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News overview 2016


The origins of abiotic species
Posted on:04 January 2016

University of Groningen chemistry professor Sijbren Otto studies ‘chemical evolution’ to see if self-organization and autocatalysis will provide the answer. His research group previously developed self-replicating molecules – molecules that can make copies of themselves – and have now observed diversification in replicator mutants. This means that ecological diversity as encountered in biology may well have its roots at the molecular level. The results were published on 4 January in Nature Chemistry.

Failed experiment ends up in Nature
Posted on:07 January 2016

Three trips to Greenland resulted only in disappointment for climate researcher Harro Meijer from the University of Groningen Centre for Isotope Research. A few years later, however, the data from this failed field experiment on the ice cap suddenly proved extremely useful, and Meijer ended up contributing to a study that was published in Nature Climate Change on 4 January.

More light under the microscope
Posted on:11 January 2016

University of Groningen scientists have come up with an improved method to apply fluorescent labels in microscopy studies. They have linked a protective ‘stabilizer’ to the fluorophore resulting in increased and longer emission. Their results were published on 11 January in the journal Nature Communications.

Visit 'RE: charge' during Eurosonic/Noorderslag
Posted on:14 January 2016

Science LinX presents RE: charge at Eurosonic/Noorderslag

Festival-goers fully recharged at RE:charge expo
Posted on:19 January 2016

During Eurosonic/Noorderslag, festival-goers had the opportunity to touch and interact with innovations in sustainability in SummerLabb. Science LinX was part of this festival-lab with a preview of the new exhibition on energy transition RE:charge.

Parkinson’s patients can breathe a sigh of relief
Posted on:20 January 2016

Researchers from the Department of Pharmaceutical Technology and Biopharmacy and the Martini Hospital are developing a drug preparation that can be inhaled. Patients suffering from what is known as an ‘off-period’ (cramps throughout body) are expected to recover much faster with this innovation.


Come and watch FameLab
Posted on:02 February 2016

Come and watch the Groningen heat of FameLab 2016, on 11 February!

Master’s student reviews ecology and evolution of bacteria and phages
Posted on:02 February 2016

The first year essay written by master student Nancy Obeng became an Opinion article in the journal Trends in Microbiology.

Working at full stretch to recycle rubber
Posted on:03 February 2016

Martin van Duin, research scientist at Lanxess, becomes honorary professor in Rubber products at the University of Groningen.

Controlling a chopping mirror
Posted on:11 February 2016

Astronomer and engineer Robert Huisman designed a vital part for the European Extremely Large Telescope, and got his PhD in the process.

Spin waves and free will win FameLab qualifying round
Posted on:12 February 2016

Report on the Groningen qualifying round of FameLab, the international competition for young scientists who want to explain their work to the general public.

Teachers: learn more about new teaching modules
Posted on:23 February 2016

Science LinX organizes two workshops for teachers to introduce new teaching modules.

Science LinX newsletter March 2016
Posted on:28 February 2016

Science LinX newsletter for March 2016


Science LinX newsletter May 2016
Posted on:28 April 2016

Science LinX newsletter for May 2016

Revolution in membrane transport
Posted on:30 March 2016

University of Groningen scientists are the first to discover the mechanism bacteria use to import vitamins, and in the process they discovered that the textbooks were wrong. The results were published in Nature Communications.

Kraak de code: werk met een Turing Machine!
Posted on:24 March 2016

Scholieren kunnen kennismaken met Informatica en Wiskunde tijdens een speciale middag over het kraken van codes.

Huge crowd at Blaauw Observatory
Posted on:15 March 2016

On Friday and Saturday, March 11th and 12th, a record number of 565 visitors participated in the National Stargazing Days at the Blaauw Observatory of the University of Groningen.

Re-engineering a tiny enzyme
Posted on:08 March 2016

Gerrit Poelarends was looking for an enzyme that would make a key step in the production of important pharmaceuticals greener and much more efficient. It led him to a tiny protein called 4-oxalocrotonate tautomerase. Over a period of five years, he managed to map the possibilities it offers and re-engineer it to perform the required step.

