Veni 2021

In 2021, NWO had to alter its planning of the Veni rounds. First as a result of the pandemic, and then as a result of a hack, which forced NWO to suspend all activities. Last spring, this led to different planning scenarios for the various science domains. NWO used the original planning from before the hack for the science domains ENW (no preproposal phase yet) and ZonMw (not affected by the hack), whereas the revised planning applied to the SSH and AES domains.

Facts and figures round 2021

When all decisions about the awards have been made, all facts and figures will be published together.

  • Veni 2021 number of (admissible) submissions, by gender

    Domain Total Pre-proposal Full proposal Women % Men %
    Science 308 ~ 308 121 39 187 61
    Health Research and Development (ZonMw) 226 226 84 49 58 35 42
    Social Sciences and Humanities 577 577 296 162 55 134 45
    Applied and Engineering Sciences 169 169 71 20 28 51 72
    Total 1280   759 352 46 407 54

     

  • Veni 2021 number of grants awarded, by gender

    Domain Total Award rate Women % Men %
    Science 64 21 35 55 29 45
    Health Research and Development (ZonMw) 25 30 14 56 11 44
    Social Sciences and Humanities 60 20 40 67 20 33
    Applied and Engineering Sciences 18 25 8 44 10 56
    Total 167 22 97 58 70 42

     

Awarded research projects

Below you find a list with the names of researchers per domain, working titles and  the summaries of their research projects. 

  • Sorted Alphabetically

    A

    Empowering meta-analysis by taking advantage of preregistered and replication studies

    dr. R.C.M. van Aert (M), Tilburg University

    An important threat to the validity of meta-analyses is publication bias. Replication and preregistered studies are deemed less susceptible to publication bias. I will develop a novel meta-analysis methodology that optimally synthesizes conventional with replication/preregistered studies and corrects for publication bias. This new methodology yields more accurate conclusions in meta-analyses.

    Nanotrivax: three-component nanobody-vaccines targeting human dendritic cells for immunotherapy

    Alsya Affandi PhD, VU Medical Center

    Dendritic cells (DCs) are master regulators of immune system that have tremendous immunotherapy potential; however, current strategies have been unsatisfactory. Here, I aim to develop nanobody-based vaccines, consisting DC-targeting and DC-modulating nanobodies, conjugated to disease-antigen, to improve anti-tumor immune responses in cancer, or to dampen inflammation in autoimmune diseases.

    Beyond Binaries: Intersex in Islamic Legal Tradition

    dr. M.  Alipour (M), Utrecht University

    While since the sixteenth century Shiʿi jurists proposed a third gender to categorise intersex individuals, contemporary Islamic discourses employ a binary gender logic. Challenging the binary approach, this legal-hermeneutical study examines the little-understood non-binary conceptions of gender in Shiʿi Islamic law, which remain essential for intersex and transgender Muslims today.

     

    Fathers combining work and care

    S.C.H.  André (V), Radboud University Nijmegen

    Although fathers and mothers increasingly aspire to share working hours and care responsibilities equally, this often seems not to happen in practice. Many fathers work more hours and are less involved in childcare than they would like. This could change if they used care-related work arrangements like part-time work, parental leave, flexible working and homeworking. Adopting an interdisciplinary approach, this study aims to clarify the factors that influence the relationship between fathers’ work-care ambition and behaviour at four levels (the household, friends and family, work and country), so that we can learn how to make combining work and care easier.

    Targeting the viral sweet tooth: designing a new class of anti-virals

    dr. Z.W.B. Armstrong (M), Universiteit Leiden

    Our cells are coated with a thick layer of sugars that viruses bind to infect our cells. When released, viruses modify these sugars so they can proceed to a new target. This research will design and test molecules that stop viruses from modifying sugars, creating a new class of anti-virals.

    B

    Understanding emergent quantum states atom-by-atom

    dr. K.M. Bastiaans (M), Technische Universiteit Delft

    Coupling two quantum states creates new electronic properties that are not present when both are taken separately. This research remotely couples individual atoms on an exotic superconductor, allowing researchers to watch while the new properties emerge, providing a deeper look into the mysteries behind superconductivity.

    How can computational models reflect multilingual language understanding?

    dr. L.M.  Beinborn (F), VU Amsterdam

    When we communicate in a foreign language, we often use cues from our mother tongue to facilitate comprehension. Computational models ignore the differences between languages but still perform well in cross-lingual understanding. This research examines if multilingual models can reflect transfer effects and aims at developing cognitively plausible models to support language learning.

    Language variation at home and abroad: the case of P’urhepecha in Mexico and its US diaspora

    dr. K.R.  Bellamy (F), Leiden University

    Heritage speakers display considerable intra-group linguistic variation. By documenting lexical and morpho-syntactic patterns among P’urhepecha speakers in Mexico and the US diaspora, this project will investigate the sources of this variation. The ensuing online dialect atlas will serve as an online resource for speakers, learners and researchers of the language.

    Strong correlations or structural changes?

    dr. A.B. Betken (V), University of Twente

    Yearly averaged temperatures, daily values of stock market indices, your minutely recorded heartbeat. Time series appear everywhere. Do deviations in their progression result from structural changes or long-term correlations? This question corresponds to a relevant, but misunderstood problem. My research changes perspective on this issue and offers a mathematical solution.

    Peeking into the lairs of fast radio bursts using LOFAR

    dr. S. Bhandari (V), ASTRON (JIVE)

    Fast radio bursts are flashes of radio light originating from far-away galaxies. Astrophysicists have puzzled for over a decade about what extreme type of star produces them. Using the LOFAR telescope, astrophysicists can measure the distortions that are imprinted on such bursts by their environment, and thereby decipher their physical nature.

    Lesion patterns: the smoking gun for pinpointing the cause of vascular brain injury

    Dr. Matthijs Biesbroek, UMC Utrecht

    Vascular injury to the brain white matter is very common and can have multiple causes. In many cases, targeted treatment is hampered by our inability to identify the cause. My concept is that the cause in individual patients can be pinpointed using vascular lesion location.

    Finding the force to fight brain tumors

    dr. E.J. Bodegraven (V), Universitair Medisch Centrum Utrecht

    Brain tumor cells easily infiltrate surrounding healthy brain tissue. This is how they escape treatment. Physical forces generated by cells in surrounding brain tissue impact their infiltration and thereby tumor malignancy. This research investigates the mechanisms generating these physical forces, which can lead to the identification of new therapeutic targets.

    The imprint of deep-time paleoenvironmental change on biodiversity

    dr. L.M. Boschman (V), Universiteit Utrecht

    New Caledonia, an island in the Pacific Ocean, is a biodiversity hotspot with a unique species composition. It is unclear why. To better understand how biodiversity develops through geological time, I will study the origin of New Caledonian life, and how it adapted to changes in geography, soil, and climate.

    How to manage multiple team memberships

    dr. H.J. van de Brake (M), University of Groningen

    Many people work in multiple teams at the same time. Yet we know surprisingly little about the consequences of this work practice for employee wellbeing and performance. The proposed project examines why and when working in multiple teams has positive or negative effects. In doing so, I will not only look at the total number of teams in which a person is active, but also examine how these teams differ from each other.

    Geometry of the moduli of twisted K3 surfaces

    dr. E.L. Brakkee (V), Universiteit Leiden

    Twisted K3 surfaces are two-dimensional objects that are very important in geometry. Their moduli space describes how many twisted K3 surfaces there are and how they relate to each other. The researcher will use the properties of this moduli space to answer questions about twisted K3 surfaces.

     

    PANDA: feasibility of PediAtric Neural baseD communicAtion

    dr. M.P. Branco (F), UMC Utrecht

    Hundreds of children are born with severe physical impairment and are unable to communicate effectively. What if these children could use their brain signals to communicate and participate in society? An implantable communication Brain-Computer Interface (cBCI) would allow brain signals to be directly translated into computer commands, thereby enabling the user to control communication software. Although already possible for adults, the development of implanted cBCIs for children with disabilities has been left mostly untouched. This research aims to evaluate the feasibility of implantable cBCI technology to establish communication in children with severe physical impairments.

     

    Combatting organisational amnesia after crises

    dr. W.G.  Broekema (M), Leiden University

    Society expects from public organisations to learn from crises, to respond more effectively to future contingencies. However, organisations often forget these hard-learned lessons soon again, resulting in repeating mistakes. This project explains why some organisations forget lessons and others retain them, analysing Covid-19 lessons in ‘real time’ over three years.

    C

    Free Speech and Censorship in the Digital Society: A computational study of the determinants and effects of political speech regulation by social media companies

    dr. A.  Casas Salleras (M), VU Amsterdam

    Private social media companies increasingly play a role in regulating (political) speech online, posing a clear threat to democratic accountability. Due to a lack of transparency and independent research, we do not clearly know the conditions under which platforms regulate speech, nor the effects (and effectiveness) of their policies. Challenges related to analysing big SM data have made it difficult for research on this pressing topic to flourish. I ramp-up this research by leveraging innovative computational methods to disentangle the nature of this new speech regulation paradigm, as well as its effects on the politically-relevant behavior of users.

     

    The Garden Complex

    dr. ir. B.  Cattoor (F), Delft University of Technology

    Gardens are a major source of urban resilience: they are key in countering climate change effects and biodiversity loss, and are greatly beneficial to human health and well-being. Despite these powerful capacities, the garden complex –the sum of urban gardens– has been largely overlooked in research and planning. This is especially problematic because gardens occupy 30% of urban ground, but they risk disappearing or face critical change due to densification, environmental stress and changing lifestyles. This VENI addresses, analyses and activates the garden complex and thereby contributes to co-creating a more sustainable, liveable and resilient urban future.

    Sulfur ice in space – a hot topic

    dr. K.J. Chuang (M), Universiteit Leiden

    The researcher investigates in the laboratory the evolution of interstellar ices aiming to provide a broader picture of how and when the building blocks of life form in space. A special focus is on sulfur-bearing molecules that play an important role in connecting interstellar organics to biologically relevant macromolecules on Earth.

    Fighting coronavirus outbreaks

    dr. Y. Cong (V), Rijksuniversiteit Groningen

    Coronaviruses are a recurring threat to human health and the farming industry, and new epidemics will inevitably emerge. This project aims at identifying and characterizing compounds that block the conserved mechanism of viral replication in coronaviruses. The ultimate goal of this project is to provide anti-coronaviral compounds to fight future coronavirus outbreaks.

