Go to main content
Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

Ten new ICREA Acadèmia grants for academic staff at the UAB

01 Mar 2024
Share via WhatsApp Share via e-mail

The Catalan Institute for Research and Advanced Studies (ICREA) has awarded a total of 40 ICREA Acadèmia grants to academic staff of the Catalan university system in its 2023 call, ten of which have been for lecturers of the UAB.

Cartell sobre els juts ICREA / cartel sobre las ayudas ICREA

Through the ICREA Acadèmia grants, the Catalan Ministry for Research and Universities promotes research conducted by lecturers in any of Catalonia’s public universities, with the overall aim of improving the impact of research carried out in universities throughout the country. The selected lecturers  receive 40,000 euros annually over a period of five years. These grants are aimed exclusively for university academic staff who teach and are in a fully active and expanding phase of their research activity.

The UAB lecturers to have received the grants are:


Agustí Nieto-GalanAgustí Nieto-Galan. Professor of History of Science, he previously received the ICREA Acadèmia grant in the 2009, 2018 and 2023 calls at the UAB. He was director of the Institut d'Història de la Ciència (iHC) at the UAB during the 2020-2023 period.

Chemical engineer (URL), with a BA and PhD in History (UB), he trained as a historian of science at the Modern History Faculty of the University of Oxford and at the Centre de Recherche en Histoire des Sciences et des Techniques (CNRS) in Paris. He has written extensively on the history of chemistry, the history of the popularisation of science (18th-20th centuries) and the urban history of science. Notable in this context are his books Science in the Public Sphere (Routledge, 2016); Barcelona: An urban history of science and modernity (1888-1929) (Routledge, 2016, with Oliver Hochadel), and most recently, The Land of the Hunger Artists (Cambridge, 2023).

Professor Nieto-Galan has also worked on the historical analysis of the relationship between science and politics in the 20th century; a line of research that has borne fruit such as the books The Politics of Chemistry (Cambridge, 2019) and Tóxicos invisibles (Icaria, 2020, with Ximo Guillem-Llobat). Currently, he has initiated a new research project on the history of refugee scholars (and scientists) in the central decades of the 20th century, in collaboration with the Bodleian Library and Linacre College, University of Oxford.

Albert RimolaAlbert Rimola. Lecturer in the Department of Chemistry at the UAB, Albert Rimola graduated in Chemistry at the UAB (2002) and completed his PhD in Theoretical and Computational Chemistry in 2007, for which he received the exceptional PhD award and the European PhD mention. He did postdoctoral work at the University of Turin, Italy, and was visiting lecturer at Cergy-Pontoise and Grenoble Alpes universities in France.

He is currently working on computational simulations of surface phenomena of interstellar dust grains.

With the QUANTUMGRAIN project, funded by an ERC Consolidator Grant from the European Research Council, his group aims to simulate by means of computational chemistry methods and techniques (and in particular quantum chemistry) the solid state matter present in interstellar dust grains and the phenomena that occur on their surfaces (adsorption, diffusion and chemical reactivity), which are important for the chemical evolution that occurs during the birth of stars and the formation of planetary systems. The simulations in astrochemistry developed by Rimola have been innovative, providing atomic-scale insights into the physico-chemical processes on interstellar grain surfaces, shedding light on the role of grains in the chemical composition of the Universe. These findings have led to improved models and interpretations of astronomical observations. With this research, his group contributes to the advance of knowledge in the field of astrochemistry in a more rationalised way, introducing a new conception of the surface chemistry of interstellar dust grains. His contributions in the field were recognised with the RSEQ 2022 Youth Researcher Award (Group Leader mode).

With more than 145 peer-reviewed publications, including regular articles, reviews, and book chapters, he has garnered international recognition, boasting an h-index of 35 and more than 4000 citations. He has also delivered some 60 invited talks in congresses, advanced schools and seminars.

Enrique HernándezEnrique Hernández. Doctor in Political and Social Sciences from the European University Institute, lecturer in the Department of Political Science at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona and member of the research group on Democracy, Elections and Citizenship (DEC). He has carried out research stays at the Institute of Social Sciences of the University of Lisbon, the Carlos III Juan March Institute, the University of Zurich and the University of Amsterdam. His research has received several awards from the Spanish Association of Political Science (AECPA), the European Social Survey (ESS), and the Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences (GESIS).

Enrique Hernández's research focuses on the study of the challenges facing contemporary democracies such as growing political disaffection, polarisation and corruption. Recently, he focused his research on the study of the dilemmas posed by democratic systems and how these can contribute to citizen discontent and disaffection towards this political system. Through the DEMOTRADEOFF project, funded by an ERC Starting Grant from the European Research Council, Enric will examine the preferences of citizens and the positions of political parties in the face of these dilemmas posed by democratic systems. Using innovative methods for the study of public opinion and interaction with the discourses of political parties, this line of research aims to provide an explanation and possible remedies to the current crisis of liberal democracy.

