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News overview 2017


Island biodiversity: stable but vulnerable
Posted on:11 January 2017

The biodiversity on islands is is the result of an equilibrium between the immigration of new species and the extinction of established ones. This idea was proposed exactly 50 years ago by the founders of Island Biogeography Theory, Robert H. MacArthur and Edward O. Wilson. Now, evolutionary ecologists from three institution, including the University of Groningen, have finally found hard evidence to support this hypothesis.

How carbohydrates make infant formula more like human breast milk
Posted on:18 January 2017

University of Groningen scientists have discovered how a class of carbohydrates (galactooligosaccharides) helps infant formula to stimulate the gut microbiota of babies in a similar way that breast milk does. This finding, which the University has patented, paves the way for using these ‘prebiotics’ to increase the nutritional value of infant food. The results were published in the journal Scientific Reports on 16 January.

Science LinX op Eurosonic Noorderslag
Posted on:19 January 2017

Tijdens Eurosonic Noorderslag was Science LinX aanwezig in de Stad van de Toekomst, een initiatief van SummerLabb. Bezoekers konden er met interactieve opstellingen ontdekken hoe duurzaam zij zijn.

Astronomers over the moon with ‘a box full of chocolates’
Posted on:30 January 2017

Just over four months after the data from the Gaia satellite became available, University of Groningen astronomy professor Amina Helmi has published her first analysis. She has discovered new insights into how our Milky Way evolved.

Science LinX newsletter Januari 2017
Posted on:31 January 2017

Science LinX newsletter for February 2017


Revolutionary arrangement of solar panels on Energy Academy Building
Posted on:06 February 2017

The new building of the Energy Academy Europe (EAE) simply had to be as energy-efficient as possible. A host of technologies have been used to achieve this. One of them is the arrangement of solar panels on the roof.

Double success for PhD student with ‘spin relaxation’
Posted on:06 February 2017

University of Groningen PhD student Siddhartha Omar is having a good week. He has had two papers accepted by the journal Physical Review: Rapid Communications. They present new techniques and knowledge about ‘spin relaxation’.

Beta Business Days 2017: what do you want to be?
Posted on:14 February 2017

If you are not training for a specific profession and can enter a different field after you graduate, how do you find out what your options are and what is right for you? The Beta Business Days (BBD) have been helping students answer these questions and more for over thirty years.

Sophisticated optical secrets revealed in glossy buttercup flowers
Posted on:22 February 2017

Buttercup flowers are known for their intense, shiny yellow colour. For over a century, biologists have sought to understand why the buttercup stands out. University of Groningen scientists have now brought together all that was known about the buttercup and added some new information too.

The return of germanium transistors
Posted on:28 February 2017

University of Groningen PhD student Bettadahalli Nandishaiah Madhushankar has used very thin flakes of 2D germanane, the two-dimensional hydrogenated analogue of germanium, to build a transistor.

Science LinX newsletter March 2017
Posted on:28 February 2017

Science LinX newsletter for March 2017


Science LinX newsletter April 2017
Posted on:30 March 2017

Science LinX newsletter for Aprl 2017

Record number of visitors to Blaauw Observatory
Posted on:07 March 2017

Over 700 people visited the Blaauw Observatory at Bernoulliborg on the national stargazing days on 3 and 4 March. A record and an increase of at least a quarter on last year.

FameLab Groningen: The Force in your cells and kind chickens
Posted on:14 March 2017

FameLab gives young researchers just three minutes to inspire people to see the world from a different perspective. The regional qualifier in Groningen was on 9 March.

Winnaar Jan Kommandeurprijs: rijstbeschermer
Posted on:21 March 2017

De Jan Kommandeurprijs 2017 is gewonnen door Alinda Dersjant, Margot Knapen en Niels Bouman. In het werkstuk ‘Antioxirice’ beschrijven ze een methode om te voorkomen dat de rijsoogst in Bangladesh door overstromingen mislukt.

Prestigious grant for research into sleep deprivation
Posted on:22 March 2017

University of Groningen neuroscientist Robbert Havekes and colleagues from Germany, South Korea and the US have secured a grant of EUR 1.25 million from the Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP), which funds interdisciplinary research in the life sciences.

ERC millions to make life in the lab
Posted on:29 March 2017

Associate Professor of Systems Chemistry Sijbren Otto has been awarded a EUR 2.5 million ERC Advanced Grant by the European Research Council. The objective of Otto’s project is building fully synthetic chemical systems, that may be instrumental in making life in the lab.


Silver medal in Stuttgart for profile assignment
Posted on:25 April 2017

Last week the winners of the Jan Kommandeurprijs presented their profile assignments at the International Conference for Young Scientists in Stuttgart. Pim van der Meer and Adnan El Kharbotly won silver.

