The European Research Council  ERC was set up in 2007 to encourage the highest quality research in Europe through competitive funding and to support investigatordriven frontier research across all fields, on the basis of scientific excellence. Since 2007 SISSA has received 30 ERC grants, including 12 Starting Grants, 8 Advanced Grants, 6 Consolidator Grants and 4 Proof of Concept Grant. The School ranks among the top hosting institutions in Italy, in particular with respect to the small faculty size: 20% of its current faculty members have been awarded one or more ERC grants.
ACTIVE PROJECTS
FLEXIN  Contextdependent flexibility in innate behaviours and their underlying neural circuitry 

Starting Grant 20232028  PI: KATJA REINHARD Neurobiology 

Avoiding danger is one of the most essential and conserved set of behaviors, observed in most species from crabs to primates. To optimize an animal’s survival, the type, magnitude, and kinetics of avoidance responses need to be flexible and adaptable to the current context. However, the neural circuit elements that allow for this flexibility in behavioural output are largely unknown. Our aim is to identify how information about the environment and state can adapt behavioural decision making. 
CeleBH  The celestial road to a holographic description of black holes 

Starting Grant 20232028  PI: LAURA DONNAY Theoretical Particle Physics 

Black holes are at the root of the most striking puzzles that arise when attempting to combine Einstein's theory of gravitation with quantum mechanics; they are therefore thought to be key to a formulation of a theory of quantum gravity. In recent years, the socalled holographic correspondence has provided theoretical physicists with a very powerful approach to quantum gravity, but it has not been developed so far for realistic kinds of spacetimes, such as the universe we live in. By exploiting the powerful constraints implied by newly discovered symmetries that arise at spacetime boundaries, CeleBH aims at unveiling a holographic description of gravity for realistic spacetimes (celestial holography) and quantum properties of black holes. 
GeoSub  Geometric analysis of subRiemannian spaces through interpolation inequalities  
Starting Grant 20222026  PI: LUCA RIZZI Research Field: Mathematical Analysis, Modelling, and Applications 

SubRiemannian spaces are geometrical structures that model constrained systems, and constitute a vast generalization of Riemannian geometry. In the last 10 years, a surge of interest in the study of geometric and functional inequalities on subRiemannian spaces revealed unexpected behaviours and intriguing phenomena that failed to fit into the classical schemes inspired by Riemannian geometry. GeoSub aims to develop a unified framework of geometric and functional interpolation inequalities adapted to subRiemannian manifolds and to use this theory to tackle old and new problems concerning the geometric analysis of these structures. (Ph: Archives of the Mathematisches Forschungsinstitut Oberwolfach) 
NPQFT  Nonperturbative dynamics of quantum fields: from new deconfined phases of matter to quantum black holes  
Consolidator Grant 20202025  PI: FRANCESCO BENINI Research Field: Theoretical Particle Physics 

When the degrees of freedom that constitute a quantum physical system are strongly coupled among each other, their collective lowenergy behaviour can exhibit exotic, surprising and unconventional phenomena. At the same time, though, our most sophisticated tool to describe the quantum world ̶ quantum field theory ̶ becomes extremely difficult to use. A variety of examples is provided by deconfined quantum states of matter. Another context is gravity: by the AdS/CFT correspondence, a fullyconsistent quantum gravity in AntideSitter space can be described in terms of an ordinary ̶ but strongly coupled ̶ quantum field theory in one dimension less. This project will develop innovative techniques to tame strong coupling, will exploit them to discover new deconfined phases of matter, and will unravel mysteries of quantum gravity and the quantum physics of black holes. 
MaMBoQ  Macroscopic Behavior of ManyBody Quantum Systems  
Starting Grant 20192024  PI: MARCELLO PORTA Research Field: Mathematical Physics 

