26 January 2012

Four new research grants to young NBI researchers

Four researchers at the Niels Bohr Institute have received grants from the VILLUM FOUNDATION’s Young Investigator Programme, which supports especially talented, young Danish researchers in science and technology.

Anders Tranberg

Anders Tranberg is receiving 4.1 million kroner for the project "Matter/Antimatter asymmetry (QCD)"

Anders Tranberg is a theoretical physicist at the Niels Bohr Institute and the Niels Bohr International Academy. His project looks to explain why there is more matter than antimatter in the universe. In quantum mechanics, particles and antiparticles occur on equal footing and one would therefore expect that equal amounts of them would have been created in the Big Bang. They did not! 

Since the 60s, we have known what it takes to create such an asymmetry and we know that this process took place in the first fraction of a second after the creation of the universe. But you cannot reproduce the observed asymmetry in the Standard Model of particle physics. On the other hand, it takes very little extra (an extra heavy neutrino, two Higgs instead of one, new interactions between known particles, supersymmetry) for it to work; and all at energies equivalent to what is currently being achieved at the LHC.

“My project aims to perform precise calculations of how great a matter-antimatter asymmetry is created in each of these so-called ‘minimal extensions’ of the Standard Model. This provides, among other things, a clue about what to look for as soon as you have found the first Higgs!” explains Anders Tranberg. The grant provides for a 3-year postdoc.

Martin Pessah

Martin Pessah is receiving 4.5 million kroner for the project "Fundamental astrophysical processes in plasmas"

Martin Pessah is a theoretical astrophysicist at the Niels Bohr International Academy and the Niels Bohr Institute. His research project involves researching the understanding of the fundamental plasma processes and to investigate their consequences for a series of astrophysical phenomena such as accretion discs around stars and black holes, the space between stars and clusters of galaxies.

The Young Investigator grant from the Villum Foundation is a 3-year grant and with the grant of 4.5 million kroner it will be possible to hire two researchers with PhD degrees and form a new research group that will be at the forefront of research in the field of theoretical astrophysics. The grant also makes it possible to purchase powerful computers and allows for travel.

Poul Martin Bendix

Poul Martin Bendix is receiving 3.4 million kroner for the project "Biophysical study of cytoskeletal filaments and membrane shaping proteins in membrane protrusions"

Poul Martin Bendix is an assistant professor in the BioComplexity research group at the Niels Bohr Institute. His project is to explore dynamic membrane structures in cells.

“The cell functions like movement, transport, communication or metastasis depends largely on the ability of the cell to reform the membrane topology (spatial structure). We will look at how proteins from the cellular skeleton interacting with other proteins can create membrane topologies with a high curvature. We particularly want to study the formation of membrane tubes, which are essential for many cell functions,” says Poul Martin Bendix. The grant will be used for salaries as well as new equipment.

Joachim Mathiesen


Joachim Mathiesen is receiving 6.4 million kroner for the project 'Earth Patterns'.

Joachim Mathiesen is an associate professor in the BioComplexity research group at the Niels Bohr Institute. His project will research hydrodynamics and crack formation in the Earth’s crust. 

“In this project, we intend to develop a comprehensive theory for hydrodynamics and crack formation in porous materials using statistical physics and the theory of continuous systems. A comprehensive theory could contribute to a better understanding of sedimentation processes and the weathering of rocks, as well as providing a better insight into techniques for capturing greenhouse gases,” explains Joachim Mathiesen.

He explains that water is crucial for the formation of a large part of the patterns seen in the Earth’s crust, including its role in chemical reactions and in the transport of material. Even water reacts on many levels in space and time and in many different materials, so that it is often possible to make general models that describe the patterns formed.  The grant runs through to 2017 and allows for the appointment of two PhD students and one or two postdocs.