Two Trinity researchers awarded prestigious European Research Council grants worth combined total of €4.5 million

The competitive grants enable mid-career researchers to carry out ground-breaking research, build their research teams, and develop innovative ideas.


Two researchers at Trinity College Dublin, assistant professor in geography, Martin Sokol, and European Research Council (ERC) research professor in chemistry, Valeria Nicolosi, have been awarded prestigious ERC Consolidator Grants, worth a combined total of over €4 million.

The grants, which are highly competitive, enable mid-career researchers to carry out ground-breaking research, build their research teams and develop innovative ideas.

These two ERC grants are the only ones to be awarded in Ireland for this funding cycle. The ERC is part of the EU Research and Innovation programme Horizon 2020.

Sokol, who is also a founding member and co-organiser of the Global Network on Financial Geography, will use the funding to investigate the process of financialisation, the growing power of finance over societies and economies, in order to gain a better understanding of how banks, states and households across post-socialist East-Central Europe are interconnected by financial links with each other and with a wider political economy.

In a statement, Sokol explained: “The objective is to examine how states, banks and households in post-socialist contexts have been financialised and to consider what implications this has for the societies in question and for Europe as a whole.”

He continued: “Eastern Europe will be used as a laboratory to understand how finance penetrates every nook and cranny of post-communist economies that were previously built on completely opposite principles. The project will open up new horizons in studies of finance, its geography and its future role in society.”

Professor Nicolosi, who works out of AMBER, the Science Foundation Ireland-funded materials science centre, located in Trinity, will concentrate on developing a new type of extremely long lasting battery that can come in any shape or size and can be planted in any type of material, be that clothing, a mobile phone, a car dashboard or even inside the human body (e.g. for an Implanted Cardiac Device).

This grant will allow her to form a multi-disciplinary research group to create this new battery. Nicolosi is Ireland’s only four-time ERC recipient, and has secured over €11 million in funding for her research in the past five years at Trinity.

In a press release, Nicolosi said: “I am delighted to be awarded the European Research Council’s (ERC) Consolidator Grant. Since 2011, the first year of my ERC Starting Grant, my group has grown from three to 25 people. The ERC Grants I have been awarded were not only important in helping fund our research and grow our team, but to also help leverage more funding and realise partnerships with large multinationals. What is key is that these grants allow us to take the next step with our research – whether it is the licensing of technology or starting up a new company.