In January 2019, twelve academics, who have left their fatherland due to a threatening situation, have received a one-year appointment to continue their scientific career in the Netherlands. Ten of the refugees appointed are men, and two are women. A total budget of 750,000 euros was available for the pilot.

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Modelling the changing sediment yield of the Amazon for the next 100 years and the impact on the Surinamese coast
Applicant: Prof. Steven de Jong
Institution: Utrecht University & Anton de Kom University of Suriname
Candidate: Safaa Naffaa MSc

Climate change and deforestation will change the Amazon River discharge and sediment supply with potentially large consequences for the low-lying coast of Suriname. Our model forecasts will help predict future impacts on sediment delivery and coastal evolution. Such knowledge is urgently needed to protect the coasts and develop mitigation measures.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) of carotid plaques for tailored treatment of stroke patients
Applicant: Prof. Eline Kooi
Institution: CARIM, Maastricht University Medical Center+
Candidate: Mohamed Kassem MD

MRI can visualise details within an atherosclerotic plaque to improve identification of patients with an increased risk for stroke. In this project, we will investigate whether advanced MRI techniques can be used to improve the selection of patients who will benefit from surgery to reduce stroke risk.

TRITON: Targeting mRNA for ImmunoTherapy in ONcology
Applicant: Prof. Raymond Schiffelers
Institution: University Medical Center Utrecht
Candidate: Khalid Aldakkak MSc

Immunotherapy of cancer is promising but expensive. In this project, the researchers will develop nanoparticles that can be injected locally into the tumor to mount an antitumor response.

Imperial ideology and architectural heritage: Damascus under the Mamluk Sultans (1260-1516 AD)
Applicant: Dr Gabrielle van den Berg
Institution: Leiden University
Candidate: Dr Ghazwan Yaghi

This project investigates the interrelationship between imperial ideology and architecture in the city of Damascus during the Mamluk sultanate (13th-15th centuries). It does so by analysing six monumental buildings erected by members of the Mamluk political-military elites and identifying the representations of rulership these elites tried to convey through architecture.

Weaponising Students: Mobilising and militarising the National Union of Syrian Students
Applicant: Dr Uğur Ümit Üngör
Institution: Utrecht University
Candidate: Ali Aljasem MA

Students are often known for their activism, but how can students get involved in a civil war? This project looks at the involvement of Syrian students as paramilitaries in the conflict in Syria, in particular in the rebellious university city Aleppo, through an analysis of mobilisation and the commission of violence.

What causes impairments in emotional communication between native Dutch and refugees?
Applicant: Dr Disa Sauter
Institution: University of Amsterdam
Candidate: Dr Shahira Sharaf

This project looks at why emotional communication between native Dutch people and Arabic refugees is often difficult. The results will tell us about how attitudes towards refugees can affect how we understand how they feel, as well as showing the potential for learning through inter-group contact.

Enacting the social contract: Civil disobedience in Armenia
Applicant: Dr Robin Celikates
Institution: University of Amsterdam
Candidate: Hrayr Manukyan MA

This research project is a case study of the Armenian Velvet Revolution, which came as a surprise to the international community and most academics. It establishes that the Armenian campaign of civil disobedience has a deeper significance than the dominant theoretical models of civil disobedience are able to grasp.

High-tech battleships against rubber dinghies? The influence of lobby groups on EU military operation 'Sophia' against migrant smugglers
Applicant: Dr Giselle Bosse
Institution: Maastricht University
Candidate: Name known to NWO

Although it has no army, the EU deploys thousands of personnel for its own military operations abroad. This study provides new insights into how the EU decides on highly risky operations, presenting the first systematic study on unaccountable lobby groups’ influence on EU 'Sophia', the largest, most expensive operation to date. 

Detection of vegetation droughts and their propagation over continents
Applicant: Dr Ruud van der Ent
Institution: Delft University of Technology
Candidate: Fares Al Hasan MSc

In this project, we investigate how the 2018 European summer drought was caused and how it could develop into such an extreme event. We study the role of the land surface and the vegetation in the intensification, persistence and spatial propagation of the drought.

Nervous guts and their road to colorectal cancer
Applicant: Dr Veerle Melotte
Institution: Maastricht University Medical Center+
Candidate: Musa Idris MSc.

Components of the tumor-microenvironment play an important role in the development of colorectal cancer. In this project, we will create a 3D culture model to investigate the role of the enteric nervous system in colorectal carcinogenesis.

FAIR share: ex vivo conservation of Zebrafish models
Applicant: Prof. Caroline Klaver
Institution: Erasmus MC
Candidate: Dr Ijaz Qadeer Kahn, DVM

Zebrafish can be used to model many medical issues in people. The growing number of zebrafish lines require improved methods for archiving these sustainably (deep freezing) and subsequently making these available for exchange with the global research community. The candidate is an expert on animal reproductive technology.

The interplay between cognitive ability and social origin in explaining educational attainment: do twins and non-twin siblings differ?
Applicant: Prof. Ineke Maas
Institution: Utrecht University
Candidate: Dr V.M. Barsegyan

Children of high-status parents often do well in school, even with relatively low cognitive ability. This has been found in twin studies. In this project we will investigate whether this finding is applicable to the total population, which mainly consists of non-twin children.