Eleven additional research projects will be financed the total sum of €600,000 from the University of Malta, following a transparent and thorough evaluation by a panel of foreign experts.
Whilst usually only four research projects are funded by the University, this year the number will increase by a further eleven projects, in the light of a budgetary increase in research financing.
Minister for Education and Employment Owen Bonnici said that, “I am very pleased that this sum is being given to the University of Malta, which will benefit our students and their studies. Normally, the Research Fund Committee receives between 60 to 100 applications for funding of projects, and it’s a shame that only four projects can be funded per annum. These applications are grouped in four categories; Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences; ICT, Built Environment and Engineering; Life Sciences; and Natural Sciences. This year, we are seeing the possibility for eleven extra project applications to be funded.”
“We are very proud and excited that these newly funded projects will continue to elevate the University of Malta’s profile of research excellence in different areas, from the arts, to the humanities, to the life sciences and natural sciences, all of which will undoubtedly contribute to a cultivation of a culture curiosity and desire for knowledge,” said the University of Malta’s Rector Professor Alfred J. Vella.
The recipients who will benefit from these funds are:
- Dr Adnan Hadziselimovic, who will investigate the serious use of Virtual Reality to introduce audiences to digital, virtual journeys, for example, through a science project, an architecture simulation, an art installation or a performance;
- Dr Ing. John Charles Betts, who will investigate the fabric of Punic/Roman pottery found in selected sites in Malta;
- Prof. Ing. Michael A. Saliba, who will investigate the use of robots to help the elderly in their homes;
- Prof. Tonio Sant, who will optimise the design of a storage device for offshore windfarms, and for which the UM already has obtained a world-wide patent;
- Prof. Georgios Yannakakis, who will study and reframe advanced Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence algorithms with applications in digital games, philosophy, cultural heritage and art;
- Prof. Giuseppe di Giovanni, who will conduct a pre-clinical study on the use of an FDA-approved drug for obesity, repurposed for epilepsy;
- Dr Stephanie Bezzina Wettinger, who will be trying to confirm two genetic causes of glaucoma that can lead to blindness, with the aim of identifying novel drugs to treat the disease;
- Dr Ruben Cauchi, who will use an innovative approach to identify, and bring to market, a cure for Motor Neuron Disease (MND), e.g. ALS;
- Prof. Mauro Pessia, who is aiming to show a link between microbiota in the gut and the development of autism, with the aim of preventing the disease;
- Prof. Andre Xuereb, who is aiming to develop a system for the early detection of earthquakes using telecommunication optic fibres between Malta and Sicily;
- Dr Liana Vella Zarb, who will be investigate novel nanomaterials that can deliver drugs very accurately to where they are needed in the body.
These eleven additional projects will join four other projects which had already been awarded from internal funds.