Basic research and transdisciplinary studies
At the SNS basic research is prevalently carried out, fundamental research spanning the nine historical disciplines that are studied at the SNS – Mathematics and Computer Science; Physics; Chemistry and Geology; Biological Sciences (for the Faculty of Sciences); Philosophy; Modern Literature and Philology, Linguistics; Ancient History and Classical Philology; History of Art and Archaeology; History and Palaeography (for the Faculty of Letters and Philosophy) – to which have been added Political and Social Sciences, for the Faculty of the same name.
Researchers and undergraduate and PhD students also find support and tools at the research centres and laboratories, environments in which studies are undertaken that cross disciplinary borders.
The Ennio De Giorgi Centre of Mathematical Research develops new ideas and research in particular areas of Mathematics and its applications to the natural and social sciences and to the industrial and technological field, favouring mobility and the reception of scientists from Italy and abroad.
The “Carlo Azeglio Ciampi Institute for Advanced Studies” inter-faculty research centre promotes transdisciplinary research in international environments supporting the activity of the Faculties.
The Laboratorio di Biologia-Bio@sns has the aim of studying the brain and its mechanisms of functioning during development, adulthood and ageing in physiological and pathological conditions.
The NEST-National Enterprise for nanoScience and nanoTechnology Laboratory undertakes the study of matter on a nanoscale, its research contributing to the development of new nanobiotechnological systems, and nano-electronic and photonic devices and architectures.
The SMART-Strategie Multidisciplinari Applicate alla Ricerca e alla Tecnologia (Multidisciplinary Strategies Applied to Research and Technology) Laboratory is mainly geared towards studies in the field of Theoretical Computational Chemistry, although it is also occupied with the activities of the DreamsLab, a research group that utilises immersive systems of virtual reality for the visualisation of – and interaction with – differing types of data (including molecular systems, also of large dimensions, archaeological reconstructions and reproductions of black holes).
The SAET-History, Archaeology, Epigraphy and Ancient Tradition Laboratory offers support – partly through the development of electronic resources for the analysis of ancient texts and other tools of scientific dissemination – to Humanities research in the sectors of History (Greek and Roman), Epigraphy, the History of Art and archaeological research from the archaic period to late antiquity.
The DocStAr-Documentazione Storico-Artistica (Historical-Artistic Documentation) Laboratory promotes research in the historical and artistic field, from classical antiquity to the contemporary age, covering a vast range of themes and methodologies, ranging from non-invasive investigations into individual works to the creation of computer archives relating to graphic and photographic collections, and epistolary and printed sources.
In addition to the centres and laboratories, at the SNS numerous research groups are active in the disciplines of the Humanities, Sciences and Political and Social Sciences.
To all this are added the structures that the SNS has available for the support of teaching and research activities: the library, which hosts over a million volumes, and is one of the richest open shelf book collections in Europe; the Archives Centre, which houses documents and materials of the history of the SNS and precious collections acquired thanks to donations, deposits and carefully considered acquisitions; the Edizioni della Normale, which publish international studies, and experiment with new forms of online publishing; the High Performance Computing Centre, which provides technological and instrumental support for the carrying out of scientific calculation on high-performance architectures, webservices, data bases and web pages for the Humanities.
The transfer of knowledge
In order to nurture the dissemination of the results of research, the SNS adopts co-ordinated strategies that promote the transfer of knowledge extensively and over a vast range:
* It adheres to the principles of Open Science, guaranteeing open access to the results of scientific production obtained by means of public funding: the regulations regarding open access to scientific literature require the filing of the products of research in the institutional archive; the certified joint open archive is constantly implemented. In order to further and disseminate within its community the culture and principles of Open Science, the SNS also organises periodical educational meetings on the themes of Open Science designed for researchers, technicians and students.
* It manages the tutelage, enhancement and technology transfer of the results obtained from scientific activities developed within groups, laboratories, centres and research projects. In particular, it offers support for the identification, tutelage and management of the intellectual property for licensing activities, the creation of spin-off and start-up companies and the promotion and dissemination of the results of research, also through participation in events and fairs at regional, national and international level.
* It takes systematic care of the Placement and outgoing orientation activities, in order to facilitate and improve the matching of demand and supply of opportunities. It offers consultation and professional orientation to students; it promotes selected opportunities for placement within the institutional, work and professional worlds; it organises curricular and extracurricular internships and specific projects targeting gifted students; it incentivises the relations with Alumni, arranging meetings, presentations and initiatives that enhance the heritage of knowledge and experience for the support to the career choices of students and alumni; it organises company presentations and initiatives in collaboration with organisations and institutions, aimed at the training and the placing of students in the professional world.
* It historically promotes initiatives of social and cultural impact perfected and extended over time and in changing social and communicative contexts: the recovery and sharing of its historical-artistic, archaeological and printed heritage, further education and Public Engagement activities. The Concerti della Normale, the university orientation courses, the training courses for teachers in collaboration with the Accademia dei Lincei, the public readings, the online lectures for upper secondary schools and the conferences open to the public are only a few examples of the dissemination of knowledge carried out by the SNS.
A recognised excellence
The value of the basic research carried out at the SNS is recognised at a national level, as witness the results of the VQR (Valutazione della Qualità della Ricerca, the Research Quality Assessments), the assigning of ministerial funding to the Faculty of Letters and Philosophy and the Faculty of Sciences within the “Dipartimenti di Eccellenza” (“Departments of Excellence”) initiative, and the numerous projects funded at national level by the Ministry and by organisations and companies. But the high level of the research carried out at the SNS is also awarded international recognition via the European funding for projects and in the data relating to the world assessment rankings.
Despite the fact that there are just over a hundred researchers at the SNS, it has around 200 ongoing projects, almost half of which are funded by external Italian and European organisations, both public and private.