Results 2020 CORE Call

The FNR is pleased to communicate the final results of the 2020 CORE Call. Out of 157 proposals submitted in the 2020 CORE Call, a total of 47 research projects have been retained for funding, representing a financial commitment of 30,2 MEUR.

CORE is the central funding programme of the FNR, with a prime objective to strengthen the scientific quality of Luxembourg’s public research in the country’s research priorities adopted by the Government on 20 December 2019.

In order to identify the most promising and most excellent projects, the FNR submits project proposals to an assessment by independent international experts. A record number of proposals were submitted in the 2020 call. Among the 157 eligible project proposals that were submitted, 47 have been retained for funding. The retention of 43 projects was first communicated by FNR in January 2021, with an additional 4 projects communicated in May 2021, due to pending decisions from international partners.

12 of the 47 projects are CORE Junior projects (CORE Junior PIs marked with * below). In the biomedical field, 4 projects pertaining to research relating to the National Cancer Plan are jointly funded by FNR and Fondation Cancer.

FNR’s CORE programme is one of the major vehicles to implement the national research priorities. Funded research projects have a duration of 2-3 years and will be implemented in Luxembourg’s research institutions.

Find out more about CORE

The retained projects of the CORE 2020 Call are grouped in the areas below.

Subcategory: Transition towards sustainability: energy efficiency – 1 projects
Subcategory: Fundamental phenomena defining materials function and devices – 8 projects

Principal Investigator

Jan Lagerwall

Project title

Eye-undetectable Cholesteric LIquid crystal spheres realized by Phase Separation and Electrospray (ECLIPSE)

Host institution

University of Luxembourg

FNR Committed

€749,000

Abstract

The ECLIPSE project will conduct fundamental materials science and the related optics research with potential for strong impact in the scientific community dealing with soft matter physics and chemistry, in particular liquid crystalline and other self-assembled advanced structures. At the same time, the results will lay the ground for applied follow-up activities that can have tremendous societal and economic impact. This is because the materials produced in ECLIPSE have unique and truly remarkable optical properties that can enable a new infrastructure designed to support emerging technologies such as autonomous vehicle navigation, robotics and augmented reality, while also being able to give very significant support in fighting the rising threat of product counterfeiting. However, these perspectives are hampered by a lack of industrially viable methods for producing the materials and a sufficient understanding of their optics. ECLIPSE will deliver new understanding that fills these gaps.

Principal Investigator

Emmanuel Defay

Project title

Thermodielectric materials for energy harvesting (THERMODIMAT)

Host institution

Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST)

FNR Committed

€820,000

Abstract

THERMODIMAT is a project dedicated to the study of a new class of materials for electro-thermal energy harvesting. These materials, called non linear pyroelectrics, have the propensity to change lost heat into electricity. To do so, we need to expose these materials to variations of temperature and control their voltage all along what is called a thermodynamic cycle. The objectives of this project are 1) to understand better what are the main characteristics needed for these materials to convert a lot of heat into electricity, 2) to build demonstrators able to generate enough energy to run simple devices such as an autonomous sensor and 3) study the energy efficiency of this effect and how to modify the best materials to improve it.

Principal Investigator

María Belén Farias*

Project title

Optical responses of open topological semimetals (OpenTop)

Host institution

University of Luxembourg

FNR Committed

€369,000

Abstract

In the real world, there is no such thing as a perfect isolated system, since everything is in contact with an environment that surrounds it. To understand correctly the behaviour of materials and their properties, one must take into account its interaction with the environment. However, considering the dynamics of all involved subsystems might render the problem impossible to solve, so that is usual to look for models that account effectively for the influence of the environment over the system of interest. In this project, we propose an approach that was never used in this context to study the influence of the environment over topological semimetals, a novel family of material with unique properties and promising technological applications. We take advantage of our approach to calculate their optical properties in order to study the interaction of these materials with light, in particular the Casimir interaction, a phenomenon in which the quantum fluctuations of the electromagnetic field generate a force that acts between two neutral objects. This force dominates at short distances, and because of this its control and manipulation is relevant in nanotechnology.

Principal Investigator

Sven Reichardt*

Project title

Resonant Raman scattering dynamics from first principles (RESRAMAN)

Host institution

University of Luxembourg

FNR Committed

€361,000

Abstract

Raman scattering, the scattering of light in which the light changes color by exciting atomic vibrations inside a material, is a very powerful tool to gain insight into fundamental properties of materials on a sub-micrometer scale. In this project, will study it from first principles and use advanced tools from computational physics to simulate them. We will both develop a publicly available computer code to make our method available to a wider audience as well as apply the code to simulate Raman spectra for several materials that see use in solar cell or sensing applications. This will allow us to better understand the internal dynamical processes inside these materials and the improved understanding can be used to systematically improve devices.
Lastly, we aim to extend the current simulation to more general situations, in which we can track the scattering process over time, i.e., “live” in our simulations and to also include overtones of atomic vibrations in it.

Principal Investigator

Susanne Siebentritt

Project title

How Tail states in the Absorber Influence and Limit Solar cell efficiency (TAILS)

Host institution

University of Luxembourg

FNR Committed

€607,000

Abstract

Thin film solar cells will have to play a major role for the future low-carbon energy supply. Their carbon emissions, averaged over their lifetime, including production, can be lower than any other electricity source. They are based on absorbers, that consist of small crystalline regions with grain boundaries between them. These defective areas appear to generate electronic states in the absorber, called tail states, where the photogenerated electrons are lost.
These photogenerated electrons are, however, the basis of the functioning of the solar cell. In this project, we will investigate which properties of the grain boundaries lead to detrimental electronic tail states and how the tail states contribute to the loss of photogenerated electrons. The insight generated in this project will help reduce the loss of photogenerated electrons and thus improve future generation of thin film solar cells.

Principal Investigator

Alexandre Tkatchenko

Project title

Broadly Applicable Methods for van der Waals Interactions in Molecules and Materials (BroadApp)

Host institution

University of Luxembourg

FNR Committed

€707,000

Abstract

The functionality of molecules and materials is often determined by a subtle interplay between short-range covalent and long-range noncovalent van der Waals interactions. As we progress towards understanding and developing increasingly complex materials, the need for accurate description of van der Waals interactions becomes critical. The key challenge is that existing methods are applicable only to a subset of relevant systems. This project will develop the next generation of quantum methods for predictive modeling of van der Waals interactions that will be broadly applicable to complex molecules and materials.