Lofar hears cosmic rays hit
Posted on:03 March 2016

Physicists have used the radio antennas of the Lofar telescope to study high energy cosmic particles. In the journal Nature they report that the origin of these particles lies within the Milky Way.

The meek shall inherit the Earth – as long as it’s crowded
Posted on:01 March 2016

When there is fierce competition for territories, shy-slow birds have an advantage. That's what University of Groningen ecologists found while studying the evolution of personality traits in great tits.


Energy in pictures
Posted on:05 April 2016

Science nowadays isn’t just about producing data: making sense of publicly available ‘Big Data’ can be equally important. Chris Davis from the Energy and Sustainability Research Institute Groningen used some 1.5 million data points describing electricity generation in all US states to assess the likely impact of the new Clean Power Plan, a policy aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions in the US.

New revolutionary technique too good to be true
Posted on:06 April 2016

Dipayan Paul wanted to introduce a new way of measuring the radioactive isotope carbon-14 to Groningen. But he failed to reproduce the results published by an American lab, and could only conclude that the method was wrong. The results can be found his PhD thesis, which he defended on 11 April.

Hybrid perovskites promise cheaper solar panels, better X-ray detectors
Posted on:14 April 2016

You may not have heard of hybrid perovskites, but they could make solar panels much cheaper. They could also make X-ray detectors more efficient, which would mean less radiation in scans. Professor of Photophysics and Optoelectronics Maria Antonietta Loi studies these exciting materials and has just published two papers on them.

Girls’ Day – girl power at the Bernoulliborg
Posted on:19 April 2016

Some 30 girls in their first year at secondary school visited the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences for the annual Girls’ Day, held this year on 14 April. The programme included a lecture on whole-brain synchronization in Tibetan monks, visits to the Science LinX exhibition and the Blaauw Observatory and an opportunity to meet female scientists.

Cool combination produces easier carbon bonds
Posted on:20 April 2016

By combining two century-old techniques in organic chemistry, Syuzanna Harutyunyan is able to make organic compounds with greater ease and precision. Such compounds are important for drug discovery and development. Harutyunyan’s method is described in a paper that is be published by the journal Science on 22 April.

Bachelor’s phase research results in Science publication
Posted on:21 April 2016

In spring 2015, chemistry student Marieke Veenstra did her final Bachelor’s project in organic chemistry. During the three-month project in Syuzanna Harutyunyan’s lab, she tested a new method to produce carbon-carbon bonds. Her work has ended up in a Science article that was published on 23 April.

Profielwerkstukken scoren in Roemenië
Posted on:26 April 2016

De afgelopen week waren vier middelbare scholieren in Roemenië om namens de RUG hun profielwerkstuk te presenteren op de International Conference for Young Scientists. Ze wonnen een gouden, een zilveren en een bronzen medaille.

FameLab: juryprijs voor uitdijing heelal, publieksprijs naar Groningen.
Posted on:26 April 2016

Welke wetenschapper kan het beste zijn onderzoek uitleggen aan het publiek? Daar gaat het om bij FameLab, een internationale wedstrijd waaraan honderden jonge onderzoekers uit meer dan 25 landen aan meedoen.

Betere plastic halfgeleider door verdunning
Posted on:26 April 2016

RUG-promovendus Davood Abbaszadeh heeft met collega’s uit Duitsland een manier gevonden om plastic halfgeleiders efficiënter te maken. Het levert betere led’s op, en mogelijk ook efficiëntere zonnecellen. En dat tegen lagere kosten. Het onderzoek is maandag 25 april gepubliceerd in Nature Materials.

Research days as inspiration for profile assignment
Posted on:28 April 2016

Almost 800 school pupils from 11 different schools attended the University of Groningen research days on 21, 22, 25 and 26 April. They found inspiration for their profile assignment and learned about open and investigative questions.

Science LinX newsletter May 2016
Posted on:28 April 2016

Science LinX newsletter for May 2016

Restoring fish to combat coastal eutrophication
Posted on:29 April 2016

Management measures aimed at restoring commercial stocks of marine fish, for example cod, is an efficient tool to decrease eutrophication effects in coastal areas. This is the main conclusion of a review, published in the Journal of Applied Ecology.


