Let's Talk - A conversation with ERC grantees

European Research Council (ERC) grants are relevant for the scientific growth of researchers, by giving them the opportunity to consolidate research activities or to start as a PI. "Let's talk. A conversation with ERC grantees" is a series of informal interviews where researchers tell about their experience, the meaning they attribute to scientific research, their goals and the moment when they faced ERC selection for funding, but also their cultural and sport interests and the moving from a foreign country to Italy, in IIT.


Cristina Becchio is the coordinator of C’MoN Unit at IIT, investigating how intentions are extracted from body motion during interaction among people. Her research approach is at the intersection of motor cognition and social cognition, studying the relationship between the “mental” and the “motor”. She has been identifying experimental strategies for measuring the observability of other minds. She got her ERC grant in 2013, she has a background in philosophy and she is a medium-distance runner.


Mario Caironi is the coordinator of Printed and Molecular Electronics Lab of IIT in Milan. He is currently interested in high resolution printing techniques. In 2014 he got his ERC grant for the project Heroic, aiming at developing a next generation of printable, lightweight flexible and large-area electronics which can operate at high frequency. He is an engineer, a runner and a father. He likes reading books and one of his favourite is Fermat’s Last Theorem by Simon Singh.


Paolo Decuzzi is the director of the Nanotechnology for Precision Medicine Lab in IIT. He is focused on realizing nano-constructs which may be used for personalized nanomedicine, in particular for combined therapy in cancer, cardiovascular and neurological diseases. The passion for nano building blocks reflects in his leisure time, in fact he likes to play Lego and puzzles with his kids. He spent a long period of his career in USA, but when he got his ERC grant in 2014, he came back to Italy, in IIT.


Antionio Bicchi is Senior researcher in IIT and Professor at University of Pisa. He leads the SoftRobotics Lab for Human Cooperation and Rehabilitation at IIT in Genoa, where he has been developing prosthetic applications of the robotic hand “Soft Hand”. The “Soft Hand” can grasp things adapting its closure to the shape of objects and it is inspired by human hand design. For this project, Bicchi got ERC grants twice, in 2012 an Advanced Grant e in 2017 a Proof-of-concept grant.


Laura Cancedda is the coordinator of the Local Micro-environment and Brain Development research line in IIT, she has a scientist position at the Telethon Dulbecco Institute and she is also a scholar of the FENS KAVLI network of excellence. Her research activities focuses on the study of brain development and new genetic techniques for the treatments of neurodevelopmental disorders. She does not like the “magic” and think that being a scientist means working a lot. In 2016 she got an ERC Consolidator grant.


Ferruccio Pisanello coordinates the SoftRobotics Lab for Human Cooperation and Rehabilitation of IIT in Lecce. His research focuses on the combination of optogenetics and neuroscience, in order to develop novel technologies able to control brain electrical activity by projecting light beams. He obtained his PhD degree in Paris and then came back in Italy, in IIT. He got his ERC starting grant grant in 2016.


Tommaso Fellin is the coordinator of the Optical Approaches to Brain Function Laboratory and co-head of the Neural Coding Laboratory in IIT. His research activities deal with optogenetics to study brain cortex functions. The main goal is the understanding of brain language when it processes and interprets sensory inputs coming from the environment. He is developing novel technologies able to stimulate and register neurons activity within the brain and at single cell resolution. He got his ERC Consolidator grant in 2015.


Liberato Manna is the Director of Nanochemistry research line in IIT. His main interests are the synthesis and assembly of colloidal nanocrystals and the understanding of chemical phenomena in nanoscale materials, such as the transformation due to external stimuli. The applications are in the field of photonics, electronics and biology. Manna likes reading all sort of books, from philosophy to history. He got an ERC grant twice, the Starting grant in 2009 and the Consolidator in 2014.


Gianni Ciofani is in charge of Smart Bio-Interfaces research line at IIT in Pontedera (Pisa). His main research interests are in the field of smart nanomaterials for nanomedicine, looking at interfaces between bio and non-bio materials and studying biology in altered gravity conditions. When he was a child he studied clarinet and then he graduated from conservatory, but he preferred to become a scientist. In 2016 he got an ERC starting grant.


Francesco De Angelis is the coordinator of Plasmon Nanotechnologies group at IIT in Genova. By using techniques for single molecule detection and analysis, his main research goal is the development of hybrid interfaces between neurons and optical and electronical nano-devices, in order to read neural signals in different points at the same time. In 2014 he got an ERC Consolidator Grant.


Agnieszka Wykowska is PI of the Social Cognition in Human-Robot Interaction (S4HRI) research line at IIT in Genova. Her research focuses on social cognitive neuroscience and human-robot interaction, using behavioral measures, with the main goal of obtaining humanoid robot able to “attune” with people. She studied and worked in many countries in Europe, in 2016 she arrived in IIT thanks to her un ERC Starting Grant.