Synthetic biology: building life
Posted on:25 April 2017

Biochemist Bert Poolman and several colleagues are trying to build a synthetic cell with components from all over the living world. Trying to make these components work together will help us understand how life works.

Fysica 2017: 3D printing and VR in the classroom
Posted on:20 April 2017

This year’s annual conference of the Netherlands Physical Society, Fysica 2017, was held at Oosterpoort in Groningen. The conference featured lectures on the latest physics research, a keynote by Ben Feringa and a ‘Physics Meets Art’ evening programme, and looked at new technology for use in the classroom.

School pupils given taster of science programmes at College Carrousel
Posted on:20 April 2017

On six days during the first two weeks of April more than 700 secondary-school students came to Zernike Campus for College Carrousel, a brief introduction to the different science programmes at the University. The Science LinX exhibits in Bernoulliborg and the Energy Academy played a key role.

Evolving molecules point to principles of life
Posted on:19 April 2017

Chemistry professor Sijbren Otto accidentally discovered evolving molecules. They are now the focus of his research. Part 2 in a series on the Orgins Center, which will investigate how the Universe and life on Earth began.

New research centre on the origins of life, the universe and everything
Posted on:12 April 2017

The Origins Centre will tackle questions submitted to the National Science Agenda about the origin of life on Earth and in the Universe. A number of scientists from the University of Groningen have a leading role in this Centre. Part 1 of a series: the background to the Origins Centre.

That’s cool: spin transport in an insulator
Posted on:11 April 2017

There’s more to electrons than just a negative charge. They also possess a quality called ‘spin’. The electron spin can even move through insulators where electrons can’t. PhD student Jing Liu just discovered some interesting facts about this process.

Praedinius Gymnasium wins Science battle
Posted on:11 April 2017

Three provinces, ten schools, four preliminary rounds with 450 entrants, 120 of whom made it to the final of Science battle in Bernoulliborg at the University of Groningen’s Faculty of Science and Engineering.

Carbon nanotubes self-assemble into tiny transistors
Posted on:23 March 2017

Carbon nanotubes can be used to make very small electronic devices, but they are difficult to handle. University of Groningen scientists, together with colleagues from the University of Wuppertal and IBM Zurich, have developed a method to select semiconducting nanotubes from a solution and make them self-assemble on a circuit of gold electrodes. The results will be published in Advanced Materials on 29 March.

Science LinX newsletter May 2017
Posted on:20 March 2017

Science LinX newsletter for May 2017


The mystery of life’s broken symmetry
Posted on:26 April 2017

How did life originate? University of Groningen chemistry professor Ben Feringa believes this is the most important question for science. Especially the question of why life appears to prefer just one of the two mirror-image versions that many organic molecules appear in. It’s an unsolved riddle.

Life amongst the stars
Posted on:03 May 2017

There are probably billions of planets out there, but how do we find out if any of them harbour life? University of Groningen astronomy professor Inga Kamp studies planet formation, including the ingredients for life such as water and organic molecules. Part 5 in a series on the Origins Centre, which will investigate how the Universe and life on Earth began.

IMAGINARY: Wiskunde in beeld
Posted on:04 May 2017

Van 22 mei tot en met 9 juni staat de reizende expositie IMAGINARY in de Bernoulliborg op de Zernike Campus. Bezoekers kunnen wiskunde omzetten in vormen en omgekeerd, schuiven met tegelpatronen en ontdekken hoe wiskunde eigenlijk overal is. En de toegang is ook nog gratis!

Molecular dynamics simulations reveal chaos in electron transport
Posted on:10 May 2017

Plants are very efficient at turning photons into electrons. But the transport of these electrons is a rather chaotic process, University of Groningen scientists have discovered. They used molecular dynamics to visualize the working of Photosystem II and published their results on 10 May in Nature Communications.

Origins on a computer
Posted on:17 May 2017

The Origins Center aims to find out more about the origins of the Universe, the Earth and life. Mathematicians and computer scientists help to connect information from a large number of spatial and temporal scales ranging from cell to galaxy and from seconds to eons. Part 6 in a series on the Origins Center.

Mussels power mudflats
Posted on:23 May 2017

The intertidal mudflats in the Wadden Sea are important for many species of birds and fish. University of Groningen ecologist Britas Klemens Eriksson and colleagues have discovered that mussel banks play a vital role. The results were published last week in the journal Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science.

Witches’ cauldron prepares magic nucleus for weigh in
Posted on:30 May 2017

Her background in chemistry could just give Julia Even the edge needed to pull off a remarkable feat: an extremely accurate calculation of the mass of a number of exotic, unstable atomic nuclei. She has just received a EUR 425,000 research grant from NWO to make this happen.