Lezing: onmogelijke micro-organismen
Posted on:10 May 2016

Op dinsdagavond 17 mei zal prof. Mike Jetten ​(Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen) ​een lezing geven bij het Koninklijk Natuurkundig Genootschap te Groningen, over de ontdekking van 'onmogelijke' microorganismen.

The anatomy of flower colour
Posted on:10 May 2016

Roses are red, violets are blue. Everybody knows that, but what makes them so? Although plant breeders were aware of some of the genes involved, there was as yet no quantitative study of how pigment turns a flower red, blue or yellow. Casper van der Kooi conducted just such a study, combining biology and physics.

Young scientists to be trained to analyse Big Data
Posted on:17 May 2016

The University of Groningen will lead a European consortium that will train 14 PhD students to analyse large databases using state-of-the-art computer science. The training programme, called Sundial,will be funded by a EUR 3.7 million grant from the EU Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Training Networks programme.

Cooling graphene with electrons
Posted on:24 May 2016

Transistors are shrinking, but the heat they produce is becoming a problem. One solution could be to cool them with electrons, relying on what is known as the Peltier effect. This works for beer, and Ivan Vera Marun, a physicist at the Universities of Groningen and Manchester, has now shown that it also works on two-dimensional graphene sheets.

Science LinX newsletter June 2016
Posted on:31 May 2016

Science LinX newsletter for June 2016


Science LinX newsletter June 2016
Posted on:30 June 2016

Science LinX newsletter for July 2016

Location is what counts for bacterial genes
Posted on:29 June 2016

Location is what counts: University of Groningen microbiologists Jan-Willem Veening and Jelle Slager describe how gene location influences bacterial processes in a review that was published in Trends in Microbiology on 27 Juni (corrected proofs).

Parkinson protein shape revealed
Posted on:28 June 2016

An international group of scientists has published a model of the ‘Parkinson protein’ LRRK2. University of Groningen biochemist Arjan Kortholt is one of the corresponding authors of the paper which describes the model. It was published on 27 June in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

European Control Award for Ming Cao
Posted on:27 June 2016

University of Groningen engineer Ming Cao receives European Control Award

Knots receive eminent visitor
Posted on:23 June 2016

University of Groningen Professor of Animal Ecology Theunis Piersma and his colleagues from the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ) received an eminent visitor during their fieldwork on the knot, a wading bird, on Banc d’Arguin in Mauretania. None other than Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, dropped by.

Sensor noise guides flexible robots
Posted on:21 June 2016

Industrial robots are usually good at doing one pre-programmed job. Getting them to do something else requires a lot of new programming. The ENgineering and TEchnology institute Groningen (ENTEG) wants to develop flexible robots. Hector García de Marina describes how to do so in his PhD thesis.

ISCOMS - Internationaal, interessant, interdisciplinair
Posted on:21 June 2016

Verslag van het International Student Congress of (bio)Medical Sciences, eerder deze maand in het UMCG.

Exhibition competition for Dutch schools
Posted on:14 June 2016

In academic year 2015-2016, various schools in the Netherlands participated in the IRRESISTIBLE project.

Taste of science for class 3Y of Lindenborg School
Posted on:14 June 2016

Report of the annual science taster by class 3Y of the Lindenborg (Leek) at the University of Groningen’s Bernoulliborg and Linnaeusborg buildings.

Spinoza prize winner Bart van Wees: Innovative, smaller and better
Posted on:13 June 2016

Bart van Wees, Professor of Physics of Nanodevices at the Zernike Institute for Advanced Materials of the University of Groningen, is one of the four recipients of this year’s NWO Spinoza Prize, the highest distinction in Dutch academia. His research stems from his curiosity about the behaviour of electrons inside new materials, but he has always had at least half an eye on practical applications.

Stable isotopes help calibrate thermometers
Posted on:10 June 2016

The work of University of Groningen PhD student Vahideh Faghihi will make the calibration of thermometers even more accurate. No big deal for the average user, but important to climate scientists.