    Disposing of neurodegenerative diseases: A bivalent molecular approach to degrading intrinsically disordered proteins.

    dr. P. Cossar (M), Technische Universiteit Eindhoven

    Intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs) cause neurodegenerative diseases, including Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. Currently, IDPs are considered to be 'undruggable', as drugs cannot stick to these highly flexible and disorganized proteins. This new approach captures the IDP within a protein cage and disposes of the IDP using the cells natural disposal system.

    Critical climate transitions

    dr. M.J. Cramwinckel (V), Universiteit Utrecht

    Gradual global warming might critically accelerate when carbon is released from soil and seafloor reservoirs. However, the threshold level of warming for these tipping points remains unknown. This research utilizes climate tipping points from the geological past to predict future climate change scenarios, crucial for achieving the Paris Agreement goals.

     

    Physics-informed AI to avoid power blackouts in the energy transition

    dr. J.L.C. Cremer (M), Delft University of Technology

    Sudden catastrophic power blackouts across entire regions can last for months, with serious consequences for society. Even experts cannot quickly understand when blackouts occur and there is no efficient countermeasure. This research uses artificial intelligence to predict power blackouts and provides an effective countermeasure that can accelerate the energy transition and protect society from the next pan-European blackout.

    Intercepting Cancer’s Mail; how extracellular vesicles micro-manage the secretome

    Caitrin Crudden Ph.D, Amsterdam UMC

    Cell biology relies on so-called ‘lock and key’ receptor-ligand interactions. But ‘keys’ (ligands) are not freefloating on their quest to find their ‘lock’ (receptor). Instead ’key-chains’ (decoys) hold them and dictate their freedom. I will investigate how these molecular key-chains control cell-migration in cancer, a process fundamental to disease progression.

    D

    Unravelling and quantifying the impacts of viruses on greenhouse gas emissions from soils

    dr. P. Dalcin Martins (V), Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen

    Viruses in soils infect diverse forms of life. However, it is not known how this impacts soil health and greenhouse gas emissions. This research will reveal the identity and role of soil viruses. This knowledge will help to counteract climate change.

    Slow SPEED: Slowing Parkinson’s disease Early through Exercise Dosage

    Dr. Sirwan Darweesh, Radboudumc

    Disease-slowing interventions have been ineffective in clinically manifest Parkinson’s disease (PD), when pathology is already advanced, but could succeed in prodromal PD, when pathology is limited. I will investigate the feasibility and search for efficacy of a gamified-enhanced, remotely delivered exercise intervention in prodromal PD by leveraging digital biomarkers.

     

    Citizens to the rescue or going rogue? Harnessing the potential of online self-organization against crime

    dr. R.  Dekker (F), Utrecht University

    In academic and societal debate, citizen self-organization is seen as a positive development. However, online self-organization against crime raises important normative questions. I will examine how social media logic changes citizen self-organization, how law enforcement evaluates this phenomenon and how we can harness the potential of online self-organization for policework.

    Breathing metal and eating poison

    dr. ir. M. Diender (M), Wageningen University & Research

    The increasing use of electronics causes a soaring demand for metals like copper, nickel and cobalt. This results in generation of metal-rich waste streams that pose an environmental and health risk. This research aims to study carbon monoxide utilizing microorganisms that can reduce and precipitate valuable metals from these streams. This study aims to identify and characterize these microbes and study their interactions with these metals.

    Resolving treatment resistance in youth with aggressive behavior problems – A virtual reality approach

    dr. A. van Dijk (F), University of Amsterdam

    Over 45% of youth with aggressive behavior problems stop treatment against the advice of their therapist. What can therapists do to resolve treatment resistance in these youth? This project uses interactive virtual reality technology to investigate how therapist behaviors may cause resistance and provides a training environment for therapists to practice resolving resistance.

    Personalizing radiotherapy with Artificial Intelligence: reducing the toxicity burden for cancer survivors

    Lisanne van Dijk PhD, University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG)

    Many head and neck cancer patients suffer from persistent severe toxicities following radiotherapy. As survival rates increase, toxicity reduction has become more pivotal. This project uses Artificial Intelligence techniques to predict toxicity trajectories, which can facilitate personalized decision-support to guide physicians in finding optimal strategies to reduce these severe toxicities.

     

    The Missing Entrepreneurs? The Diversity of Female Entrepreneurship in Europe, 1900-2020

    dr. S.  Dilli (F), Utrecht University

     Female entrepreneurship is not a recent phenomenon. Nevertheless, we still know little about the historical development of female entrepreneurship, let alone about the explanations behind it. This project will collect new comparable time-series data on female business-owners and innovators in Europe since 1900. Based on this evidence, it will demonstrate the factors that explain the change in female entrepreneurship.

    Stratified Weil spaces

    dr. R. van Dobben de Bruyn (M), Universiteit Utrecht

    The complexity of a geometric object is captured by numerical invariants such as the number of holes. Arithmetic geometers study a spectrum of invariants (one for each prime number), and a long-standing open problem is whether these all agree. This project develops new techniques for answering this question.

    ACCELERATE: ZebrAfish CanCer modEl Leading thE way towaRds treAtmenT dEvelopment for phaeochromocytomas and paragangliomas.

    Dr. M.A. Dona, Radboudumc Nijmegen

    Mutations in the SDHB-gene are the most important risk factor for malignant phaeochromocytomas and paragangliomas, endocrine tumours, for which no curative treatment is available. This project entails the development of a mutant zebrafish tumour model, in which treatment modalities will be tested leading to novel treatment possibilities.

    Cutting edge roots

    dr. M. van Dop (V), Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen

    It is important for plant development that some cells let go of the plant. The plant ensures that the correct connections between cells are broken, otherwise the plant would fall apart. I will investigate how a plant cell determines which connections should be broken, and how this cell release happens.

     

    Sustainable and Miniature Power Solutions for Future Internet-of-Things

    dr. S. Du (M), Delft University of Technology

    Making wireless sensor devices self-sustainable and small, with energy harvesting solutions and sub-mm dimensions, will be critical in future Internet-of-Things applications, e.g., in healthcare and smart-farming systems. However, current self-sustained devices are larger, with dimensions dominated by off-chip inductors. Removing these inductors can potentially decrease the system size by 99%, and pave the way to real-world implementations and commercialisation. This project proposes a new inductor-less architecture for energy harvesting systems. It achieves higher energy efficiency than conventional inductor-based systems, breaks the miniaturisation barrier, and enables fully silicon-integrated self-sustained wireless sensing devices for future Internet-of-Things.

    Removal of toxic anthropogenic solutes in drinking water treatment by electrochemical polishing

    dr. J.E. Dykstra (M), Wageningen University & Research

    The presence of anthropogenic components in surface water, sometimes already toxic at very low concentrations, challenges the applicability of conventional technologies to produce safe drinking water. The chemical charge of some components, such as boron, arsenic and some organic micropollutants, is affected by the solution pH, and effective removal is challenging with conventional technologies. An innovative, chemical-free, electrochemical technology will be developed to polish, after conventional treatment, water, and to remove these harmful components. A physical-chemical transport model will be developed, which will aid the design of this innovative process.

    E

    Go or grow? Moving mountain slopes meet migrating mountain plants

    dr. J. Eichel (V), Universiteit Utrecht

    Climate change forces plants to migrate upslope and mountain slopes to move downslope. Will migrating plants stabilize moving slopes, or will slope movement limit plant migration? This research will unravel feedbacks between slope movements and migrating plants to protect mountain communities, infrastructure and ecosystems from natural hazards and biodiversity loss.

    Shining light on green chemistry

    dr. F.R. Eisenreich (M), Universiteit van Amsterdam

    Sustainable technologies are key to reduce our future environmental footprint. In terms of green chemistry, the top priority is the development of efficient methods for performing chemical reactions in pure water. Here, researchers will use tailor-made nanoreactors to conduct valuable chemical transformations in aqueous solutions with the power of (sun)light.

     

    The missing link: How to make global supply chains more sustainable

    dr. K.H.  Eller (M), University of Amsterdam

    A wave of recent regulations at the national, European and international level requires companies to guarantee sustainability and human rights in global supply chains. Despite these efforts, illegality and rights violations persist. This project provides the missing link. It shows the roots of current loopholes and how to prevent them.

     

    From common ground to battleground? Public perceptions of bias in impartial institutions

    dr. E.J. van Elsas (F), Radboud University Nijmegen

    Supposedly impartial institutions – such as courts, the police, and universities – are often accused of bias. But to what extent do citizens perceive these institutions as biased, and where do such bias perceptions come from? This project answers these questions by combining content analysis, original survey data and experiments.

    RabiBoost: Restoring suppressed immune pathways as a novel post-exposure treatment for rabies virus (RABV).

    Dr. Carmen Embregts, Department of Viroscience, Erasmus Medical Centre

    RABV suppresses the immune system and reaches the brain unnoticed. At this stage no treatment options are available, and all rabies patients (59,000/year worldwide), die. I aim to understand how RABV suppresses the immune system, and use this knowledge to test novel treatments that restore and enhance the immune response.

     

    Didactic Intention and Cultural Intervention: Contemporary Activist Authorship in Germany and Britain

    dr. L.  Essa (F), Utrecht University

    This project analyses how authors from marginalised communities aim to reach – and teach! – wide audiences with works of literature, film, and theatre that are designed to disrupt ethno-nationalist visions of Germany and Britain. It rethinks didactic art and the significance of authorial intention in literary and cultural studies.

    F

    Eat it right!

    dr. J.M.M. Fedry (V), Universiteit Utrecht

    The endoplasmic reticulum is a vital cell compartment. Upon stress, parts are degraded by « self-eating » ER-phagy mechanisms, of which we still lack a detailed understanding. This project uses microscopy and mass spectrometry techniques to study ER-phagy. The results can provide molecular basis for anticancer drug design.

    Designer proteins on display

    dr. M.J.L.J. Fürst (M), Rijksuniversiteit Groningen

    “Protein display” is among the most powerful engineering strategies researchers have devised to equip proteins with useful functions, because it allows assessing millions of variants. The researcher here describes the first display method that labels proteins with a molecular “barcode” to rapidly identify characteristics of computer-designed proteins.

    G

    I did it! Or did I? Towards diagnostic confession evidence in police interrogations

    dr. L.M.  Geven (F), Leiden University

    Image being convicted for a crime you never committed. It sounds counterintuitive, yet upon surfacing wrongful convictions worldwide, innocents have shown to be coerced to confess to police. However, to date, police officers, judges and juries are unable to tell innocence from guilt based on your confession statement, with a magnitude of consequences. Using new experimental methods to elicit confessions, this project aspires to identify coercive factors in the interrogation room. Then, innovative lie detection tools based on verbal and behavioural cues to deceit will be implemented to find the truth behind the confession.

