NWO Domain Science looks back at 2018

28 December 2018

After its start in 2017, 2018 was the first year in which the Domain Science fully acted within the renewed NWO. Here you will find a limited selection of the 2018 highlights.

From the Domain Science
Earth sciences
Life sciences
Computer science
Domain Science Events

From the Domain Science

ENW publishes strategic manifesto 2019-2022
Based on the new NWO strategy and input from stakeholders, NWO Domain Science has drawn up a strategic manifesto. In this document entitled “Off the beaten track”, the board outlines the course for the NWO Domain Science over the next three years.

Seven disciplinary round tables to advice Domain Science Board
The NWO Domain Science Board has appointed seven disciplinary advisory committees to facilitate an effective collaboration between the board, the office and 'the field'. The disciplinary advisory committees have been given the name 'round tables' and are made up of researchers.

Earth sciences

Ice loss on Antarctica tripled in 10 years
Antarctica is losing more ice at an accelerating rate. Over the past 10 years, the rate of ice melt has tripled. As a result sea levels are rising fast, according to a study published in Nature made possible by the NWO Netherlands Polar Programme.

Building dams and reservoirs leads to more water use and shortage
Building reservoirs leads to increases in long-term water use, resulting in prolonged periods of droughts and water shortages in downstream regions. Veni researcher Niko Wanders, who also won the NWO Vening Meinesz prize this year, recommends to put more effort into water conservation measures rather than in increased water supply.


Collision with galaxy has formed the Milky Way
A giant collision has formed the outer parts of our Milky Way. Ten billion years ago the Milky Way collided with another galaxy. Vici researcher Amina Helmi has published her findings in the journal Nature.

Westerbork Radio Telescope’s major upgrade
On 13 September the Westerbork Radio Telescope not only celebrated its 50 years anniversary. It also opened the new receiver Apertif that increases the field of view 37 times. ASTRON has developed Apertif with two investment grants NWO large.

Life sciences

NICO expedition discovers new coral reef
A pristine, 10-km-long piece of coral reef and living pillars of chalk algae were discovered by scientists during the sixth stage of the NICO expedition while they were investigating the seafloor and corals near Saba.

Bacteria as living factories for the production of powerful antibiotics
By definition, antibiotics kill bacteria. Nevertheless, TU Delft researchers have succeeded in engineering bacteria to produce promising amounts of a simple carbapenem antibiotic.


Fluorescent ‘breathalyzer’ makes optimisation of catalysts much easier
A breath test instead of a blood test. That’s how much easier it is to use the test for industrial catalysts developed by chemists from Utrecht. Fluorescent molecules show which catalyst works better than the others. They published their results in Nature Chemistry of 5 November.

Producing water from air? It’s possible!
By learning how nature collects water in dry coastal areas, Sponsh has developed a temperature-sensitive textile that produces water from the air. Completely off-grid, zero-energy and affordable. Researcher Catarina Esteves (TU/e) developed an addition for cotton five years ago, so that material can hold a multiple of its own weight of water. Sponsh brings this technology as a new form of water supply, especially in dry coastal areas, where a square meter of cotton can produce more than a liter of water per night. Sponsh received the Gouden KIEM for this development, which was awarded during CHAINS2018.


An almost perfect material for research into quantum effects
Researchers at the MESA+ research institute of the University of Twente, working together with colleagues in Delft and Eindhoven, have successfully developed nanowires allowing individual electrons to be captured by a ‘quantum dot’ on which superconductivity can take place. This means such nanowires could play a role in the development of quantum computers. The results were published in the science journal Advanced Materials.

Loops, loops, and more loops: This is how your DNA gets organised
A living cell is able to neatly package a big jumble of DNA, over two meters in length, into tidy, tiny chromosomes while preparing for cell division. For over a century, it has been clear that a cell can do so, but scientists have been puzzled for decades on how the process works. Researchers from the Kavli Institute of Delft University and EMBL Heidelberg now managed for the first time to isolate and film the process, and witnessed—in real time—how a single protein complex called condensin reels in DNA to extrude a loop. By extruding many such loops in long strands of DNA, a cell effectively compacts its genome so it can be distributed evenly to its two daughter cells.


Mathematics researchers set to work with causal relationship of Statistics Netherlands data
During the Study Group on Mathematics with the Industry, researchers set to work on whether the gas production changes imposed by the Dutch government had an influence on the number of earthquakes. The outcome of the research is an algorithm with which you can determine whether you can make a statement about causality on the basis of the data. This was not possible for gas drilling. The outcome of the methodological research is a big step forward for Statistics Netherlands. 'We now have a scientific basis for avoiding statements about causality. If we do make a statement about cause and effect, we can now show that that connection is real.'

Mathematical modeling of burns
Wound healing is a complex process with many facets and is often difficult to quantitatively investigate in clinical situations. As an alternative, mathematical models are used to further unravel the form of this process.

Computer science

Better football results thanks to data science
Thanks to the recent collaboration between sports scientists and data scientists, athletes will soon be able to train in a scientifically sound way and play matches. Expected advantage: better performance of top athletes and amateurs.

Shazem for mosquitos
To investigate whether there are other mosquitoes besides the Aedes aegypti mosquito that transmit the Zika virus, Felix Hol developed an app with which the buzzing sounds of the mosquito can be converted to identification of the mosquito species.

Domain Science Events

Dutch Mathematical Congress:
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Source: NWO