Five UPC researchers, recognised with ICREA Acadèmia 2020 awards

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The Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies (ICREA) has recognised scientific researchers Cristina Canal, Cristina Masoller, Ana Isabel Pérez Neira, Marino Arroyo and Luis Velasco from the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya · BarcelonaTech (UPC), with ICREA Academia awards, a grant in recognition of research excellence to develop research projects in the next five years.

Since 2008, the ICREA Acadèmia programme has promoted and awarded excellence in research at Catalan public universities and contributed to strengthening the work of researchers who are in an active and expanding phase of their career. In the 2020 call, the work of around thirty researchers has been recognised.

Cristina Canal is a researcher attached to the  Department of Materials Science and Engineering (CEM) and head of the Plasmas for Biomedical Applications group, which is part of the Biomaterials, Biomechanics and Tissue Engineering Group (BBT). She also teaches at the  Barcelona East School of Engineering (EEBE). She has been recognised for her research activity on the therapeutic effects of cold plasmas at atmospheric pressure in their interaction with biomaterials, with a focus on bone cancer treatment.

Researcher Cristina Masoller is associated with the Nonlinear Dynamics, Nonlinear Optics and Lasers (DONLL) research group and attached to the Department of Physics. She is professor at the Terrassa School of Industrial, Aerospace and Audiovisual Engineering (ESEIAAT). She will dedicate the ICREA Academia award to developing analysis tools for decoding information on complex optical signals and applying this technology to decipher phenomena in the real world, such as climate series (studying the causal relations between what happens in different places on the planet), or to predict extreme weather events. This is the third ICREA Academia award that she has received. She obtained the previous awards in 2009 and 2015.

Ana Isabel Pérez-Neira is a researcher attached to the Department of Signal Theory and Communications and to the Telecommunications Technology Centre of Catalonia (CTTC) and lecturer at the  Barcelona School of Telecommunications Engineering (ETSETB). Her research is focused on developing data and signal processing techniques for new three-dimensional communication networks that will be comprised of a satellite, aerial platforms and terrestrial segments.

Professor Marino Arroyo is a researcher in the Numerical Methods for Applied Sciences and Engineering (LACÀN) research group of the International Centre for Numerical Methods in Engineering (CIMNE) and the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC). He is attached to the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Institute of Mathematics of the UPC-BarcelonaTech (IMTech) of the UPC. Arroyo will dedicate the ICREA grant to various projects, including the intensification of research on artificial bioinspired materials, specifically to develop new materials with extreme reversible deformability. In addition, new mathematical and computational models will be developed to understand mechanical aspects of cells and living tissues. This is an important area of research as many biological phenomena are fundamentally mechanical, for example the morphogenesis of our organs during embryonic development or the invasion of cancerous tissues. The researcher has received two other ICREA Acadèmia awards, in 2008 and 2015.

Luis Velasco is a researcher in the Advanced Broadband Communications Centre (CCABA) and the Optical Communications Group (GCO). He is attached to the Department of Computer Architecture of the UPC and teaches in the Barcelona School of Informatic (FIB) and the ETSETBHis research is focused on the development of technologies that enable the evolution of 5G to scalable decentralised architecture. This includes intention-based networks beyond 5G, network automation, explainable automatic learning, learning for reinforcement with offline training, collaborative learning, learning by transfer and smart applications. This is the second ICREA Acadèmia award received by Luis Velasco. He obtained the previous one in 2015.

Grants for five years of research

ICREA Acadèmia awards the selected researchers a grant of 40,000 euros a year for five years for research activities. In this call, 196 applications were received from which 18 female researchers and 12 male researchers were selected from Catalan universities.

Including the grants in the 2020 call, a total of 274 researchers in the Catalan university system have obtained ICREA Acadèmia grants as part of this programme, funded by the Catalan government with 5 million euros a year.