    Understanding the molecular origin of collagen’s mechanical failure in osteogenesis imperfecta

    dr. G. Giubertoni (V), Universiteit van Amsterdam

    Osteogenesis imperfecta is a life-changing, occasionally lethal, disease caused by mutations in the genes encoding collagen, the main building block of all human connective tissues such as bones.  I will investigate the molecular origin of this disease and identify the molecular properties determining the success or failure of collagen biomaterials.

    Through the looking-glass: an in depth-look at the role of inflammation in early cellular reprogramming in bone marrow fibrosis

    Dr. Hélène Gleitz, Erasmus MC

    Bone marrow fibrosis is a disorder where normal marrow tissue is gradually replaced by scar-like tissue, leading to bone marrow failure and death. Recent data suggests that inflammation plays a role in driving this process, yet the mechanisms remain unknown. This research focuses on targeting inflammation as a treatment strategy.

    Smoothing the Optical Bumps in the Road for Future Gravitational-Wave Detectors

    dr. A.C. Green (V), Nikhef

    Small optical defects in detectors can have a major impact on how clearly, how often and from how far we can observe gravitational wave signals. The researcher will improve and develop techniques that limit these defects, thus contributing to the success and accuracy of the Einstein Telescope.

    Engineered topological quantum networks

    dr. E. Greplova (V), Technische Universiteit Delft

    To scale up quantum technologies scientists need to discover new strategies to overcome quantum noise. This research uses insights from topology for a new way of engineering on-chip quantum networks. With these novel devices, quantum information can be distributed without detrimental effects from quantum noise.

    Helping computers say what they mean to say

    dr. J.D. Groschwitz (M), Universiteit van Amsterdam

    When a computer talks to us, for example when answering a question, it must translate that answer from its inner computer representation to fluent human language. This project combines linguistics and state-of-the-art machine learning to create a language generation system in which the output text expresses exactly what the computer meant to say.

    Mattering Minds: Understanding the Ethical Lives of Technologically Embedded Beings with 4E cognition

    dr. J.B. van Grunsven (F), Delft University of Technology

    That technology plays an important role in how we live our ethical lives is increasingly recognized by philosophers and engineers alike. That said, little attention has been paid to how technology shapes our experience of the expressive bodily lives of others as beings who matter. Using insights from the fast-growing field of 4E cognitive science, this research shows that we are hereby ignoring an important dimension of ethical life that, when understood, can provide new normative insights for technology development.

    Back in fear: Neuronal footprint of fear relapse in the brain

    dr. K. Gulmez-Karaca (V), Radboud Universitair Medisch Centrum

    Memories are stored in the brain as changes in the connectivity between neurons. This project will develop a new technology to capture the neuronal connectivity footprints of specific memories in the brain and investigate the exact mechanisms by which fear memories are stored, erased and may relapse over time.

    H

    Languages as Lifelines: How Multilingualism Helped Netherlandish Refugees Rebuild their Lives (1540–1600)

    dr. A.D.M. van de Haar (F), Leiden University

    In the sixteenth century, thousands fled the war-torn Southern Low Countries for the British Isles, Germany and the Northern Low Countries. This project investigates how these refugees used their language proficiency as starting capital to rebuild their lives. They applied their multilingualism to expand their social networks in exile, and as a professional skill. In doing so, they consciously employed the status of particular languages in their country of arrival. French, for instance, was particularly appreciated by the English aristocracy. The linguistic strategies of these refugees show that language differences do not necessarily hamper integration: rather, multilingualism offers invaluable opportunities.

    A good crisis gone to waste? The 1930s Great Depression and primary export dependence in Africa

    dr. M.A. de Haas (M), Wageningen University & Research

    African economies are vulnerable to unpredictable global demand for agricultural and mineral commodities. This causes boom-bust cycles en complicates poverty reduction. Studying historical crises and their consequences can improve our understanding of this persistent pattern. The 1930s Great Depression signifies the deepest global economic crisis since the Industrial Revolution. Prices for Africa’s export commodities collapsed. Why did Africa’s dependency on such exports increase nonetheless? Using colonial archives, newspapers, and historical statistics, I study the reactions of colonial administrators, farmers and workers in Central and East Africa to explain the impact of the Depression and its consequences for development.

    Restoring T-cell immunity in aggressive breast cancer: Serpins as actionable targets

    Dr. Dora Hammerl, Laboratory of Tumor Immunology, dept Medical Oncology, Erasmus MC Cancer Institute

    Patients with aggressive breast cancer (BC) do not benefit from current therapies. My preliminary data demonstrate that an under-recognized family of proteins, termed Serpins, limit immune cells from reaching and/or eradicating BC. I will interrogate Serpins for anti-immune mechanisms and explore enzymeneutralizing strategies to restore therapeutic responses of aggressive BC.

    Enabling vulnerable communities to build back safer

    dr. E.  Hendriks (F), University of Twente

    To fight disaster risks, resistant housing is crucial. Too often, essential construction techniques are not used by the most vulnerable, despite assistance. Choices made during reconstruction are still insufficiently understood. This study will explore these choices to create effective targeted assistance and to enhance resilience of houses reconstructed after disasters.

    When fatty livers become personal

    dr. D.F.G. Hendriks (V), Hubrecht Institute

    Multiple genetic risk factors have been recently linked to fatty liver disease. However, how these contribute to the development and treatment of the disease is not well understood. Personalized minilivers engineered to carry these genetic risk factors will be generated to better understand their biological role in fatty liver disease.

    Data exploits: Uncovering pathways to digital autonomy for science and society

    dr. S.  Hobbis (F), Wageningen University & Research

    Digital technologies collect and process data through a top-down process that allows for exploitation. By studying how residents of remote environments with long histories of anticolonial resistance navigate digitization, this project uncovers possibilities for autonomy from digital exploitation and generates practice-based responses for more inclusive uses and management of data.

    Shapes inside shapes in mathematics, physics, and biology

    dr. R.S. Hoekzema (V), Universiteit Utrecht

    Evolution of shapes inside shapes is attributed different meaning in different contexts. From embedding spaces in mathematics, particles in a system in physics, to co-evolution of microbiome and host in biology, this proposal studies topology of nestedness and its applications, made possible by the unique multi-disciplinary profile of the researcher.

    Novel catalyst design to speed up chemical conversions

    dr. J.E.S. van der Hoeven (V), Universiteit Utrecht

    Catalysts accelerate chemical reactions for clean and energy efficient manufacturing of materials like polymers and fuels. How well they work depends on the exact structure of the metal nanoparticles of which they are comprised. This proposal describes an innovative design of the metal nanoparticles to boost their catalytic performance.

    Mining the gap: How eukaryotic complexity emerged from prokaryotic fusions and pure inventions

    dr. J.J.E. van Hooff (V), Wageningen University & Research

    Most of the visually perceptible organisms, like plants, animals and fungi, could arise due to the emergence of the complex eukaryotic cell, about two billion years ago. This cell is the product of extensive evolution of much simpler, prokaryotic ancestors. The researcher will examine which genetic changes enabled this evolution.

    Second love: How plants respond to their different friends

    dr. R. Huisman (M), Wageningen University & Research

    Some plants can cooperate with bacteria that fix atmospheric nitrogen into compounds that can be used by the plant. The bacteria communicate with the plant precisely like beneficial fungi would do. Yet, the responds differently to each partner. How did this evolve?

    Structure and function of the enterovirus 2C protein, a promising target for antiviral drugs

    dr. D.L. Hurdiss (M), Universiteit Utrecht

    Enteroviruses infect millions of people yearly and can cause severe and occasionally life-threatening diseases. This project will determine the three-dimensional structure and function of the enterovirus protein 2C that is responsible for viral replication. A detailed understanding of this protein will allow development of urgently needed antiviral therapies.

    I

     

    How can female leaders effectively manage employee voice?

    dr. S.  Isaakyan (F), Erasmus University Rotterdam

    Despite increasing discussions about social equality and societal efforts to introduce it in organisations, female leaders still face gender-related biased evaluations. These evaluations may be triggered when female leaders endorse or reject their employees’ change-oriented ideas, consequently leading to negative implications for themselves. This project seeks to understand these implications and provides timely solutions enabling female leaders to effectively manage their employees’ change-oriented ideas and overcome biased evaluations.

    J

    Valuing the body: a moral history of human tissues in twentieth-century medicine

    dr. N.  Jacobs (F), Erasmus MC

    From organs, blood and bones to urine, milk and sperm—in today's medicine we can donate almost every part of our body. The possibilities seem limitless; but we do set moral limits. What are those limits exactly? Why do we put them where we put them? And how do these boundaries unfold in the daily practice of medicine? In this project, I investigate moralization processes surrounding the use of human tissues in twentieth-century Dutch medical practice. With this historical perspective, I examine how modern medicine has affected how we morally value (parts of) our body.

    How oil made a connected world

    dr. P.  Jafari (M), Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, International Institute of Social History

    Oil has shaped our world profoundly. It has created wealth and mobility, but also socio-ecological degradation and colonial inequalities. This research shows how both trends occurred simultaneously due to the ways oil companies and imperial states transformed land ownership, labour relations and the natural environment in oil producing regions. To overcome the obstacles and resistance that they faced in that process, oil corporations introduced legal, managerial and technological solutions that connected the oil producing regions with the rest of the world, but also institutionalized socio-ecological degradation and colonial inequalities.

    Identifying targetable mechanisms of insomnia in brain aging and dementia.

    Philip Jansen PhD, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

    Insomnia (sleep problems) is associated with aging of the brain and dementia. Whether insomnia is a cause or consequence of normal and accelerated brain aging, and through which mechanisms, is currently unexplored. I use large-scale brain imaging and genetic data to elucidate causal pathways between insomnia,brain aging and dementia.

    Places to not Forget: De-Silencing the Narratives and Heritage of the World’s First Black Republic, Haiti

    dr. J.S.  Jean (M), KITLV

    This project investigates archaeological sites and contemporary practices and interactions with heritage in postcolonial societies. Innovatively combining insights from archaeology, ethnography, and heritage studies, I use Haiti (World’s First Black Republic) to illuminate the importance of involving historically marginalized communities to arrive at inclusive narratives of the past and heritage.

