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Digital Futures Initiative Propels Women to Success in ERC Grant Applications

This autumn, Digital Futures launched a targeted call to support the writing of European Research Council (ERC) grants, specifically in the domain of Digitalisation in Rich and Healthy Life. The initiative, designed to empower faculty members, aimed to provide the time and resources necessary for delving into long-term research questions, with the added benefit of receiving valuable feedback from ERC reviewers, a critical factor in academic promotion.

Six exceptional individuals from Stockholm University and KTH Royal Institute of Technology embraced this opportunity, and in a remarkable turn of events, all six applicants are women who will receive funding.

Lanie Gutierrez-Farewik, the interim head of the Digital Futures Working group Rich and Healthy Life, expressed her satisfaction with the unexpected level of engagement from KTH researchers. She hinted at the potential for broader implementation, suggesting that KTH or Digital Futures could contemplate expanding such seed funding schemes to encompass excellence grants.

“In a faculty where women constitute 20%, the exclusive application of six women for this initiative has odds below 0.007%. It highlights how such focused efforts can not only support research excellence but may also encourage greater involvement from traditionally underrepresented groups. It seems as if this type of initiative, beyond supporting research excellence, has the potential to strengthen diversity, which came as a positive surprise,” said Wouter van der Wijngaart, a member of the Digital Futures Working group Rich and Healthy Life.

The six successful candidates and their allocated funding pending successful ERC grant submissions are:

Kristina Höök, KTH EECS: 100 kSEK for an ERC Advanced Grant (AdG) proposal.
Georgia Destouni, Stockholm University: 100 kSEK for an ERC AdG proposal.
Ingrid Campo Ruiz, KTH ABE: 100 kSEK for an ERC Consolidator Grant (CoG) proposal.
Xiaogai Li, KTH CBH: 100 kSEK for an ERC CoG proposal.
Seraina A. Dual, KTH CBH: 50 kSEK for an ERC Starting Grant (StG) proposal.
Lina Rahm, KTH ABE: 50 kSEK for an ERC StG proposal.

The success of this program raises the prospect of further initiatives that prioritize diversity, inclusion, and excellence in academic pursuits.