Researchers at the University of Graz have once again been able to secure seven-figure European Research Council (ERC) funding. The projects of Bernhard Bauer and Katalin Barta Weissert, each subsidised with almost two million euros, are very different.
Remote learning in the Middle Ages
Today, we associate postings with the internet. But they were already common in the Middle Ages: scholars left their comments in the margins or between the lines of manuscripts. These so-called glosses not only shed light on the text under discussion, but also provide information about the background of the author. "They provide first-hand evidence of the close contact and linguistic and intellectual exchange between the Celtic part of Europe in the British Isles and Brittany and the Carolingian Empire, the forerunner of modern-day France," explains philologist Bernhard Bauer.
In his "Glossit" project, he is analysing the annotations to the works on calendar calculation by the English monk and scholar Beda venerabilis (672-735) and the Latin grammar of the Byzantine Priscian (around 500). "Most of the Celtic-language glosses can be found in the various copies of these works, often in different translations," says Bauer. He now wants to analyse these using electronic data processing methods in order to investigate the influence of the island Celtic languages - i.e. Old Irish, Old Breton and Old Welsh - on the Latin used in the Carolingian Empire.
Bauer studied Celtic Studies in Vienna and wrote his dissertation in Indo-European Studies. From 2015, he researched and taught at the Department of Early Irish at the National University of Ireland in Maynooth. Since 2021, he has been working at the Centre for Information Modelling at the University of Graz.
Green revolution in the plastics industry
Whether in irons, crash helmets, aeroplanes or cars: synthetic resins, officially thermosetting polymers, have become an integral part of our everyday lives. However, both the production, typically from petroleum-based bisphenol-A, and the disposal of the non-recyclable materials are a burden on the environment. Katalin Barta Weissert, a researcher at the University of Graz, therefore wants to develop alternative methods for the production and recycling of thermosetting plastics made from renewable raw materials.
The StimulART project is dedicated to the most important scientific challenges in order to achieve sustainability throughout the entire life cycle of synthetic resins. "This is to be achieved by carefully designing the components from natural raw materials and by realising efficient low-temperature recycling," says Barta Weissert.
The basis for this is biomass from wood. Its structure and reactivity make it possible to easily obtain the building blocks that are suitable for the construction of a wide range of plastics, with a focus on synthetic resins. The researcher hopes that the project will revolutionise the use of renewable raw materials. This could secure a sustainable supply of urgently needed materials for European industry.
Excellence at the University of Graz
"On behalf of the Rectorate, we congratulate Katalin Barta Weissert and Bernhard Bauer on winning the ERC grants," says Rector Peter Riedler. "The award emphasises the excellence of the University of Graz in research and teaching. Maintaining quality at this high level is one of our most important tasks."
Joachim Reidl, Vice-Rector for Research, adds: "The ERC winners' research projects had to compete with numerous applications from all over Europe. The fact that Katalin Barta Weissert and Bernhard Bauer were able to prevail here is also a strong signal to the international research community. Here at the University of Graz, top-level research is conducted."
The ERC is the most important body in the EU for funding excellent research in Europe. ERC funds creative researchers of all nationalities and ages who carry out projects across Europe. 16 billion euros will be distributed via the ERC between 2021 and 2027.