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Faculty of Natural Sciences

DKK 19.7 million for bold research ideas

The Faculty of Natural Sciences (Nat) is a good place for daring ideas that can and will change our perception of the world around us. The VILLUM FOUNDATION recently announced the recipients of this year's Villum Experiment grants, and in this round, ten researchers at Nat have received grants totalling DKK 19.7 million to explore, for example, human genetic prehistory over the last 40,000 years and to find out whether sponges sleep.

[Translate to English:] Villum Experiment-bevillingerne har identificeret 10 flyvefærdige idéer på Faculty of Natural Sciences, der lever op til ambitionen om at kunne udfordre og rykke ved vores måde at opfatte verden. (ill: Colourbox)
[Translate to English:] Villum Experiment-bevillingerne har identificeret 10 flyvefærdige idéer på Faculty of Natural Sciences, der lever op til ambitionen om at kunne udfordre og rykke ved vores måde at opfatte verden. (ill: Colourbox)

The Villum Experiment programme was launched in 2017 to target technical and natural science research projects that challenge norms and could potentially change the way we approach important topics. To sharpen the focus on research ideas and allow researchers to think freely, applicants are anonymous to the international assessors. Consequently, the 21 international assessors have not been able to consider applicants’ CVs and academic qualifications, but have assessed the research ideas solely on the basis of whether they challenge the norm and could potentially change the world and our knowledge about it.

This year, a total of DKK 98,663,650 will be allocated to 51 researchers at Danish universities. The recipients are young, old and in between. They can be anything from postdocs to professors, because what matters is the idea, not the CV. Common to all applicants is the aspiration to foster innovation within natural sciences and technical research. The projects propose ambitious exploration of a multitude of topics, and in so doing, they fulfil the ultimate ambition of research: they change the way we look at the world. The grants amount to DKK 1-2 million and will run for up to two years.

At the Faculty of Natural Sciences, the following researchers have received a ‘bold’ grant:

Associate Professor Charlotte Knudsen from the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics receives DKK 1.87 million for her project “Communication across the kingdoms of life: can bacterial RNA viruses affect gene expression in eukaryotic cells?”

Professor Mikkel Heide Scherup, Bioinformatics Research Centre (BiRC), receives DKK 1.97 million for his project ”Genomic archaeology: Inferring human cultural practices over the past 40,000 years from whole genomes”.

Professor Kurt Gothelf, Department of Chemistry, receives just under DKK 1.99 million for his project ”Small Molecule DNA Rotaxanes”.

Associate Professor Peter Funch, Department of Biology, receives DKK 1.99 million for his project ”Do sponges sleep?”

Postdoc Friederike Gründger from the Department of Biology, receives DKK 1.99 million for the project ”Phage therapy to boost bacterial oil spill clean-up in the Arctic”.

Assistant Professor Ian Marshall, Department of Biology, receives DKK 1.95 million for his project ”ElectroMicrobiological Oxygen Generation in Dark, Anoxic Sediments (OxyGen)”.

Professor Torben R. Jensen, Department of Chemistry, receives DKK 1.99 million for his project ”Novel Trivalent Cation Conductors for Future Batteries”.

Associate Professor Christoffer Karoff, Department of Physics and Astronomy, receives DKK 1.98 million for his project ”A new approach for monitoring methane emissions from space”.

Assistant Professor Magnus Kjærgaard, Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, receives DKK 1.99 million for his project ”Oxygen-free biosynthesis in microbial cell factories”.

Professor Jeppe Lauridsen, iNANO, receives DKK 1.99 million for his project ”Are Topological Insulators Active in Electrocatalytic Reactions?”.

The programme is advertised annually in open competition, and the application deadline is in March.

Read more about the grants and the research programme on the VILLUM FOUNDATION website (danish only).