Principal Investigator

Alex Redinger

Project title

Hybrid Perovskite Surfaces (HYPS)

Host institution

University of Luxembourg

FNR Committed

€552,000

Abstract

Solar cells are very important for the production of environmentally friendly electricity on large scales. In order to produce better solar cells, which can convert light more efficiently into electrical power, new materials need to be developed and improved. Hybrid perovskites are an emerging class of materials that exhibit excellent optical and electrical properties that makes them very suitable for solar cells. A solar cell device consists of many different materials that are stacked on top of each other. The final device performance will be determined by a complex interplay between all these layers.
Consequently, the surface and interfaces of the materials play a crucial role in the development of high efficiency devices and need to be understood as good as possible. Within this project the fundamental surface properties of several types of perovskites will be investigated with surface sensitive techniques such as Photoelectron Spectroscopy (PES) and Scanning Probe Microscopy (SPM). We will combine both techniques to develop a consistent model of the electronic structure of the surface. We will carry out measurements at temperatures between 100K and 350K in order to better understand the effect of mobile ions in the material. Furthermore, we will develop novel synthesis routines based on vacuum evaporation where we will develop a dedicated alkali doping strategy to reduce the ionic mobility in the perovskite thin films.

Principal Investigator

Thomas Schmidt

Project title

Topology in relativistic semimetals (TOPREL)

Host institution

University of Luxembourg

FNR Committed

€523,000

INTER: DFG

Abstract

Relativistic semimetals are an important novel class of materials, sharing the common feature that electrons moving in them behave like particles in the theory of relativity. This makes it possible to study relativistic effects, which normally require large energies, in much simpler lab experiments. In addition to that, it was found in recent years that these semimetals also fall into the wide category of topological materials, which are characterized by unconventional electronic surface properties. The aim of this project is to investigate the interplay between these relativistic and topological features in realistic semimetals using a combination of analytical and numerical techniques. The project will result in a more realistic modelling of such materials, help us understand their
electronic properties in different temperature regimes, and will ultimately bring their interesting electronic properties closer to applications in nanoelectronics.

Read more about this project on the website of the University of Luxembourg

Subcategory: Security and cybersecurity, reliability and trust – 4 projects

Principal Investigator

Michail Papadakis

Project title

Copying with Test Flakiness (TestFlakes)

Host institution

University of Luxembourg (SnT)

FNR Committed

€876,000

Abstract

One of the most important problems of modern software development is test automation. Unfortunately, the current techniques have a major problem; they raise many false alarms. Unfortunately, such false alarms delay development and cause major overheads in human and computational resources. To deal with this issue, the project will develop robust techniques, capable of maximising the testing value in the presence of false alarms. In particular, the project will identify the problems caused by the test suite non-determinism and will built techniques capable of copying with this issue (operate and provide decision making under uncertainty).

Principal Investigator

Marcus Völp

Project title

Hypervisor-Enforced RAdiation tolerance in multi-core SoCs for space (HERA)

Host institution

University of Luxembourg (SnT)

FNR Committed

€783,000

Abstract

Technological advances of the last few decades have converted space, in particular near earth, from a place for our dreams of exploration to a viable business opportunity for Luxembourg. Continuing growth of this market segment requires highly performant, cost efficient, but most importantly reliable and secure processor architectures to provide the computational power of increasingly demanding workloads, be it for autonomous assembly of space vehicles, to counteract debris or to form constellations. However, space can be quite a harsh environment, in particular once we leave the protection of earth’s magnetic field. To prevent computer systems from failing due to radiation effects, special purpose implementations have been used, which come at significant costs and are slow. In this project, we strive to overcome these limitations, by enabling common of-the shelf computer systems for use in space or in other harsh environments on ground (e.g., in medical systems). The approach we follow is to construct small, highly robust circuits that can be easily integrated into the multi- and manycore systems in each of our mobile phones, laptops or other computer systems, but which allow system software to utilize the immense compute power in space that these systems provide us on ground.

Principal Investigator

Gabriele Lenzini

Project title

Deceptive Patterns Online (DECEPTICON)

Host institution

University of Luxembourg (SnT)

FNR Committed

€969,000

Abstract

The project DECEPTICON aims to unveil whether modern technologies instil false beliefs or influence user’s behaviours, without people being aware of it.
Such devious attempts have been defined as “dark patterns”, i.e., techniques that coerce, steer or deceive users of an online service into making decisions that, if fully informed and capable of selecting alternatives more fairly, they would not make. It has been demonstrated, for instance, that dark patterns mischievously nudge users into accepting privacy-invasive practices, like consenting to cookies installation on their device.The goal of this project is manifold:The goal of DECEPTICON is manifold: – to create an online platform to share and create know-how about dark patterns (e.g., by enabling further analysis, classifications, correlations), by building upon a widely used cybersecurity data-sharing platform (i.e., MISP), and build a structured database of dark patterns;- to functionally characterize manipulation and deception in online patterns, through the development of formal models, and the inclusion of UI/UX design heuristics and principles pertaining to European consumer and data protection law;- to empirically study the effects of specific dark patterns on user behaviour (e.g., decision-making) in order to give experimental evidence about manipulative and deceptive attempts;- to develop procedures and tools to support various stakeholders to assess the presence of dark patterns in online services (e.g., by extending a tool for process compliance).

Principal Investigator

Johannes Mueller*

Project title

Future-Proofing Privacy in Secure Electronic Voting (FP2)

Host institution

University of Luxembourg (SnT)

FNR Committed

€670,000

Abstract

Electronic voting is a reality. Systems for electronic voting, short e-voting systems, are now widely used both for national, state-wide, and municipal elections all over the world with several hundred million voters so far. At the same time, the security of e-voting systems is increasingly challenged: bad cyber actors, ranging from nation states, cyber criminals and hacktivists, pose massive threats for e-voting systems.Our project “FP2: Future-Proofing Privacy in Secure Electronic Voting” aims to provide solutions for protecting voters’ privacy against future quantum attackers or even more powerful ones.
The motivation of our project is to not wait until such attackers have become a reality: we anticipate their development and act now. Therefore, our solutions aim to be highly practical so that they can be used for securing today’s elections. Altogether, our results have the potential to make elections all over the world more secure.

Subcategory: Multiscale modelling in materials science and physics – 3 projects

Principal Investigator

Stéphane Bordas

Project title

Quantum-Continuum Bridging (QuaC)

Host institution

University of Luxembourg

FNR Committed

€848,000

Abstract

There is more to materials than meets the eye. The behaviour of products, materials and systems we work with on a daily basis depend on their atomistic make-up. In particular, understanding the toughness of certain natural systems, the uncanny ability of geckoes to stick to smooth surfaces, increasing the durability of engineered systems, all require zooming down into the atomic world which makes up those structures. Unfortunately, doing so requires enormous computational power, as the quantum (van der Waals) interactions originate at the subatomic scale but bridge up to the scale of the system of interest. We propose here to devise novel methods to enable the seamless and computationally tractable coupling between atomistic effects responsible for large scale behaviour such as adhesion, cohesion, fatigue and fracture.

