ERC Consolidator Grant for Plant Scientists Ansgar Kahmen
Ansgar Kahmen, plant scientist at the University of Basel, employs botanical archives to assess how plants have responded physiologically to environmental changes over the past 150 years. The European Research Council (ERC) has awarded him a Consolidator Grant worth CHF 2.1 million for his research.
Understanding how plants and ecosystems respond to global environmental changes is a key challenge in the biological sciences. Biological archives, such as tree rings or herbarium specimens in historical botanical collections are critical tools to address this problem. This is because the analysis of the stable isotopes in archived plant material allows researchers to identify how plant physiological processes have responded to environmental changes over the past decades. Until now, these analyses have mainly employed the stable isotopes ratios of carbon, oxygen, and nitrogen.
In his new project HYDROCARB, which will receive funding of CHF 2.1 million from the European Research Council over the next five years, Ansgar Kahmen will establish the analysis of hydrogen isotopes in botanical archives to obtain new information on environmentally induced changes in plants’ carbon metabolism.
The carbon metabolism of a plant has a major influence on plant growth. It has, therefore, a key influence on yields in the agriculture and forestry but also on the global carbon cycle and the global climate. Kahmen and his team seek to use the novel hydrogen isotope analysis of archived plant materials to understand better how the carbon metabolism in plants and thus plant growth and the global carbon cycle have responded to changes in the global environment over the past 150 years.
Second ERC grant for Ansgar Kahmen
This is the second time that the 42-year-old scientist has been honored by the European Research Council: in 2011, while working at ETH Zurich’s Institute for Plant Sciences, Kahmen received a Starting Grant for his project COSIWAX. This previous project aimed to provide access to hydrological information about plants and ecosystems stored in the hydrogen isotopes of leaf waxes. Since 2013, Kahmen has been an associate professor for sustainable land use at the University of Basel.
This is the second time that the 42-year-old scientist has been honored by the European Research Council: in 2011, while working at ETH Zurich’s Institute for Plant Sciences, Kahmen received a Starting Grant for his project COSIWAX. This aimed to provide access to hydrological information about plants and ecosystems stored in the hydrogen isotopes of leaf waxes. Since 2013, Kahmen has been an associate professor for sustainable land use at the University of Basel.
European funding for outstanding researchers
With the Consolidator Grant, the European Research Council funds outstanding young scientists with several years of research experience to perform high risk – high potential research at their home institutions. The Consolidator Grants are a funding instrument within Horizon 2020, the European program for research and innovation. The ERC awarded an ERC Consolidator Grant to 22 researchers in Switzerland in the current call.
Switzerland once again fully associated with Horizon 2020
Following the signing of the Croatia protocol by the Federal Council at the end of last year, Switzerland has been fully associated with Horizon 2020 since January 1, 2017. This means that researchers in Switzerland can now once again participate in all calls for proposals under Horizon 2020 without restriction.
In the event of non-association, our researchers would no longer have been able to apply for ERC grants, which would have brought considerable disadvantages to the University of Basel – not only in terms of appeal and prestige but also in relation to the acquisition of lucrative external funding.