On 10 January, the European Research Council (ERC) announced the results of the Starting Grants 2021 call launched under Horizon Europe, the European Union's new research and innovation programme. 397 early career researchers were selected from over 4,000 applicants. They receive grants of 1.5 million euros on average, for a total of 619 million invested in projects of excellence. Two IRD researchers are among the winners.

Louise Brousseau, research fellow at the AMAP laboratory : DOPAMICS project ?Domestication and adaptation in Neotropical palms: a microevolutionary history 

The Amazonian rainforest is the most diverse forest on earth, but it is facing a significant loss of biodiversity due to global warming and increasing human pressures. Despite this, the state of Amazonian biodiversity and underlying evolutionary processes remain largely undocumented, making it difficult to anticipate future changes and to develop sustainable management strategies.

The project will rely on an interdisciplinary methodology at the frontier between life (biodiversity and evolution), human (archaeology), and computational sciences (bioinformatics, modeling and deep learning) to retrace the microevolutionary history of Amazonian palms - species of the genera Astrocaryum, Euterpe and Oenocarpus -, and to decouple the joint effects of the adaptation to natural environmental variations and of ancient domestication.

Canopy with Euterpe oleracea and Mauritia flexuosa palm grove (Tumuc-Humac Mountains, Guiana - southern Brazilian border).

© IRD - Daniel Sabatier

DOPAMICS will focus on emblematic pre-Columbian sites in French Guiana - the "ring ditches" - that hosted ancient villages and forest agrosystems, and challenge the domestication syndrome paradigm by finely characterizing variations in palm genomic and functional diversity (metabolic properties of fruits and biomechanics of fibers) along gradients of increasing anthropogenic disturbances extending from natural forest areas to pre-Columbian sites.

Louise Brousseau is a geneticist in evolutionary ecology of natural populations. She has contributed to a better understanding of microevolution in Amazonia, by documenting the original process of "microgeoraphic" adaptation (i.e. adaptation at highly local spatial scales) in tree species. Since her recruitment at IRD in 2017, she has expanded her research field by integrating the contribution of human societies to the microevolutionary history of plants through domestication. She takes advantage of the recent advances in data acquisition (high-throughput sequencing and phenotyping) and high-performance computing to develop innovative research strategies for the study of non-model species in complex natural systems. Since 2020, she is an elected member of the IRD Sectoral Scientific Commission "Data and Modelling Sciences" (CSS5) to which she brings her expertise in evolutionary biology and bioinformatics for the analysis of "omics" data.

Laura Ruiz de Elvira, research fellow at the CEPED laboratory: LIVE-AR?The subsequent lives of Arab revolutionaries. project

What are the biographical consequences and the social outcomes of revolutionary activism when the revolutionary moment turns into a civil war, an authoritarian restoration, a fragile democratic transition, or a return to the former 'years of lead'? Ten years after the so-called « Arab Spring », LIVE-AR will develop an analytical comparative approach that will focus on the 'subsequent lives' of the revolutionaries in four contrasted case-studies: Syria, Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco. In a context of generalized skepticism, the project proposes a shift from the usual viewpoint that will unfold along four intertwined lines of research and articulate the micro and meso-sociological levels: activist careers and biographical consequences; 'emotional legacies'; interpersonal friendship networks; revolutionary organizations.

Revolutionaries peacefully protest in the streets of Baniyas, Syria, May 2011.

© DR. The Creative Memory of the Syrian Revolution.

In order to do so the project will rely on a multidisciplinary international team as well as on active partnership with universities and research institutions in Tunisia, Lebanon and Morocco. From a methodological point of view, LIVE-AR will devise a diversified qualitative methodological 'toolkit' combining life story interviews with life calendars, an analysis of digital social networks and internet archives, ethnographic observations, and secondary sources.

Dr Laura Ruiz de Elvira is a political scientist also trained in Arabic studies. Her research interests focus on associations and social policies in the Arab world (namely in Syria, Tunisia, and Yemen). Her works unfold along three main lines: collective action, activism and social (inter)aid practices; the transformation of states, public action and development policies; and the reconfiguration of relations to politics and religion. Laura Ruiz de Elvira is a member of the steering committee of the Institute for the Study of Islam and Societies of the Muslim World (IISMM, EHESS), a member of the board of directors of the Circle of Researchers on the Middle East (CCMO), a member of the editorial board of the Revue des mondes musulmans et de la Méditerranée and a lecturer at Sciences Po Aix. Since 2020, she is an elected member of the IRD Sectoral Scientific Commission "Human and Social Sciences" (CSS4).

>Contacts: louise.brousseau@ird.fr ; laura.ruiz-de-elvira@ird.fr 

>For further information: European Union’s press release ; IRD's Europe and International Strategy