Principal Investigator

Joshua T Berryman

Project title

Quantum Infra Red Efficiently (QUIRE)

Host institution

University of Luxembourg

FNR Committed

€253,000

Abstract

How can we calculate the impact of individually small quantum effects on the gross collective behaviour of biomaterials? Quantum tunnelling, quantum claustrophobia, and the quantum forbidding of certain positions or momenta for atoms are expensive to calculate in detail but important for the overall properties of a material, especially the thermal and mechanical properties relating to atomic motion. This project is intended firstly to generate a large database of quantum calculations for small fragments of protein material, covering the 20 amino acids which make up most natural proteins, and then to survey this dataset using the latest machine learning tools in order to extrapolate from the fragment data to an efficient description of full-size protein systems and assemblies of protein material. Nature’s use of modular building blocks suggests that likewise, a computational description of the whole system can be assembled from an understanding of these 20 components. The infra red (IR) spectrum (the thermal fingerprint of a molecule) is an effective probe which can report on the collective organisation of individually small fluctuations, therefore the calculated dynamics for meso-scale molecular assemblies will be compared to experimental IR spectra. The self assembly and thermodynamic properties of peptide systems will be explored using the new software tools.

Principal Investigator

Anas Obeidat*

Project title

A numerical homogenisation framework for characterising transport properties in stochastic porous media (PorSol)

Host institution

University of Luxembourg

FNR Committed

€483,000

Abstract

The aim of this research is to have a better understanding of the structure of the knee meniscus and how the fluid flows in-between the meniscus channels, essential to spread the load of the body’s weight. The structure of the meniscus is quite complicated and it is expensive to analyse the fluid flow interaction with the meniscus’ structure. In order to overcome this problem, we are proposing a novel algorithm which allows to simplify the structure of the meniscus while maintaining its physical functionality. Hence as an outcome of this project, we will be able to mimic the structure of the meniscus in a simplified way, which makes the fluid simulation much cheaper and efficient, resulting in a better understanding of how the meniscus functions. Therefore this project can pave the way for new treatment methods in medical and surgical treatments of meniscus lesions. Furthermore the proposed algorithm can be applied to various other materials used for example in manufacturing industries.

Subcategory: Future computer and communication systems – 3 projects

Principal Investigator

Björn Ottersten

Project title

Reconfigurable Intelligent Surfaces for Smart Cities (RISOTTI)

Host institution

University of Luxembourg (SnT)

FNR Committed

€964,000

Abstract

The project RISOTTI aims at providing design guidelines for the future Reconfigurable Intelligent Surfaces (RIS)-assisted mobile networks in Smart City scenarios. The use of RIS facilitates the signal propagation as the environment becomes controllable. The deployment of RIS on mobile vehicles, such as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or public transport, is even more innovative and promisnig, since the system performance can be substantially increased by exploiting the additional signal paths and associated degrees of freedom. A distinct advantage of this approach is a better integration of the public transport in future wireless networks as part of Smart Cities. The corresponding research challenges are substantial as well. In particular, various mobility profiles will be investigated using data-driven methods in order to obtain precise channel models. Since RIS can be viewed as large reflective antenna arrays, passive beamforming, precoding and resource allocation play a central role in the design of RIS-assisted networks. Correspondingly, novel methods of linear and non-linear spatial filtering will be considered. In addition, multiple RIS can be attached to active mobile relays with enabled internal signal processing. Hence, joint active and passive mobile multihop relaying needs to be analyzed. For this, the existing (active) relaying methods will be combined with the specific techniques for RIS optimization developed to this end by taking into account the obtained mobile channel models. A joint optimization of resource allocation, signal routing and other system aspects will then provide an energy-efficient solution for the design of the mobile RISassisted network within the framework of Smart Cities.

Principal Investigator

Björn Ottersten

Project title

SENsing and COmmunication in Networks with High Mobility and High Directivity (SENCOM)

Host institution

University of Luxembourg (SnT)

FNR Committed

€674,000

Abstract

Radar and Communications have had their own evolutionary path, optimizing their design to meet the requirements. Particularly, radar systems are geared towards target detection, classification and tracking while wireless communications aims to provide connectivity with increasing data rates. However, with the development of novel sensing applications like autonomous driving, the sensing systems are faced with the issue of tracking a dynamic scenario with high fidelity. Similarly, the proliferation of mobile connectivity has heralded the concept of connected vehicles, which further increases the data demands. Towards addressing the requirements, both radar and communication systems are faced with identical challenges: need for larger spectrum and handling mobility. Regarding high bandwidths, both systems have to vie for same resource. Several design assumptions on channel being quasi-static are no
longer true affecting the performance of these systems. However, the two systems can leverage mutual benefit with each aiding the other in such highly mobile scenarios. Communication messages can provide information to the sensing task to hasten the object classification while sensing can inform communications about changes to the network topology enabling seamless connectivity and rate adaptation. These aspects are further investigated in the project.

Principal Investigator

Symeon Chatzinotas

Project title

Self-Organised Lower Earth Orbit Mega-Constellations (MegaLEO)

Host institution

University of Luxembourg (SnT)

FNR Committed

€743,000

Abstract

The project RISOTTI aims at providing design guidelines for the future Reconfigurable Intelligent Surfaces (RIS)-assisted mobile networks in Smart City scenarios. The use of RIS facilitates the signal propagation as the environment becomes controllable. The deployment of RIS on mobile vehicles, such as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or public transport, is even more innovative and promisnig, since the system performance can be substantially increased by exploiting the additional signal paths and associated degrees of freedom. A distinct advantage of this approach is a better integration of the public transport in future wireless networks as part of Smart Cities. The corresponding research challenges are substantial as well. In particular, various mobility profiles will be investigated using data-driven methods in order to obtain precise channel models. Since RIS can be viewed as large reflective antenna arrays, passive beamforming, precoding and resource allocation play a central role in the design of RIS-assisted networks. Correspondingly, novel methods of linear and non-linear spatial filtering will be considered. In addition, multiple RIS can be attached to active mobile relays with enabled internal signal processing. Hence, joint active and passive mobile multihop relaying needs to be analyzed. For this, the existing (active) relaying methods will be combined with the specific techniques for RIS optimization developed to this end by taking into account the obtained mobile channel models. A joint optimization of resource allocation, signal routing and other system aspects will then provide an energy-efficient solution for the design of the mobile RISassisted network within the framework of Smart Cities.

