Sapienza ranked first among Italian universities for ERC Advanced Grants 2019

Three research projects on quantum information, Latin philology and bioarchaeology will be awarded € 5.75 million from the European Union. With this result, Sapienza is the Italian university with the greatest number of ERC Grants in this round

The European Research Council (ERC), the organism that funds projects of excellence on frontier research, has approved three Advanced Grants, for a total value of € 5,744.775 million, making Sapienza the Italian university with the greatest number of ERC grants.

The winners are Michela Rosellini of the Department of Ancient World Studies, Fabio Sciarrino of the Department of Physics, and Mary Anne Tafuri of the Department of Environmental Biology. Michela Rosellini and Fabio Sciarrino are both Principal Investigators of the PAGES e QU-BOSS projects respectively, with Sapienza as Hosting Institution. Mary Anne Tafuri wins with the ANCESTORS project, coordinated by Cambridge University and Sapienza as co-beneficiary.

Sapienza ERC Projects

PAGES - Michela Rosellini, professor of Latin Language and Literature at the Department of Ancient World Studies 

The PAGES project is dedicated to the Ars grammatica of Prisciano di Cesarea, a monumental work on Latin language written during the Costantinopoli bilingual context in the early 6th century AD. This determined the development of linguistic theories and knowledge in the West.

The study and transcription of this work, consisting of many parts written in Greek, stimulated a renewed interest in Greek language in Europe from Carolingian and early Humanism scholars.

PAGES consists in a new critical edition of the Ars (150 years after the previous edition), based on a systematic analysis of the manuscripts and a translation into Italian and English. Moreover, PAGES aims to reconstruct Prisciano’s leading role in the rebirth of Greek studies in the West, in the history of linguistic studies and of the school on the whole.

The project has a multidisciplinary approach which includes philological, Digital Humanities, paleographical and linguistic studies as well as a multispectral analysis of the manuscripts. The research materials and outcomes will be available on a dedicated digital platform. For this project, Sapienza will have a funding of € 2,486,375 million.


QU-BOSS - Fabio Sciarrino, professor of Quantum Information and Computation at the Department of Physics 

After decades of progress in quantum information science, it is widely expected that in the next few years the field will start to yield practical applications in quantum chemistry and materials simulation, information security, and finance. For these applications to pan out, a crucial intermediate goal is to reach the quantum advantage regime, where quantum devices experimentally outperform classical computers in some computational task.

The Boson Sampling problem is an example of a task that is computationally hard for classical computers, but that can be solved with a specialized quantum device using single photons interfering in a multimode linear interferometer. The aim of QU-BOSS is to experimentally push towards the quantum advantage regime with integrated photonic technology. The key ingredient is to introduce a new concept of Boson Sampling which also exploits non-linearities, to lower the requirements necessary to reach the scenario where a quantum device solves the problem faster than a classical one.

QU-BOSS is planned to provide an experimental research breakthrough along several directions, including both “hardware” and “software” components. Different approaches will be adopted, based on hybrid integrated quantum photonics, a versatile and flexible route to manipulate high-dimensional quantum photonic states. QU-BOSS aims to position integrated photonics into the NISQ (noisy, intermediate-scale quantum) era, opening up new scientific horizons at the frontier of quantum information, quantum control, machine learning and integrated photonics.

The QU-BOSS project had a total budget of € 2,875,000.00. For the project, Sapienza will have a funding of € 2,305,000.00, the research team of Roberto Osellame from the Institute of Photonics and Nanotechnologies of the CNR (budget of € 380,000.00), and the group of research by Ernesto Galvao of the International Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory (budget of € 190,000.00).


ANCESTORS - Mary Anne Tafuri, professor of Anthropology at the Department of Enviromental Biology  

Project ANCESTORS is based on an osteobiographic approach which integrates skeletal, isotopic and genetic analysis on a great number of human remains specimens which date back to Prehistoric Italy.

The research project will allow to evaluate the Italian protohistoric and prehistoric ancestors, their family systems and social relationships through a chronological focus covering over 4000 years - Neolithic Age, Bronze Age and Iron Age. Health, diet, and mobility dynamics will be analyzed in order to achieve these results.

ANCESTORS is coordinated by Cambridge University and Sapienza as co-beneficiary. The research team, led by Mary Anne Tafuri, will focus on the human skeletal remains analysis. ANCESTORS had a total budget of € 1,943,547.50. For the project, Sapienza will have a funding of € 383,400.00.



The European Research Council (ERC) is the organism that funds projects of excellence on frontier research. 

The ERC programme is part of Horizon 2020, the European Union (EU) Framework Programme for Research and Innovation for 2014-2020.

ERC’s main goal is to promote excellence, supporting the dynamic and creative aspects of European “frontier” research and provide support to innovative high-risk and high scientific impact research projects conducted by Principal Investigators (PI) with internationally recognized curricula.

ERC Calls are subdivided into the following funding types:

  • Starting Grants (StG): reserved for researchers with 2-7 years post-doctoral (or other equivalent title) experience and with a promising scientific curriculum;
  • Consolidator Grants (CoG): reserved for researchers with 7-12 years post-doctoral (or other equivalent title) experience and who have already proven their independent research potential and scientific maturity;
  • Advanced Grants (AdG): reserved for researchers of all ages and nationalities, who are scientifically independent and have a research activity curriculum that identifies them as leaders in their research sectors;
  • Synergy Grants (SyG): reserved for small groups of Principal Investigators (min. 2, max. 4), independently from their number of years of post-doctoral experience;
  • Proof of Concept (PoC): reserved for ERC grantees, it aims to guarantee a connection between basic and market research.


Further Information 

Michela Rosellini 
Department of Ancient World Studies 

Fabio Sciarrino 
Department of Physics

Mary Anne Tafuri 
Department of Environmental Biology


Tuesday, 31 March 2020

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