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Marcos Fernández and André Groeger awarded ERC Starting Grants

22 Nov 2022
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Researchers Marcos Fernández and André Groeger were each awarded a European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant to develop the projects STOIKOS, on the elemental diversity of organisms, at the Department of Animal Biology, Plant Biology and Ecology; and RUSTDEC, on the study of rural areas in developing countries, at the MOVE research centre of the UAB Esfera.

Marcos Fernández and André Groeger
Marcos Fernández and André Groeger

Marcos Fernández-Martínez studied Environmental Sciences at the University of Barcelona. He holds a master’s degree and a PhD in Terrestrial Ecology by the UAB and has received several national and international awards for his research, including the Barcelona City Award in the category of the Environment and Earth Sciences (2019). His research is highly interdisciplinary, focused mainly on the global cycle of carbon, stoichiometry ecology and, more recently, on the role diversity plays in how ecosystems function. After spending four years in a postdoctoral stay at the University of Antwerp, Belgium, he returned with a Junior Leader grant from the “la Caixa” Foundation. Starting in January, he will be form part of the UAB Department of Animal Biology, Plant Biology and Ecology (BABVE) to conduct leading research in the STOIKOS project, funded with an ERC Starting Grant managed by the UAB.  

The elemental composition of matter determines its physical and chemical properties, and organic matter is no exception to this rule. The STOIKOS project will investigate how the elemental composition of organisms determines how they and their ecosystems function, and how the biodiversity can be analysed through the elemental differences existing between organisms thanks to the innovative concept of elemental diversity. The results of the STOIKOS project will help better understand fundamental ecological processes such as competition and coexistence. At the same time, these results will allow to assess the effects global change has and will have on how the biosphere works.

As part of the Starting Grant managed by other centres of the UAB Esfera, Andre Groeger, lecturer at the UAB’s Department of Economics and Economic History, research fellow at MOVE (Markets, Organizations, and Votes in Economics), and lecturer at the Barcelona School of Economics (BSE) will be working on the project RUSTDEC, “Rural Structural Transformation in Developing Countries", which investigates why agricultural productivity is especially low in developing countries and how this affects the dynamics of structural transformation and development. The focus of the RUSTDEC project rests particularly on rural areas of developing countries that typically host large shares of the population, face increasing agricultural risk from climate change and exhibit elevated poverty incidence. The project will provide novel answers to these questions by combining innovative micro panel data from Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia with an array of geospatial data on rural areas and quantitative theoretical models for structural analysis.

Andre Groeger earned his PhD in 2016 at the Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany, and conducted research stays at the Pompeu Fabra University and the University of California, Berkeley. His research agenda includes a range of interdisciplinary topics between the fields of development, environmental, and labour economics as well as the economics of migration. In his work, he often combines novel micro survey data with remote sensing and/or machine learning approaches. His articles have been published in some of the top journals in general science and economics, and he has been head researcher of several research projects.