    I spy with my little eye… How the brain generates visual experiences

    dr. M.C. de Jong (F), Spinoza Centre for Neuroimaging - Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences

    Your eyes capture light like a camera, but to see you need your brain. How does your brain integrate visual with subjective information? Neural signals travelling in the opposite, ‘feedback’, direction through a hierarchy of brain regions may play a key role. This project will determine how feedback signals contribute to visual experiences of objects. While human participants view images of real and illusory objects, I will measure feedback signals using advanced neuroimaging techniques and manipulate them with pharmacology. This project will help solve the enigma around feedback signals and, thereby, will help us understand how brain regions work together.

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    The Real Effects of Non-Conventional Monetary Policy: A New Portfolio Channel

    dr. D.M. te Kaat (M), University of Groningen

    Following the global financial crisis, various central banks expanded their set of non-conventional monetary policy instruments. The academic literature studying the impact of these instruments on the real economy mainly focuses on the transmission via increased credit supply. However, to what extent and through which channels do these instruments affect economies with declining credit volumes, as in the case of the euro area post-2008? To answer this question, the proposed research studies unconventional monetary policy transmission outside the credit market through a household portfolio rebalancing channel.

    Ultrasound-informed photoacoustic imaging (UiPI): A new method for personalized risk assessment of ischemic stroke

    dr. F. Kalloor Joseph (M), University of Twente

    Worldwide vascular diseases cause 18 million deaths annually, partly from ischemic strokes caused by rupture of unstable plaque in the carotid artery. Currently, the degree of arterial narrowing is used to decide the treatment type between surgery and medication. This method is suboptimal, resulting in unnecessary surgeries and more occurrences of stroke. Thus, there is an urgency to incorporate instability associated with the plaque composition in deciding the treatment. This project will develop ultrasound-informed photoacoustic imaging, a new method for personalized assessment of plaque composition. Clinical implementation of the method can improve treatment decision making, resulting in effective care.

    AQUA-SCALEM: Aqueous-based 3D Structuration for Complex and Large Engineered Muscles

    dr. ir. T. Kamperman (M), Twente University

    Tissue engineering can revolutionize our healthcare and food production systems. However, current tissue engineering strategies only offer limited scalability, which prevents their clinical and industrial translation. To overcome this grand challenge, this research offers a scalable 3D printing method that enables the biofabrication of large living muscle tissues. The project thereby facilitates, amongst others, development of improved regenerative medicine therapies, animal-free drug screenings, and animal cruelty-free cultured meat.

    Cancer-associated fibroblasts in oncolytic virus therapy: innocent bystanders or key players?

    Dr. Vera Kemp, Leiden University Medical Center

    Oncolytic virus therapy represents a promising anti-cancer approach, specifically targeting cancer cells while leaving normal cells unharmed. Importantly, tumors are shaped by up to 90% of tumor-associated stroma, mainly consisting of cancer-associated fibroblasts. This project uniquely assesses how cancer-associated fibroblasts affect the efficacy of oncolytic virus therapy.

    Foreign Books in China, Cultural Control, and Technology

    dr. S.  Kharchenkova (F), Leiden University

    In China the government regulates what readers can access, but editors and translators in their everyday practice play a key role in selecting foreign books for publication and preserving or adapting their content. Focusing on state control and technology, this project investigates the fate of foreign books in contemporary China.

    Towards realistic models for spatiotemporal data

    dr. K. Kirchner (V), Technische Universiteit Delft

    Many environmental factors, such as temperature or air pollution, are recorded at several locations and dates. Because of limited computing power, a realistic analysis of the resulting large datasets is often unachievable. This project develops computational approaches which enable efficient accurate data analysis and reliable forecasts for phenomena with uncertainty.

    Still puzzling: The genetic complexity of psychiatric conditions

    Dr. M. Klein, Radboudumc, Human Genetics

    Both our genetic predisposition and environmental factors determine whether we are healthy or sick. Combined, they are key to the development of psychiatric disorders. This research studies the interplay of all these factors to personalize diagnosis and treatment of psychiatric conditions.

    Exposure Analytics: molecular evidence of daily-life chemical exposures

    dr. F. Klont (M), University of Groningen

    Humans are exposed to numerous chemicals every day, for example through our food, environment, and potential medical treatments. Exposures are typically studied using questionnaires thereby relying on how well we remember past exposures. This project aims to provide molecular evidence of exposures to better study their impact on health and disease.

    Risk-pooling and institutional innovation for sustainable water service transitions(RISKPOOL)

    dr. J.K.L.  Koehler (F), Institute for Environmental Studies, VU Amsterdam

    In the face of global challenges such as climate change, innovation in water services is urgently needed. Institutional innovation is happening on a large scale, in which hybrid institutions emerge, which share risks between private, public and community actors. Advancing institutional theory of risk, the range of choices these risk-pooling actors make are exposed. The global set-up of this project, the attention for the urgent transition to a more sustainable society and the focus on joint learning will make sure the project results in new insights in the design of the water utilities of the future.

    Travelling Sex Education

    dr. W.  Krebbekx (F), University of Amsterdam

    Sex education programs originating in the Netherlands travel to various countries in the Global South. How do these sex-ed interventions interfere with other knowledges and educational practices? And what new constellations of sexuality emerge along the way? Travelling Sex Education traces the itineraries of these programs in Uganda and Bangladesh.

    The ‘Plug-and-Play Radionuclide Generator’: Nanoparticle-Based Recyclable Target Materials

    dr. ir. R.M. de Kruijff (F), Delft University of Technology

    Radioactive isotopes such as 99mTc are widely used to diagnose various medical diseases including cancer. However, current production methods are based on just a few (old) nuclear reactors worldwide, and produce considerable long-lived radioactive waste. To be able to continue using these isotopes in the future, new, clean production routes are essential. Therefore, I want to develop a new type of radionuclide generator for the production of 99mTc. This nanoparticle-based generator can be returned to the irradiation facility after use in the hospital to make it radioactive again. This way we will be able to provide reliable patient care!

    The evolution of rapid auxin signalling pathway

    dr. A. Kuhn (M), Wageningen University & Research

    In plants, the hormone auxin can trigger fast cellular responses. These responses are evolutionary conserved, yet little is known about how they are generated. This project will compare fast auxin responses in distinct plant species using genetics and biochemistry to identify the key components that generate these responses.

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    Making better decisions with imperfect data: integrating causal bias analysis into cost-effectiveness research

    Dr. Jeremy Labrecque, Erasmus MC

    I will incorporate causal bias analysis into cost-effectiveness analysis thereby helping better identify when plausible biases (confounding, selection bias) can easily change decisions and when decisions are robust to bias. These methods will be applied to the cost-effectiveness of total knee replacement, perfusion MRI and interventions on BMI.

    Smart microscopes to see the quantum world

    dr. K. Lahabi (M), Technische Universiteit Delft

    What if we could also see electricity, magnetism, and temperature, all at the same time? The researcher will develop a novel microscope to make this possible at the atomic scale, and unveil the hidden quantum phenomena that shape our world.

    When language is not a given

    dr. I.L.  Lammertink (F), Radboud University Nijmegen

    Language acquisition is not a given for every child. Children with Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) have severe difficulties acquiring language without a clear cause. This project investigates how the nature of children’s language input affects the ease with which children learn language. This project is unique because it focuses on the role that peer language input rather than parental or teacher input plays during language development. This question is particularly relevant in the educational context of Dutch children with DLD where peer languages may differ between children with DLD enrolled in special education versus regular education.

    Evolution of the biological methane filter in the Beaufort Sea

    dr. J. Lattaud (V), Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

    Methane is an extremely potent greenhouse gas. Yet, methane emission estimates contain large uncertainties, hindering accurate climate predictions. To better constrain Arctic methane release, I aim to identify Arctic Ocean methane-consuming microorganisms. Using environmental archives, I will reveal how the Arctic responded to past warming to better predict future changes.

    Beyond bugging: wireless sensing and monitoring with harmonic radar

    dr. ing. A. Lavrenko (F), University of Twente

    From object tracking to non-contact inspection, the need for wireless monitoring solutions is ubiquitous. Commonly available technologies, however, often fail in highly cluttered environments such as at sea, underground, or when the object of interest is very small. This project fills this technological gap by delivering innovative solutions utilizing the harmonic radar principle to provide wireless sensing and monitoring functionality in the most challenging operational conditions.

    Toward personalized bereavement care: Examining individual differences in response to grief treatment

    dr. L.I.M.  Lenferink (F), University of Twente

    Prolonged grief disorder is a debilitating condition, affecting 10% of bereaved people. To date, studies evaluating treatments for prolonged grief have focused on symptom change on a group-level, ignoring individual variability in grief-responses. Personalized prolonged grief treatment may enhance treatment outcomes. This project contributes in three ways to personalized treatment for prolonged grief, by:

    (i)     improving the understanding of differences in grief-trajectories in response to treatment for prolonged grief using a novel FAIR data-archive;

    (ii)    examining grief in daily life;

    (iii)   offering dynamic support in daily life to treat prolonged grief.

    A Lost Pearl: Feminist Theories in Buddhist Philosophy of Consciousness-only

    dr. J.  Li (F), Leiden University

    Drawing upon the Buddhist philosophy of consciousness-only that has been largely overlooked by feminists, the project suggests a novel framework for Buddhist feminism to resolve the canonical tension in the Buddhist stances towards the feminine and empower Buddhists to fight against sexism. As this project will argue, researchers can expand the horizon of both Buddhist philosophy and feminist thinking when they re-read Buddhist texts from a feminist perspective. The proposed version of Buddhist feminism further advances the current discussions in intercultural feminism on the reciprocity of cultural diversity and gender equality.

    Nanoplastic – Macroproblem? Unravelling removal mechanisms during water treatment

    Dr. dipl.-ing. K.M. Lompe (F), Delft University of Technology

    Nanoplastics in drinking water are a potential threat for human health but difficult to analyse due to their small size and variable composition. This research uses an engineered nanoplastic tracer particle with a metal core allowing for straightforward analytical detection to unravel removal mechanisms in drinking water sand filters using pilot studies and models.

    Faster ground-breaking scientific insights enabled by flexible and efficient statistical methods

    dr. A. Ly (M), Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI)

    Every year millions of euros are spent on innovative ground-breaking research, but to assess the veracity of the empirical effects, outdated statistical methods are used that are inflexible at best and misleading at worst. This project aims to develop reliable flexible and efficient methods with which data patterns can be identified as quickly as possible to maximally save time, effort and, in clinical settings, lives, enabling the saved resources to be allocated to other research efforts. Hence, the methods developed here will lead to scientific insights being gained faster and in greater number, which in turn increases societal benefits.

