“I want to discover natural phenomena we don’t yet know about,” Safronova said.
The ERC grant, worth more than $15 million over a six-year period,
will provide funding for building the nuclear clocks and exploration of
The nuclear clock project is one of 37 projects
to receive funding in the 2019 ERC competition, which allows groups of
two to four researchers to collaborate on a project none could do alone.
The awards are part of the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and
The 2019 competition was the first to include researchers from
outside Europe. Eight projects, including Safronova’s, involve
scientists based in the United States. She is one of 126 principal
investigators overall. The projects will unfold at 95 universities and
research centers in 20 countries.
Also contributing to the nuclear clock project will be researchers at
the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics (Heidelberg) and the
Fraunhaufer Institute for Laser Technology (Aachen).
About the researcher and the ERC
Mariana Safronova is a professor in UD’s Department of Physics and Astronomy.
Her research focuses on atomic physics, computational physics, atomic
clocks and the search for new physics, beyond the standard model of
elementary particles. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in
physics at Moscow State University and her doctorate at the University
of Notre Dame. Before joining UD’s faculty in 2003, she did postdoctoral
work at the University of Notre Dame and was a guest researcher at the
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). She is a fellow
of the American Physical Society (APS) and past chair of the APS
Division of Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics.
The European Research Council, established by the European Union in
2007, is the premier European funding organization for frontier
research. To date, it has supported more than 9,000 top researchers at
various stages of their careers and more than 50,000 postdoctoral
fellows, doctoral students and other staff working in their research
teams. It is led by an independent governing body, the Scientific
Article by Beth Miller; illustration by Jeffrey C. Chase; photo by Ariel Ramirez
Published Nov. 6, 2019