The project aims at developing mathematical methods for the rigorous description of the collective behavior of manybody quantum systems. The central theme is the notion of emergent effective theories: simplified models capturing the macroscopic features of complex systems. A main goal is to put on rigorous grounds the validity of effective theories of relevance in condensed matter physics, combining methods from functional analysis and statistical physics. The project focuses on applications to transport for graphenelike models, topological insulators and Weyl semimetals, and on the lowenergy and nonequilibrium properties of large quantum systems in different scaling regimes. 
GRAMS  GRavity from Astrophysical to Microscopic Scales 


Consolidator Grant 20192024  PI: ENRICO BARAUSSE Research Field: Astroparticle Physics 

General Relativity describes gravity on a huge range of scales, field strengths and velocities. However, despite its successes, it has been showing its age. Cosmological data support the existence of a Dark Sector, but may also be interpreted as a breakdown of our understanding of gravity. Indeed, gravitational theories can be built to reproduce the largescale behaviour of the Universe (i.e. the existence of Dark Energy and/or Dark Matter) without any actual Dark Sector, while at the same time passing local tests of gravity thanks to nonperturbative screening mechanisms. GRAMS will explore the possibility that this nonperturbative screening may fail in the strongfield, highly dynamical systems that emit gravitational waves for LIGO and Virgo. This will allow for using gravitational wave observation to confirm or rule out a modified gravity origin for the Dark Sector. 
NEMO  New states of Entangled Matter Out of equilibrium 


Consolidator Grant 20182024  PI: PASQUALE CALABRESE Research Field: Statistical Physics 

When a quantum system is suddenly brought out of thermodynamic equilibrium all excitations collectively participate in the ensuing dynamics, causing a plethora of unconventional and exotic effects. The theoretical study of the nonequilibrium dynamics is hampered by the fact that the time dependent manybody wave function is highly entangled on spatial scales which rapidly grow in time. Consequently, a satisfactory description of this dynamics is a challenge whose solution cannot prescind from a characterisation of the entanglement. The ambitious goal of this project is to find and characterise new nonequilibrium states of matter guided by their entanglement content. 
AGEnTh  Atomic Gauge and Entanglement Theories  
Starting Grant 20182023  PI: MARCELLO DALMONTE Research Field: Statistical Physics,Theory and Numerical Simulation of Condensed Matter 

The overall aim of this project is to establish novel routes for the investigation of highly entangled quantum matter in atomic manybody systems, by addressing three complementary challenges along the way – probing, new phenomena, and implementations. The main goals are: i) devising scalable protocols for measuring entanglement in atomic quantum systems; ii) proposing gaugetheorybased mechanisms for the realization longsought, highlyentangled states of matter, including topological phases supporting parafermion edge modes, and quantum spin liquids; iii) developing new tools for the implementation and understanding of atomic gauge theories. 
FIRSTORM  Modeling FirstOrder Mott Transitions  
Advanced Grant 20162023  PI: MICHELE FABRIZIO Research Field: Theory and Numerical Simulation of Condensed Matter 

Mott insulators are “unsuccessful metals”, where conduction is impeded by strong Coulomb repulsion. Over the very last years experiments on narrowgap Mott insulators have disclosed an unprecedented scenario where light pulses or applied bias voltage stabilize metal phases that were only metastable at equilibrium, which foreshadows exciting potential applications. These new data call for a theoretical understanding so far missing, which is indeed the scope of FIRSTORM ERC project. 
ARGOS  Advanced Reduced Groupware Online Simulation  
Proof of Concept 20222024  PI: GIANLUIGI ROZZA Research Field: Mathematical Analysis, Modelling, and Applications 

ARGOS will develop a computational webserver for real time computing based on parametric reduced order modelling techniques developed during the consolidator grant AROMACFD. An important focus will be, but not limited to, on computational fluid dynamics. OfflineOnline real time computing will contribute to exploit computational sciences in fields and places where at the moment there is still little development. ARGOS will provide novel computational technologies to foster important potential of scientific computing in industry, medicine, environmental sciences. The topic is strongly connected and integrated with Industry 4.0 as well as with digital twins developments. 
StripeoMorph  Morphing tubular structures for adaptive biomedical devices 

