Rubicon grants for David de Laat and Alessandro Zocca

CWI researchers David de Laat and Alessandro Zocca both received an NWO Rubicon grant. De Laat will study new techniques to compute optimal packings at MIT for one year, and Zocca will study renewables and uncertainty in future power systems at Caltech for two years. NWO granted these subsidies to 22 young, highly promising research talents to gain international research experience at foreign top institutes.

Publication date: 20-04-2017

CWI researchers David de Laat and Alessandro Zocca both received an NWO Rubicon grant. NWO granted these subsidies to 22 young, highly promising research talents who recently received their PhD degree to gain international research experience at foreign top institutes. De Laat received the grant to do research at the Mathematics Department of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA, for a year. He will study new techniques for computing densities of packings. Zocca received his grant to do research at the Department of Computing and Mathematical Sciences at Caltech for two years. He will study renewables and uncertainty in future power systems.

De Laat explains: "Packing problems occur in mathematics, material science, and computer science, but they are usually extremely difficult to solve.  I will develop new optimization techniques so that we can use computers to better solve these problems. Many structural questions about packings are still open, such as the role of symmetry: when do symmetry defects contribute to the quality of a solution? We want to use this new approach to gain a better understanding of such issues."

Zocca says: "Electricity networks are processing an increasing amount of wind and solar generated power. Consequently, the traffic patterns are becoming ever less predictable. I will develop new mathematical models and will design and analyse new decentralised control mechanisms so that electricity networks can continue to be reliable in the future." He adds: "There is a strong need for mathematical research that provides fundamental insight in the trade-off between uncertainty caused by renewables, efficiency, and reliability. At Caltech there is strong domain knowledge in all relevant academic disciplines available to further develop such models. As such it is an ideal continuation of the research I started working on while being at CWI."

Alessandro Zocca, CWI.
Picture: Alessandro Zocca. Source: CWI.

The current Rubicon awards are awarded for the third funding round of 2016. A total of 78 researchers submitted a proposal for Rubicon, of which 45 men and 33 women. Twelve laureates are going to the United States, four to the United Kingdom, two to Germany, one to Australia, one to Canada, one to France, and one to Belgium. For many researchers, experience abroad is an important step in their career.

With a Rubicon grant researchers can conduct research for a period up to 24 months at a foreign research institute. The size of the grant depends on the destination chosen and the length of stay. NWO is able to fund around 60 young researchers through Rubicon every year, for a total sum of 7 million euros, spread over three rounds. The Rubicon programme is named after the river Julius Caesar crossed after his series of victories, which ultimately led to his declaration ‘Veni, vidi, vici’. NWO chose the name Rubicon in 2005 for its individual grant programme aimed at retaining talented researchers, who have recently gained their PhD, in science.

 

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Upper picture: D. de Laat.