One step closer to finishing Einstein’s work
Posted on:09 June 2016

Albert Einstein spent the last twenty years of his career trying to unify physics in one theory, without success. The most nagging aspect was his failure to describe gravity in terms of quantum mechanics. Physicists around the world are still working on the problem and believe they will find the answer by studying the early Universe. The cosmological models developed by University of Groningen PhD student Marco Scalisi promise significant progress.

Connecting light to electronics
Posted on:08 June 2016

University of Groningen chemist Ryan Chiechi has produced a device that can be switched by light from low to high conductance at the speed of picoseconds. In time, such a photogated device could use organic molecules to convert optical pulses to electronic signals. The proof of principle study was published on 8 Junein Nature Communications.

Another first for Feringa: chemically powered rotary motor
Posted on:08 June 2016

University of Groningen chemist Ben Feringa has done it again. He has presented a rotary motor driven by chemical energy. An article on the new motor was published in Nature Chemistry on 6 June.

School pupils seek inspiration in Der Aa-kerk.
Posted on:07 June 2016

Who hasn’t lain awake at night worrying about their profile assignment? Some 300 school pupils came to seek inspiration for that oh so important research question from the Science LinX exhibition in the Der Aa-kerk during the Research Days prior to the Night of Arts and Sciences. Our reporter Sterre Koops was there too.

Night of Arts and Sciences: Science LinX @ Der Aa-kerk
Posted on:07 June 2016

Photo report: Science LinX @ Der Aa church during the Night of Art en Science

Green chemistry now even greener
Posted on:02 June 2016

Three years ago, University of Groningen chemist Ben Feringa presented a cleaner method to make compounds that are important for pharmaceuticals and more. He has now come up with a follow-up that is cleaner still. Nature Communications published the new technique on 2 June.


Serendipitous observation may lead to more efficient solar cells and new gas sensors
Posted on:27 July 2016

While investigating perovskite crystals, University of Groningen scientists made an observation that could make perovskite solar cells more efficient. It could also lead to new sensors for oxygen and water vapour. The results were published in the journal Science Advances on 27 July.

Groningen researchers steer spin transport
Posted on:21 July 2016

A team of physicists from the University of Groningen led by Bart van Wees have managed to steer the transport of electron spins with an electric field. They are the first to achieve this at room temperature, bringing new applications of spintronics a step closer. Their results were published in the journal Nano Letters.

Big grant for rafting on a bacterial cell
Posted on:19 July 2016

University of Groningen microbiologists are participating in a project which has just been awarded some EUR 7.4 million by the European Horizon 2020 programme. The aim is to use ‘lipid rafts’, parts of cell membranes, to produce useful products or break down pollutants.

Syuzanna Harutyunyan wins KNCV Gold Medal
Posted on:14 July 2016

On December 7 the KNCV Gold Medal will be awarded to University of Groningen associate professor Syuzanna R. Harutyunyan. The KNCV Gold Medal is the most prestigious, Dutch recognition for chemical talent, and will be awarded during the chemical conference CHAINS, which takes place from 6 - 8 December 2016.

Two light switches combined in one molecule
Posted on:13 July 2016

University of Groningen scientists led by Professor of Organic Chemistry Ben Feringa have developed a molecule containing two separate light switches. Feringa has thus created another tool for building light-controllable functional materials. An article on the double switch was published in the journal Nature Communications on 12 July.

Science LinX newsletter on teachers training
Posted on:30 June 2016

Science LinX newsletter on teacher training


How sleep deprivation harms memory
Posted on:23 August 2016

Researchers from the Universities of Groningen (Netherlands) and Pennsylvania (US) have discovered a piece in the puzzle of how sleep deprivation negatively affects memory.

Students of Harens Lyceum visit Science Linx
Posted on:30 August 2016

On 30 August, students from the Harens Lyceum school (formerly Zernike College) visited the University of Groningen Science faculty.


Feeling blue about patent application
Posted on:23 September 2016

University of Groningen researcher Mark van der Maarel discovered a new blue colouring by chance. The patent application has just been published, but is unlikely to result in much. His discovery will benefit students though.

Astronomers drool at new map of Milky Way
Posted on:15 September 2016

The first data from the Gaia satellite was published on Wednesday. Astronomers from the University of Groningen's Kapteyn Astronomical Institute couldn't wait to get their teeth into it.

