Back Five researchers join UPF through Marie Curie grants to conduct social impact projects

Five researchers join UPF through Marie Curie grants to conduct social impact projects

Spread across the departments of Humanities (3), Economics and Business (1), and Information and Communication Technologies (1), they will be supervised by established research staff of the University. The postdoctoral grants are part of the 2022 call for individual Marie Sklodowska-Curie grants, in the framework of the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme to promote research and innovation.


Imatge inicial

Within the framework of the 2022 call for individual Marie Sklodovska-Curie grants, funded by the European Commission under the Horizon Europe programme, five researchers from various centres around the world will be joining UPF to conduct their research projects of excellence and social impact. They will enjoy a stimulating environment in which to carry out their proposals, supervised by professors from various UPF departments, who will provide them with suitable mentoring and professional guidance.

Three of the researchers are to join the Department of Humanities: Ivana Arsic, from the Institute of Social Sciences in Serbia, supervised by Linda Jones, a member of the Ethnographies, Cultural Encounters and Religious Missions (ECERM) research group; Elena Pérez-Álvaro, from Nelson Mandela University in South Africa, tutored by Sandra Montón, an ICREA research professor and coordinator of the Research Group in Colonialism, Gender and Materialities (CGM), and finally Gregorio Tenti, from the University of Turin (Italy), under the guidance of Santiago Zabala, an ICREA research professor and director of the UPF Center for Vattimo’s Philosophy and Archive.

For the four projects that have a duration of two years, funding is of about 165,000 euros, while for the three-year project, the amount rises to approximately 282,000 euros.

The remaining two people will be joining the Departments of Economics and Business (DEE) and Information and Communication Technologies (DTIC), respectively: Sébastien Fontenay, from the University of Alcalá, Madrid, will be supervised by Libertad González, an assistant professor of Economics; and Mireia Marimon, from the University of Potsdam (Germany), will be tutored  by Núria Sebastián Gallés, a full professor of Psychology and coordinator of the Research Group on Speech Acquisition and Perception (SAP) at the Center for Brain and Cognition (CBC).

The duration of the grants with which the researchers will boost their research at UPF is two years, except in the case of Elena Pérez Álvaro’s project, which will run for three. For the four projects that have a duration of two years, funding is of some 165,000 euros, while for the three-year project, the amount rises to approximately 282,000 euros.

Investing in science careers for a Europe that is strong in research and innovation

The Marie Sklodowska-Curie individual fellowships, within the framework of the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA), are part of Horizon Europe, and are the European Union’s flagship funding programme for training doctoral and postdoctoral research staff.

Its aim is to build Europe’s research and innovation capacity, based on long-term investment in people’s scientific careers. Some of the inspiring principles of the programme are excellence, mobility, openness to the world and collaboration, good working conditions and inclusion, supervision and career guidance, open science, responsible research and innovation, and the European Green Deal.

Three projects within the Department of Humanities

Exploring the cultural identities of Muslim and Jewish crypto-religious minorities in the Crown of Aragon

Entitled “Conversas of Muslim and Jewish Origin in the Premodern Crown of Aragon: Parallels and Contrasts (CONVERSAS)”, Ivana Arsic’s project, with the guidance of Linda Jones, will explore the cultural identities of the Muslim and Jewish crypto-religious mono-confessional minorities within the pre-modern Crown of Aragon (1400-1500 AD).

The project will challenge traditional interpretations, based on male-centred historical documents and lacking gender perspective, by creating a novel concept of comparison, especially between socio-religious characteristics of these groups’ female members converted to Christianity: Moriscas (Christian women of Muslim origin) and Judeo-Conversas (Christian women of Jewish origin) suspected of secret adherence to the religion of their ancestors. The project aims to develop an adaptable multi-dimensional comparative and intersectional model to provide a cultural, historical and gender analysis of these religious groups.

Studying underwater cultural heritage in the Pacific islands through indigenous women

Women and navigation in the Pacific: an underwater cultural heritage study (WomenAndOceans)” is the title of the research project to be carried out by Elena Pérez Álvaro, with the support of Sandra Montón. Using historical maritime archaeological methods, she will investigate the role of indigenous women in ocean activities in the Pacific Islands. She will do so by highlighting the importance of indigenous women’s knowledge for environmental security, aligned with the approach of the Science-Policy Platform of the United Nations.

For the indigenous communities of the Pacific islands, whose relationship with the land and the oceans is spiritual in nature, the main source of subsistence is the sea. It was the indigenous women who dived for food and resources, and witnessed all the environmental changes undergone in this setting. Drawing on ancestral voyaging knowledge and relationships of these indigenous communities with the oceans, this study will contribute to respond to global challenges based on indigenous and local knowledge.

Understanding the Sixth Extinction as a hermeneutic challenge

Gregorio Tenti, tutored by Santiago Zabala, with his project “Understanding Sixth Extinction as a Hermeneutical Challenge (HERMEX6)”, aims to elucidate the role of interpretative processes in our dealing with the global reduction of biodiversity, commonly referred to as the “sixth extinction”. He argues that the difficulty to attribute value to scientifically attested facts is a problem of interpretation: we lack qualitative frames to elaborate the extinction event and the knowledge that can describe it.

The project intends to define, analyse and address this set of issues with regard to contemporary European societies and formulate an innovative and interdisciplinary approach to the epistemic status of sixth extinction. Thus, HERMEX6 aspires to improve science communication and the uptake of scientific results, raise collective awareness, and generate added value in the field of policy guidance and advisory support. In fact, it is a European priority, in line with the EU’s 2030 Biodiversity Strategy.

Two projects in the Department of Economics and Business and the DTIC

Analysing the intergenerational spillover of the effects of paternity leave

Intergenerational Spillovers of Paternity Leave (Leave4NextGen)” is the title of the project to be conducted by Sébastien Fontenay, with the support of Libertad González. Its objective is twofold: on the one hand, to determine whether the introduction of paternity leave can promote counter-stereotypical attitudes that are transmitted from parents to children, and on the other hand, to evaluate whether paternity leave has spillover effects on the next generation’s real-life decisions.

In order to evaluate the intergenerational spillover effects of paternity leave, the research will analyse the Belgian paternity leave reform of 2002, which offers an attractive setup, as Belgium was one of the first countries to adopt paternity leave policies. Leave4NextGen will compare young adults born before and after the reform cut-off date (2002, only fathers of children born after 1 July were eligible for paid leave).

Investigating linguistic statistical learning abilities during the first two years of life

With the project “Linguistic statistical learning skills in bilingual and at-risk population (LINGSTATS)” Mireia Marimon, under the guidance of Núria Sebastián Gallés, will be investigating linguistic statistical learning skills during the first two years of life and how they relate to the subsequent development of language in different child populations.

The speech signal is a continuous stream, where, contrary to written language, words are not separated. Infants track regularities present in the speech signal and take advantage of such regularities to segment it. This mechanism is called “statistical Learning”, and it can be useful to study language development. LINGSTATS, through various innovative methodologies, will contribute to the improvement of suitable neurocognitive experimental methods to test the mechanisms of language learning and language processing in infants and will lay the foundations for implementing subsequent scientific findings.



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