Subcategory: Autonomous and intelligent systems and robotics for earth and space – 2 projects

Principal Investigator

Gregoire Danoy

Project title

Automating the Design of Autonomous Robot Swarms (ADARS)

Host institution

University of Luxembourg (SnT)

FNR Committed

€692,000

Abstract

The ADARS (Automating the Design of Autonomous Robot Swarms) aims to propose a unique approach to automatically generate behaviours for distributed aerospace and space systems (DASS) thanks to a cross-fertilisation between multi-objective optimisation and machine learning techniques.
ADARS will demonstrate through specifically designed software simulations and real field tests with multi-rotor drones, that state-of-the-art results can be obtained on two challenging DASS applications: swarm formation for a counter UAV system and swarm formation of small satellites for asteroid observation.

Principal Investigator

Gilbert Fridgen

Project title

FinTech/RegTech in Space for Trustful Autonomous Robotic Interaction (FiReSpARX)

Host institution

University of Luxembourg (SnT)

FNR Committed

€852,000

Abstract

In just a few years, mankind will start to exploit resources in space. In these missions, not only space agencies will be involved, but also private companies. Companies and space agencies will send robots to celestial bodies, most likely at first to the moon. To avoid duplicate work, it would be very efficient for these robots to cooperate, e.g. by providing each other with data or by offering re-usable services, e.g. telecommunication to earth. As in space unexpected can happen frequently and as decisions on earth might be too slow, robots need to be able to make autonomous economic decisions.
Robots would, e.g., bargain on the value of a certain service. To do this, robots need to be equipped with specific artificial intelligence and distributed ledger technology. Distributed ledger technology is a generic term for Blockchain that is also known from cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. The distributed ledger also contains “smart contracts”, that describe the laws of cooperation between the robots. In the FiReSpARX project, we will develop distributed ledger technology and artificial intelligence for such cooperating space robots and integrate everything into a well-tested prototype.

Subcategory: Advanced manufacturing: multifunctional, multiclass, and multiscale materials, and their implementation – 1 project

Principal Investigator

Abdelghani Laachachi

Project title

Composites recycling by using intumescent flame-retardant concept (FR4Recycling)

Host institution

Luxembourg Institute of Science & Technology (LIST)

FNR Committed

€745,000

Abstract

A structural composite material is obtained by incorporating continuous and strong fibres in a polymer matrix. Such a design leads to materials with exceptional mechanical properties over a very small density. This family of composite materials can be extended further by combining special designs of composite sub-parts, like in honeycomb structures. Thanks to their performances, these composites are increasingly used in a range of applications mainly in the energy, construction, automotive and aerospace sectors. However, it is very difficult to dismantle composite materials in multi-material structures for recycling purposes; currently, they are mainly incinerated to produce energy. The present project proposes adding “smart chemical additives” during composite manufacturing and assembly, which will facilitate both the separation of multi-material structures into single blocks, and the separation of composite sub-parts into raw materials. This innovative “debonding on-demand” function provides a significant incentive to using composite materials in a circular economy, i.e. promoting the repair, reuse and recycling of these materials.

Subcategory: Fundamental tools and data-driven modelling and simulation – 1 project

Principal Investigator

Project title

Automated Reasoning with Legal Entities (AuReLeE)

Host institution

University of Luxembourg

FNR Committed

€472,000

Abstract

In the AuReLeE project, a software system and its underlying theory is developed that allows semi-automatic AI-assisted compliance checking.
Compliance checks may be conducted by companies because of self-imposed quality and security policies, but might also be necessary activities required by, e.g., public regulators. The compliance checking technology is based on so-called automated reasoning systems that realize logical reasoning on the computer. The normative constraints are compiled in so-called knowledge bases that can be loaded as input to the system.

Subcategory: Interface-dominated materials – 1 project

Principal Investigator

Simon Jean Sylvain Bulou

Project title

Simultaneous synthesis and immobilization of noble metal-metal oxide nanohybrids by atmospheric plasma torch – application to au np decorated tio2 nanocomposites for visible light photocatalytics building blocks (PlaSprayNano)

Host institution

Luxembourg Institute of Science & Technology (LIST)

FNR Committed

€598,000

Abstract

Noble Metal (NM)-Metal Oxide (MO) nanocomposites materials, that combine the high visible light absorption of NM nanoparticle (NP) with the superior photocatalytic properties of MO NPs, have shown to be promising materials for several applications such as Surface Raman Enhanced Spectroscopy (SERS), drug delivery, solar cells, water decontamination, photocatalytic “green” H2 generation…. Nevertheless, the method developed up to now for their synthesis in laboratory involves multisteps, high vacuum and/or recovery for further handling and integration in practical applications, thus restricting their integration in practical applications. The PlaSprayNano project proposes to study and develop a spray assisted atmospheric pressure plasma method for the simultaneous synthesis and immobilization of noble metal-metal oxide (NM-MO) nanocomposites, especially Au-TiO2 NHs. Through a multidisciplinary approach, PlaSprayNano proposes to progress in the understanding of the NPs growth mechanism in order to predict and control the composition, size and structure of the as-grown NHs. The functional properties of Au-TiO2 NHs of various architecture will be evaluated through 2 specific practical applications: Visible light photocatalytic “green” H2 generation and efficient virus inactivation surface. This easy to implement one-step process, producing NHs directly from liquid non-toxic precursor, would be able to produce on-site and on-demand a various range of dual NHs, thus opening the door for their
integration in several practical industrial applications.

Subcategory: Remote sensing and combination with multiscale data – 1 project

Principal Investigator

Project title

Oil spill and VEssels monitoring from multi-tempoRal Satellite Earth observAtion dataSets (OVERSEAS)

Host institution

Luxembourg Institute of Science & Technology (LIST)

FNR Committed

€547,000

Abstract

For maritime safety responders, having access to a massive amount of satellite data has not intrinsically an operational value, but this data can become relevant if they are rapidly translated into maps that can be used to manage marine pollution. There are several algorithms available, which are now mature and ready for operational implementation for oil spill monitoring and vessel detection services. However, there are several limitations in satellitebased oil spill monitoring such as discriminating against various oil slick look-alike features, e.g. wind speed and algae bloom affecting Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) imagery. OVERSEAS aims to propose innovative automatic methodologies that employ multi-temporal and multi-sensor collections of remote sensing data and ancillary information in order to offer new solutions for improving the monitoring of oil spills for many areas around the world and identifying the potential sources responsible for oil discharges.

