Three scientists at the Faculty of Science and Engineering (formerly known as the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences), University of Groningen, will each receive EUR 1.5 million to do research in the coming five years. They have been awarded Vici grants as part of NWO’s Innovational Research Incentives Scheme (‘Vernieuwingsimpuls’). NWO, the
Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research,
has awarded 32 grants, fifteen percent of the total number of applicants. A Vici grant is intended for groundbreaking researchers and one of the largest personal academic grants awarded in the Netherlands.
This year there were 215 initial applicants for a Vici grant. The grant enables researchers to set up their own research groups over a period of five years. Three researchers at the Groningen Faculty of Science and Engineering have been awarded a Vici:
Harvesting the sun... safely
Prof. R.G.M. (Roberta) Croce
(f), 28-08-1968, Turin (Italy), University of Groningen
The research focuses on the mechanisms plants use to protect themselves from damage from light while still utilizing photosynthesis. The complex system of the photosynthetic membrane is still far from having been completely unravelled, while the molecular mechanisms are also not yet fully understood. The goal of the project is to figure out the involved mechanisms using an integrated biological and physical approach.
The DNA copying machine examined
Prof. A.M. (Antoine) van Oijen
(m), 06-05-1972, Drunen, University of Groningen – Single Molecule Biophysics
Every organism must duplicate its DNA during cell division. This complex process is conducted by a great many proteins that unravel the DNA and make two identical copies of it. The research aims to develop new microscopy techniques in order to understand how the various proteins collaborate.
The End of Darkness: How the Universe Ionized its Gas
Prof. S. (Saleem) Zaroubi
(m), 14-10-1963, Nazareth (Israel), University of Groningen – Kapteyn Institute
About 400 million years after the Big Bang the Universe started forming its first stars and galaxies. Radiation from these objects transformed completely ionized cosmic gas. This project aims at detecting and understanding this process using the LOFAR radio telescope.
Saleem Zaroubi: "In the last few decades astronomers have been making great strides in the exploration and understanding of our Universe. Despite all the progress we have made, the Universe's history during its first billion years, one of the holy grails of modern astronomy, has remained unexplored. During this era, the first stars and galaxies have formed, shaping everything that we see around us today. To explore this illusive era both observationally and theoretically, new and powerful telescopes are rapidly coming online world-wide.
Among the most exiting and sophisticated such telescopes is the new Dutch-lead LOFAR radio telescope, currently being rolled out in the Netherlands and over Europe. One of LOFAR's main goals is the detection of hydrogen gas in the early Universe and explorations of how radiation emitted by the first stars, galaxies, and quasars have transformed it from neural to ionized."
The NWO’s Innovational Research Incentives Scheme
The Vici grants are one of three types of grants within the Innovational Research Incentives Scheme known as ‘Vernieuwingsimpuls’. The other two types are the Veni grants (for recent PhD graduates) and the Vidi grants (for experienced postdocs). The Innovational Research Incentives Scheme was set up in cooperation with the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, the KNAW and the universities.
The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) is the national science financier and aims to stimulate excellent Dutch scientific research via national competition. NWO spends EUR 700 million every year on top researchers and top research, innovative instruments and equipment, and on institutes where top research is conducted. The peer review is done by independent experts.
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