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    “Macro”-managing genes

    dr. I.K. Mandemaker (V), Hubrecht Institute

    All cells in your body contain the same DNA but can specialize into different cell types by turning genes on or off. This is carefully organized by epigenetic processes to prevent disease. This research will show how a newly identified player controls gene activity by placing the biggest epigenetic mark.

    Bad influence through social media: How online behavioral contagion propagates problematic behaviors and what we can do against it

    dr. P.K.  Masur (M), VU Amsterdam

    Social media facilitate the adoption of problematic behaviors (e.g., incivility) or risky practices (e.g., disclosing too much). But the exact psychological mechanisms and ways to protect against negative consequences of such behavioral contagion effects are unknown. This project combines experimental, tracking, and simulation methods to study online behavioral contagion and its boundary conditions. The project further analyzes whether media literacy protects against irrational adoption of problematic behaviors and tests whether subtle nudges embedded into the social media design can buffer against negative influence on social media.

    Science friction: how contact mechanics shape colloidal materials

    dr. B. van der Meer (M), Wageningen University & Research

    The role of friction in a wide variety of flowing and deformable materials remains surprising poorly understood at a microscopic level. Using microscopy and computer simulations, the researchers will investigate, at the level of individual building blocks, how friction between particles affects material properties.

    Reducing health inequalities by opening up E-Health access for digitally non-skilled people

    Dr. Esther Metting, University Medical Center Groningen

    The healthcare sector increasingly uses E-Health to improve treatment. As a result, the treatment and resulting health of non-digitally skilled persons is lagging behind. Together with COPD patients and care providers, I will develop a method that will enable non-digitally skilled people to benefit from the health advantages of E-Health.

    Peatland: living on a gassy soil. Revealing the role of gas on the behaviour of peats

    dr. S. Muraro (M), Delft University of Technology

    Global warming is increasing the exsolution of gas bubbles from peats, which can compromise the performance and safety of geo-infrastructure. The researcher will investigate the role of gas bubbles in peat through advanced experimental testing at the micro- and macroscale which will support the development of a model to predict the geotechnical behaviour of gassy peat. This research will help to formulate mitigation protocols thereby improving the future safety of geo-infrastructure.

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    Continual Learning under Human Guidance

    dr. E.T. Nalisnick (M), Universiteit van Amsterdam

    Artificial intelligence (AI) systems need to adapt to new scenarios.  Yet, we must ensure that the new behaviours and skills that they acquire are safe.  The researcher will develop AI techniques that allow autonomous systems to adapt but to do so cautiously, under the guidance of a human.

    Beyond black boxes and biases: Using simple and transparent algorithms to accomplish fair and valid assessment in organizations

    dr. A.S.M.  Niessen (F), University of Groningen

    Information derived from psychological assessments is often interpreted intuitively, which results in suboptimal and biased decisions. I investigate if the use of simple, transparent algorithms results in more valid and fairer assessment. This project advances insights into test use by investigating how such algorithms can best be designed and used.

    Intelligent interactive natural language systems you can trust and control

    dr. V. Niculae (M), Universiteit van Amsterdam

    Artificial intelligence agents are seemingly approaching human performance in natural language tasks like automatic translation and dialogue. However, deployed in the wild, such systems are out of control, learning to produce harmful language even unprompted. Using recent machine learning breakthroughs, the researcher rethinks language generation for trustworthiness and controllability.

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    Bi-directional All-optical Fiber-wireless Communication System

    dr. ir. C.W. Oh (F), Eindhoven University of Technology

    Wireless communication has become a need in many facets of our daily lives. Unfortunately, this has led to congestion in the radio wireless spectrum. Although the potential of beyond Gigabits-per-second optical systems have been demonstrated by several research groups, the implementation of a bi-directional all-optical Gigabit fiber-wireless system remains a challenge in both academia and industry. In order to tackle this, I will make use of my expertise in optics, photonics and optical communication to work towards an innovative system by adopting the optical injection locking technique together with diffractive optics to establish passively steered beams and simultaneous user localization.

    Cat – there. Soap – where? Abstract use of space in Sign Language of the Netherlands

    dr. M.  Oomen (F), University of Amsterdam

    In sign language conversations, people, animals, and things often get associated with seemingly random locations in space: sign ‘cat’ and point to the right, then point again to refer to that same cat. This research identifies the unwritten rules signers apply when picking out spatial locations to represent such referents.

    Caring for Resilience: A Multi-Sited Ethnography of Knowing, Valuing, and Managing Nature

    dr. I. van Oorschot (F), Erasmus University Rotterdam

    ‘Resilience’ is the new buzzword in environmental policy, the thought being that our ecosystems have to become ‘resilient’ against the challenges accompanying rapid and unpredictable climate change. But what does that entail in practice? What value judgments come into play when environmental management professionals try to ‘foster resilience’, and what knowledges does it require? Drawing on in-depth ethnographic fieldwork in three ecosystem types – heath, forest, and tidal areas – I study how ‘resilience’ takes shape in the actual, everyday practices of environmental management professionals, and analyze how ‘resilience’ generates novel forms of knowing, valuing, and managing nature.

    Asymmetry matters when comparing shapes

    dr. T.A.E. Ophelders (M), Universiteit Utrecht

    Shapes from point clouds arise in many application areas, such as chemistry, meshing or autonomous vehicles. Analysing such shapes requires efficient comparison methods which consider both geometry and topology. The researcher will show that such comparisons are easier for asymmetric shapes and develop efficient algorithms which exploit asymmetry.

    Towards illuminating and modulating chemokine receptor fate – A key to successful drug discovery

    dr. N.V. Ortiz Zacarias (V), Universiteit Leiden

    Chemokine receptors are relevant target proteins in cancer and many other diseases. A novel strategy to inhibit these receptors is to remove them rather than to block them. Thus, this research will shed light on the cellular fate of these receptors and will ultimately lead to a novel therapeutic strategy.

    Budgeting Decision Accuracy: Analysing and Advancing Decision-Making in Public Budgeting

    dr. J.F.A.  Overmans (M), Utrecht University

    I study how lack of cognitive accuracy amongst politicians and bureaucrats affects the allocation of tax money. This harms effective and legitimate responses to societal challenges. I map effects of bias and noise on individual budget allocation, and study how training, choice architecture and budget guidelines reduce lack of accuracy.

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    Impact of sea-level rise on anoxic basins: Paratethys vs. Black Sea

    dr. ir. D.V. Palcu (M), Universiteit Utrecht

    An ancient anoxic and almost lifeless European sea spilt out huge amounts of sulphide waters and released methane from sediments to the atmosphere after being destabilised by a rising ocean. Can such cataclysm repeat in the modern Black Sea region if “gateways” open due to sea-level rise and/or man-made canals?

    Policy evaluations evaluated. When do they prompt an overhaul of policies?

    dr. V.E.  Pattyn (F), Leiden University

    With policy evaluation becoming more institutionalised in public organisations, concerns about the limited use of much evaluation research have increased. This study investigates the conditions under which and how evaluations foster or impede fundamental policy changes. It compares evaluation use in countries and policy fields with different evaluation governance designs.

    Global Access to Medicines through EU Law & Policy

    dr. K.  Perehudoff (F), University of Amsterdam

    The European Union (EU) plays a central role in regulating Europe’s medicines supply. New evidence suggests these internal actions also impact on medicines access outside of Europe, which can have important consequences for political and economic stability, and human health and wellbeing. This project investigates the EU’s legal and ethical responsibilities towards medicines access in low- and middle-income countries, and studies how the EU’s actions can and do impact on access to medicines in these countries. This project proposes a legal impact model that can guide the EU’s future action towards pharmaceuticals in line with its principles and values.

    Anthropocene Legalities: Reconfiguring Legal Relations With/in More-than-Human Worlds

    dr. M.  Petersmann (F), Tilburg University

    The Anthropocene demands a recognition of how nonhumans (from CO2 to coronaviruses) actively participate in social life. How can legal rules and concepts capture this shared human-nonhuman agency and co-existence? To displace the anthropocentrism of modern law, this project develops ‘Anthropocene legalities’ to enact response-abilities to care in more-than-human worlds.

    Unleashing the Potential of Separation Technology for Achieving Innovation in Research and Society (UPSTAIRS)

    dr. B.W.J. Pirok MSc (M), University of Amsterdam

    In UPSTAIRS, methods and open-access algorithms will be created, to facilitate the use of powerful contemporary separation technology for other (industrial) disciplines. By automating the selection and simultaneous optimization of a large number of parameters, contemporary methods can be drastically improved. This will help society solve pressing problems and will help us better understand materials, art, pharmaceuticals, environment, and other matrices.

    Circulating tumor cells, together we triumph divided we fall

    dr. ir. K.M. Pondman (F), University of Twente

    Cancer cells can travel through the body as clusters, with for example immune cells and/or platelets. These clusters (CTMs) may be better equipped to survive in the blood flow and cause cancer spreading (metastasis) compared to individual cancer cells (CTCs). Yet, their extreme rarity makes their study very challenging. Here, CTM models will be created, with well-defined compositions, to identify which of their characteristics increase their survival and ability to cause metastasis, using a blood vessel model. The generated new knowledge will be instrumental in developing new treatments targeting these CTMs to, subsequently, avoid spread of cancer.

    The Complotype, a new criterion for donor-recipient compatibility in renal transplantation.

    Felix Poppelaars PhD, University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG)

    The inherited set of complement genes is called the Complotype and determines the individual’s ability to activate and regulate their complement system. I will investigate whether the Complotype combination of  donor-recipient pairs predicts long-term prognosis and can therefore be used for donor-recipient pairing in renal transplantation to improve long-term outcomes.

    Danger signals released from damaged lung cells trigger extra-pulmonary co-morbidities in COPD patients

    Dr. Simon Pouwels, University Medical Center Groningen

    I will study the impact of danger signals released from damaged lung cells on other organs, contributing to the development of extra-pulmonary manifestations of COPD. The goal is to identify novel biomarkers and therapeutic targets for COPD co-morbidities using a translational approach with large clinical cohorts and advanced 3D models.

    Epigenetic control of inflammatory macrophage activation

    dr. K.H.M. Prange (M), Amsterdam UMC - Locatie AMC

    Macrophages are a diverse set of immune cells fighting against a wide variety of pathogens and clearing debris. Here, the researcher will investigate how macrophages control this diversity via epigenetic processes. These processes determine which genes will be turned on and off and thusly how the cell will react to external stimuli.