Groundwork for spin transistor
Posted on:14 September 2016

We’re used to computer chips increasing in speed and capacity. This is achieved by making transistors smaller, so that more fit on the computer processor. However, miniaturization is nearing its limit. One solution may be transistors that operate on electron spin rather than a charge. Sander Kamerbeek defended his PhD thesis on this topic on 9 September.

A time machine to study soil microbes
Posted on:13 September 2016

As islands grow in the Wadden Sea, the new land hosts a succession of plant species. Biologists are familiar with this phenomenon. What they didn’t know was which bacteria live in the bare sands and ever-richer soils during this natural ecological succession. Francisco Dini-Andreote has now filled this gap in our knowledge.

Trolley dash through the galaxy
Posted on:12 September 2016

It is going to be like Harrod's Christmas sale. Astronomersare about to embark on a mad trolley dash through the galaxy. It’s not t-shirts or the latest gadgets that they’re after, but the brightness and position of a billion stars, as recorded by the Gaia satellite. The data will be made publicly available on Wednesday 14 September.

Science LinX newsletter October2016
Posted on:30 June 2016

Science LinX newsletter for October 2016


Boekrecensie: leren van de natuur
Posted on:28 September 2016

Boekrecensie: negentien verhalen over onderzoek uit hte Groningen Institute for Evolutionary Life Sciences.

Bernoulliborg bursting at the seams
Posted on:04 October 2016

A whopping 1770 children and adults visited the Bernoulliborg on 2 October to experience the program which Science LinX had organized for Zpannend Zernike (Exziting Zernike).

Ben Feringa awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize for Chemistry
Posted on:05 October 2016

Ben Feringa is awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize for Chemistry

New impetus for treatment neurodegenerative diseases
Posted on:11 October 2016

Twenty years ago, tumor necrosis factor (TNF) seemed a promising target in the treatment of brain diseases like multiple sclerosis or Alzheimer’s Disease. But clinical trials produced disappointing results. Now University of Groningen scientists and a group of European colleagues have made an important discovery that explains the failure of these trials, and points the way to promising new treatments.

New plastic is self-healing, recyclable and non-toxic
Posted on:12 October 2016

Researchers from Groningen have developed an alternative to epoxy resin that can repair itself when damaged. The material is also fully recyclable a limited number of times, and does not contain Bisphenol A, a substance that can disrupt the endocrine system.

Final IRRESISTIBLE conference in Kiel
Posted on:18 October 2016

At the end of September, 42 teachers, 54 school pupils and 45 members of university and science centre staff from 10 European countries met in Kiel, Germany for the final conference of the European IRRESISTIBLE project.

Mathematical model could help judges marshal their thoughts
Posted on:20 October 2016

Different types of evidence often pass the review during a court case. But how do judges balance ‘hard’ data, for example the chances that the DNA trace comes from the suspect, against witness statements? Mathematician Charlotte Vlek has developed a solution, but not one that can be used in every case.

Oproep: blijft regionale netwerken voortgezet / hoger onderwijs financieren!
Posted on:27 October 2016

Universiteiten, hogescholen en het voortgezet onderwijs werken al geruime tijd samen in regionale netwerken. Ook Science LinX is onderdeel van zo'n netwerk in Noord Nederland. Maar nu dreigt de overheid de financiering stop te zetten. De samenwerkende netwerken doen daarom de onderstaande oproep aan het ministerie van OCW om toch geld te reserveren voor deze netwerken.

Science LinX newsletter November2016
Posted on:30 October 2016

Science LinX newsletter for November 2016


Passionate about science? Famelab needs you!
Posted on:02 November 2016

The university of Groningen will host FameLab, the international science communication competition for young scientists.

Molecular pump reveals its secrets
Posted on:10 November 2016

Our cells use all kinds of proteins to import useful substances from their environment. These protein pumps are powered by a stream of particles, often sodium ions, that work a bit like water turning a water wheel. How this really works was shrouded in mystery, but University of Groningen biologists have now solved the puzzle.

