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News overview 2022


Soil bacteria produce proteins and pharmaceuticals from carbon dioxide
Posted on:23 December 2022

A bacterium that can grow on a mixture of carbon dioxide, oxygen, and hydrogen can be persuaded to produce various useful products, such as amino acids, milk proteins, and building blocks for pharmaceuticals. Sandy Schmidt, a biochemist at the University of Groningen, wants to grow this bacterium in a bioreactor that is fed waste gases from factories, to turn carbon dioxide into valuable molecules.

Predicting calving problems before insemination
Posted on:23 December 2022

Using the vast dataset of the Dutch cattle breeding company CRV, computer scientists at the University of Groningen used artificial intelligence to develop a predictive model that in theory could halve the number of calving problems.

Wearable electronics from starch to prevent e-waste
Posted on:15 December 2022

Polymer scientists from the University of Groningen have developed a starch-based polymer that makes it possible to create a fully biodegradable soft material for sensors.


Modified enzyme brings value to lignin monomers
Posted on:29 November 2022

Biomass is an interesting source of carbon-based molecules. It is also underused because some 25 percent of all plant biomass is in the form of lignin, a biopolymer that, so far, can only be used as a solid fuel. A team of scientists, including ‘enzyme engineer’ Marco Fraaije from the University of Groningen, has now developed an enzyme that can put a lignin monomer to use in chemical synthesis.

Astronomers see infrared switch on in young universe
Posted on:16 November 2022

Analysis of the very first image from the James Webb Space Telescope shows that the MIRI instrument, developed in the Netherlands, works even better than thought. Researchers from the University of Groningen demonstrate that the infrared telescope shows details of galaxies from the time when the universe was only about 1 billion years old.

'Polluted' white dwarfs show that stars and planets grow together
Posted on:14 November 2022

Observations and simulations of 237 white dwarfs strengthen the evidence that planets and stars rapidly form together and become planetary systems. An international team of astronomers and planetary scientists, including Tim Lichtenberg of the University of Groningen's Kapteyn Institute, published their findings on Monday in Nature Astronomy.

The untapped potential of RNA structures
Posted on:09 November 2022

In an invited review for Nature Reviews Genetics, Danny Incarnato, a molecular geneticist from the University of Groningen (The Netherlands), and his colleague Robert C. Spitale from the University of Irvine in California (USA) describe ways to develop the, as yet, largely untapped potential of RNA structures. Their paper was published on 8 November.

Light-driven molecular motors light up
Posted on:04 November 2022

Scientists at the University of Groningen have in combing two light-mediated functions in a single molecule, in two different ways. These two types of fluorescing light-driven rotary motors were described in Nature Communications (30 September) and Science Advances (4 November).


Quantum dots form ordered material
Posted on:31 October 2022

Quantum dots are clusters of some 1,000 atoms which act as one large ‘super-atom’. It is possible to accurately design the electronic properties of these dots just by changing their size. A team led by University of Groningen professor of Photophysics and Optoelectronics, Maria Antonietta Loi, has succeeded in making a highly conductive optoelectronic metamaterial through self-organization.

Hackathon to solve light pollution at Zernike Campus
Posted on:19 October 2022

Sixteen Bachelor’s students spent the weekend of 6-9 October investigating light pollution at the University of Groningen’s Zernike Campus and finding innovative solutions to this problem.

Machine learning models identify apps that will likely violate Google Play store guidelines
Posted on:13 October 2022

A considerable percentage of new apps in the Google App store are removed for violating the store’s guidelines. This is inconvenient for the users of these apps, who may lose their in-app data. Computer scientists from the University of Groningen have devised two machine learning models that can predict the chances of a new app being removed, both before and after uploading it to the app store.

We are back: Zpannend Zernike
Posted on:06 October 2022

On Sunday 4 October, it was finally time for a new edition of Zpannend Zernike. No less than 1325 children and adults visited the Bernoulliborg and the rest of Zernike for an introduction to the science of the Faculty of Science and Engineering.


Science LinX newsletter October
Posted on:29 September 2022

Science LinX newsletter Ocotober

Fighting bird flu with genetically engineered bacteria
Posted on:28 September 2022

Over the last few years, bird flu has become endemic in large parts of Europe. Students from the University of Groningen have come up with a novel way of protecting birds: by genetically engineering a bacterium that is naturally present in the lungs of poultry. The project is their entry for the annual iGEM competition.