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    Portable Islam: Swahili literary networks in the Indian Ocean

    dr. A.R.  Raia (F), Leiden University

    From the 1930s onwards in East Africa, a massive print production of Swahili religious pocket literature started : this vernacular literature was more accessible than Arabic and became the prime medium to spread new knowledge in the Indian Ocean.  The study on how the network of booklets together with their authors, publishers and readers reshaped traditions of learning will rectify simplistic notions of inert Islamic learning traditions. Research, open access databases and outreach reading clubs in the Netherlands will contribute to a fruitful dialogue with African Muslim cosmopolitan communities.

    Embrace diversity: does variation within plant species increase coastal resilience?

    dr. V.C. Reijers (V), Universiteit Utrecht

    Dunes are formed through the interplay of sediment transport and plant growth. However, differences in plant traits can have large consequences for coastal dune dynamics. This project will investigate how local environmental conditions affect trait expression and how trait diversity will affect dune resilience under global change scenarios.

    Jihadi-brides and neo-Nazi wives? Women’s pathways into and out of extremism

    dr. E.  Rodermond (F), VU Amsterdam

    Women play a key, but understudied role in (violent) extremist groups, and their involvement generates significant societal risks, for example through the intergenerational transmission of violent extremist ideologies. Yet, they are still often depicted as ‘naïve brides’, ‘the partner of’ or ‘victims’, hampering in-depth investigation of their extremist engagement and disengagement processes. This study combines insights from life-course criminological research on male extremists and general female offenders with the use of unique primary data to study why and when women engage in and disengage from terrorism and violent extremism. Results will contribute to tailored programs to prevent women’s extremist involvement.

    Emergency Ethics: Crisis, Nature, and Wealth in Venezuela

    dr. E van Roekel (F), VU Amsterdam

    Due to the protracted humanitarian crisis, many Venezuelans currently sustain their livelihoods at the expense of others and nature through resource extraction, smuggling, money transfers, and trading cryptocurrencies. These emergency practices are linked to global supply chains and international organised crime, wherein individuals and companies make astronomical profits from sustaining the crisis. I will ethnographically investigate how Venezuelans in rural and urban areas justify these actions. Herewith I will provide new insights about ethical behaviour during crisis and determine how prolonged crisis affects the moral relations between social and environmental justice.

    The life and death of white dwarf binary stars

    dr. J.C.J. van Roestel (M), Universiteit van Amsterdam

    Double white dwarf stars are a rare but important type of binary star. They are potential supernova progenitors, some merge to form massive rotating white dwarfs, and they also emit gravitational wave radiation. I will combine data from the Dutch BlackGEM telescope with multiple other telescope surveys and use novel machine learning methods to uncover the population of short-period eclipsing white dwarf binary stars across the entire sky. By comparing the observed population and characteristics with binary population synthesis models, I will determine how these double white dwarfs end their life.

    Explainable Artificial Intelligence to unravel genetic architecture of complex traits

    Gennady Roshchupkin PhD, Erasmus MC Medical Center

    While we have learned that most diseases have a genetic component, we are still far away from understanding the underlying processes. Using Artificial Intelligence, I will investigate the complex relationship between DNA mutations and human health. This will be the basis for development of novel diagnostic, prognostic and therapeutic tools.

    Making Digital Material Technologies a practical reality for sustainable utilisation of porous materials

    dr. M. Rücker (F), Eindhoven University of Technology

    From fuel cells to hydrogen storage – porous materials define the efficiency with which sustainable energy is converted and stored in form of hydrogen. Novel digital tools, referred to as ‘digital material’ technologies can help to design these porous materials and improve their performance. However, these technologies rely on accurate digitalization methods. In this project, I develop digitalization tools reflecting features at molecular level in a representative manner. In large quantities, these small features may impact the behaviour of the hydrogen. Their accurate determination is therefore essential to make ‘digital materials’ a practical reality.

    Dementia: yes or no?

    Dr. Julie Rutten, Leiden University Medical Center

    Approximately 25 million individuals worldwide (1:300) have a specific genetic predisposition for stroke and dementia. However, only a minority of these individuals becomes demented. This study will analyze why some individuals get dementia at a young age, whereas others with the same genetic predisposition remain healthy up to high age.

    Efficient AI with material-based neural networks

    dr. H.C. Ruiz Euler (M), University of Twente

    The unprecedented success of artificial intelligence (AI) comes at the price of unsustainable computational costs. This project will research the potential of a novel technology for highly efficient AI hardware: “material-based neural networks”. This technology will enable the next generation of efficient AI systems for edge computing and autonomous systems.

    Sensing local properties for novel spin-qubit operations

    dr. M.F. Russ (M), Technische Universiteit Delft

    Spin qubits are a promising candidate for large-scale quantum computers owning to their small footprint, combined with long quantum coherence times. Still, their embedding in semiconductor structure with a locally varying environment gives each qubit a unique “character”. Researchers propose to sense and use this to achieve efficient spin manipulation.

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    Time-frequency structured measurements in phase retrieval: stability and reconstruction

    dr. P. Salanevich (V), Universiteit Utrecht

    Phase retrieval is the problem of signal reconstruction from the absolute values of its linear measurements. It arises naturally in many “real-world” applications, including ptychography, speech recognition and music analysis. The researcher will develop measurement designs and reconstruction methods that are stable to noise in the measurements and model parameters.

    Rules of engagement: How do CD4 T-cells decide to help CD8 T-cells or B-cells?

    Dr. Fiamma Salerno, LUMC

    The immune system protects us against infections and cancer. We can boost the function of our immune cells by administering vaccines. I aim to identify key molecular cues in CD4 T-cells that may help optimize vaccination strategies by simultaneously improving formation of cytotoxic CD8 T-cells and antibody-producing B-cells.

    The developmental dynamics of intelligence: Cognitive networks of facts and skills

    dr. A.O.  Savi (M), University of Amsterdam

    Intelligence predicts success in many areas, but how do you influence it? This research constructs a new theory that describes intelligence as a growing network of facts and skills, revealing the role of development and education. The theory explains and predicts developmental patterns at the individual and population levels. These patterns are tested against large-scale longitudinal educational data.

    No music, no life? How music shapes subjective wellbeing across social groups

    dr. J.C.F.  Schaap (M), Erasmus University Rotterdam

    While listening to music has proven benefits for subjective wellbeing, one person’s deeply soothing tune can fuel another person’s profound loathing. As tastes in music are shaped by people’s social backgrounds, this mixed-methods project investigates why music shapes subjective wellbeing differently across social groups based on class, gender and race/ethnicity.

    Understanding the workplace: The role of non-routine analytical team tasks

    dr. D.  Schindler (M), Tilburg University

    As the labour market transforms to contain more teamwork that is non-routine in nature and requires cognitive effort, it is imperative to deepen our understanding of these tasks’ functioning. This research project uses surveys, laboratory, and field experiments to provide a comprehensive assessment of the determinants of workers’ success, investigates how bonus incentives can increase team performance, and demonstrates the effects of staff turnover.

    Learning the future of complex decisions: A new mathematical approach

    dr. A.H.  Schrotenboer (M), Eindhoven University of Technology

    Organizations make complex decisions while the future is uncertain. For example, inner-city stores are replenished by trucks before sales are known, and ICU beds are reserved each day before COVID-19 patient inflow is known. To make good decisions, organizations account for a decision's impact on the future. My research develops a fundamentally new mathematical approach to quantify such a decision’s future impact by combining Mathematical Programming and Machine Learning methods. This helps organizations to make better decisions resulting in, for example, less nuisance and pollution in inner-cities and better ICU and regular hospital care.

    Regenerative propellers: sustainable and quiet electric propeller aircraft with in-flight energy recovery

    dr. ir. T. Sinnige (M), Delft University of Technology

    Sustainable and quiet aircraft are essential to reduce the impact of aviation on our environment. The combination of electric propulsion technology with efficient yet quiet propellers can enable the achievement of this goal. This project investigates a novel approach to maximize energy efficiency and minimize noise of future electric aircraft with propellers that are optimally integrated with the aircraft and regenerate electricity during parts of the flight.

    Muslim Women on the Front Lines of Social and Political Change: A Case Study of the Gulf Cooperation Council Countries

    dr. L.S.  Sirri (F), University of Amsterdam

    Are Muslim women in the Gulf just interested in the right to drive cars? Or do they also want to sit in the driving seat politically and steer their societies towards gender equality and democratization? By looking beyond the clichés, this research examines women’s life experiences in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries to reveal the practical tools employed in the day-to-day struggles of people. By identifying ‘home-grown’ strategies used to combat patriarchy and religious extremism, this research has the potential to empower Muslim women everywhere and may help to improve counter-radicalization policies in Europe.

    You won’t find what you don’t image: Exposing blind spots in endoscopic cancer screening

    dr. ir. F. van der Sommen (M), Eindhoven University of Technology

    Artificial Intelligence (AI) is nowadays used in numerous algorithms that strive to help medical doctors in finding early gastrointestinal cancers. These algorithms are typically developed in specialized academic hospitals and trained with data that meets the highest quality. However, in the community hospitals, where these algorithms will be applied, the quality and completeness of the endoscopic imaging procedure is generally much lower, thereby severely degrading the detection performance of any supportive AI algorithm. This project aims to develop methods for quantitively measuring endoscopic imaging quality and completeness during live endoscopy, thereby limiting the risk of malignant cancers being overlooked.

    How do we perceive sounds? A comparison between humans, monkeys and birds.

    dr. M.J. Spierings (V), Universiteit Leiden

    How we perceive sounds is strongly influenced by biases in our brain. For example, we all start hearing a beat in a continuous string of notes that never contained a beat. How did such biases evolve? To answer this question, I will study whether animals have similar biases. Biases that are shared amongst species, are most likely to have strong evolutionary roots.

    The power of inaction and ambivalence in transnational refugee governance: EU-actors and the contested return of Syrian refugees from Lebanon and Turkey

    N.M.  Stel (F), Radboud University Nijmegen

    Lebanon and Turkey increasingly pressure the Syrian refugees they host to return to their country of origin. But human rights organizations indicate that returnees risk torture and death in Syria. Current returns therefore often defy international refugee law. This project investigates how such contested return dynamics are influenced by EU-actors’ positioning. Specifically, by studying what EU-actors do not say or do in the face of contested refugee returns in Lebanon and Turkey, it develops a fundamentally new perspective on transnational refugee governance that foregrounds inaction and ambivalence as exercises of power.