From rose-pruning robot to smarter electricity network
Posted on:10 November 2016

Surprisingly practical inventions often issue from the University of Groningen’s labs. Not only the scene of fundamental research, the labs are also favoured by engineers who use the latest technology to develop practical applications for their findings. The new Groningen Engineering Center (GEC) should give new impetus to engineering research and teaching at the University.

Predators dictate bird incubation habits
Posted on:23 November 2016

Birds facing many predators at their nests have longer incubation spells than birds that do not have this problem. The latter can more easily change shifts without risking foxes or crows discovering their nests. This is what Czech and Belgian biologists Bulla and Kempenaers and researchers from Groningen have discovered. The findings were published in the journal Nature on 24 November.

Vision drives cichlid evolution
Posted on:23 November 2016

The cichlids of Lake Victoria are a textbook example of rapid evolution. Biologists suspect that the visual environment underwater (light and turbidity) is an important driver in the formation of new species, but direct evidence has been hard to come by. Now supporting evidence has emerged from the University of Groningen aquariums. The results were published in The American Naturalist.

Studying the Cosmic Bubble Bath
Posted on:29 November 2016

The visible matter in the universe is arranged in a pattern: galaxies and gas clouds form a kind of foam in which filaments of matter surround voids. But alongside this visible matter are vast quantities of ‘dark matter’ and ‘dark energy’, both of which are invisible. University of Groningen PhD student Patrick Bos has demonstrated that it is possible to study the structure and nature of these invisible building blocks.

Wanted: Artist in Residence
Posted on:30 November 2016

The University of Groningen is looking for an artist in residence for a project that it is working on with two Max Planck institutes. The artist will develop an art project on synthetic biology (a field of biology on the interface between molecular biology, cell biology and engineering) that will foster dialogue about this field.


Groningen throws Nobel party for Feringa
Posted on:01 December 2016

As the number of seats in Stockholm is limited to say the least, the University of Groningen organized its own Nobel lecture in the Martinikerk on 30 November. For Ben Feringa, the official academic ceremony with professors in gowns was the ideal dress rehearsal for the award ceremony on 10 December. The mood was relaxed, and the audience hung on Feringa’s every word.

Out of the lab, into the classroom
Posted on:07 December 2016

Peter van Abswoude spent over four years working with electron beams. He now teaches at a school. His ambition is to inspire pupils and spark enthusiasm for his subject of physics.

ROBOX: new enzymes and nice film
Posted on:14 December 2016

University of Groningen professor Marco Fraaije is looking to improve enzymes to make them suitable for use in industry. He has already improved a number of such enzymes in his work on the European research project ROBOX. A new film explains the project.

New research paper challenges dogma of cell cycle control
Posted on:14 December 2016

All textbooks describe the cyclin-dependent kinase complex as the one and only/exclusive regulator of the eukaryotic cell cycle. But now University of Groningen scientists have found evidence that a metabolic oscillator acts as the 'conductor' of cell division. Their results were published online in the journal Molecular Cell on December 15.

Quantum laws rule tiniest circuits
Posted on:20 December 2016

The integrated circuitry of microchips is getting ever smaller. New technologies even promise molecular circuits. But at this length-scale, the normal laws governing conductance have to make way for quantum laws. Ryan Chiechi and co-workers explored some of these quantum effects in molecular circuits in a paper published on 20 December in Nature Communications.

Images of Nobel-winning motors by Ben Feringa
Posted on:20 December 2016

University of Groningen / Science LinX present five images for Nobel-winning motors by Ben Feringa

Science LinX newsletter Januari 2017
Posted on:22 December 2016

Science LinX newsletter for January 2017

Antibiotic resistance just became more complex
Posted on:27 December 2016

Bacteria that are susceptible to antibiotics can survive when enough resistant cells around them are expressing an antibiotic-deactivating factor. This new take on how the microbial context can compromise antibiotic therapy was published by a team of microbiologists from the University of Groningen microbiologists, together with colleagues from San Diego, in the journal PLOS Biology on 27 December.

A Happy 2017 from Science LinX!
Posted on:31 December 2016

A Happy 2017 from Science LinX!

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