Proof of concept grant 20222024 linked to MicroMotility Advanced Grant 
PI: ANTONIO DE SIMONE Research Field: Mathematical Analysis, Modelling, and Applications 

Morphing tubular structures are extensively used in interventional medical devices (e.g., stents). Current solutions lack adaptability to complex geometries and to patientspecific needs. StripeoMorph proposes the use of devices with superior morphing capabilities, bioinspired by motile microorganisms, previously investigated in the ERC AdG “MicroMotility”, and based on the concept of morphingbysliding of parallel strips. 
COMPLETED PROJECTS
STATLEARN  The Reading Brain as a Statistical Learning Machine  
Starting Grant 20162022  PI: DAVIDE CREPALDI Research Field: Cognitive Neuroscience 

Despite written language is not part of our genetic endowment, literate adults flawlessly process an impressive amount of information as they read. How does this come to be? STATLEARN tests the hypothesis that the magic behind our incredible reading proficiency is probabilistic learning  we would keep track of letter statistics to build a theory of how our words look like, and use this information to help word identification. The research is carried out through a mix of experimental psychology, cognitive neuroscience and computational modelling. 
BiT  How the Human Brain Masters Time  
Consolidator Grant 20162022  PI: DOMENICA BUETI Research Field: Cognitive Neuroscience 

BiT seeks to understand how the human brain represents time. By using neuroimaging (fMRI at ultrahigh field, EEG), brain stimulation techniques (TMS) and the simultaneous combination of the two (TMSEEG), BiT tests a new biologically plausible hypothesis of temporal representation via duration tuning and 'chronotopy', explores the relationship between spatial and temporal representations in visual and auditory cortices and scrutinises the functional connectivity and the temporal hierarchies between putative brain 'time regions'. 
AROMACFD  Advanced Reduced Order Methods with Applications in Computational Fluid Dynamics  
Consolidator Grant 20162022  PI: GIANLUIGI ROZZA Research Field: Mathematical Analysis, Modelling, and Applications 

The aim of AROMACFD is the development of Advanced Reduced Order Modelling techniques with a focus in Computational Fluid Dynamics for more demanding applications in industrial, medical and applied sciences contexts. AROMACFD deals with methodological developments in numerical analysis, with emphasis on mathematical modelling and computational science and engineering. A reduced computational and geometrical framework will be developed for nonlinear inverse problems, focusing on optimal flow control, shape optimization and uncertainty quantification, as well as multiphysics, such as fluidstructure interaction problems. 
LEARN2SEE  Invariant visual object representation in early postnatal and adult cortex 


Consolidator Grant 20142020  PI: DAVIDE ZOCCOLAN Research Field: Cognitive Neuroscience 

Our visual system can effortlessly recognize visual objects in spite of tremendous variation in their appearance – an extremely challenging task even for the most advanced artificial vision systems. Yet, little is known about how the brain develops and maintains invariant object representations. LEARN2SEE aims at shedding new lights on the computational principles underlying object vision, by applying an array of multidisciplinary approaches, including highthroughput behavioral testing, multichannel neuronal recordings, controlledrearing in virtual visual environments and computational modeling.


