Francesca Bellini, a member of the ALICE Collaboration, was selected as one of the recipients of the prestigious ERC Starting Grants assigned by the European Research Council in 2020 .
Francesca got her Master Degree and her PhD at Bologna University and she was then affiliated with INFN Bologna until 2017, while holding post-doc grants at Bologna University. In 2017-2020 she is Research fellow at CERN and, thanks to a Marie Sklodowska-Curie Fellowship, she was host at Bologna University for six months, working with ALICE-TOF group.
She started her career within ALICE, working on the development of the Quality Assurance procedures for the time-of-flight (TOF) detector, which is under Bologna INFN responsibility.
She then played a key role on several measurements related to the production of light flavours and hadronic resonances in the different collision systems tested at the LHC: proton-proton, proton-nucleus and nucleus-nucleus. She served in different coordinating roles for physics analyses in the Collaboration, including as convener of the Physics Working Group “Light flavor”.
During last years Francesca moved her research interests to the the study of the mechanisms driving the formation of light nuclei and anti-nuclei in high energy collisions. Thanks to the grant of approximately 1.4 milion of Euro coming from this ERC Starting Grant, Francesca will now have the possibility to lead a new research group for five years in the project CosmicAntiNuclei (submitted in collaboration with the Technical University of Munich). The project will exploit data gathered from ALICE during LHC Run 3. Its main goal is to clarify the mechanisms of nuclear cluster formation, thanks to high precision measurements of anti-Helium. This research is expected to have important applications for the study of cosmic rays and the search for dark matter.
The ERC assigned 436 ERC Starting Grants across the whole Europe following an extremely high-competition process (3272 applications were submitted).
By country, Italy is second among winners of the grants and Francesca Bellini is one of 53 Italian winners.