Helena KirchnerHelena Kirchner. Doctor in Medieval History, she is lecturer of this discipline in the Department of Sciences of Antiquity and the Middle Ages of the Faculty of Arts & Humanities of the UAB. Her main field of research is the agrarian history and archaeology of medieval societies. More specifically, she has carried out studies on the farming areas of al-Andalus and the impact that the feudal conquests had on these areas. She has worked on these issues in the Balearic Islands, Valencia, Andalusia, Catalonia and Yemen. This line of research, currently, is being particularly enhanced by the European project, of which she is principal investigator, entitled Re-thinking of Green Revolution in the Medieval Western Mediterranean (6th-16th centuries) (HEU-101071726-MEDGREENREV) (ERC Synergy Grant). This project aims to study the medieval green revolution by integrating a robust corpus of bioarchaeological and paleoenvironmental data with the archaeological and written documentary record.

Another field in which she has made relevant contributions is that of Andalusian ceramics. She currently directs the excavations at Pla d'Almatà (Balaguer), an exceptional archaeological site of 27 ha, of a city from the Al-Andalus period abandoned at the time of the Christian conquest.

Her training is linked to the UAB, where she received her degree and PhD in history. Subsequently, she did postdoctoral stays at the Università degli Studi di Siena (Italy) and at the Centre National d'Études Agronomiques des Régions Chaudes (CNEARC) (Montpellier, France). More recently, she spent a stay at the Institute of Archaeology (University of Oxford, UK).

Jordi SurrallésJordi Surrallés. Professor of Genetics at the UAB since 2007. With a PhD in Genetics from the UAB (1994), he did postdoctoral stays in the Netherlands (Leiden University Medical School) and in Finland (Finnish Institute of Occupational Health). He returned to the UAB to create his own research group in 1997. In 2006 he joined the Centre for Biomedical Research in Rare Diseases Network (CIBERER) as principal investigator and was appointed director of the Department of Genetics and Microbiology at the UAB in 2016. He was subsequently appointed director of the Genetics Service of the Hospital de Sant Pau (2017), director of the Joint Unit of Genomic Medicine UAB-IR Sant Pau (2019) and Scientific Director of the Research Institute of the Hospital de Sant Pau (2019). He is also currently director of the Master's Degree in Health Care Genetics at the UAB, the only one in Spain recognised by the European Board of Medical Genetics. He has received numerous awards including four consecutive ICREA Acadèmia recognitions (years 2008, 2013, 2018 and 2023).

Professor Surrallés works in the field of DNA repair syndromes, diseases with high predisposition to cancer, such as Fanconi anemia, Bloom syndrome, ataxia telangiectasia or familial breast cancer. In the past 10 years he has participated in the discovery of 8 new genes involved in 6 cancer predisposition syndromes. He has also conducted advanced therapeutic research in the field of DNA damage response, including gene and cell therapy and pharmacological and genetic screening. Thanks to this research, Jordi Surrallés has obtained two orphan drug designations from the European Medicines Agency and has protected, with patents, several therapeutic innovations in the field of DNA repair. He has supervised 18 doctoral theses and published some 150 scientific articles. He is currently involved in several clinical trials. The long-term goal of Professor Surrallés' team is to understand the mechanisms that maintain genome stability and protect from diseases such as càncer, and ageing and to transfer this knowledge to develop new therapeutic and diagnostic strategies in hereditary and oncological diseases.

Albert Fernández TeruelAlberto Fernández Teruel. With a BSc and a PhD in Psychology from the UAB, he has done predoctoral and postdoctoral research stays, and as a visiting lecturer, at the University of Cagliari (Italy) and at the ETH-Zentrum of Zürich (Switzerland). He was lecturer of Psychopharmacology and Psychobiology at the University of Santiago de Compostela and, since 1998, he is lecturer of the Department of Psychiatry and Legal Medicine of the Faculty of Medicine of the UAB. He is the coordinator of the SGR research group "Animal and Human Models in Mental Disorders" and, within this group, he coordinates the Animal Laboratory of the Medical Psychology Unit of the aforementioned department.

Among the notable results of his group's research are: the identification of the first QTL (chromosomal locus on rat chromosome 5) that influences traits related to learned and unlearned anxiety and fear; the development of new and unique genetic tools for high-resolution genetic mapping of complex biological and behavioural traits in genetically heterogeneous rats; the development and characterisation of a unique rat genetic model with traits relevant to anxiety and schizophrenia; as well as the demonstration, for the first time, that genetically based neurobehavioural traits and deficits in rats can be influenced, even counteracted, by "positive" and enriched early and juvenile environmental conditions.

He has published more than 200 scientific articles and book chapters, of which more than 180 are articles in international peer-reviewed journals, including top journals such as Nature Genetics, Nature Reviews Neuroscience, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences-USA, Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, Genome Research and Biological Psychiatry, among others. Together with his group, his research has been awarded prizes from the Institute for Catalan Studies, the "City of Barcelona Science Award-1992" and the "ICREA-Academia-2013" award, among others.