Subcategory: Migration and Integration – 2 projects

Principal Investigator

Bernardino Tavares*

Project title

Disentangling postcolonial encounters in globalisation: a sociolinguistic-ethnographic study of Lusophone migrant workers’ positionings in third space (DisPOSEG)

Host institution

University of Luxembourg

FNR Committed

€633,000

Abstract

This project will investigate Lusofonia, i.e. migrants originally from Portuguese-speaking countries (from Portugal and its former colonies), in Luxembourg, an officially trilingual country (German, French and Luxembourgish) with its own complex of migration at the border with three neighbouring countries: France, Belgium and Germany. Lusofonia can be thought of as largely an ‘imagined community’ in the sense that most of the people composing this community do not even have any form contact with each other. Thus, the community is formed by different kind of groups and people who might speak the Portuguese language, on the one hand, but they have different cultural practices, or historical and political positions on the other. Drawing on concepts and tools from sociolinguistics and postcolonial studies, which shed light on issues of migration and language, the DisPOSEG project will examine everyday workplaces interactions and encounters between groups of Lusophone migrants – Europeans, Africans and Brazilians- in Luxembourg. Its innovative dimension is to explore to what extent their migrant conditions in Luxembourg offer possibilities for and/or prevent rearrangements between former “colonisers” and former “colonised” social actors, with a special focus on their workplaces relationships.

Principal Investigator

Maria Pichou

Project title

The right to liberty of migrants and asylum seekers in Europe (EurLiberty)

Host institution

University of Luxembourg

FNR Committed

€378,000

Abstract

The project addresses the tension between an individual’s right to liberty and a state’s sovereign right to control its borders. It analyses how the jurisprudence of international and regional human rights bodies and courts addresses this tension. It aims to re-assess the protection of the right to liberty of migrants, asylums seekers and refugees in Europe, by examining the EU and international human rights legal framework. Specifically, in Luxembourg, the detention of irregular migrants awaiting deportation was first established in Luxembourg in 1972 with the law concerning the entry and residence of aliens. The government implemented its first asylum legislation in 1996, and established its first immigration detention centre in 2002. With the 2017 amendment of the Immigration Law, Luxembourg inter alia extended the maximum period for the detention of migrant children and their families to seven days. The Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe expressed his concern about this development, and called – to no avail – Luxembourg’s Parliament to come up with alternative solutions to controlling immigration with respect to dignity and rights of migrants and children. My project addresses the issue of the detention of migrants and asylum seekers in Europe, by analysing the legal framework on immigration detention and juxtaposing this to Human Rights standards. The general aim is to analyse and clarify the applicable legal framework and to provide state, lawyers and practitioners with a more concrete and clear understanding of states’ obligations, including Luxembourg’s, under European Human Rights Law, and their possible liability in case they fail to do so. The specific aim is to contribute to the under researched issue of the right to personal liberty of non-nationals according to national, European and International Law.

Subcategory: Societal transformation and labour market dynamics – 2 projects

Principal Investigator

Michal Burzynski*

Project title

Labor Market Mobility: Immigration, Automation, and Inequality (LaMaM)

Host institution

Luxembourg Institute of Socio-economic Research (LISER)

FNR Committed

€519,000

Abstract

European labor markets undergo significant dynamic changes, as the factors determining skill supply and demand evolve over time. On the one hand, technological progress motivates employers to automate tasks previously performed by workers. On the other hand, inflows of international migrants affect the available pool of skills. We expect these two interrelated phenomena to increase in importance in the coming decades, as they act as leading forces for skill mismatch, workers’ mobility, and inequality in wages. In this project, we study interactions between task automation and international migration in propagating wage and mobility effects across European labor markets. Our goal is to improve our understanding of this nexus by building and quantifying theoretical models of workers’ occupational and regional mobility. Within these frameworks, we evaluate the economic consequences of selected labor market policies (e.g., European visas for non-EU immigrants, upskilling programs in Germany, or improvements in the commuting infrastructure in the Greater Region).

Principal Investigator

Pierre Picard

Project title

Trade shocks and product quality (TSPQ)

Host institution

University of Luxembourg

FNR Committed

€279,000

Abstract

Brexit, U.S. protectionist trade policies and COVID-19 are important shocks that have recently shaken the global economy. This project aims to quantify the outcomes of these shocks and develop a comprehensive general equilibrium model with realistic assumptions. The key novelty of our approach is the focus on the quality of products and mobility of labor. Using the real data, we predict the economic outcomes for world leading economies and Luxembourg. We center our analysis on the impact of the shocks on product quality and welfare and discuss their impact on Luxembourgish sectors.

Subcategory: Contemporary history, memories studies and public history – 1 projects

Principal Investigator

Valérie Schafer

Project title

A history of online virality (HIVI)

Host institution

University of Luxembourg (C2DH)

FNR Committed

€590,000

Abstract

From the success of “I kiss you” (1999) and the Million Dollar Homepage (2005) on the Web to the #IceBucketChallenge, the calls for a generalised blockade (especially via Facebook) which marked the beginning of the French yellow vest movement in 2019 and the popularity of the Harlem Shake on YouTube (2013), viral Internet phenomena have a massive impact. While this viral content is of particular interest nowadays, especially when it comes to the dissemination of so-called “fake news”, our research postulates that, although the platforms themselves may have changed, these phenomena demonstrate continuities and patterns through time and space, like most digital cultures. Our project therefore aims to reveal, analyse, historicise, formalise and communicate about this intangible heritage as a means of shedding light on current digital cultures.

Subcategory: Cultural identities and nationhood – 1 projects

Principal Investigator

Hélène Barthelmebs-Raguin

Project title

The Feather and the literary work: French-speaking female authors of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg as literary precursors (1900-2020) (FEATHER)

Host institution

University of Luxembourg

FNR Committed

€644,000

Abstract

Literature has always played a major role in the construction of national identity. As such, literary production in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg reflects a rich, multilingual and complex reality. With regard to Luxembourgish Francophonie, female authors have their works quantitatively hailed more often by critics than their male counterparts, even if they sometimes remain less known on the literary scene. The FEATHER project aims to reflect this important heritage of literature and thus participate in the development and enhancement of works of female authors from 1900 to the present day. Today the corpus is made up of 180 authors, many of whose works remain to be identified. Using the Dictionnaire des auteurs luxembourgeois and work on the archival holdings of the Bibliothèque Nationale du Luxembourg and the Centre National de la Littérature, the project will identify and analyze with precision the journeys and sacralizations of women’s works since the dawn of the 20th century.