SMARTLABCAM  Engineering and commercialization of a smart camera with onchip image processing for head and eyetracking in laboratory animals  
Proof of Concept Grant 20202022  Associated with Advanced Grant LEARN2SEE 

SMARTLABCAM takes the head and eyetracking systems for small mammals developed in the context of the LEARN2SEE project and try to further develop them into commercial products for the market of laboratory equipment. 
MicroMotility  Multiscale modeling and simulation of biological and artificial locomotion at the micron scale  
Advanced Grant 20142020  PI: ANTONIO DE SIMONE Research Field: Mathematical Analysis, Modelling, and Applications 

The aim of this research is to gain insight into the mechanics of biological motility (in particular, swimming and crawling of microscopic organisms), to distill the key principles that underlie successful locomotion strategies in nature, and to exploit them for the conceptual design of biomimetic, selfpropelled microdevices. A combination of theoretical, numerical, and experimental tools is used to approach the problem of biological and bioinspired motility from a multidisciplinary perspective. 
MODPHYSFRICT  Modelling the Physics of (Nano)Friction  
Advanced Grant 20132019  PI: ERIO TOSATTI Research Field: Theory and Numerical Simulation of Condesed Matter 

The goal of this project is to understand the physics of sliding friction at the nanometer scale, primarily through theoretical approaches covering phenomenology, model building, and molecular dynamics atomistic sliding simulations, both empirical and ab initio, electronic and magnetic dissipation. More fundamental questions are also in the works, including the forced tunneling of whole ions, or the building of mesoscopic theories of friction as a nonstationary phenomenon embedded in ordinary condensed matter theory and nonequilibrium statistical mechanics. 
CGR2011TPS  Challenging General Relativity  
Starting Grant 20122018  PI: THOMAS SOTIRIOU Research Field: Astroparticle Physics 

Gravity is the most enigmatic fundamental interaction. General Relativity, Einstein's celebrated theory has been very successful in explaining gravitational phenomena. However, it is also clear that it cannot describe gravity in all regimes. The program combined research in three directions, quantum gravity, alternative theories of gravity, and relativistic astrophysics, in order to probe the limits of General Relativity and find hints on how to go past them. 
SRNAS  Small ribonucleic acids in silico  
Starting Grant 20122017  PI: GIOVANNI BUSSI Research Field: Physics and Chemistry of Biological Systems 

Ribonucleic acid (RNA) is a central molecule in cell biology. The comprehension of its properties at a molecular level is a key issue in the study of many diseases and paves the way to possible applications in molecular medicine. The aim of this project was to develop and apply computational methods based on molecular simulations for the study of RNA dynamics. Methods were then applied to the characterization of RNA folding and interaction with partners such as proteins, small molecules, and ions. 
StabAGDG  Stability and wallcrossing in algebraic and differential geometry  
Starting Grant 20122017  PI: JACOPO STOPPA Research Field: Geometry and Mathematical Physics 

The team members of the project “StabAGDG” worked on some fundamental questions in mathematics and mathematical physics. They studied Einstein’s equations of gravitation and the YangMills equations of particle physics from a mathematical perspective involving complex differential, algebraic and enumerative geometry, unveiling new hidden structures in the process. 
DaMESyFla  Electroweak Symmetry Breaking, Flavor and Dark Matter: One Solution for Three Mysteries  
Advanced Grant 20112017  PI: GUIDO MARTINELLI Research Field: Theoretical Particle Physics 

The goal of the project was to identify a coherent explanation of the three mysteries in the title, as complete and as unique as possible, by combining the vast information coming from the Energy, Intensity and Astroparticle frontiers. A variety of competences, ranging from phenomenological fits and data interpretation to unified models and fundamental theories, were used to interpret the results coming from a wide range of experiments and to formulate a coherent framework to account for them. 
CONCEPT  Construction of Perception from Touch Signals 


Advanced Grant 20122017  PI: MATHEW E. DIAMOND Research Field: Cognitive Neuroscience 

CONCEPT examined how the brain transforms the neuronal representation of physical parameters into the neuronal representation of meaningful objects. An ideal platform for the inquiry is the rat whisker sensory system: it produces fast and accurate judgments of complex stimuli, yet can be broken down into accessible neuronal mechanisms. By combining behavioral tasks with measurements on neuronal activity throughout the cerebral cortex, CONCEPT has helped us understand the general principles for the cortical construction of perception. 

