Rubicon awarded grants round 2019-1

Overview of grants awarded in the Rubicon programme round 1, 2019.

Facts and figures

Total (eligable) applicants: 61 (28 woman / 33 man)
Overall award rate: 26.2%
Award rate women: 28.6%
Award rate men: 24.2%

Five laureates are going to the United States
Three laureates are going to the United Kingdom
Two laureates are going to Germany
A laureate is going to Australia
A laureate is going to Switzerland
A laureate is going to Sweden
A laureate is going to Canada
A laureate is going to France
A laureate is going to Denmark

Public summaries proposals awarded funding

(alphabetical according to surname)


Which role does the cortex play in cognitive disorders in psychiatric patients?
Dr B.M.L. (Bart) Baselmans (m), VU Amsterdam -> Australia, University of Queensland, Institute for Molecular Bioscience, 18 months

Genetic effects play a role in both schizophrenic and bipolar patients as equally in the cognitive disorders often present in this group. The researcher will determine whether the genetic architecture of the cortex plays an important role in this.


Superconducting junctions without interfaces
Dr M.R. (Maarten) van Delft (m), Radboud University -> Switzerland, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Laboratory of Quantum Materials, 24 months

An important component of superconducting electronics is the Josephson junction, which is currently produced using different materials. As the interfaces between these materials limit the quality of the junction, the researcher will develop a new way of producing junctions within a single material.

Self-strengthening effects in the development of autism
M.K. (Marie) Deserno MSc (f), University of Amsterdam -> Germany, Max Planck Institute of Human Development, 22 months

Clinicians often see autism as a multi-causal phenomenon instead of a single underlying abnormality. The researcher will translate this way of thinking into formal models to throw new light on when somebody will have the most benefit from an intervention.


When does a difficult youth lead to illness?
Dr L.K. (Leonie) Elsenburg (f), University of Groningen -> Denmark, University of Copenhagen, Department of Public Health, 18 months

Children who grow up in difficult circumstances more frequently develop physical health problems as adults. This project will acquire insight into precisely which circumstances form a risk, when these circumstances form a risk and whether this risk develops via health problems in adolescence.


Flexible mechanical metamaterials for energy management in microrobots
Dr D. (Davood) Farhadi Machekposhti (m), TU Delft -> US, Harvard University, John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, 24 months

Batteries limit the scalability and energy autonomy of microrobots. This research focusses on the development of flexible mechanical metamaterials for energy management in robots that are scalable, soft and autonomous, in a way similar to biological organisms.


Counteracting endogenous DNA damage
E.M. (Ewa) Gogola MSc (f), Netherlands Cancer Institute -> UK, MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, 24 months

Every day our cells produce toxic substances as a result of normal metabolism. This research aims to examine how cells in different tissues cope with the damage caused by the endogenous substance formaldehyde, a molecule that damages our DNA.


Memory of the stressed brain
Dr S.L. (Sylvie) Lesuis (f), University of Amsterdam -> Canada, Hospital for Sick Children, Josselyn Lab, 24 months

Anxiety disorders can arise due to memory generalisation in which too many environmental signals are experienced as threatening. Exposure to stress strengthens such generalisation and can therefore contribute to these disorders. In this research, the mechanism underlying that will be investigated.


Manipulating defects in crystals with light
Dr B. (Berend) van der Meer (m), Utrecht University -> UK, University of Oxford, Department of Chemistry, 24 months

The (non-)deliberate insertion of lattice defects in crystalline materials forms the basis for many material properties. Using a strongly focused laser beam the researchers will apply defects in crystals and study their behaviour with a microscope.

How cancer cells take over bone remodelling
Dr J. (Johanna) Melke (f). Eindhoven University of Technology -> US, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Biological Engineering, 24 months

Breast cancer frequently metastasises to bone where it manipulates bone cells into stimulating tumour growth and degrading the bone tissue. By developing sophisticated tissue models of bone metastasis, the researcher will investigate how bone cells attract and interact with cancer cells to prevent metastasis-related bone destruction.


Smarter supply management with big data
Dr D.R.J. (Dennis) Prak (m), University of Groningen ->Germany, TU München - Operations & Supply Chain Management, 24 months

Traditional supply models split the supply chain up into independent blocks that can be studied stably and in isolation, whereas modern operations are dynamic and integrated. This research will yield smarter order rules that make optimal use of all available data and can also rapidly “adapt by learning”.


Flu virus a difficult vaccine target
Dr A. (Alba) Torrents de la Peña (f), Amsterdam UMC location AMC -> US, Scripps Research, Department of Integrative Structural and Computational Biology, 24 months

Vaccines can provide lifelong protection if vaccination occurs in the early phases of life. What makes the flu virus so special? The researcher will use powerful microscopes to study the evolution of the virus and the immune system of patients before and after vaccination.


Refugees as migrant workers
Dr Z.D. (Zvezda) Vankova (f), Maastricht University -> Sweden, Lund University, Faculty of Law, 24 months

The United Nations has proposed that refugees should have facilitated access to admission into a country as labour migrants. The researcher will examine this idea to assess whether it is a feasible option in the EU context.

A modern faith: Equality
Dr D. (Devin) Vartija (m), Utrecht University -> France, École des hautes études en sciences sociales, 24 months

Rising social and economic inequality are giving rise to a worldwide “crisis of equality”. As a result of this the stability of democracies is threatened. This project investigates how faith in equality arose in the intellectual movement that made our modern democracy possible: Enlightenment.

The optimistic brain
Dr J.P.H. (Jeroen) Verharen (m), UMC Utrecht -> US, University of California Berkeley, Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute, 24 months

Healthy people exhibit a so-called “optimism bias”, the phenomenon that we overestimate the chance of a positive event. I will investigate how the signal substance dopamine is involved in optimistic behaviour, and why optimism is reduced in the case of psychiatric disorders such as depression.

New look at deafness
Dr R.E. (Ruben) Verwaal (m), University of Groningen/Erasmus MC -> UK, Durham University, Institute for Medical Humanities, 24 months

The deaf and hard of hearing often feel excluded. That makes inclusion a challenge. This research will determine through an integrated social and medical approach how people in the 18th-century successfully tackled deafness and hearing differences.


Stopping nuclear terrorists and detecting cancer
W. W. Wolszczak MSc (f), TU Delft -> US, Wake Forest University, 24 months

Nuclear radiation is present in our daily life and is used in numerous applications like diagnosing cancer or preventing nuclear terrorist attacks. However, the ability of current detectors to distinguish different radiation energies is limited. The researcher will study a new mode of radiation detection with pulse shape analysis. This will enable the development of cheap and high-resolution detectors making the world a healthier and safer place.


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