The network will bring European research, science and business together to further our understanding of the early universe and its consituents.
Dr Rapahel Hirschi, Associate Professor in Astrophysics at Keele University, will be leading the ‘Chemical Elements as Tracers of the Evolution of the Cosmos’ Action, supported by 37 other researchers throughout 27 European countries. The Action will focus on the evolution of the cosmos via the chemical fingerprints left by the nuclear reactions in stars.
The proposal highlights that current research in astronomy, astrophysics and nuclear physics is disjointed. The aim of the Action is therefore to bring those research communities together, to build interdisciplinary bridges across Europe, and to link research with businesses who can provide the technological tools required to exploit the research outputs.
Dr Hirschi, who has coordinated similar research networks at Keele University, commented: "Our overall goal is to answer open questions we still have about the early stages of the universe, and to do this we must take a multidisciplinary approach and work together, specifically in nuclear physics and astrophysics, in a coordinated effort.”
The Action will aim to maximise the scientific and innovative return of huge investments already made in experimental facilities located across Europe, including GANIL in France, the first underground laboratory for nuclear astrophysics LUNA in Italy, and the accelerator facility FAIR being constructed at GSI in Germany.
Approved by the European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST) Committee of Senior Officials on 24 October 2016, the Action is one of 25 approved out of 478 eligible proposals collected earlier this year, and one of only 4 Actions from the UK to be selected.
The COST Action will provide funding for networking activities, including workshops, training schools and short-term scientific missions for 4 years, and will also train a new generation of European scientists, providing interdisciplinary expertise and knowledge-transfer skills.
Dr Hirschi added: "I am really excited about working with other academics but also businesses - this Action will open big opportunities for SMEs. It’s exciting to help spread knowledge across European countries that may not have access to this type of research - it is a great chance to build bridges between the academic world and industry leaders.”
Dr Hirschi was asked to lead the COST Action proposal due to his record of successful projects including BRIDGCE, a UK network established to bridge the disciplines involved in the study of the origin of the elements.