Sílvia GómezSílvia Gómez Mestres. Lecturer in the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology at the UAB. With a PhD in Social and Cultural Anthropology from the University of Barcelona, she has done research stays at the CNRS (France), the École de Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (France), the University of Oslo (Norway), the IPB University of Bogor (Indonesia), and the Institut de Ciències del Mar (CSIC). She currently coordinates a research unit in Marine Social Sciences (SeaPeoplesLab) and has participated as an invited member in expert groups of the International Council for Exploration of the Sea (ICES). She is also a collaborating member on marine ecosystems and fisheries of Alimentta Think Tank for Food Transition, and regularly participates in the meetings of the European Commission’s STECF (Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries) at the Joint Research Center (JRC).

She has over 20 years of experience in studies in protected marine areas and in coastal and fishing communities in Europe, with some contributions to the Arctic, Latin America and Asia. She has worked on small-scale fishing rights, socio-economic dimensions of fisheries, marine governance, sustainable seafood markets and maritime cultural heritage. In her research, she applies a transdisciplinary approach, collaborating mainly with marine biologists, geographers, economists and environmental lawyers. In recent years, she has focused on examining the socio-ecological relationships between humans, seas and oceans; and the implications of socio-cultural justice in the blue economy, particularly in the context of new relations of exploitation of the seas and oceans. Her research plans will be developed at the crossroads of the Global North and the Global South in different places interconnected by the socio-ecological crisis, to provide a substantial analysis under the approach of human and environmental rights. And, in this way, contribute to the international debate on marine management and governance, advance knowledge and instigate human populations for change and transition towards a just, equitable, inclusive and sustainable maritime and coastal development for humans and the environment.


Eva OstergaardEva Østergaard-Nielsen. Lecturer in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration and coordinator of the recently established research group on Transnational Relations, Democratisation and Migration (TransDeM). She obtained her PhD in Politics from the University of Oxford and worked at the London School of Economics before joining the UAB. During 2015-16, she was a Research Fellow at the Weatherhead Centre for International Studies at the University of Harvard.

Eva Østergaard-Nielsen’s main areas of research focus on the comparative politics of migration, citizenship and democratisation with a focus on both receiving and origin countries as well as the transnational agency of migrants and diasporas. She is currently researching these issues within the context of the project Migration and Democratic Diffusion (MIGRADEMO) funded by an ERC Consolidator Grant (2018-2024). This project examines the impact of migration on democratic practices and processes across the political elite, civil society and selected regions of high outmigration in Romania, Turkey and Morocco.


Aurora RuizAurora Ruiz-Herrera. Lecturer in the Department of Cell Biology, Physiology and Immunology at the UAB and a member of the UAB Institute of Biotechnology and Biomedicine (IBB). She coordinates the SGR Research Group in Genome Integrity and Reproductive Biology at the UAB, where she obtained her BSc in Biology in 1998 and her PhD in 2003. During her PhD, she focused on studying primate genomic evolution, with research stages in the USA, Italy and Venezuela. As a postdoctoral stay funded by an MEC/Fullbright grant, she joined the University of Stellenbosch (South Africa) to study the uniqueness of African fauna. She then moved to the University of Pavia (Italy) to gain experience in the molecular aspects of genome instability, funded by a European Commission Intra-European Fellowship. In 2009 she returned to the UAB as a lecturer. She currently serves on the board of the Spanish Society of Genetics and is coordinator of the Evolutionary Biology Section of the Catalan Society of Biology.

Her research interests focus on understanding the structural, functional and evolutionary aspects of the organisation of the genome of species, with special attention to the germline. These aspects are key to understanding the origin and plasticity of genome biodiversity, and how species respond to environmental changes. In addition, from this research, she has opened other lines related to the genetic basis of fertility.

She is co-author of more than 100 publications, including book chapters, conference papers and scientific articles in international peer-reviewed journals, including top journals such as Nature, Cell, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences-USA and Genome Biology. He has also given some 60 invited talks at conferences, advanced schools and seminars in Europe, North America, South America, Africa and Australia.


Antonio M. López PeñaAntonio M. López.

Lecturer in the Department of Computer Science at the UAB School of Engineering. He leads the research line on artificial intelligence (AI) for autonomous driving at the Computer Vision Centre (CVC) at the UAB. He has a long track record as a researcher at the intersection of computer vision, computer graphics, machine learning, driver assistance and autonomous driving.

Antonio M. Lopez's team has led the creation of public datasets such as SYNTHIA and UrbanSyn, which have been very well received internationally. In addition, the open source simulator CARLA, to democratise autonomous driving research, was also designed and developed by his team, becoming a de facto standard in academic research and in much of the industry. The CARLA project has been awarded by the Catalan Research and Innovation Foundation with the National Research Prize for Public-private Partnership in R&I. His team is also an international pioneer in the development of deep visuomotor models for autonomous driving, trained by imitation. His team recently implemented, and with great success, a proof of concept of autonomous driving in the mountains of the Catalan Pyrenees (in the Alt Pirineu natural park). This experience has been reflected in the documentary The BrAIn Roads. Also worth mentioning is the close collaboration of his team with the automotive industry to bring state-of-the-art AI techniques to the field of autonomous driving. Antonio M. Lopez first received the ICREA Acadèmia grant in 2018, and now renews it for five more years.