The Italian Ministry of Education, Universities and Research has assigned funds to the FIRB (Funds for Investment in Fundamental Research) 'Future in Research' project selecting three researchers from the University of Pisa as Italian project co-ordinators and another three as local unit heads. The winners selected to guide national level research are Christian Frasconi from the Department of Agricultural, Food and Agricultural-Environmental Sciences who won a total of 1,464,608 Euros for his project, Paola Binda of the Translational Research and Novel Technologies department in Medicine and Surgical Medicine who won 782,141 Euros and Laura Galli from the Information Technology Department with 244,121 Euros.

Pisa University reports that Frasconi will co-ordinate the Integration and Comparison between Variously 'Ecologically Intense' Innovative Means and Technical Pathways project which focuses on the intelligent management of conservative agricultural systems. This is an inter-disciplinary research project aimed at making integration between conservative and integrated/organic cultivation systems in diverse scenarios possible by means of the development of innovative agricultural machines and strategies which allow for the application of reduced working techniques even in the absence of synthetic chemicals. 5 research units will work on this project: the Department of Agricultural, Food and Agricultural-Environmental Sciences, the Sant'Anna Pisa High School Institute of Life Sciences, Perugia University's Department of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Bologna University's Department of Agricultural Sciences and the Reggio Calabria Mediterranean University's Department of Agriculture. Innovative machine prototypes considered indispensable for the implementation of high energy efficiency conservative cultivation systems will be made.

Paola Bindi, on the other hand, will lead the Codification of the Multi-Modal Space of the First Visual Maps research project aimed at studying the cerebral mechanisms whose function is to codify visual sensory stimuli. The project's primary aim is to establish whether and to what extent the adult brain maintains its ability to reorganise in a plastic way by means of neuroimaging and behavioural studies on healthy subjects and those with visual system pathologies with the help of computerised models. The research involved in this project is of fundamental importance in basic neuroscience and may have a great impact in the clinical context. The other research units involved are Florence University, the CNR Neuro Science Institute and the San Raffaele Hospital and University.

Lastly, Laura Galli will be responsible for the Mixed-Integer Non-Linear Programming (MINLP): Modelling and Resolution of Complex Optimisation Problems project. Her project aims to explore a range of MINLP problem classes, the 'new frontier' of Operational Research. Operational Research, as Pisa University explained, is a discipline devoted to the resolution of 'complex' decision-making issues which is strongly multi-disciplinary acting as an interface between IT, mathematics, engineering, economics, physics, chemistry and many other disciplines. MINLP problems are of strongly practical interest because they are linked to the opportunity to model complex structures which are closer to actual application challenges and will be analysed with a combined theoretical/methodological approach in which innovative technical solutions will be developed for wide-ranging MINLP problem classes with a strong applications component in which real problems will be dealt with (particularly telecommunications networks, public transport and health related issues).

The local unit heads selected are Maurizio Gemelli of the Department of Earth Sciences who will manage a fund worth 263,923 Euros, Pietro Antonio Podolak of the Department of Philology, Literature and Linguistics who will have 275,114 Euros and Michele Corradi, once again at the Department of Philology, Literature and Linguistics with 103,994 Euros.