Professor Aaron Micallef, a senior lecturer at the University of Malta’s Department of Geosciences, is the only Maltese ERC grant holder under Horizon 2020. In 2015, he was awarded a prestigious European Research Council (ERC) ‘Starting Grant’ worth close to EUR 1.7 million to investigate offshore groundwater systems.
The scheme aims to fund young, early career scientists wishing to start up their own research groups.
Micallef’s ERC award secured funding for a five-year project entitled ‘Topographically-driven meteoric groundwater – an important geomorphic agent’ (Marcan), which brings together scientists from different groups across the University of Malta and other international research institutions, as well as provide funding for PhD and post-doctoral students.
The project, led by the Maltese geoscientist, uses state-of-the-art three-dimensional surveying methods offshore Malta and New Zealand to explore how groundwater can form some of the most widespread and significant landforms on the planet. Marcan will also have strong applied relevance as it will improve the assessment and exploitation of offshore freshwater as a potential source of drinking water.