Science LinX newsletter July 2017
Posted on:30 June 2017

Science LinX newsletter for July 2017

Polymers, stronger than steel
Posted on:27 June 2017

Fifty years ago, the University of Groningen launched a separate degree programme in polymer chemistry with its own programme of research. Polymer chemist Albert Pennings left DSM to join the staff, and he brought a very strong fibre with him.

Ecology insights improve plant biomass degradation by microorganisms
Posted on:21 June 2017

New insights by University of Groningen microbial ecologist Dr Diego Javier Jiménez and colleagues could make a rational design of microbial communinties for the breakdown of plant biomass possible. They argue this point in an opinion paper published in the journal Trends in Microbiology on 22 June.

How big molecules conquered the world
Posted on:13 June 2017

Exactly 50 years ago Groningen became the first Dutch university with a separate department of Polymer Chemistry. Ger Challa was the man behind this innovation.

Derde klas RSG de Borgen op bètasnuffel
Posted on:07 June 2017

Klas 3 gymnasium van RSG De Borgen uit Leek kwam op 6 juni langs op het Zernikecomplex voor een 'bètasnuffel', georganiseerd door Science LinX. Mentor Anneke de Vries schreef een verslag.

Polymer coating kills bacteria
Posted on:06 June 2017

Ton Loontjens worked in industry for about 35 years before he was appointed Professor of Biomedical Materials at the University of Groningen. ‘I am an academic researcher with an industrial background, which is in my opinion a valuable combination.’

Science LinX newsletter June 2017
Posted on:01 June 2017

Science LinX newsletter for June 2017

Locked movement in molecular motor and rotor
Posted on:01 June 2017

University of Groningen organic chemists led by professor Ben Feringa have produced a light driven rotary motor in which the rotary movement is locked to that of a secondary naphthalene rotor. The results were published on 2 June in the journal Science.


Reality check for 'wonder material'
Posted on:27 July 2017

Topological insulators, a class of materials which has been investigated for just over a decade, have been heralded as a new ‘wonder material’. But so far, they have not quite lived up to the expectations fueled by theoretical studies. University of Groningen physicists now have an idea about why. Their analysis was published on 27 July in the journal Physical Review B.


Review 2016-2017: from the Nobel Prize to the origins of life
Posted on:01 August 2017

The summer holidays have begun, which gives us the opportunity to look back at the past academic year (and to take a brief look at the one ahead).


Science LinX newsletter September 2017
Posted on:30 June 2017

Science LinX newsletter for September 2017

EVOLVE! A lively mix of art and evolutionary science at Noorderzon
Posted on:03 September 2017

Evolve was a big hit for the young and the young at heart. Everyone could link his or her interests to evolutionary biology. The Evolve programme was developed by Science LinX (RUG) in collaboration with evolutionary biologists from the Groningen Institute for Evolutionary Life Sciences (GELIFES, RUG), and with the support of the European Society for Evolutionary Biology (ESEB).

In search of the basis of life
Posted on:20 September 2017

Egbert Boekema has spent almost his entire academic career working on a single problem: elucidating the structure of the proteins responsible for photosynthesis. His official farewell was on 27 September.

Science LinX newsletter October 2017
Posted on:28 September 2017

Science LinX newsletter for October 2017

New mechanism points the way to breaking ribosome antibiotic resistance
Posted on:28 September 2017

University of Groningen scientists discovered how characeteristics of protein factories of the cell can lead to antbiotic resistance. The results are published on 28 September in Nature Communications.

Extra sulphur improves electronic structure of quantum dots
Posted on:29 September 2017

Scientists from the University of Groningen and their colleagues from ETH Zürich have discovered how to increase the efficiency of charge conductivity in lead-sulphur quantum dots. Their results are published in the journal Science Advances on 29 September.

How the archaea got their lipids
Posted on:29 September 2017

University of Groningen microbiologists, and their colleagues from Sichuan University, China, have discovered a clue which sheds light on how evolution created the ‘lipid divide’ between two kingdoms of life. The results were published on 29 September in the journal Cell Research.


‘Ridiculously busy is the new normal here’
Posted on:03 October 2017

Secretary Tineke Kalter was the first UG staff member to hear that Ben Feringa had been awarded the Nobel Prize. The effects are still noticeable a year later. ‘We still receive dozens of requests every day.’

How does a bacterium make sense of the world?
Posted on:11 October 2017

Bacteria use a variety of sensing mechanisms to respond adaptively to changes in their environment. One of these is counting cells. Now, University of Groningen biologists combined experiments and a mathematical model to show just what counts for a bacterium. The results were published on 11 October in Nature Communications.

