Ames Research Center, the FNR is painting itself a picture of the Space Resources initiative. Which influence does this Government initiative have on public research and on the FNR? Interview with FNR Secretary General Marc Schiltz.
“Would matter be perfect, it would be boring” says Guillaume Nataf, who has an oozing passion for physics and teaching fundamental science. The French national did his PhD in the group of FNR PEARL Chair Jens Kreisel at the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST), in collaboration with the French Atomic Commission (CEA). We spoke to Guillaume, who has just started a Postdoc at the University of Cambridge, about life as a researcher.
Alex Gansen first dabbled in research during his Masters studies in physics at the University of Fribourg (Switzerland), and then decided he wanted to take on the challenge of a PhD, so the Luxembourg national returned to his home country. Alex has just submitted his thesis at the end of the 4th year of his AFR PhD in computational electromagnetics at the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST) in collaboration with the College of Engineering in Swansea. He sees the close links between local industry and research in Luxembourg as a great advantage for the future of research in the Grand Duchy.
Anna Scaini’s appetite for becoming a researcher was stirred at University, stemming from a desire to ‘save’ the last natural river in Europe, which runs close to her home town and causes dangerous local flooding. The Italian national is taking the first step towards pursuing her goal as she prepares to complete her PhD thesis in Hydrology at the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST).
Chetan Arora always knew he wanted to do a PhD, but did not see himself pursuing research beyond that. A few years later, the Indian national has completed his PhD in Requirements Engineering at the SnT at the University of Luxembourg, under the supervision of FNR PEARL Chair Lionel Briand – but this is only the beginning. During his PhD, Chetan’s passion for the challenging nature of research was lit, when he helped create a novel tool suite, which has the potential to have a big impact on software engineering.
Pit Ullmann’s interest in natural sciences was piqued in high school. The Luxembourg national went on to study molecular biology at the University of Innsbruck and then found himself desiring a job that would be both interdisciplinary and diversified – fast forward and Pit is now completing his AFR PhD at the University of Luxembourg, where his research group studies why and how colon cancer develops and spreads.
Nina Hentzen, an organic chemist working on the chemical synthesis of collagen, is fascinated by research at the interface of chemistry and biology. The Luxembourg national is in the second year of her AFR PhD at ETH Zürich – and has just been selected to attend the renowned 2017 Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting.
Early in 2017, a small exhibition in Luxembourg City highlighted a selection of ‘WiSE – Women in Science and Engineering’. Here we introduce one of the featured scientists, LIH’s Simone Niclou, oncologist and coordinator of CANBIO, one of the 11 Doctoral Training Units funded through the FNR’s PRIDE programme.
In early 2017, a small exhibition in Luxembourg City highlighted a selection of ‘WiSE – Women in Science and Engineering’. Here we introduce FNR Award winner Pascale Engel de Abreu, a Psychologist who studies cognitive development of multilingual children at the University of Luxembourg and is featured in the exhibition.
In early 2017, a small exhibition in Luxembourg City highlighted a selection of ‘WiSE – Women in Science and Engineering’. Here we introduce featured scientist Professor Mahulena Hofmann, SES Chair in Satellite Communications and Media Law at the University of Luxembourg.
In early 2017, a small exhibition in Luxembourg City highlighted a selection of ‘WiSE – Women in Science and Engineering’. Here we introduce FNR PEARL Chair Conchita D’Ambrosio, economics Professor at the University of Luxembourg, who is also featured in the exhibition.
IEEE´s CloudCom is the leading annual conference on cloud computing worldwide. The 2016 edition of the event took place in Luxembourg and saw over 200 international participants came together to discuss the latest developments in big data, security and privacy and other important topics in the context of ‘the cloud’. We took a closer look at some of the topics that were on the horizon.
A research team at the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB) of the University of Luxembourg has taken an important step in modelling the complexity of the human gut’s bacterial communities – the microbiome – on the computer. The project, published in Nature Biotechnology, is an example of a study supported by multiple FNR instruments, namely AFR, ATTRACT, CORE and PoC.
If there is one country in the world that can call itself multicultural, it must be Luxembourg. Dr Elke Murdock from the University of Luxembourg has been studying the ‘natural multicultural laboratory’ Luxembourg since 2010 and has just published a book focusing on the varying experiences of culture contact in this multicultural context.
Motion‑S’s business idea is all about promoting responsible driving. The Luxembourg based tech start‑up has developed an app which analyses the driver’s behaviour behind the wheel and helps driving to make it safer and better for both the environment and the wallet. The only things it requires are a car and a smartphone – and of course a driver who is willing to play the “game“.
The 2016 edition of the Researchers’ Days, organised by the FNR, attracted a large audience that took part in fascinating scientific experiments and had the opportunity to mingle with the present researchers. The Luxembourg Parkinson Study (NCER-PD) was of course there too, with a booth called ‘What Parkinson’s disease feels like’. We took a closer look!
In 2015, Dimitra Anastasiou was featured in our campaign ‘Spotlight on Young Researchers’, which highlighted early-career researchers with a connection to Luxembourg. In November 2015, Dimitra moved to Luxembourg with her young family to start her prestigious Marie Curie Individual Fellowship at the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST). One year on, we caught up with Dimitra!
In 2015, Cyrille Thinnes was featured in our campaign ‘Spotlight on Young Researchers’, which highlighted early-career researchers with a connection to Luxembourg. At the time, Cyrille was at the University of Oxford doing a DPhil (PhD) in chemical biology. One year on, we caught up with Cyrille!