NEUROMICRONICA  Modular behavioural neuroscience Proof of Concept Grant 20172018  Associated with Advanced Grant CONCEPT 

NEUROMICRONICA aimed to introduce to the neuroscience community the laboratory’s expertise in developing innovative instrumentation for the study of the awake rodent interacting with its environment, concomitant with the measurement and manipulation of brain activity, developed in the context of CONCEPT. The outcome of NEUROMICRONICA was the formation of start up company, CyNexo. 
QuaDynEvoPro  Quasistatic and Dynamic Evolution Problems in Plasticity and Fracture  
Advanced Grant 20122017  PI: GIANNI DAL MASO Research Field: Mathematical Analysis, Modelling, and Applications 

The project was devoted to nonlinear evolution problems arising in the study of the inelastic behaviour of solids, in particular in plasticity and fracture. It focussed on selected problems, grouped into three main topics, namely: i) Plasticity with hardening and softening, ii) Quasistatic crack growth, iii) Dynamic fracture mechanics. 
EDEQS  Entangling and Disentangling Extended Quantum Systems  
Starting Grant 20112016  PI: PASQUALE CALABRESE Research Field: Statistical Physics 

The main aim of this project was to utilize entanglement measures to fully classify states of matter in low dimensional systems. In addition, entanglement measures were used to benchmark the performance of numerical algorithms based on tensor network states. A second main aim of this project was to use the entanglement to identify the most important features of the non equilibrium time evolution after a “quantum quench”, with a view to solve exactly the quench dynamics in strongly interacting integrable models. A particular question we addressed is which observables “thermalize”, which is an issue of tremendous current experimental and theoretical interest. 
PASCAL  Processing Activates Specific Constraints for Language Acquisition  
Advanced Grant 20112016  PI: JACQUES MEHLER Research Field: Cognitive Neuroscience 

PASCAL project investigated the human ability to acquire language and the underlying biological endowment that provides specific language learning mechanisms, through studies of: i) the core cognitive dispositions which render neonates able to interact with speech signals; ii) the biological constraints that determine language acquisition dispositions; iii) the beginning of prosodic grouping abilities; iv) the origin of the functional specialization of segmental categories in speech processing; v) the type of bilingual exposure at different ages and their consequences for the enhancement of executive functions. 
SUPERBAD  Understanding hightemperature superconductivity from the foundations  
Starting Grant 20092015  PI: MASSIMO CAPONE Research Field: Theory and Numerical Simulation of Condesed Matter 

The SUPERBAD project has contributed to develop a unified picture of hightemperature superconctivity in different classes of materials, including cuprates, ironbased materials and fullerides. In all these materials superconductivity appears as a "cure" for the bad metallic behaviour arising as a consequence of strong electronelectron repulsion which is responsible for the anomalies of the parent compounds and of the metallic state. We have successfully unified the phase diagram of these materials and explained a number of experimental results within a single theoretical scheme. 
FroMPDE  Frobenius Manifolds and Partial Differential Equations  
Advanced Grant 20092013  PI: BORIS DUBROVIN Research Field: Geometry and Mathematical Physics 

The basic idea of the project was to apply the methods and results of the theory of integrable systems to nonintegrable partial differential equations (PDEs). We do not promise to solve any PDE; however in many cases the solutions to a conservative nonintegrable PDE in certain strongly nonlinear regimes exhibit integrable behaviour. 
ConLaws  Systems of hyperbolic conservation laws: singular limitsm properties of solutions and control problems  
Starting Grant 20092013  PI: STEFANO BIANCHINI Research Field: Research Field: Mathematical Analysis, Modelling, and Applications 

The research program concerned various theoretic aspects of hyperbolic conservation laws: i) existence and uniqueness of solutions to systems of equations of mathematical physics with physical viscosity, and of relaxation and kinetic models; ii) conservation laws with large data; iii) fine properties of solutions to conservation laws; iv) control theory for hyperbolic equations. 