Major advance in nanopore detection of peptides and proteins
Posted on:17 October 2017

University of Groningen scientists have used a patented nanopore to identify the fingerprints of proteins and peptides, and it can even detect polypeptides differing by one amino acid. The results were published on 16 October in the journal Nature Communications.

Zpannende proefjes en wedstrijden tijdens Zpannend Zernike
Posted on:17 October 2017

Op 14 en 15 oktober was het weer zover: tijd voor Zpannend Zernike. Liefhebbers van wetenschap konden zondag 15 oktober op verschillende plekken op het Zernike Campus van alles leren over wetenschap en natuurlijk zelf lekker experimenteren.

Spitzer Reveals Ancient Galaxies' Frenzied Starmaking
Posted on:31 October 2017

A deep look back to the early universe by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has revealed a surprisingly rowdy bunch of galaxies. University of Groningen astronomer Karina Caputi lead the study which is now published in Astrophysical Journal.

Science LinX newsletter November 2017
Posted on:31 October 2017

Science LinX newsletter for November 2017


Science LinX newsletter December 2017
Posted on:31 October 2017

Science LinX newsletter for December 2017

Study shows active zinc uptake in bacteria
Posted on:07 November 2017

Researchers from the University of Groningen in collaboration with their colleagues from the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology have unravelled the structure of zinc specific bacterial transporter ZntB using cryo-electron microscopy. The results were published in Nature Communications on 3 November.

Secondary-school pupils visit Faculty of Science and Engineering
Posted on:14 November 2017

On Friday 10 November prospective students from all over the country came to the Open Day of the University of Groningen. The Academy Building, Pathé Cinema and the Zernike Campus received at least 12,000 visitors, 7400 of whom were secondary-school pupils.

RE:charge at Northern Climate Summit: pedal-powered smoothies
Posted on:15 November 2017

More than 1200 visitors from business, academia and the government of the three northern provinces came together in the Energy Academy Building to put the region on the map as a frontrunner in the transition to sustainable energy. Science LinX was there with RE:charge, an exhibition about energy transition.

Largest ever genetic study of malaria mosquito
Posted on:29 November 2017

The largest ever genetic study of mosquitoes reveals the movement of insecticide resistance between different regions of Africa and finds several rapidly evolving insecticide resistance genes.

Making robots (and humans) cooperate
Posted on:30 November 2017

University of Groningen Professor of Networks and Robotics Ming Cao has just received an ERC Consolidator Grant of EUR two million. His aim is to design algorithms that will help autonomous robots cooperate. These same algorithms may also help guide the decision-making processes of humans.

Sucking up electrons with acid
Posted on:30 November 2017

Associate Professor of Organic Chemistry Syuzanna Harutyunyan has received a EUR two million ERC Consolidator Grant to develop a method for making 3D structures from 2D rings.

School pupils work for sustainable landscapes
Posted on:30 November 2017

The new European SUSTAIN network has been awarded a EUR 449,900 grant by Erasmus+, the EU programme for education, training, youth and sport. The network will be coordinated byScience LinX, the science centre of the University of Groningen (UG) Faculty of Science and Engineering.


Science LinX newsletter January 2018
Posted on:31 October 2017

Science LinX newsletter for January 2018

Controlling Spin Direction in Sandwiches of Two-dimensional Materials
Posted on:04 December 2017

Graphene is an excellent conductor of electron spin, but it is very difficult to manipulate spins in this carbon-based material. University of Groningen scientists have now shown that molybdenum diselenide can be used to do just that. Their results were published in the journal Nano Letters.

How ribosomes shape the proteome
Posted on:06 December 2017

University of Groningen biochemists made a fascinating discovery: positively charged proteins stick to the surface of ribosome complexes. This explains why most water-soluble proteins carry an overall negative charge. The discovery will appear soon in the journal eLife.

Bringing the resolution revolution to Groningen
Posted on:12 December 2017

When Cristina Paulino started working on cryo-electron microscopy almost ten years ago, no one could have foreseen it would become one of the hottest fields in science. The field was even the subject of this year’s Nobel Prize for Chemistry. Paulino has brought this new technique to the University of Groningen.

Antibiotic switch uses visible light
Posted on:12 December 2017

University of Groningen scientists led by organic chemist Ben Feringa have fitted an antibiotic with a switch that allows them to activate or deactivate the drug using visible light. Earlier versions of the switch were operated with ultraviolet light.

Feringa’s motors in the news
Posted on:19 December 2017

Chemical & Engineering News (a publication of the American Chemical Society) recently published two articles on papers by Ben Feringa: one about a muscle that is flexed by molecular motors and the other about a new environmentally friendly process that makes useful building blocks for plastic and pills.

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