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FNR PRIDE grants to boost research in math and sustainable composites

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Published on Monday, 23 May 2022

Two new doctoral training units (DTUs) at the University of Luxembourg (UL) receive the 2021 PRIDE grants awarded by the Luxembourg National Research Fund (FNR). 

PRIDE is the FNR’s main programme for funding doctoral research in Luxembourg. It supports the development of critical mass in key research areas by attracting excellent PhD candidates to Luxembourg and offering high quality research training. Under this programme, PhD grants are awarded to researchers cooperating on a coherent research and training programme.

Mathematical Tools for Complex Data Structures - MATHCODA

Since the turn of the millennium, technology has allowed the collection and storage of increasingly complex and large data sets, which has spurred significant advances in medicine, meteorology, engineering, finance, social sciences, and many more areas. Most of these advances rely on strong mathematical foundations — see e.g. the epidemiological models or statistical theories required to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic and its potential remedies. The COVID pandemic, the associated financial crisis, or even the recent floods in Luxembourg and neighboring countries, have demonstrated that modern societies keep facing new challenges involving many intertwined factors, and that researchers and practitioners need flexible mathematical tools for analysing the resulting complex data structures. Modern data are typically composed of a huge number of (possibly high-dimensional) observations (e.g. internet traffic or social networks), have complicated topological structures such as directional data, and display strong (time-)dependence structures — to cite but a few crucial features.

Therefore, it is of the utmost importance to train a new generation of scientists to take up these challenges and build novel, high-performance tools for modeling and statistically analyzing complex data. The MATHCODA DTU intends precisely this: it is a doctoral training program that covers a coherent set of themes around the ideation and study of novel mathematical tools for dealing with high-dimensional and complex data structures, with applications ranging from life sciences to engineering and finance. The proposed DTU will be coordinated by Prof. Giovanni Peccati from the Department of Mathematics (DMATH) and led by seven supervisors from Luxembourg University  - each of them a scientific leader, specializing in one or more facets of mathematical statistics, probability theory and their applications. The seven supervisors are: Yannick Baraud (DMATH), Jack Hale (Department of Engineering), Benjamin Holcblat (Department of Finance), Christophe Ley (DMATH), Ivan Nourdin (DMATH), Giovanni Peccati (DMATH), and Mark Podolskij (DMATH). According to our vision, the interaction between the distinct research groups participating in MATHCODA will provide to the doctoral candidates an invaluably rich learning environment, as well as an ideal springboard for their subsequent careers.

Sustainable Polymer Composites - SusPoCo

The need to manage resources sustainably has never been clearer. Fiber reinforced polymers (“composites”) combine low density and excellent structural performance, making them highly attractive in this context. From lightweight vehicles to wind turbine blades to corrosion-resistant bridges, composites are already having an impact on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. To realize their promise, however, a truly sustainable composite lifecycle is essential, and three critical needs must be addressed:

  1. Composites must be made from bio-based and / or recovered materials.
  2. These sustainable components must be effectively combined, and the resultant composites must be efficiently formed into robust structures designed for reprocessing and repair.
  3. At end-of-life, these composites must be readily disassembled and their components recovered and reused.

These needs are translated into three research axes with 9 PhD topics distributed among them. Coordinated by Prof. Daniel Schmidt of the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST), this effort will extend the state-of-the-art in disciplines from computer simulations and polymer chemistry to composite (re-)processing, recycling and design for repair. Within the DTU, a skilled team led by Prof. Slawomir Kedziora from the Department of Engineering and supported by colleagues at LIST will lead an effort focused on designing novel vitrimer-based composites with repair in mind.

More broadly, all of the UL PhD students involved in this DTU will benefit from the collaborative, multidisciplinary nature of the work, a strong training plan, high quality facilities and infrastructure, a stimulating international environment, and experienced supervisors with the demonstrated ability to coordinate and execute research at this scale. The work aligns with institutional and national research priorities, and its success will jump-start the careers of the student participants, enable the broader, more sustainable use of composites, generate new economic activity and benefit society.