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Lindsay Flynn and Etienne Fodor awarded with FNR ATTRACT Fellowships

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Published on Monday, 08 February 2021

The two researchers will strengthen the research units in respectively social sciences and physics.

Prof. Lindsay Flynn’s research project will investigate the relationship between housing policies and inequality. The theoretical framework is interdisciplinary, drawing on political science, sociology, demography, and economics. She is joining the University of Luxembourg thanks to an FNR ATTRACT Fellowship endowed with 2 million euros (over five years).

The topic of Prof. Etienne Fodor’s research project at the University of Luxembourg, is active matter, a novel class of nonequilibrium systems composed of self-propelled agents. His Fellowship is endowed with 1.5 million euros (over five years).

PRO-Active Policymaking for Equal Lives (PROPEL)

My project”, explains Prof. Lindsay Flynn, “takes a close look at different types of governmental housing policies across Europe and North America and the sometimes unequal ways they affect younger versus older generations, larger and smaller families, and households with more or less disposable income. The more we know about the policy mechanisms that lead to unequal opportunities, the more we can root out those mechanisms and replace them with more equal ones.”  The project combines qualitative and quantitative research methodologies to study how housing policy regimes influence inequality within and between generations in affluent democracies. The project also considers how housing policies and housing markets interact with employment and pension policies to shape patterns of inequality.

The project will be a scientific gain for Luxembourg because it will establish an interdisciplinary research group engaged in policy-relevant, high quality research on the relationship between housing and inequality. The project will also allow Prof. Flynn to further develop her considerable research skills and talents and to establish herself as a leading researcher in the field of welfare state development and inequality. “The FNR ATTRACT Fellowship enables me to bring together a team of researchers to examine the design of housing policies, generate predictions about how those policies might affect different groups of people unequally, and then design tests for those predictions. Add to that the forward-looking approach of the University, and Luxembourg becomes the perfect place to combine traditional academic research with an applied project designed for real-world impact,” concludes Prof. Flynn.

Statistical Mechanics of Active Matter (SMAC)

The topic of the research proposal of Prof. Etienne Fodor is active matter, a novel class of nonequilibrium systems composed of self-propelled agents. While a plethora of collective states was discovered in active matter recently, the control of these states by external and internal influences is yet not well understood. Prof. Fodor’s project will employ and develop statistical mechanics concepts to identify possibilities of optimal control in active matter. Among the research goals are both fundamental theoretical physics aspects as well as possible applications such as active microengines.

Prof. Fodor explains: “As a result of this project, I hope to obtain a generic description to control the active systems in an optimal way. The motivation is to propose specific protocols, for example a change in cell dynamics between resting and moving states.

A long-term application would be to control the collective dynamics of an aggregate of cells between a mobile state, where the cells are able to move rapidly within the aggregate, and a resting state where each cell remains fixed at a specific location in the aggregate. Thus, controlling cell motility in an epithelial tissue, for example, has the direct application of helping our skin to recover from certain injuries.

Etienne Fodor to conclude: “Luxembourg offers a very dynamic environment for the study of active systems. The physics of active and living matter has recently been identified as one of the priority research areas at national level, which clearly indicates a willingness to invest in this field. In this sense, the recent initiative 'Physics meets Biology' will make it possible to develop collaborations at the interface between these two disciplines, where active matter plays an important role, with a view to creating an internationally competitive research centre.”

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