The ICREAs

ICREA Research Professors form a vibrant community of scientists and researchers in all areas of knowledge that contribute to the advancement of humankind by exploring, interpreting and questioning. Have a look and learn about their amazing discoveries and findings here:

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    David Block
    Block Allen, David M.
    Research Professor at
    Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF)
    Humanities
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    Research interests

    Over the past ten years I have focused primarily on the dominant form of capitalism in the early 21st century (AKA neoliberalism) and the inequality and class warfare it has wrought. My most recent work examines four different aspects of contemporary society: (1) ‘post-truth’ and related concepts and the critical analysis of discourses in the hyper-mediatised, toxic-informational environment in which we live; (2) the internationalization and Englishization of higher education worldwide as part of the broader neoliberalization of societies; (3) new ways of framing discussions of the construct ‘identity’ in the early 21stcentury (e.g. incorporating historical materialism and Marxist humanism); and (4) the roots and routes of intersectionality, via memoirs, biographies and other accounts of African American history and sociology and, in particular, Black feminism. I am co-editor, with Deborah Cameron, of Globalization and Language Teaching (Routledge, 2002) and with Sarah Khan, of The Secret Life of English-medium Instruction (Routledge, 2021). I am co-author, with John Gray and Marnie Holborow, of Neoliberalism and Applied Linguistics (Routledge, 2012). I am sole author of The Social Turn in Second Language Acquisition (Edinburgh University Press, 2003); Multilingual Identities in a Global City: London Stories (Palgrave, 2006); Second Language Identities (Continuum, 2007; re-issued in 2014 as a ‘Bloomsbury Classic in Linguistics’); Social Class and Applied Linguistics (Routledge, 2014), Political Economy and Sociolinguistics: Neoliberalism, Inequality and Social class (Bloomsbury, 2018; shortlisted for the 2019 BAAL Book Prize) and Post-Truth and Political Discourse (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019). I am currently writing a book entitled Innovations and Challenges in Identity Research (Routledge, 2021). 

    Key words

    political economy, social class, identity, globalization, migration, ethnography

    ORCID

    : orcid.org/0000-0003-0783-3083
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    Cedrick Boeckx
    Boeckx, Cedric
    Research Professor at
    Universitat de Barcelona (UB)
    Humanities
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    Research interests

    My current research focuses on developing new ways to shed light on the neurobiological foundations of the human language faculty. My graduate training and early career were in theoretical linguistics, but my more recent work has a more explicit biological, and experimental orientation. My current projects are all intended to facilitate integration among disciplines (linguistics, neuroscience, evolutionary biology, and genetics), and lead to better experimental testing of theoretical hypotheses, as well as to more solid interpretations of experimental findings. I also seek to exploit the full pluralism characteristic of the life sciences to force a rethinking of long-held assumptions in theoretical linguistics and other domains of cognitive science.  

    Key words

    cognitive biology, theoretical and comparative linguistics, cognitive sciences, ethology

    ORCID

    : 0000-0001-8882-9718

    RESEARCHER ID

    : F-4781-2016
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    Gemma Boleda
    Boleda Torrent, Gemma
    Research Professor at
    Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF)
    Engineering Sciences
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    Research interests

    I want to understand how language works; in particular, how humans convey meaning through language. I address this research question with an approach that I call "Data Science for Linguistics", integrating methodologies from Linguistics and Artificial Intelligence.

    The focus of my research are the mechanisms by which people put together generic information stored in our linguistic system (such as the lexicon or the grammar) with information coming from the specific situations speakers are in when they use language. For instance, given a picture of a chihuahua seen from quite afar, in a park, next to its owner, do people use "chihuahua", or "dog", or yet some other word? To understand this behavior, my team and me carry out statistical modeling and computational experiments, often using Machine Learning techniques. Our approach requires large amounts of data, and part of our work involves gathering linguistic data on a large scale.

    Key words

    Linguistics; Computational Linguistics; Natural Language Processing; computational semantics; semantic theory; distributional semantics; neural networks; deep learning; reference; concepts; lexicon

    ORCID

    : http://orcid.org/0000-0001-6140-7080
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    Luca Bonatti
    Bonatti, Luca
    Research Professor at
    Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF)
    Social & Behavioural Sciences
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    Research interests

    I am fascinated by thinking, by the very fact that we conceive structured states of mind that can be true or false, that can be imaginary or real. I am fascinated by how pervasively thinking populates our mental life. We reason when we read, or when we speak, but also when we walk around, or when we dream. Indeed, thinking is at the roots of the unique cognitive place humans have in the animal kingdom. I investigate its early structure, finding ways to describe the potential primitives of the scaffoldings supporting the combinatorial structure of human thought. I try to reveal bits and pieces of the representations underlying our abilities to come to conclusions, to form expectations, or to find what happens next. When time allows, I also work on how infants and adults find linguistic structure in speech, and how we can pack so much conceptual information inside those tiny and odd bits of sounds that we call words.

    Key words

    Language acquisition, Cognition, Infant cognition, Probabilistic Reasoning, Deductive Reasoning
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    Christian Brander
    Brander, Christian
    Research Professor at
    Institut de Recerca de la Sida - IrsiCaixa (IrsiCaixa)
    Life & Medical Sciences
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    Research interests

    Our group aims to understand the cellular immunity to viral infections. Using complementary sets of immune analyses and integrated -omics approaches, we seek to identify functional correlates of virus control and to explore their underlying cellular and molecular mechanisms. We combine cellular assays and methylome, communicome and transcriptomics analyses to assess to what degree and at what stages of different viral infections the effector function profiles of virus-specific T cells are epigenetically controlled. We also pay special attention to the effect of viral infections on neurological function.

    Key words

    HIV, cellular immunity, host genetics, viral evolution, viral immunity in solid organ transplantation, neuro HIV

    ORCID

    : 0000-0002-0548-5778
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    Stefan Bromley
    Bromley, Stefan T.
    Research Professor at
    Universitat de Barcelona (UB)
    Engineering Sciences
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    Research interests

    With the constant technological drive for device miniaturisation, materials are increasingly being used at scales of only a few 100s or 1000s of atoms (i.e. the nanoscale). Such nanomaterials display novel size-dependent properties compared to materials at everyday length scales. Employing classical atomistic and quantum chemical modelling methods implemented on powerful supercomputers, we aim to provide a detailed predictive understanding of the structural, electronic and chemical properties of nanomaterials. We focus on how nanomaterials evolve with size, and designing new materials from nanoscale building blocks. Our research follows three main themes: (i) inorganic nanoclusters and nanostructured materials for energy applications (e.g TiO2, ZnO, CeO2), (ii) nucleation and properties of astronomically important nanomaterials (e.g. TiC, silicates), and (iii) design and understanding of low-dimensional materials for electronics/spintronics using organic molecular building blocks .

    Key words

    Nanoclusters, Computational Modelling, Nanostructured Materials

    ORCID

    : 0000-0002-7037-0475

    RESEARCHER ID

    : A-2481-2009