Gil Georges is driven by the quest for knowledge and strives to have a real impact, beyond publications. The Luxembourg national has just made the jump from early-career researcher to lecturer and group leader at the IET-LAV at ETH Zürich in Switzerland, where the data analyst and modeller gets to use one of Europe’s most powerful super computers when it is time for some serious number crunching.
“The exciting part is that my work is highly interdisciplinary,” says Gil Georges, whose research is part of Switzerland’s action plan for coordinated energy research. He explains that he on the modeller side of his work gets to work on anything from mobility demand to vehicle technology and energy provision, which brings with it extremely large datasets – hence Gil gets to use the famous super computer when real datasets of vast proportions have be to analysed.
“On the other hand”, Gil adds “we participate in – and most of the time lead – many collaborative research projects. Therefore, I get to interact with many people, from researchers in other disciplines, over administrations to get data to decision makers in industry and administration to identify interesting research questions.”
Taking into account what effect charging one electric car has on energy demand
So what exactly does Gil and his group work on? Gil explains:
“I work on how alternative propulsion technology creates an additional energy demand from mobility, how this changes when and where we consume energy, and how to cover this with increasing shares of fluctuating renewable production.”
The primary focus of the work is Switzerland – Gil’s work is funded entirely by the Swiss Government’s Competence Center for Energy Research in Mobility. Gil explains that the country’s large hydro and nuclear capacities give it one of the least CO2-intense production mixes of Europe but that it is yet an open system electrically due to its grid connectivity to its neighbouring countries.
“If we add one charging electric vehicle on top of the already existing demand from buildings, industry, etc.,” Gil says, adding “then this electricity is not necessarily generated in Switzerland; it can come from anywhere on the European continent — worst case from a coal or oil powerplant.”
“It thus matters when a vehicle charges, and how the Swiss energy system evolves as a whole. Now there is a whole bunch of options to address this situation, ranging from influencing the demand for mobility, over ‘smart charging’, to complex storage systems like ‘power to gas’. We develop tools and use them to explore the feasibility and ramifications of the different options under different scenarios.”
Hoping for a fact-based emissions debate
Gil points out that if Luxembourg does go ahead with pushing for electric mobility, his research would also become highly relevant to the Grand Duchy “in particular because Luxembourg currently only produces about 1-2 TWh of its roughly 8 TWh electricity consumption; that means that the added electricity demand from mobility is likely to be imported.”
In terms of what he hopes to achieve with his work as a researcher, Gil explains that he hopes his work will have a real-life impact, for example on emissions:
“I do not mean publications — although I would not mind them either. I mean the public discourse. If I can contribute to the debate becoming just a little more fact-based, perhaps change a few minds or even bring about some minimal course correction that actually reduces CO2 emissions, then I guess it will have been worth it.”
About Spotlight on Young Researchers
Spotlight on Young Researchers is an FNR initiative to highlight early career researchers across the world who have a connection to Luxembourg. This article is the 19th in a series of around 25 articles, which will be published on a weekly basis. You can see more articles below as and when they are published.
Spotlight on Young Researchers: The hidden half of plants
The hidden part of plants – the root systems – play a vital role both in plant survival, and in our ecosystem, as plants store carbon in the soil. Scientists are working to understand how roots are affected by changes in water availability, but how do researchers even approach the study of roots?
Spotlight on Young Researchers: Lucas Oesch
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.
Spotlight on Young Researchers: Xianqing Mao
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.
Spotlight on Young Researchers: Michel Thill
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.
Spotlight on Young Researchers: Ramona Pelich
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.
Spotlight on Young Researchers: Léon-Charles Tranchevent
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.
Spotlight on Young Researchers: Foni Raphaël Lebrun-Ricalens
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.
Spotlight on Young Researchers: Sumit Gautam
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.
Spotlight on Young Researchers: Svenja Bourone
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.
Spotlight on Young Researchers: German Castignani
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.
Spotlight on Young Researchers: Noémie Catherine Engel
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.
Spotlight on Young Researchers: Paul Hauseux
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.
Spotlight on Young Researchers: Christof Ferreira Torres
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.
Spotlight on Young Researchers: Ramping up carbohydrates production
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!
Spotlight on Young Researchers: Jo Hoeser
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.
Spotlight on Young Researchers: Remko Nijzink
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.
Spotlight on Young Researchers: Glioblastoma and the challenge of getting cancer drugs to reach the brain
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.
Spotlight on Young Researchers: The challenge of getting autonomous systems to work together seamlessly
An increasing number of systems are now controlled by artificial intelligence (AI): Autonomous vehicles – such as drones or satellites – can be deployed in difficult to access places and used to gather information in real-time. Autonomous systems can also be used simultaneously and cooperate to reach better performances compared to using only one device – but not without challenges: it is no easy task to programme these entities to behave collectively as we want them to. We speak to computer scientist and researcher Florian Felten about his research in this area and the associated challenges.
Spotlight on Young Researchers: Jose-Luis Sanchez-Lopez
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.
Spotlight on Young Researchers: Understanding our immune system
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.
Spotlight on Young Researchers: Hameeda Jagalur Basheer
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.
Spotlight on Young Researchers: Anna Scaini
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).
Spotlight on Young Researchers: Alex Gansen
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.
Spotlight on Young Researchers: Maxime Brami
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.
Spotlight on Young Researchers: Eva Lagunas
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.