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The Warsaw Voice » The Polish Science Voice » February 23, 2012
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ERC GRANT for Polish Researcher
February 23, 2012   
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A project financed with a 1.75 million-euro grant from the European Research Council got under way at the Institute of Physical Chemistry of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw.

The grant comes as part of the European Research Council’s Starting Grants program. Eight Poles have received ERC Starting Grants to date. Polish scientists have submitted more than 500 grant applications to the ERC since 2007.

One of the recipients is Prof. Piotr Garstecki, from the Institute of Physical Chemistry. He received his microCODE grant in July 2011. Garstecki, aided by a team of researchers, plans to build what are called automated, combinatorial droplet micro-flow systems. In strictly controlled conditions, devices of this kind produce hundreds and thousands of microscopic drops of chemical reagents, which are transported through channels with a diameter comparable to that of a human hair. The droplets can be merged, subjected to chemical reactions and used to grow microorganisms in different environments at the same time.

The grant, expected to run for five years, is worth a total of 1.75 million euros. Some of the funds will be spent on state-of-the-art research equipment. “The first piece of equipment we will buy is a device for precise irradiation of photoresist-coated silicon boards,” Garstecki says. “With this device, parts of the photoresist layer can be selectively etched, producing matrices for pressing the designed microflow system onto the right substrate. Another priority purchase will be a profilometer, a kind of 3D microscope used to quantify the topography of surfaces on a scale ranging from nanometers to micrometers to millimeters.”

A large part of the grant has been earmarked for contracts for researchers from Poland and abroad. “We will look for enthusiasts, mainly postgraduate students and young Ph.D. degree holders, especially experimental physicists and biologists,” Garstecki says.

The ERC was founded by the EU in 2007 to offer financial support to researchers and stimulate the development of science across Europe. The council’s 2007-2013 budget totals 7.5 billion euros, available as part of two programs. The ERC Advanced Grants program is targeted at leading scientists, while the ERC Starting Grants program is designed to support young and innovative research teams. The maximum available funding is 2 million euros for Starting Grants and 3.5 million euros for Advanced Grants.
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