    Dynamic changes in proteins during embryonic development

    dr. S. Stelloo (V), Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen

    During early embryogenesis, stem cells develop into various different cell types. The development of different cell types involves changes in both protein expression levels and protein-protein interactions. The researchers will investigate the dynamic changes in protein expression and interaction during the development of embryonic stem cells into more specialized cells.

    Metabolic activity of individual benthic fauna in deep-sea habitats (INBREATH)

    dr. T. Stratmann (V), NIOZ

    This research investigates the potential of heavy water as a new tool in aquatic ecology for tracing metabolic activity of benthic fauna to the level of individuals. Heavy water is incorporated into animal tissues irrespective of particular life processes, and may therefore be used to assess recovery after a disturbance.

    Aragonite at the Seafloor: a secret PlayEr in the ReGulation of Earth’s climate? (ASPERGE)

    dr. O.J.T. Sulpis (M), Universiteit Utrecht

    Aragonite is a mineral abundant in the oceans, found in the shells of little planktonic creatures. At the seafloor, aragonite grains’ dissolution act as antacid tablets, protecting the oceans against acidification caused by human carbon dioxide emissions. We explore the importance of this mechanism via laboratory experiments and model simulations.

    T

    New frontiers in numerical nonlinear algebra

    dr. ir. S. Telen (M), Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI)

    Mathematical equations are used to model many important phenomena. These equations are often complicated and challenging to solve. In this proposal, mathematicians will develop new strategies for solving such equations efficiently and accurately on a computer, and apply them to real-world problems.

    New catalysts for CO2-based circular polymers

    dr. A.A. Thevenon (M), Universiteit Utrecht

    Plastics pollution is one of the most serious threats to ecosystems for the next centuries. This project aims to create recyclable/biodegradable polymers with controlled end of life management. The researcher will develop new catalysts to use waste CO2 as a monomer feedstock to obtain a new generation of circular polymers.

    Making the Dutch economic “Golden Age”

    dr. J.J.S. van den Tol (M), Leiden University

    This project looks beyond the usual suspects of merchants, and studies the role of industry in the early modern Dutch economy. This is not all about economic production; industry’s role in deciding regulations and determining import duties was at least as crucial for their contribution.

    Neural networks for efficient storage and communication of information

    dr. J. Townsend (M), Universiteit van Amsterdam

    The brain is an extremely efficient system for storing and communicating information. This research will study the use of artificial neural networks, inspired by the mechanisms in the brain, for data compression, enabling faster internet communication and more efficient storage of computer files.

    Using plant-based materials to mimic insects for sustainable, reflective coatings

    dr. L. Tran (V), Universiteit Utrecht

    Jewelled beetle exoskeletons are characterized by nanometer-sized patterns that interact with light to produce robust, reflective colours. This research exploits similar patterning of plant-derived cellulose crystals to mimic jewelled beetles in the laboratory. I will investigate and manufacture bio-inspired, structurally-coloured films and capsules with sustainable applications in paints and sensors.

    U

    Noisy brains, noisy choices? Exploring age-related changes in neural circuits for decision-making

    dr. A.E. Urai (V), Universiteit Leiden

    Brain activity changes as people age, which can lead to cognitive decline. By measuring and comparing brain data from mice and humans, the researcher will investigate how the brain’s noise levels change with age and affect choice behavior.

    New approach to numerical methods for Maxwell’s equations

    dr. C.A. Urzua Torres (V), Technische Universiteit Delft

    Numerical simulations for electromagnetic wave propagation are an essential tool in designing  telecommunication systems and modern electronics. This research proposes a new mathematical framework to develop numerical methods that exploit the new computational capabilities and can solve more complex problems. The results will also shed new light on existing techniques.

    Search for spectacular signatures of light dark matter at LHCb

    dr. A. Usachov (M), Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

    The main goal of this study is to search for dark hadrons - a new type of subatomic particles that can explain the existence of Dark Matter in the Universe. Dark hadrons can be abundantly produced at the Large Hadron Collider, leaving unique spectacular signatures in the LHCb detector.

    V

    Unravelling the role of marine fungi in plastic degradation in the ocean

    dr. A. Vaksmaa (V), NIOZ

    Plastic pollution is a global environmental problem that needs mediation. Marine fungi may contribute to the break-down of plastic polymers, however, it is unclear how and to what extent. This project aims to identify and culture novel plastic-degrading marine fungi and characterize their role in plastic degradation in the ocean.

    From signal-based modeling to sensation-based modeling

    dr. Y. Vardar (F), Delft University of Technology

    Imagine you could feel the brush strokes of Van Gogh in his Starry Night painting, the fur of your beloved pet on a Zoom call, or tissues in medical images. I will enable this breakthrough by formulating a generic parameterized model that can emulate any tactile texture across diverse human sensations like roughness, slipperiness.

    Respiratory mucosal immunity: gateway to advance the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of childhood respiratory infections

    Dr. Lilly Verhagen, Radboudumc, Nijmegen

    Blood immune markers are used to diagnose children with respiratory tract infections. However, every respiratory infection starts with a local immune response in the airways. We will study innate immune cells that are crucial for the respiratory mucosal immune response to enable future mucosal treatment strategies without antibiotic overuse.

    How B-cells break bad; unravelling B-cell hyperactivity in systemic autoimmunity

    Dr. Gwenny Verstappen, University Medical Center Groningen

    Overactive B-cells drive systemic autoimmunity, yet underlying reasons for B-cell hyperactivity remain elusive. This researcher will elucidate mechanisms of B-cell hyperactivity by uniquely combined functional and molecular characterization of B-cell responses in Sjögren’s syndrome, a prototypic B-cell mediated autoimmune disease, to map heterogeneity among patients and identify patient-tailored therapies.

    Signs of the asymmetry between matter and antimatter

    dr. J.M. van de Vis (V), Universiteit Utrecht

    The matter-antimatter asymmetry was possibly generated in a phase transition in the early universe. The goal of this project is finding models that explain the asymmetry, and predicting how particle physics and gravitational wave experiments can test them. The phase transition temperature will be accurately determined with a new technique.

    Bridging the earnings gap. What LGBT-couples tell us about gender inequality

    dr. M. van der Vleuten (F), Utrecht University

    Major life events, such as marriage, children and separation, generate and amplify gender differences in earnings trajectories. Explanations for these inequalities are often based on differences between men and women, but how do these events affect (in)equalities in same-sex couples? By comparing earnings trajectories of male and female same-sex couples to different-sex couples, this research identifies the true impact of gender on earnings inequalities across major life transitions. This project uses the largest source of information on same-sex couples to date, which increases our understanding how they organize their work and family life in different countries.

    Optimizing Health Service Delivery Channels in Low- and Middle-Income Countries

    dr. H. de Vries (M), Erasmus University Rotterdam

    To enhance access to health services, stakeholders are investing in four service delivery channels: static clinics, mobile outreach, door-to-door outreach, and virtual outreach. Which channels to select for a given service and context remains an open question. This project develops models, algorithms, insights, and simple decision rules for decision makers.

    The unbearable lightness of B-decaying

    dr. J.A. de Vries (M), Universiteit Maastricht

    The existence of our universe is begging for the presence of a new force of nature. Recent excitement at CERN gives us a first clue, but to find out exactly which force this could be I will study the rarest decays ever observed, employing modern graphics processing units.

    The bright side of life: understanding the origins of optimism

    dr. C.  Vrijen (F), University of Groningen

    Optimists are physically and mentally healthier and happier than pessimists. Where do individual differences in optimism come from? I investigate to what extent and how parents transmit their optimism to offspring. My studies increase understanding on the origins of optimism and may inform research on how to raise optimistic children.

    W

    Pattern recognition in extreme events

    dr. P.  Wan (F), Erasmus University Rotterdam

    Extreme events, such as the 2008 financial crisis and the 2021 European flooding, entail high risks for the society. Quantifying the risks of extreme scenarios is the first step towards preventing catastrophic outcomes. As extreme observations are scarce by nature, this task is mathematically challenging and rely on the efficient detection of patterns in data. This research proposes new perspectives for pattern recognition in extreme observations by adapting machine learning techniques.

    Investigating unconventional superconductivity in layered, magnetic, quantum materials

    dr. Y. Wang (V), Technische Universiteit Delft

    Superconductivity with spin-triplet paring is of critical importance for fundamental physical and application of superconducting circuits, but the explicit investigation is challenging and under debate. This research uses new layered, magnetic topological materials that combine both topology and magnetism to investigate unconventional superconducting state based on distinct device geometry and tuning approaches.

    The Prediction Machine

    dr. J.W.A.P.  Ward (M), Maastricht University

    Government policies rely on predictions about their effect on society. Using a case study of British government between the 1960s and 2000s, this project uses historical research to investigate how prediction became so important to government and explores the consequences of these predictions on government. This project will particularly focus on how prediction influenced the rise of “neoliberal” government.

    Speaking Human Rights. Translating Migration Control Measures into Human Rights Language

    dr. J.M.  Wessels (V), VU Amsterdam

    Imagine the situation in refugee camps at the borders of Europe, the de facto detention of asylum seekers, or push backs at the Mediterranean Sea. From the outset it seems that human rights norms forbid such practices. However, States often successfully litigate before the European Court of Human Rights to ensure that their migration control practices are not unlawful under human rights law. How do States do this? This research is the first to provide a comprehensive analysis of the legal techniques that governments strategically deploy to use human rights litigation in their favour.

    The Works in Healthcare Networks!?

    Dr. ing. Daan Westra, Maastricht University

    Healthcare organizations cooperate in various goal-directed networks to keep the sector sustainable. Yet, many of these fail, at the expense of valuable resources. I conduct the first large-scale empirical network study, in which I identify effective configurations of structure, functioning, and contextual characteristics and develop a network-(self)assessment tool for practice.

    Release the beast: Boosting CAR‐T cell immunotherapy for neuroblastoma.

    Dr. Judith Wienke, Princess Máxima Center for Pediatric Oncology, Utrecht

    Almost half of patients with the childhood cancer neuroblastoma do not survive. A novel immunotherapy with CAR‐T cells is considered highly promising, yet shows limited clinical efficacy because neuroblastoma cells inhibit CAR‐T cells. In this study, CAR‐T cells will be made insensitive to inhibition, as innovative, improved treatment for neuroblastoma.