‘We zien nu al een rif vol leven’
Posted on:27 September 2022

Sinds november 2021 liggen langs de Groningse Lauwersmeerdijk 48 kunstmatige riffen om de onderwaternatuur van de Waddenzee te versterken. Onderzoekers hebben de riffen langs de Lauwersmeerdijk voor het eerst naar boven gehaald, om te kijken wat er op en rond leeft.

Giant magnon spin wave conductance in ultrathin insulators surprises researchers
Posted on:22 September 2022

When you make conducting wires thinner, their electrical resistance goes up. This is Ohm’s law, and it is generally right. An important exception is at very low temperatures, where the mobility of electrons increases when wires become so thin that they are effectively two-dimensional. Now, University of Groningen physicists, together with colleagues at Brest University have observed that something similar happens with the conductivity of magnons, spin waves that travel through magnetic insulators, much like a Mexican wave through a stadium.

European award for education project coordinated by Science LinX
Posted on:22 September 2022

Eleven partners from three countries (The Netherlands, Spain, and Cyprus) and the European Science Engagement Association have developed teaching modules on biodiversity, water management, and bird migration.

New binding site to the cell membrane identified for Tubby protein
Posted on:07 September 2022

The molecular dynamics group headed by Siewert-Jan Marrink investigates the interactions of proteins and lipids (fats) in membranes by means of simulations. In collaboration with researchers from Germany, they identified a previously unknown lipid binding site in the barrel-shaped Tubby protein that could help to understand various diseases.

A fresh look at metals reveals a ‘strange’ similarity
Posted on:06 September 2022

The current taxonomy of metals appears to be too blurry and contains too many exceptions to be convincing. Scientists from the University of Groningen analysed more than 30 metals and show that a simple formula can provide a classification of metals in a more systematic manner.


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Science LinX newsletter March
Posted on:24 February 2022

Science LinX newsletter March

Synthetic data speed up yeast research
Posted on:23 February 2022

Scientists at the University of Groningen have shown that synthetic data can be used to train a convolutional neural network in the detection of yeast cells in a matter of days, rather than months. The new system performs as well as the best available neural networks trained with real annotated data.

Fighting poverty won’t jeopardize climate goals
Posted on:14 February 2022

If the UN Sustainable Development Goal to lift over one billion people out of poverty were to be reached in 2030, the impact on global carbon emissions would be minimal. That sounds good; however, the main reason for this is the huge inequality in the carbon footprint of rich and poor nations. This conclusion was drawn by scientists from the Energy and Sustainability Research Institute of the University of Groningen (the Netherlands), together with colleagues from China and the US.

Less powerful black hole blows environment clean after all
Posted on:10 February 2022

An international team of astronomers led by Dutch scientists has discovered that even a weak jet stream from a low-active black hole can be a kind of leaf blower to clean parts of a galaxy. This probably stops the formation of stars.


Heartburn helps bacteria to survive antibiotic treatment
Posted on:27 January 2022

Even at high concentrations, antibiotics won’t kill all bacteria. There are always a few survivors, even in a bacterial population that is genetically identical. Scientists at the KU Leuven (Belgium) and the University of Groningen (the Netherlands) discovered that these survivors share a common feature: they accumulate acid in their cells.

Instagram teaches AI to recognize rooms
Posted on:26 January 2022

AI systems are usually trained in image recognition by using annotated trainingsets with images. Computer scientist Estefanía Talavera Martínez added a new data modality, audio/sound, to the teaching material that the AI system looks at. This resulted in a high success rate in recognizing indoor spaces.

Science LinX newsletter January-February
Posted on:13 January 2022

Science LinX newsletter January-February

Boek over Koraaldriehoek in Vroege Vogels
Posted on:12 January 2022

Zondag 16 januari is Marien bioloog Sancia van der Meij van de RUG te gast in het BNNVARA programma Vroege Vogels op NPO Radio1.

Astronomers discover extremely metal-poor star stream in Milky Way
Posted on:05 January 2022

An international team of researchers including Else Starkenburg from the University of Groningen discovered the remnants of a star cluster whose stars share a uniquely low fraction of heavy elements.

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