Subcategory: Environmental monitoring – 1 projects

Principal Investigator

Alain Camille Frantz

Project title

Using landscape genetic techniques to understand the impact of habitat fragmentation on the dispersal of insect pollinators (Diptera: Syrphidae). (LandGen)

Host institution

Musée national d’histoire naturelle (MNHN)

FNR Committed

€664,000

Abstract

Pollinator insects provide a particularly large contribution to both our ecosystems and our economy. It has been estimated that, globally, the economic value of pollination is worth a total of €153 billion. Alarmingly though, many studies have shown that wild pollinators are declining globally both in abundance and diversity. Understanding the factors contributing to this decline is therefore of great importance for the future of pollination. While habitat loss and fragmentation are often seen as the main causes of the problem, we do not really understand the response of insect pollinators to a changing habitat. Hoverflies, a large group of flies that feed on pollen and nectar and can frequently be seen hovering near flower, are the most important insect pollinators beside bees. In this project, we aim to use state-of-the-art genetic techniques to understand how these flies move around urban and agricultural landscapes and what features may favour or hinder their movement. The proposed project has thus the potential to make an important contribution in the design of effective habitat management practices for pollinators.

Subcategory: Regulation and supervision of the data driven economy – 1 projects

Principal Investigator

Katalin Ligeti

Project title

Criminal Proceedings and the Use of AI: Challenges for Common Criminal Procedure Principles and the Principles of the Rule of Law (CRIM_AI)

Host institution

University of Luxembourg

FNR Committed

€874,000

Abstract

Many of us have invited Artificial Intelligence (AI) into our lives without knowing (or caring) how it works: Siri™, Alexa™, Deepl™, and Google Translate™ are just a few examples of it. Similarly, prosecutors and courts have brought in sophisticated AI to help them investigate, prosecute, and judge criminal behaviour barely knowing how it works. In doing so, they have sailed into uncharted waters. To date, no one has actually paid much attention to whether the current rules courts and prosecutors must abide by, are enough to protect human rights standards (e.g., right to privacy and data protection and to effective judicial protection) and fundamental criminal procedure principles (e.g., judicial independence and the presumption of innocence) when AI, rather than a human, finds or produces the evidence relied on. That must change: we must know that courts and prosecutors honour and respect those hard-won standards and principles. Our project is designed to find this out.Gathering highly qualified experts in criminal law, IT law, data protection law, as well as in AI and machine learning, cybernetics, ethics, and through talking with representatives of the private sector developing AI, this cutting-edge, 3-year project will examine critical questions about using AI in criminal proceedings. We will compare its use in France, Germany, Israel, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States. To the extent we find that the existing rules are not able to protect existing standards and principles, we will propose innovative legal rules and principles for national and supranational bodies to ensure that judicial authorities reap the benefits of AI while still respecting human rights and fundamental principles.

Subcategory: Social cohesion and inequalities – 1 projects

Principal Investigator

Andreas Irmen

Project title

The Implications of Population Aging on Cultural and Socio-economic Outcomes (CULTURAGING)

Host institution

University of Luxembourg

FNR Committed

€626,000

Abstract

There is a good understanding of know how population aging affects pension systems and the economies as a whole. However, the same cannot be said about the socio-economic aspects of population aging. Are aging societies more fair towards its members, young and old? How do aging societies decide about how to spend public money? Are aging societies more or less willing to accept immigrants in order to sustain public finances? How are aging societies voting? Do they go more for the political extremes as the old and the young have different needs? Or will they target for consensus? Are aging societies more willing to encourage women to participate more in the labor market? And if so, does this imply a change in how people view women? These are some of the questions our research project will address. Our aim is to reflect over these research questions, to make assumptions as to potential answers and to come up with quantifiable results. Having a clear answer is essential as it will allow policy makers to expand their set of reasonable policies.

Subcategory: Sustainable urban development and smart cities – 1 projects

Principal Investigator

Constance Carr

Project title

Digital Urban Development — How large digital corporations shape the field of urban governance (DIGI-GOV)

Host institution

University of Luxembourg

FNR Committed

€781,000

Abstract

“Smart cities” is a hegemonic concept in urban development and planning, as practitioners are gripped by the possibilities/implications of new technologies that can revolutionize how cities are organized and function, particularly in respect to infrastructural development, promoting efficient use of resources, and targeting sustainability objectives. Yet, what is the role of large digital corporations (LDCs)? Certainly the range of services, platforms, technologies, and innovations provided by LDCs is not only increasing in volume but also in centrality, as more and more institutions, public and private, are relying on these for essential infrastructure. This trend impacts not only the palate of technologies that the future digital city might provide, but it also challenges both urban governance and socio-political and intuitional patterns that characterize contemporary urbanity. The involvement of LDCs in urban planning is not without risks. The project, “Digital Urban Development — How large digital corporations shape the field of urban governance” (DIGI-GOV) examines zeroes in on this role of LDCs in the socio-political spatial production of contemporary digital cities, which is rather new, and teases out the implications on urban politics. Building on previous research that examined the Alphabet Inc.’s digital city project in Toronto, DIGI-GOV expands the research lines into further cities that have been challenged by the presence of LDCs – Seattle, Arlington, Bissen, and Eemshaven.

Subcategory: Transition towards sustainability: energy efficiency – 1 projects

Principal Investigator

Tai-Yu Ma

Project title

Multimodal Electric Vehicle demand ReSponsive Transport (M-EVRST)

Host institution

Luxembourg Institute of Socio-economic Research (LISER)

FNR Committed

€618,000

Abstract

Developing a user-centered and flexible seamless multimodal mobility solution is expected to remove the obstacle to promote public transport and reduce car use. To further promote sustainable mobility, Luxembourg, like many cities in the world, expected to shift from conventional gasoline buses to full electric buses by 2025 (MODU 2.0). However, operating a fleet of electric vehicles (EV) bring additional challenges in managing electric charging operations. This project aims to develop an innovative solution, which allows electric demand responsive transport (DRT) service to be integrated into existing transit systems in order  to provide seamless multimodal mobility solutions to reduce car use and increase public transport ridership. The originality of the project is to relax fixed-route transit network constraints in the integrated EV-DRT model while considering the synchronization of EV-DRT and mass transit. The output of the project will provide a series of original mathematical models, algorithms and decision support toolboxes to assist operators and the government to optimally configure the system planning including fleet size and charging infrastructure to meet stochastic travel demand.

