Good news for the Max Planck Institut für Kohlenforschung: Prof. Walter Thiel, Head of the Theoretical Department at the institute, receives an Advanced Grant of the European Research Council (ERC). He will get a funding of 2 million euros during the next five years. The ERC has just announced that in Brussels.
The Advanced Grant is meant to support established researches across Europe who are planning ambitious projects in their research fields, just like Walter Thiel: Unlike in experimental chemistry the work of theoretical Chemists does not take place in the laboratory but rather at the computer. Here Walter Thiel and his group help to find a fundamental theoretical understanding of chemical reactions and catalytic processes that their colleagues observe in their laboratories. Thiel focusses especially on the application of quantum mechanics.
The theorists calculate tiny molecules precisely or they make models of complex systems with thousands of atoms. Depending on what is required the scientists apply different methods for their calculations. They range from highly accurate "ab initio" methods ("from the beginning") for small molecules to approximate methods for complex systems. These methods are developed by the Thiel group.
But Walter Thiel is not satisfied with the available tools of Theoretical Chemistry. In his eyes there is an urgent need for a generally applicable and reliable computational method that closes the gap between the previously established methods for small molecules and very large molecules. This may play an important role in the context of analyzing complex biochemical processes.
According to the European Research Council, more than 2400 researchers from different disciplines have applied for the Advanced Grants. Approximately twelve percent of those applications were successful. The ERC funds researchers who are at the top of their game, and we need this talent in Europe, says Máire Geoghegan- Quinn, European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science.
You can find the official Press Release of the ERC here.