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Anthropologists Rivke Jaffe and Barak Kalir and astronomers Saskia Hekker and Jason Hessels are to receive Starting Grants from the European Research Council (ERC). The grants open the way for the recipients to become established, independent research leaders.

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ERC Starting Grants provide funding for researchers who obtained their PhD two to seven years ago and wish to establish themselves as independent research leaders. Grant amounts range from 1.5 to 2 million euros per research project. Created by the European Union in 2007, the ERC is specifically focused on financing groundbreaking research.

Grant recipients 

Saskia Hekker (Astronomy)

Age is a fundamental aspect of the study of star evolution and in delineating the formation and characteristics of exoplanets. Asteroseismology explores the oscillations in stars to learn more about their internal structure. Hekker aims to use knowledge about stars’ internal structure in order to more accurately gauge their age. She will be conducting her research at the Max-Planck-Institut für Sonnensystemforschung in Göttingen, Germany.

Jason Hessels (Astronomy)

As part of his project, Hessels will build an extremely powerful supercomputer, which will be able to detect – in real time – short but clear radio bursts in space using the LOFAR radio telescope. These radio bursts are signals emitted by the most extreme explosions in our universe, for example from ultra-compact neutron stars and radio pulsars. The research will be conducted at the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy (ASTRON) and the UvA. 

Rivke Jaffe (Social Geography, Planning and International Development Studies)

Private citizens have to rely increasingly on an ‘assemblage’ of public and private actors for the provision of security, with the police collaborating with private security firms, neighbourhood watch groups and even vigilantes. Jaffe defines these public-private assemblages as neo-liberal forms of governance and will be exploring how they influence the relationship between citizens and governments in Jamaica, Kenya and Israel.

Barak Kalir (Anthropology)

The deportation of ‘undocumented migrants’ is a hotly debated topic worldwide. Most countries invest heavily in effective deportation policies. When it comes to implementation, however, these policies are notorious for falling short of the intended goals. Kalir will be comparing deportation policy implementation in four countries: Israel, Greece, Spain and Ecuador.