Back Four UPF lecturers scale up their research thanks to ICREA's 2022 Academia grants

Four UPF lecturers scale up their research thanks to ICREA's 2022 Academia grants

Albert Banal Estañol i Gaël Le Mens (Departament d’Economia i Empresa), Cristina López-Rogríguez (Departament de Medicina i Ciències de la Vida) i Rubén Moreno Bote (Departament de Tecnologies de la Informació i les Comunicacions) rebran un ajut amb una durada de cinc anys. D’aquesta manera, ja són 26 els investigadors i investigadores de la Universitat vinculats a set departaments diferents que actualment tenen ajuts ICREA Acadèmia vigents.


Imatge inicial

The 2022 ICREA Academia programme, which recently announced this year’s winners, has distinguished four researchers from UPF in a call for applications in which around 40 experts from different fields of knowledge within the Catalan university system were chosen. The grants awarded are for 40,000 euros per year, for a period of five years, meaning that those chosen who are actively developing their work can dedicate more time to their research.

The UPF researchers and the respective departments chosen are Albert Banal Estañol and Gaël Le Mens (Economics and Business); Cristina López-Rodríguez (Medicine and Life Sciences, MELIS) and Rubén Moreno Bote (Information and Communication Technologies, DTIC). For Albert Banal Estañol and Gaël Le Mens this is the first time they have been awarded the grant, whereas for Rubén Moreno Bote and Cristina López-Rodríguez it is the second.

Other UPF lecturers and the departments to which they are linked, who currently benefit from ICREA Academia grants awarded in previous years, are as follows:

  • MELIS: Jordi García Ojalvo, Elena Hidalgo, Rafael Maldonado, Eulàlia de Nadal, Francesc Posas, Cristina Pujades and Olga Valverde
  • DTIC: Davinia Hernández Leo, Antoni Ivorra, Angel Lozano, Gemma Piella, Núria Sebastián and Xavier Serra
  • Political and Social Sciences: Joan Benach, Albert Esteve, Jacint Jordana, Ignacio Lago and Mariano Torcal
  • Humanities: Alexandre Coello and María Morrás
  • Translation and Language Sciences: Louise McNally
  • Law: Aida Torres
  • Economics and Business: Libertad González

The ICREA Academia grants, which have just celebrated their fourteenth edition, are an initiative which helps to retain research talent in Catalonia. Awarded by the Catalan Research and Advanced Studies Institution (ICREA), they recognise the research career of teaching staff who develop their activities in one of the public Catalan universities and who also teach there.

Brief summary of the four winning UPF researchers’ work

Albert Banal Estañol is the Serra Hunter assistant professor of the UPF's Department of Economics and Business, member of the research groups Business Economics and Industrial Organization and Finance and Accounting, director of the UPF-BSM's Master in Science in Finance and Banking and assistant director of the BSE's Master in Economics of Energy, Climate Change and Sustainability. His research centres on the area where the fields of industrial organisation and corporate finance meet. His lines of research include the causes and consequences of the spectacular rise of property shared between businesses who compete against one another globally; the financing of academic research itself, and the operation and efficiency of energy markets.

Gaël Le Mens is professor of the UPF’s Department of Economics and Business and is associate professor of BSE and teacher at UPF-BSM. His research focuses on how the social environment and learning processes affect inference, judgement and appraisal. His current theoretical focus is on the development of models of the influence of categories in inference and appraisal, models of how politicians learn and react to comments on Twitter and models of the collective appraisal dynamic (for example, the points awarded in online reviews) and popularity. Professor Le Mens checks the predictions of models using diverse methods: the evaluation of reinforcement learning models and the analysis of textual data through deep learning (BERT and GPT3 models), as well as through a combination of online and laboratory experiments.

Cristina López-Rodríguez, professor of the Department of Medicine and Life Sciences, is principal researcher of the Immunology Research Group and coordinates the UPF's Master in Biomedical Research. Her group is interested in the connection between inflammation and disease, studying how the pro- and anti-inflammatory immune responses balance each other out to the benefit of the organism, and how the balance between them determines, for example, pathogen control, the progression of tumours and transplant rejection. The group approaches these questions by focussing on identifying mechanisms which regulate gene expression and the configuration of chromatin as inflammatory response control points.

Rubén Moreno Bote, professor of DTIC, is coordinator of the Theoretical and Cognitive Neuroscience Research Group at the Brain and Cognition Centre (CBC). His research centres on the link between neuron activity, perception and behaviour, and decision-making. In recent years he has analysed the 'neural code' (meaning the format in which neuron activity information is codified), with particular emphasis on the sources of perception errors and decision-making because of coding or decoding errors. The aim of his current research is to gain a deeper understanding of these links by exploring new fields of behaviour study.



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