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Nine UG researchers win Vidi grants

01 June 2018

NWO has awarded an EUR 800,000 Vidi grant each to 86 experienced researchers. A respectable nine of these conduct their research at four different faculties at the University of Groningen (UG). The grant will enable the four female and five male researchers to set up their own novel research lines and even a research group.

The Vidi grants are awarded annually by NWO. Six UG researchers received a Vidi grant in 2017. This year’s nine Vidi laureates are: Dr Luis M. Valente, Dr Romana S. Schirhagl, Dr Pratika Dayal, Dr Andreas Milias-Argeitis, Dr Shirin S. Faraji, Dr Jorge A. Pérez Parra, Dr Merel C.J. Keijzer, Dr Don van Ravenzwaaij and Dr Tjisse van der Heide. They will research topics ranging from Poisson geometry, dark matter, protein production in cells, magnetic resonance, biodiversity on islands and learning foreign languages to Wadden coast ecosystems. Rector Magnificus Elmer Sterken is very proud and congratulates the researchers with the Vidi grant that enables them to conduct five years of research.

Dr Pratika Dayal, UG – Faculty of Science and Engineering (Kapteyn Astronomical Institute): Shedding light on the dark side of the universe

How did the first galaxies form and how did the cosmic dark ages end? What is the mysterious dark matter that makes up 80% of all matter in the universe? Combining theory and observations in novel ways, this project aims to shed light on these two important problems.

Dr Shirin Faraji, UG Faculty of Science and Engineering (Zernike Institute for Advanced Materials): Watching chemistry happen with a light

Crucial processes in nature, such as photosynthesis and vitamin D production, depend on molecules reacting to light, with atoms moving very fast inside molecules. Theoreticians use equations and computers to simulate, manipulate and design such movements to develop novel materials for optogenetics and solar cells.

Dr Tjisse van der Heide, NIOZ/UG – Faculty of Science and Engineering: Small steps, giant leaps: building coastal landscapes with spatially organizing plants

Worldwide vegetated coastal ecosystems and their services are declining. Reversing this trend is difficult because density-dependent and patch-size-dependant thresholds cause unpredictable losses and hamper establishment/re-establishment. I will investigate how plants organize their shoots to optimize patch formation, and will develop novel management indicators and restoration techniques that use this organizational capacity.

Dr Luis Valente, UG – Faculty of Science and Engineering: Islands: natural laboratories of speciation and extinction

Island life is shaped by two opposing forces: islands often show spectacular species diversification but are also in the frontline of today’s extinction crisis. The DNA of plants and animals from islands worldwide will be used to understand how new species originate and to measure the impact of human-caused extinctions.

Dr Andreas Milias-Argeitis, UG – Faculty of Science and Engineering: How do cells regulate the amount of protein they produce?

TOR is an extremely important protein for health because it dictates when and how much cells grow by stimulating protein production. This project will study how TOR receives information on the number of proteins present and how it in turn regulates protein quantity during the cell division process.

Dr Jorge Pérez Parra, UG – Faculty of Science and Engineering: Unifying correctness for communicating software

Modern life depends on communicating software systems. Developers use many different technologies in their attempts to produce error-free software. Unfortunately, little is known about how these technologies relate to and complement each other. This project will analyze the fundamental connections between these technologies and validate them in practice.

Dr Merel Keijzer, UG – Faculty of Arts: Foreign language learning as a healthy ageing tool

In a world that is rapidly ageing, research into healthy ageing has a high priority. This project will research the effectiveness of foreign language learning for healthy older people and for those with mild cognitive impairment and late-life depression.

Dr Romana Schirhagl, UG – UMCG/Faculty of Medical Sciences:High speed low sample volume electron spin resonance (μESR)

Romana Schirhagl has been awarded a Vidi grant for her project ‘High speed low sample volume electron spin resonance (μESR)’. Magnetic resonance signals reveal molecular structures. However, they are difficult to measure and the equipment required is expensive. Schirhagl proposes a new method that will detect signals from smaller samples faster and with cheaper equipment. This can be used to understand the synthesis of pharmaceuticals or test their quality.

Dr Don van Ravenzwaaij, UG – Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences: Increasing the reliability of biomedical research

Biomedical science is currently at a stage at which many scientific findings cannot be successfully reproduced. How can we be sure that the medicines we buy will work? This project involves developing tools that are better at evaluating statistical evidence, which will increase the reliability of medicines on the market.

In this Vidi round, 571 researchers submitted an admissible research proposal, and 86 will receive funding. This amounts to 15% of the submissions. The names of all the laureates and brief summaries of their research projects can be found in an online overview of awards for 2018 (in Dutch and English).

Research

Innovational Research Incentives Scheme

Vidi is aimed at researchers who have several years of research experience after their PhD. Alongside the Veni and Vici grants, Vidi is part of NWO’s Innovational Research Incentives Scheme. Researchers are free to submit their own funding proposal within the scheme, which thus encourages curiosity-driven innovative research. NWO selects researchers on the basis of their quality, how innovative the research is, the expected scientific impact and the possible applications of the knowledge.

Last modified:11 July 2018 10.28 a.m.
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