Subcategory: Resilient water systemd – 1 project

Principal Investigator

Laurent Pfister

Project title

Freshwater pearl mussels as stream water stable isotope recorders (MUSES)

Host institution

Luxembourg Institute of Science & Technology (LIST)

FNR Committed

€618,000

Abstract

The MUSES [freshwater pearl MUssels as StrEam water Stable isotope recorders] project is an ambitious three-year plan to quantify the history of flowing waters. While we have measured and modelled the inputs and outputs of water to/from our streams and rivers for over a century, only a few decades ago have we realised that the isotope composition of water reveals the age of water – and that the age of flowing water (ranging from months to decades) holds the key to the solution of many environmental problems associated with climate and land use change. Here we provide an innovative contribution to the problem of determining water age history by developing new tools related to freshwater mollusc shell material analyses for subsequent reconstruction of historical stream water d18O data series of unprecedented length and temporal resolution. We aim to go beyond current understanding of bedrock geology controls on water source and flow paths by hypothesising that shifts in a catchment’s hydraulic regime (as triggered by climate change) mechanistically translate into a modification of the fraction of water travelling to the stream by fast flow paths – with the magnitude of this modification being modulated by bedrock geology.

Subcategory: Innovative molecular disease models – 4 projects

Principal Investigator

Elisabeth Letellier

Project funded together with Fondation Cancer

Project title

Investigating the role of the microbiome in colorectal cancer (MICROH_CRC) 

Host institution

University of Luxembourg

FNR Committed

€863,000

Abstract

Colorectal cancer (CRC) is still a major health problem worldwide with more than 600.000 deaths per year. Bacteria in the gut have recently been suggested to be an important factor in CRC. However, it is not yet clear whether changes in bacteria are a cause or a consequence of CRC. Furthermore, external factors such as dietary habits and lifestyle have been shown to influence the bacterias in the gut. In this project, we will address two major questions. 1) We will ask whether bacterial changes in CRC are responsible for tumor initiation and progression and if yes, we will determine which bacteria participate in these processes. 2) We will analyze whether dietary regimens impact CRC outcome and which mechanisms can explain the observations. Altogether, this project will help to understand host-microbiome interaction in CRC and will allow us to move towards the development of dietary guidelines for CRC patients.

Principal Investigator

Carole Linster

Project title

From rare to common disease: Use of ATP13A2-deficient iPSC-based models for drug discovery in Parkinson’s disease (RareCom)

Host institution

University of Luxembourg (LCSB)

FNR Committed

€898,000

Abstract

Approximately 7 000 different rare diseases have been reported, from which only 5% have an approved medication. One of the main reasons for this disproportion is that development of new drugs is less attractive for pharmaceutical companies due to the high cost to patient number ratio, for the great majority of these rare diseases. Therefore, we have invested previous efforts to develop a pipeline using simple model organisms (yeast and zebrafish) for acceleration of drug discovery for a group of rare disorders caused by mutations in the ATP13A2 gene. Mutations in this gene accelerate neurodegeneration leading to multiple symptoms such as weakness of the lower limbs, early onset of Parkinsonism and dementia. Using our pipeline, we identified about ten promising compounds which we aim to test now in two of the most relevant pre-clinical models that can currently be envisaged for this type of disease: human dopaminergic neurons and cerebral organoids (so-called “minibrains” growing in lab dishes). These models will be generated from skin biopsies of patients affected by the disease using ‘’induced pluripotent stem cell” (iPSC) technology. As our candidate compounds correspond to drugs that are already approved for other indications, positive results in our project here with the human neuronal cells and minibrains should allow for a rapid progress to clinical trials. As ATP13A2-related disorders show a large overlap with the more widespread Parkinson’s disease, another expected outcome of this project is to increase our therapeutic options for this more common neurodegenerative disease.

Principal Investigator

Simone Niclou

Project funded together with Fondation Cancer

Project title

Glioma Longitudinal AnalySiS in Luxembourg (GLASS-LUX): ex vivo and in vivo Functional Profiling of Recurrent Gliomas (GLASS-LUX)

Host institution

Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH)

FNR Committed

€850,000

Abstract

This project aims to offer novel treatment options for glioma patients after the standard of care has been unsuccessful. Gliomas are the most frequent brain tumours in the adult population and have largely a poor prognosis. The current treatment protocol often includes surgery, radio- and chemotherapy, nevertheless a large proportion of gliomas will recur after a variable period of time. At recurrence, the tumours have evolved and display molecular and functional differences compared to the original tumour. Therefore it is important to study not only the primary tumour tissue, but also the recurring tumour.
In this project we will compare the drug response of primary and recurrent gliomas, using a large panel of clinically approved drugs. This high throughput screen performed on patient-derived tumour tissue, will provide information on treatment efficacy for the tumour of a given patient at a specific point in time. A key aspect of this project is that we will be able to validate our findings in unique patient-derived cancer models in the lab, in support of the clinical application of this this personalized approach to become applicable in the clinical setting.

Principal Investigator

Jerome Paggetti

Project funded together with Fondation Cancer

Project title

Reprogramming of the leukemic microenvironment by small extracellular vesicles: from characterization to therapeutic application (EVIL)

Host institution

Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH)

FNR Committed

€563,000

Abstract

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia is the most common type of blood cancer in adults over 65 years-old in western countries. Despite recent advances in the standard of care, no curative therapy is available yet. In this project, we will investigate how small vesicles released by leukemic cells within the tumor favor cancer development and progression. We will analyze their content with multiples techniques and study the role of these constituents on the healthy environment in the organs. We will conduct most of the experiments in vivo, using murine models, to reconstitute as close as possible the situation observed in patients with cancer. This project will identify new targets for the development of innovative therapies.

Subcategory: Environmental, lifestyle, and socio-economic impact on mechanisms of diseases – 3 projects

Principal Investigator

Angelika Dierolf*

Project title

Cognitive Modulation of Pain in Aging – Impact of Stress and Executive Functions – a Psychophysiological Approach (PAGES)

Host institution

University of Luxembourg

FNR Committed

€422,000

Abstract

Older people suffer more often from acute and chronic pain than younger and middle-aged adults. At the same time, the treatment of pain is insufficient for this group. For instance, the application of painkillers is complicated by the interaction with additionally consumed medicines and by changes in the aging body, altering their effectiveness. Hence, non-pharmacological pain treatments are a promising option for the older population. So far, it is unknown whether these interventions are similarly successful in older compared to younger adults and whether they are influenced for example by age-related changes in cognition, such as a poorer short-time memory or a shorter attention span, or by situational factors such as stress and lifestyle factors as disrupted sleep or physical activities. The current project aims to address this question. We will investigate whether interventions, such as the distraction form pain, a sham treatment, creating positive expectations and beliefs of pain relief, or pain relief via hypnosis, are still effective in older compared to younger adults and whether stress and other lifestyle factors as well as reduced cognitive ability have an impact on this. To better understand the underlying mechanisms, we will record the neural activity during the pain reduction treatments with the so–called electroencephalogram (EEG). The results will help to adapt psychological pain management interventions to the specific needs of older adults.

