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A new ERC for SISSA (dedicated to Trieste)

The International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA) in Trieste has won a considerable financial grant from the European Research Council (ERC) Consolidator grant to study advanced reduced order modeling, an area of ​​research that develops methods for simplifying and adapting supercomputing to handheld devices (such as smartphones, tablets,  etc). The Principal Investigator (PI) of the project is SISSA Professor Gianluigi Rozza. This is the School’s fourteenth ERC.

Baby physics

We are born with a basic grasp of physics, just enough not to be surprised when we interact with objects. Scientists discovered this in the past two decades. What they did not know yet was that, as early as five months of age, this “naïve” physics also extends to liquids and materials that do not behave like solids (for example, sand), as demonstrated by a new study just published in Psychological Science.

Snake gait

Snake locomotion is a source of inspiration for technology: graceful, silent, adaptable and efficient, it can be implemented on devices designed for the most diverse applications, from space exploration to medicine. A study carried out by a SISSA research group, just published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society A - Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Science, adds to this line of research and proposes a detailed mathematical account of one of the characteristic types of movement adopted by this animal.

Famelab 2016: Registration Open!

On February 25 the local selection of FameLab will be back on stage in Trieste! The international competition challenges young scientists with the talent of communication to tell in just 3 minutes the object of his or her study, or a fascinating scientific topic. No slide shows, graphs, videos: only a fistful of words and a talent for communication are required, to spread to the public the charm and the importance of the scientific research, in a a way that is amusing and easy to grasp.

The Components of Imitation

We learn many things through imitation: how to walk, play an instument, sports, and even more. What are the processes in the brain responsible for imitation? For some years now, science has been examining the role of mirror neurons, but there is still much to understand. One study focusing on neurological patients showed that at least two components are involved in imitating gestures, each from a different hemisphere of the brain. The study, which SISSA participated in, was published in Neuropsychologia.

“Metal” drugs to fight cancer

What is the mechanism of action of metal-based chemotherapy drugs (the most widely used for treating common cancers like testicular or ovarian cancer)? How can we improve their effect and reduce their toxicity? A new study combining experiments and theory has broadened our knowledge of the molecular mechanisms of these active drugs to help experimentalists devising increasingly effective drugs with fewer side effects. The study, just published in the journal ChemMedChem, was conducted with the participation of International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA) of Trieste.

Prions Made in SISSA

At times, to understand something well, it is useful to rebuild  it from scratch.  It happens with prions as well: in collaboration with the BESTA Institute in Milan, the Laboratory of Prion Biology at SISSA in Trieste assembled artificial prions, devising a method for synthesizing them in a series. Lab tests showed that synthetic prions act like their biological counterparts. Results will be published on December 31 in one of the most respected journals in the industry, Plos Pathogens.

Brain plasticity from A to Z

The December issue of the journal Current Opinion in Neurobiology reviews current knowledge about brain plasticity, in its broadest sense, starting from the infinitely small (plasticity at the molecular level, in synapses) up to the macro level (the plasticity observable in human behaviour). Alessandro Treves (SISSA) and Thomas Mrsic-Flogel (University of Basel) have edited this issue involving some of the leading international experts in the field.

Better catalysts for green energy

Catalysts play a major role in the field of technology applied to renewable energy. A new study, just published in Nature Materials, provides a detailed account of how to control the electron charge of nanoparticles of platinum, an important catalyst in fuel cells, to maximize the efficiency of the process. The study is the result of an intense international collaboration involving SISSA and CNR-IOM of Trieste, the University of Barcelona, ELETTRA Sincrotrone Trieste, Friedrich-Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg in Germany and Univerzita Karlova of Prague.