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Four FSE researchers receive NWO XS grant for bold research

18 November 2022

Four researchers of the Faculty of Science and Engineering have received an ENW-XS grant from the Dutch Research Council (NWO): Dr. Paula Dalcin Martins ( GELIFES ), prof. dr. Peter Deuss ( ENTEG ), Dr. Andrea Giuntoli ( Zernike Institute ), and Dr. Riccardo Iacovelli ( GRIP ). ENW-XS grants are awarded to encourage curiosity-driven and bold research involving a quick analysis of a promising idea. The grant consists of EUR 50,000.

Last April and July (2022), four and two other researchers at our STEM faculty received an ENW-XS grant.

Using a virus-host system to unravel viral impacts on soil carbon cycling

Dr. Paula Dalcin Martins | Groningen Institute for Evolutionary Life Sciences (GELIFES)
Viruses are the most abundant biological entities on Earth. However, soil viruses are barely investigated, and viral impacts in soils are vastly unquantified. Here, using a novel approach, I propose to experimentally quantify for the first time to what extent soil viruses modulate carbon cycling, including carbon dioxide emissions, by attacking their bacterial host. Results from this project will contribute to the refinement of soil carbon models and reveal if viruses have potential for exploitation in novel biotechnological applications to control soil greenhouse gas emissions and retain soil carbon.

Lignin to nutraceuticals: Tuning biological factories to convert cheap renewable carbon from plant waste

Prof. dr. P.J. (Peter) Deuss | Engineering and Technology institute Groningen (ENTEG)
Bio-refineries can produce energy, fuels, and chemicals from plant waste. They hold one of the keys to diminish our dependence on fossil resources and help establish the future circular society. But nowadays new bio-refining initiatives are heavily reliant on subsidies. To make them more economically competitive, they must generate new products of greater market price. Herein, we propose a high-risk, high-gain strategy to enable the production of very valuable nutraceuticals using fungal factories from thermally-treated forestry residues. Polyunsaturated fatty acids are our target, which are important dietary components included in delicate products like baby formulae.

Vibrational Healing: A New Strategy to Design Self-healing Materials

Dr. A. (Andrea) Giuntoli | Zernike Institute for Advanced Materials
Even the simplest self-healing materials require high mobility at the molecular scale to repair damage over time. It is easy to design self-healing liquid-like materials (like gels), but much harder for solids (like glasses) where molecules barely move. The mechanical deformation of a hard material is traditionally associated with the propagation of damage, but our preliminary nanoscale simulations show that for certain frequencies and intensity, deformations promote mobility at the molecular scale, thus facilitating the healing process. We aim to prove that this mechanism can be scaled up to the macroscale, enabling the design of new self-healing hard materials.

Riccardo Iacovelli
Riccardo Iacovelli
Superfood mushrooms: just delicacies or also a valuable source of anti-Alzheimer’s medicines?

Dr. R. (Riccardo) Iacovelli | Groningen Research Institute of Pharmacy (GRIP)
About 50 million people worldwide have Alzheimer’s disease. Currently, we only have symptomatic treatments against it, therefore we need to develop new medicines to prevent and even cure this disease. Fungi are an exceptional source of new pharmaceutical drugs. One fungus in particular produces small amounts of molecules with confirmed anti-Alzheimer’s and anti-ageing properties. With this project we want to engineer the biosynthesis of such molecules so that we can produce them on a large scale. This will also enable us to develop more potent variants to treat Alzheimer’s.

More about ENW-XS grants

Last modified:01 December 2023 2.06 p.m.
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