When microbes inside the digestive tract don’t get the natural fiber that they rely on for food, they start to eat their host from within. The findings from the FNR-funded Luxembourg Institute of Health study were published in the scientific journal ‘Cell’.
AFR-beneficiary Philip Birget is studying the ecology of malaria, part of his research is to study how pathogens change behaviour. The Luxembourg national is carrying out his PhD work at the University of Edinburgh.
Luxembourg recently hosted the 2016 NEOBIOTA Conference in Vianden in the north of the Grand Duchy. The conference presented the newest discoveries in the area of biological invasions and brings together distinguished experts in the field. Co-organiser and biologist Christian Ries gives an overview of ‘biological invasions’.
The second Mind & Market Forum in Luxembourg, will take place on 30 June 2016. It aims to provide a forum for innovative business ideas that could lead to successful start-ups. Young entrepreneurs have the opportunity to pitch their innovative ideas to a panel of experts – ahead of the event, the FNR takes a look at Mind & Market and catches up with the 2015 winner, FNR-funded start-up Motion-S.
FNR PEARL Chair Lionel Briand has a strategy—and is part of a strategy. The researcher, a dual national of France and Canada who has been living and working in Luxembourg since 2012, is regularly ranked as one of the world’s top experts in software systems engineering.
In early 2017, a small exhibition in Luxembourg City highlighted a selection of ‘WiSE – Women in Science and Engineering’. Here we introduce featured researcher Dr Claudine Kirsch, educationalist in languages at the University of Luxembourg and Principal Investigator on a recently-launched project funded by the FNR’s CORE programme.
Luxembourgish PhD candidate Charles de Bourcy was one of two Luxembourg participants selected to attend the 2015 Lindau Nobel Meeting. Charles recounts the highlights of attending the Meeting, and cites the passion of some Nobel Prize winners as an inspiration.
”It all started with RoboTEC in 2007,” explains Nicole Schlichtenhorst, who, as regional manager for PROSUD – a programme for children aged 4 to 12 that brings science into schools in the southern region of Luxembourg – runs all of the activities of this syndicate of eleven communes, yet clearly puts her heart and soul into this particular project.
In 2008, Phillip Dale came to Luxembourg as the first ever Research Fellow of the FNR ATTRACT Programme, which aims to bring excellent young researchers to Luxembourg. It appears that the country is indeed attractive, since the native Brit chose to stay in Luxembourg even after his ATTRACT funding finished at the end of 2012.
When he began his career as a scientist, Paul Wilmes never imagined that his home country would one day become the base for successful research. It was the beginning of the millennium and Luxembourg was still an unknown spot on the global scientific map.
The world is full of mathematics. Marie Skłodowska Curie Fellow and AFR postdoc beneficiary Pascal Schweitzer develops the mathematical foundations for diverse aspects of the modern economy and society.
To meet a Nobel Prize winner is something special for every scientist. The early-career researcher Gökhan Ertaylan from the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB) at the University of Luxembourg got to meet 37 all at once when he attended the 2014 Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting.
Most food labels are full of unpronounceable words and mysterious abbreviations. In a series of interactive workshops, the Luxembourg Science Center project ‘EngrEdiEnts’ took participants on a food science journey learning about sugar-free sugar, astronaut food, best before and expiry dates and much more.
The Goodyear Innovation Centre and the University of Luxembourg teamed up in a CORE-funded Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) project aiming to create and analyse surface-induced interphases in a macroscale planar material assembly.
Launched in July 2007 and expanding ever since, HotCity, Luxembourg-City’s wireless internet network, is widely considered one of the most successful municipal networks in Europe. Even so, coverage is still not as complete as it could be and although the installation of further access points is foreseen, the City found itself looking for a more cost-effective and efficient way to enhance connectivity.
LuxAI: QTRobot – a humanoid robot for children with autism
FNR PEARL Chairs: Prof Louis Chauvel – How socioeconomic inequality threatens social democracy
Introducing FNR ATTRACT Fellows: Stan Schymanski (biologist)
FNR PEARL Chairs: Prof Paulo Esteves Veríssimo – Cyber Solutions for Critical Information Infrastructures
FNR PEARL Chairs: Prof Conchita D’Ambrosio – How inequality and economic insecurity affect wellbeing
FNR PEARL Chairs: Prof Michel Mittelbronn – towards a better understanding and diagnosis of neurodegeneration and brain tumours
FNR PEARL Chairs: Prof Rejko Krüger – connecting fundamental research and clinical care
Introducing FNR ATTRACT Fellows: Pedro Cardoso-Leite (experimental psychology)
FNR PEARL Chairs – Henderik Proper
FNR PEARL Chairs – Jens Kreisel
Introducing FNR ATTRACT Fellows: Alex Redinger (physics / solar cells)
Introducing FNR ATTRACT Fellows: Anne Grünewald (neuroscientist)
Introducing Cesar Pascual Garcia: FNR ATTRACT Fellow (nano electronics)
Introducing Dirk Brenner, FNR ATTRACT Fellow (Experimental and Molecular Immunology)
Introducing Thomas Schmidt, FNR ATTRACT Fellow (Mesoscopic Physics)
Science based start-ups in Luxembourg: Black Swan – profiling and anomaly detection solutions
FNR ATTRACT Fellows in Biomedicine
FNR ATTRACT Fellows in Education/Cognitive Applied Science and Humanities/Identities/Politics
FNR ATTRACT Fellows in Material Sciences
We are always keen to add to our highlights section – if you are a researcher, or work for a company involved with research, and would like to share news relating to your work, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.