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Nineteen UvA researchers have been awarded a Vidi grant as part of the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) Innovational Research Incentives Scheme. Having secured 19 of the 88 grant allocations for this round, the UvA will thus receive 20% of all available grants.

The researchers will receive up to €800,000 each in order to develop their own innovative line of research and establish a research group.

Grant allocations

Humanities 

  • Dr Robin Celikates (Philosophy): Civil disobedience: democratic, global, digital?
    Civil disobedience has played a key role in the history of democracy. Prominent examples include Dr Martin Luther King and others. How has civil disobedience changed over time? Celikates's research focuses on the challenges of democratisation, globalisation and the digitisation of disobedience at the start of the 21st century.
  • Dr Michiel van Groesen (History): News from the New World
    The first printed newspapers were filled with news from the New World. News of the struggle for control over Brazil and the annual arrival of the Silver Fleet was followed closely at home. Van Groesen is studying the dynamics of transatlantic news correspondence in the new media of the Golden Age.
  • Dr Judith Rispens (Linguistics): Rules are (language) rules! But how do we learn them?
    Young children can learn the rules of their mother tongue without having received any explicit explanation. This study will see Rispens identify the neurological processes underlying this innate ability.  

Medicine (AMC-UvA) 

  • Dr Joris de Groot (Cardiology): The role of connective tissue in atrial fibrillation
    Atrial fibrillation is the most common cardiac arrhythmia and is caused by the build-up of connective tissue in the left atrium. De Groot will be studying the build-up and degradation of connective tissue in patients' atria, in order to determine whether atrial fibrillation can be cured through treatment of the connective tissue.
  • Dr Max Nieuwdorp (Internal and Vascular Medicine): Bacteria: from unwanted intestinal guests to perpetrators of diabetes
    Obesity tends to cause the inflammation of abdominal fat tissue, and this inflammation triggers the onset of diabetes in obese people. Nieuwdorp will be working to determine whether specific intestinal bacteria cause this inflammation and identify potential treatments.
  • Dr Carol Ann Remme (Experimental Cardiology): Complex electrical conduction in the heart
    Sodium channels in the cardiac muscle cells are responsible for ensuring normal electrical conduction in the heart. A disruption of their normal operation can cause life-threatening cardiac dysrhythmia. Remme will be working to describe the complexity and diversity of these sodium channels' composition, structure and function.  

Social and Behavioural Sciences

  • Dr Daniel Mügge (Political Science): The politics of economic measurements
    Key figures such as inflation and unemployment are the basis of our economic policies. Although these figures are generally objective, the way in which we measure our economies in practice is anything but logical. Mügge is researching why governments choose specific measurement formulas over others.
  • Dr Sanne de Wit (Psychology): The brain on autopilot 
    We often fail to stick to our resolutions because it takes a lot of effort to unlearn old behaviour and gradually automate new patterns. De Wit will be working to determine whether the human brain can skip this demanding process by strategically switching to autopilot.
  • Prof. Rens Vliegenthart (Communication Science): The media's role in the economic crisis
    General perceptions of the economic crisis are often based on the news media rather than actual first-hand experience. Vliegenthart will be assessing how these media stories take shape and determining their effect on economic and political perceptions.  

Science 

  • Dr Renée van Amerongen (Molecular Cytology): The eternal life of stem cells
    Stem cells seem to have an ability to keep dividing endlessly. This remarkable property is crucial to our body's ability to repair tissue and other forms of physical damage. However, the process is also highly regulated. In an attempt to gain a clearer understanding of stem cell activity, Van Amerongen will be identifying the relevant control mechanisms.
  • Dr Alejandra Castro (Theoretical Physics): Gravity as a hologram
    Black holes open up a radical possibility: our universe as a hologram. Castro's project is aimed at exploring the consequences of holography. As a part of his central research question, he will be examining how geometry is rooted in quantum theory.
  • Dr Merijn Kant (Molecular and Chemical Ecology): Liberating tomatoes
    Some parasites have the ability to suppress the natural resistance mechanisms of tomato plants. Kant will be studying this Achilles' heel and selecting tomato plants that cannot be suppressed. He will then be applying this property to liberate tomatoes from the stranglehold of natural pests.
  • Dr Joris Mooij (Informatics): The search for cause and effect
    Which online advertisements will yield optimal results? Do austerity measures help reduce government debt? How do tumour cells respond to specific chemical substances? Mooij is currently developing a new theory and efficient algorithms in order to facilitate this type of causal prediction.
  • Dr Chris Ormel (Astronomy): Origins of super-Earths
    Super-Earths are a new, commonly occurring type of extrasolar planets. They are large and in close orbit around their host stars. Ormel aims to gain greater insight into the origins of these planets and the diverse architecture of planetary systems.
  • Dr Isabel Smallegange (Theoretical Ecology/Population Biology): The impact of climate change on animal populations
    How is climate change impacting plant and animal populations? Smallegange will be working to prepare and test a mathematical model that can chart both the ecological and evolutionary effects of climate change with regard to animal populations.
  • Dr Christoph Weniger (Physics): Shedding light on dark matter
    The universe is dominated by dark matter, a mysterious substance composed of unknown material. Weniger will be using telescopes and particle accelerators to identify dark matter and determine its exact nature.
  • Dr Jasper van Wezel (Theoretical Physics): Helical electrons become super conductive
    The electrons in certain metals can cooperate to the point where they simultaneously take on the shape of a corkscrew. The electrons then look like levorotatory or dextrorotatory spirals. Van Wezel will be assessing the potential role of these helical electrons in the formation of superconductors: metals capable of conducting electrical current without resistance when cooled.
  • Dr Shimon Whiteson (Informatics): Co-evolution for Autonomous Systems
    The autonomisation of intelligent systems such as robots requires algorithms capable of automatically identifying the rules that determine their behaviour. Whiteson will be developing such algorithms by applying the principle of co-evolution to simultaneously optimise behavioural rules and the manner in which they are tested.  

Law 

  • Dr Chantal Mak (European Contract Law): Europe and civil law
    The public interest imposes restrictions on the freedom of private parties. How does this affect the judges charged with balancing EU objectives and national policies? Mak is working to develop a theoretical framework for representing the public interest in European and national civil law. 

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