Principal Investigator

Camille Perchoux

Project title

Time-varying residential neighborhood effects on cardiometabolic health (MET’HOOD)

Host institution

Luxembourg Institute of Socio-economic Research (LISER)

FNR Committed

€606,000

Abstract

Cardiometabolic diseases (CM) are one of the leading causes of premature death worldwide and a major contributor to health disparities. CM diseases have various intertwined causes such as physical inactivity, unhealthy diet, obesity, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, dyslipidemia and metabolic syndrome.
The dramatic increase in CM diseases over recent decades is most likely to be related to changes in the socio-economic and physical environments.
Changes have resulted in the dramatic development, although socially patterned, of motorized transportation, increased fast-food consumption, sedentary occupations and leisure activities, which together constitute a breeding ground for CM-related disorders. The role of environment remains poorly understood at the population level and is barely tackled by public health interventions. MET’HOOD is a longitudinal study aiming at investigating, for the population of Luxembourg country, the effects of the socio-economic and physical environmental characteristics of residential neighborhoods, on behavioral CM risk factors, namely physical activity and diet, and the metabolic syndrome. Based on an interdisciplinary approach bridging concepts and methods from health geography and social epidemiology, and with the support of local stakeholders, the project will contribute i) to provide policy-relevant evidence on the influence of specific environmental characteristics on CM risk factors, and ii) to shed light on the role of neighborhood interventions in tackling social disparities in CM risk profiles.

Principal Investigator

Jonathan David Turner

Project title

Long Term Immunological Consequences In Adversity-Divergent Twins (IMMUNOTWIN)

Host institution

Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH)

FNR Committed

€848,000

Abstract

Socioeconomic conditions have a significant impact on health and disease. Despite considerable effort, these socioeconomically associated health disparities represent a substantial economic burden and psychosocial challenge. In many cases living in poor socioeconomic conditions represents a major contributor to both acute and chronic care expenditures. Accelerated immunological ageing, the natural decline in immune functioning with age may be the key to understanding these health disparities. we have assembled a highly interdisciplinary team that brings the TwinLife sociological cohort together with an economist, a psychologist and an immunologist/epigeneticist. By addressing not only the biology, but the socioeconomic environment we hope to gain a deeper understanding of how our social environment affects out health. Our goal is to inform public policy, and in the longer-term influence community-based prophylactic approaches to intervention, eventually allowing health disparities based on socioeconomic status and their associated costs to be reduced.

Subcategory: Effective collection and deconvolution of complex biomedical data – 1 project

Principal Investigator

Etienne Moussay

Project funded together with Fondation Cancer

Project title

Characterization of the tumor and its microenvironment in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (TIME-CLL)

Host institution

Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH)

FNR Committed

€571,000

Abstract

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is a blood cancer affecting a subsets of white blood cells (B lymphocytes),mainly in the elderly (> 65y). Despite recent advances in the standard of care, there is still no curative therapeutic option. Following our characterization of the disease in a mouse model of CLL, we identified a specific type of immune cells as important for disease progression. This project will now analyze the lymph nodes of CLL patients and characterize specific cell types with new screening techniques to identify novel candidates potentially targeted by therapy. Our findings and observations will be confirmed in mice in which the functions of these cells will be studied more deeply. Innovative combination therapies will finally be tested in mice. We believe that this project will reveal new options for patient stratification and treatment.

Subcategory: Common mechanisms between diseases – mechanism-based stratification – 1 project

Principal Investigator

Carmen Jesica Venegas Maldonado*

Project title

Synergistic effect of protein aggregation and mitochondrial dysfunction on inflammation in neurodegenerative diseases (NeuroFlame)

Host institution

University of Luxembourg (LCSB)

FNR Committed

€632,000

Abstract

Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease (AD and PD) are the most prevalent diseases caused by the loss of nerve cells. In our ageing society, it is expected that the number of cases will increase even further in the next years. Both pathologies have a huge socio-economic impact, creating an urgent need to investigate new strategies to halt them. Whilst AD is defined by the loss of memory and an inability to perform daily functions, PD is a motor disorder characterized by involuntary shaking, stiffness, slow movement and balance problems. Both diseases share features such as aggregated proteins and defective mitochondria, which are the cellular compartments providing energy. In addition, inflammation has emerged as a common molecular property of the neurological disorders.

In this project, we want to investigate if AD and PD have a shared molecular mechanism. We will test if the observed inflammation in the brain is the result of the interaction of aggregated proteins and molecules originating from dysfunctional mitochondria. Moreover, we suspect that the inflammatory reaction attacks the patients’ nerve cells, which subsequently degrade. To explore this aspect, we will use innovative stem cell technology that will allow us to simultaneously investigate nerve and immune cells from AD and PD patients.

Subcategory: Learning in a multilingual and diverse society – 2 projects

Principal Investigator

Christine Schiltz

Project title

(How) does language support the development of an independent symbolic number system? (SymNumDev)

Host institution

University of Luxembourg

FNR Committed

€402,000

Abstract

Where the meaning of symbolic numbers (e.g., Arabic numerals, number words) comes from is a centuries-old question, which also has been hotly debated in the field of numerical cognition. Models of number development suggest that children rely on innate pre-verbal number representations to learn the meaning of small numbers (up to 4). To learn the meaning of larger numbers (> 4) young children make use of semantic inductive procedures, that is they somehow become able to transfer their knowledge for small numbers to larger numbers. However, the exact mechanisms underlying this semantic induction remain yet to be determined. In the current project, we put forward linguistic combinatorial and recursive rules as the main mechanisms, driving the semantic inductive procedures. To systematically examine this hypothesis, we make use of neuro-cognitive, behavioural and training studies in young children (aged between 2.5 and 9 years old).

Principal Investigator

Maria Obojska*

Project title

Digital Media as Language And Literacy Learning Spaces in Multilingual Families (DigiFam)

Host institution

University of Luxembourg

FNR Committed

€433,000

Abstract

Because of globalisation and as a result of migration, many families nowadays need to find ways to learn new languages and maintain their mother tongues. Many of migrant families use digital media to support the learning of languages, as well as literacy skills, such as reading and writing. However, at the moment, we do not know in detail how this is accomplished and what digital media they use. The recent COVID-19 outbreak showed that it is very important to understand how digital media are and can be used for learning. In the project DigiFam we will investigate how adults and children in migrant families in Luxembourg make use of various digital media to learn languages and literacy. Our findings will be useful for migrant families for making informed decisions about the use of particular media for language and literacy learning. The policy makers and teachers will also be able to make use of our findings to draw on children’s resources and effectively use digital tools in language and literacy learning at schools, this way preparing the children for the demands of modern societies.

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