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Popular stories

The movies on these pages give an impression of current and former research projects within the institute and their societal impact.

Popular book on the life of a spoonbill called Sinagote

April 2021 - In April, Theunis Piersma, Petra de Goeij and co-workers from Staatsbosbeheer and University of Amsterdam published a labour-of-love book describing the life and friends of a spoonbill born on Vlieland in 2006. She was tagged with a UvA-BiTS tracker when breeding on Schiermonnikoog in 2013 (as part of the Waddenfonds funded Metawad project, 2011-2016), and returned as a breeder to her colony of birth in 2014. Her winter destination has always been Séné in southern Brittany, and this gave her the Breton name ‘Sinagote’, ‘girl from Séné’. The illustrated narrative brings Sinagote and other spoonbills as close to the readers as possible.

Lazy sportspeople and how to exercise more consciously

October 2019 - Professor of Neuroendocrinology Anton Scheurink studies the interactions between the brain and hormones. One of his areas of interest is the principle behind NEAT: ‘non-exercise activity thermogenesis’, or subconscious exercise during everyday activities such as climbing the stairs, biking to work and cleaning.

TEDx talk Robbert Havekes

November 2018 - Sleep deprivation is a common problem in our modern 24/7 society due to social and economic demands. Loss of sleep negatively impacts the brain and particularly affects cognitive processes that require a brain region called the hippocampus. In this talk, Robbert Havekes will describe some of the mechanisms that go awry in the sleep-deprived brain and how they were able to make memory processes resilient to sleep deprivation. Robbert is assistant professor at the University of Groningen. His research on the effects of sleep deprivation has been noticed and appreciated throughout the world. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community.

Opening of the academic year 2018-2019

September 2018 - During the ceremony in Martinikerk, there was a unique interpretation of the theme of sustainability: a one-off performance of 'Sentinel birds - The Sound and Science of Bird Migration' specially for the opening of the Academic Year. This brought together the impassioned story of Professor of Global Flyway Ecology Theunis Piersma and the soaring music of composer and percussionist Sytze Pruiksma. ‘The birds in my two hands possess greater knowledge and insight than all of us here united in this church’, said Piersma in his presentation. He believes that birds have been warning us about rapid climate change for a long time already and that they could even offer us solutions.

Seal rehabilitation

July 2017 - Research by Seal Centre Pieterburen biologists Beatriz Rapado Tamarit and Marga Mendez Arostegui under the supervision of Ton Groothuis, professor of behavioural biology of the University of Groningen, yields some remarkable results and gives a new insight into the bond between mothers and pups of common seals (Phoca vitulina). Among others, the researchers have found that pups suckle from different mothers and that they are left alone for hours. This has strong implications for the current seal rehabilitation policy in the Netherlands.

Fascinating stories

October 2016 - Biology is full of fascinating stories. Researchers from the Groningen Institute for Evolutionary Life Sciences (GELIFES) at the University of Groningen have told their stories to nature journalist and writer Monica Wesseling, who has collected their research results in the book Waarom spreeuwen bloemen plukken en trillende muizen slimmer zijn (Why starlings pick flowers and trembling mice are smarter). The book has been released on Tuesday 4 October by Kosmos Publishers.

Left or right?

March 2015 - Left-handers are supposed to be more creative than right-handers. But is this true? Large-scale public research by University of Groningen scientists Prof. Ton Groothuis, Dr Reint Geuze and PhD student Nele Zickert in collaboration with Science Weekend hopes to resolve the issue. 25,000 people have already completed an online test and completed dexterity exercises. What is remarkable is that twice as many lefties as right-handers and many more women took part. So we’re on the hunt for right-handed men! If you’d like to give us a hand, go to

Anorexia as an addiction

February 2013 - Neurobiologist Anton Scheurink is researching the role of the brain in anorexia nervosa together with colleagues from Sweden. During the Kenniscafé Eten als Vijand (Food is the enemy) organized by Studium Generale, he talked about the alternative and successful treatment method of the Swedish Mandometer Clinic. His message: anorexia nervosa is an addiction, and needs to be treated as such. The most important thing is to teach patients how to eat in a different way.

Last modified:17 May 2024 4.10 p.m.
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