Nearly 4 million euro for pioneering research in machine vision and tailor-made biosynthesis
Aalto University appointed Jaakko Lehtinen (on the left) as an Associate Professor in 2012. Additionally, he works as a Principal Research Scientist at NVIDIA. Before joining Aalto, Jan Deska worked as a researcher in India and Sweden, and held professorships at RWTH Aachen and Cologne University in Germany. Photos: Matti Ahlgren and Lasse Lecklin
The European Research Council (ERC) has awarded prestigious ERC Consolidator Grants to two Aalto University professors: Jaakko Lehtinen and Jan Deska. ERC funding supports pioneering research ideas that introduce unconventional, innovative approaches. The ERC Consolidator Grants – an average of 2 million euro per grant – are awarded to outstanding researchers of any nationality and age.
Jaakko Lehtinen’s project, Learning Pixel-Perfect 3D Vision and Generative Modeling (PIPE), focuses on how to bring models based on machine vision, machine learning, and physics together. The project explores the most fundamental questions of machine vision research; how can we teach a machine to perceive the world as animals do? Lehtinen’s work could also be used to help improve AI applications, like robots.
The research group’s findings will also help to improve gaming and film production, such as designing 3D environments for games which is currently a laborious, slow, and expensive endeavour.
‘Should we succeed in all of this, we will come up with something that has never been seen before,’ Professor Lehtinen says.
Redesigning chemical value chains
With his project, Artificial Enzyme Modules as Tools in a Tailor-made Biosynthesis (ABIONYS), Professor Deska aims to challenge the fundamental distinction separating the chemical from the biological sciences, and deliver the first proof-of-concept where non-natural reactions act as productive puzzle pieces in biosynthetic arrangements.
‘To tackle some of the prime societal challenges of this century, science has to urgently provide useful tools that address the redesign of chemical value chains. This requires the exploitation of novel, bio-based raw materials, but also the discovery and implementation of more sustainable production platforms. With my group, we will create a significantly extended toolbox of enzyme modules and apply natural catalysts in synthetically crucial, but non-natural reactions’ Professor Deska says.
Eventually, the knowledge gathered from enzyme discovery and cascade design will enable the creation of new and powerful bioproduction systems. It’s within these systems that the genetic incorporation of artificial enzyme functions into recombinant microbial host organisms will yield tailor-made cellular factories.
Professor Jaakko Lehtinen
Professor Jan Deska