Sheffield's Marie Skłodowska-Curie successes

The Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions (MSCA) support research training and career development through a variety of schemes. At its heart though, the programme is all about promoting the geographic and cross-sectoral mobility of researchers to ensure that the next generation of European researchers are equipped to succeed in the global research environment and marketplace. The MSCA grants cover all stages of the research career spectrum, from PhD candidates through to experienced researchers, developing not only research expertise but also inter sectoral skills and entrepreneurship through the involvement of industry and other non-academic institutions.

MSCA Infographic 400


The University of Sheffield is part of 114 different Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions, thereof 37 Initial Training Networks (ITN) and 57 Individual Fellowships.



Some of our recently awarded Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowships



Luisa Cutillo

This EU funding gave us the chance to access mobility. This is the key of everything. Mobility opens the gates and boost careers more than any other support. Mobility gave me and my host, Professor Neil Lawrence, the possibility to work together and carefully plan, all the steps of our project. Mobility funds gave me the possibility to interact with world leading experts of Machine Learning and Bioinformatics, building a Network of new collaborations between the University of Sheffield and other facility and labs within UK and Europe, and consolidating existing ones. This fellowship is indeed a unique powerful driver to access high quality research, facility and labs. It represents a precious opportunity to enlarge our professional networks and to improve interdisciplinary skills.

Luisa Cutillo, Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellow

Name of Fellow: Luisa Cutillo
Type of Award: Individual Fellowship
Duration: 2015-2017
Title of Project: CONTESSA - COuNt data TimE SerieS Analysis: significance tests and sequencing data application


What is the project about?

The aim of this project is to develop methods for analysis of time-series based on count data. For example, detecting significant differences between two count data time series would distinguish between two different models: one in which the two time series are interchangeable, and one in which the second sample is a modification of the first, i.e. the two time series are non-interchangeable. This will broaden the target of the project to general analysis of count time-series data such as clustering, classification, perturbations inference and machine learning over sequential count data. The project will focus on count data sets from ribonucleic acid sequencing (RNA-seq) time course experiments. The method has promising applications in a variety of multidisciplinary fields where event-counting is required, such as economics and biology. In economics, examples include the number of applicants for a job, or the number of labour strikes during a year. In biology, recent examples include high-throughput sequencing, such as RNA-seq and chromatin immunoprecipitation sequencing (ChIP-seq) analyses. This project will also have a real impact in finding better treatments for patients with neurodegenerative diseases including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease. These examples are especially relevant to this project because the method enables various features of organisms to be compared through tag counts.

Luisa's tips for a Marie Sklodowska Curie Fellowship

Mariona Segura Noguera


The Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowship provided me an exceptional platform to return to science after a career break for maternity. It is a very comprehensive program to train independent scientists, which takes into account both the quality of the research proposed, and the professional development of the fellows. I feel very grateful for this privileged opportunity.

Dr Mariona Segura-Noguera, Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellow


Name of Fellow: Dr Mariona Segura-Noguera
Type of Award: Individual Fellowship
Duration: 2015-2017
Title of Project: EQUIP - Elemental quota in marine phytoplankton for effective carbon sequestration, clean energy and biogeochemical modelling


What is the project about?

My research is focused in understanding the relationship between the distribution of nutrients in the sea and the elemental composition of phytoplankton. I use energy-dispersive X-ray microanalysis (EDS, EDX or XRMA) to study the elemental composition at a single-cell level. I joined the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering funded with a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship, to advance in the study of the third generation of biofuels, studying nutrient allocation in marine phytoplankton, including diatoms, dinoflagellates and coccolitophorids. In the sea, these three groups of phytoplankton have a leading role in primary production (i.e. carbon fixation), and are main contributors of organic matter export to the deep ocean (i.e. carbon sequestration).

Ben Wielstra

The sheer vastness of the genome of many fascinating study systems hampers obtaining genome scale data. The GENOMIC FOOTPRINT project will facilitate me to master a state-of-the-art technique with which I can obtain truly genome scale data for a large number of individuals. This will take my research to the next level.

Dr Ben Wielstra, Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellow


Name of Fellow: Dr Ben Wielstra
Type of Award: Individual Fellowship – Global Fellowship (outgoing host- University of California, Los Angeles)
Duration: 2016-2019
Title of Project: GENOMIC FOOTPRINT - Does a Moving Hybrid Zone Leave a Genomic Footprint?


What is the project about?

Species are the currency of biodiversity. However, during the early stages of their evolution, species are difficult to delineate, as barriers to gene flow are not yet complete. Range expansions and contractions exaggerate the reshuffling of the genomes of hybridizing species. The key objective of this project is to experimentally test the theoretical prediction that, under hybrid zone movement, genes derived from a displaced species are left behind in the genome of an invading species, leaving a ‘genomic footprint’. I will fill an empirical void by, for the first time, testing this critical hypothesis in the wild, using genome-scale data. I have established a study system (the newt genus Triturus) that is particularly appropriate because it shows strong evidence in support of hybrid zone movement over considerable time and distance. To obtain genome-wide data, I will be trained in the cutting-edge genomic technique of target enrichment through sequence capture during the outgoing phase at the lab of Prof. Shaffer at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). To transfer this important new piece of knowledge back to Europe, I will implement target enrichment through sequence capture during the return phase at the beneficiary, the University of Sheffield (USFD). At USFD the group of Prof. Butlin has unmatched expertise in hybridization/speciation research and excels in the analytical approaches required to uncover a genomic footprint. Human activities have intensified hybridization and I propose a secondment to work together with conservationists and legislators to tackle the insidious conservation problem of genetic pollution by exotic species.