    Securing brain Health by personalised treatment of INdividuals with cOvert Brain Infarcts (SHINOBI)

    Frank Wolters, PhD, Erasmus MC Rotterdam

    One in four elderly individuals are at high risk of stroke and dementia due to prior brain infarction that occurred unnoticed. In this project, I advance personalised preventive strategies for patients with covert infarcts through improved recognition by patients and refined risk stratification by clinicians.

    Predicting individualized clinically relevant outcomes: a new method for decision support using routine outcome measurements

    Dr. Robbert Wouters, Erasmus MC Rotterdam

    Decisions in daily clinic are usually not based on individual patient data but on clinician experience and guidelines. Consequently, decisions are not individualized and at risk of being suboptimal. I propose a method for real-time prediction of individualized outcomes and costs, facilitating shared decision-making and increasing patient value.

    Y

    Poetry in the age of global English

    dr. M.M.  You (V), Utrecht University

    This project investigates how Anglophone poetry responds to the shifting political, economic, and aesthetic dynamics currently re-contextualizing the English language on a global scale. It focuses on how translingual poetic practices can help produce strategies for English to co-exist with and even reinforce the vitality of local languages and cultures.

    Z

    Structure and Applications of Asymptotic Spectra

    dr. J. Zuiddam (M), Universiteit van Amsterdam

    Strassen’s theory of asymptotic spectra aims to understand problems of asymptotic nature in mathematics, computer science and physics, and in particular the problem of fast matrix multiplication. This research develops novels directions in the study of structural aspects and applications of this theory.

    A plant’s deepest secret: the impact of root biochemical profiles on soil processes

    dr. M.J. Zwetsloot (V), Wageningen University & Research

    Plant roots release an immense diversity of chemical compounds. What is the role of these compounds in soil functioning? This project investigates how root biochemical profiles of plant species steer soil nutrient and carbon cycling. By learning from nature, this research supports a transition towards nature-inclusive and sustainable agricultural systems

  • Domain Applied and Engineering Sciences (AES)

    B

    PANDA: feasibility of PediAtric Neural baseD communicAtion

    dr. M.P. Branco (F), UMC Utrecht

    Hundreds of children are born with severe physical impairment and are unable to communicate effectively. What if these children could use their brain signals to communicate and participate in society? An implantable communication Brain-Computer Interface (cBCI) would allow brain signals to be directly translated into computer commands, thereby enabling the user to control communication software. Although already possible for adults, the development of implanted cBCIs for children with disabilities has been left mostly untouched. This research aims to evaluate the feasibility of implantable cBCI technology to establish communication in children with severe physical impairments.

    C

    Physics-informed AI to avoid power blackouts in the energy transition

    dr. J.L.C. Cremer (M), Delft University of Technology

    Sudden catastrophic power blackouts across entire regions can last for months, with serious consequences for society. Even experts cannot quickly understand when blackouts occur and there is no efficient countermeasure. This research uses artificial intelligence to predict power blackouts and provides an effective countermeasure that can accelerate the energy transition and protect society from the next pan-European blackout.

    D

    Sustainable and Miniature Power Solutions for Future Internet-of-Things

    dr. S. Du (M), Delft University of Technology

    Making wireless sensor devices self-sustainable and small, with energy harvesting solutions and sub-mm dimensions, will be critical in future Internet-of-Things applications, e.g., in healthcare and smart-farming systems. However, current self-sustained devices are larger, with dimensions dominated by off-chip inductors. Removing these inductors can potentially decrease the system size by 99%, and pave the way to real-world implementations and commercialisation. This project proposes a new inductor-less architecture for energy harvesting systems. It achieves higher energy efficiency than conventional inductor-based systems, breaks the miniaturisation barrier, and enables fully silicon-integrated self-sustained wireless sensing devices for future Internet-of-Things.

    Removal of toxic anthropogenic solutes in drinking water treatment by electrochemical polishing

    dr. J.E. Dykstra (M), Wageningen University & Research

    The presence of anthropogenic components in surface water, sometimes already toxic at very low concentrations, challenges the applicability of conventional technologies to produce safe drinking water. The chemical charge of some components, such as boron, arsenic and some organic micropollutants, is affected by the solution pH, and effective removal is challenging with conventional technologies. An innovative, chemical-free, electrochemical technology will be developed to polish, after conventional treatment, water, and to remove these harmful components. A physical-chemical transport model will be developed, which will aid the design of this innovative process.

    J

    Ultrasound-informed photoacoustic imaging (UiPI): A new method for personalized risk assessment of ischemic stroke

    dr. F. Kalloor Joseph (M), University of Twente

    Worldwide vascular diseases cause 18 million deaths annually, partly from ischemic strokes caused by rupture of unstable plaque in the carotid artery. Currently, the degree of arterial narrowing is used to decide the treatment type between surgery and medication. This method is suboptimal, resulting in unnecessary surgeries and more occurrences of stroke. Thus, there is an urgency to incorporate instability associated with the plaque composition in deciding the treatment. This project will develop ultrasound-informed photoacoustic imaging, a new method for personalized assessment of plaque composition. Clinical implementation of the method can improve treatment decision making, resulting in effective care.

    K

    AQUA-SCALEM: Aqueous-based 3D Structuration for Complex and Large Engineered Muscles

    dr. ir. T. Kamperman (M), University of Twente

    Tissue engineering can revolutionize our healthcare and food production systems. However, current tissue engineering strategies only offer limited scalability, which prevents their clinical and industrial translation. To overcome this grand challenge, this research offers a scalable 3D printing method that enables the biofabrication of large living muscle tissues. The project thereby facilitates, amongst others, development of improved regenerative medicine therapies, animal-free drug screenings, and animal cruelty-free cultured meat.

    Exposure Analytics: molecular evidence of daily-life chemical exposures

    dr. F. Klont (M), University of Groningen

    Humans are exposed to numerous chemicals every day, for example through our food, environment, and potential medical treatments. Exposures are typically studied using questionnaires thereby relying on how well we remember past exposures. This project aims to provide molecular evidence of exposures to better study their impact on health and disease.

    The ‘Plug-and-Play Radionuclide Generator’: Nanoparticle-Based Recyclable Target Materials

    dr. ir. R.M. de Kruijff (F), Delft University of Technology

    Radioactive isotopes such as 99mTc are widely used to diagnose various medical diseases including cancer. However, current production methods are based on just a few (old) nuclear reactors worldwide, and produce considerable long-lived radioactive waste. To be able to continue using these isotopes in the future, new, clean production routes are essential. Therefore, I want to develop a new type of radionuclide generator for the production of 99mTc. This nanoparticle-based generator can be returned to the irradiation facility after use in the hospital to make it radioactive again. This way we will be able to provide reliable patient care!

    L

    Beyond bugging: wireless sensing and monitoring with harmonic radar

    dr. ing. A. Lavrenko (F), University of Twente

    From object tracking to non-contact inspection, the need for wireless monitoring solutions is ubiquitous. Commonly available technologies, however, often fail in highly cluttered environments such as at sea, underground, or when the object of interest is very small. This project fills this technological gap by delivering innovative solutions utilizing the harmonic radar principle to provide wireless sensing and monitoring functionality in the most challenging operational conditions.

    Nanoplastic – Macroproblem? Unravelling removal mechanisms during water treatment

    Dr. dipl.-ing. K.M. Lompe (F), Delft University of Technology

    Nanoplastics in drinking water are a potential threat for human health but difficult to analyse due to their small size and variable composition. This research uses an engineered nanoplastic tracer particle with a metal core allowing for straightforward analytical detection to unravel removal mechanisms in drinking water sand filters using pilot studies and models. 

    M

    Peatland: living on a gassy soil. Revealing the role of gas on the behaviour of peats

    dr. S. Muraro (M), Delft University of Technology

    Global warming is increasing the exsolution of gas bubbles from peats, which can compromise the performance and safety of geo-infrastructure. The researcher will investigate the role of gas bubbles in peat through advanced experimental testing at the micro- and macroscale which will support the development of a model to predict the geotechnical behaviour of gassy peat. This research will help to formulate mitigation protocols thereby improving the future safety of geo-infrastructure.

    O

    Bi-directional All-optical Fiber-wireless Communication System

    dr. ir. C.W. Oh (F), Eindhoven University of Technology

    Wireless communication has become a need in many facets of our daily lives. Unfortunately, this has led to congestion in the radio wireless spectrum. Although the potential of beyond Gigabits-per-second optical systems have been demonstrated by several research groups, the implementation of a bi-directional all-optical Gigabit fiber-wireless system remains a challenge in both academia and industry. In order to tackle this, I will make use of my expertise in optics, photonics and optical communication to work towards an innovative system by adopting the optical injection locking technique together with diffractive optics to establish passively steered beams and simultaneous user localization.

    P

    Unleashing the Potential of Separation Technology for Achieving Innovation in Research and Society (UPSTAIRS)

    dr. B.W.J. Pirok MSc (M), University of Amsterdam

    In UPSTAIRS, methods and open-access algorithms will be created, to facilitate the use of powerful contemporary separation technology for other (industrial) disciplines. By automating the selection and simultaneous optimization of a large number of parameters, contemporary methods can be drastically improved. This will help society solve pressing problems and will help us better understand materials, art, pharmaceuticals, environment, and other matrices.

    Circulating tumor cells, together we triumph divided we fall

    dr. ir. K.M. Pondman (F), University of Twente

    Cancer cells can travel through the body as clusters, with for example immune cells and/or platelets. These clusters (CTMs) may be better equipped to survive in the blood flow and cause cancer spreading (metastasis) compared to individual cancer cells (CTCs). Yet, their extreme rarity makes their study very challenging. Here, CTM models will be created, with well-defined compositions, to identify which of their characteristics increase their survival and ability to cause metastasis, using a blood vessel model. The generated new knowledge will be instrumental in developing new treatments targeting these CTMs to, subsequently, avoid spread of cancer.

    R

    Making Digital Material Technologies a practical reality for sustainable utilisation of porous materials

    dr. M. Rücker (F), Eindhoven University of Technology

    From fuel cells to hydrogen storage – porous materials define the efficiency with which sustainable energy is converted and stored in form of hydrogen. Novel digital tools, referred to as ‘digital material’ technologies can help to design these porous materials and improve their performance. However, these technologies rely on accurate digitalization methods. In this project, I develop digitalization tools reflecting features at molecular level in a representative manner. In large quantities, these small features may impact the behaviour of the hydrogen. Their accurate determination is therefore essential to make ‘digital materials’ a practical reality.

    S

    Regenerative propellers: sustainable and quiet electric propeller aircraft with in-flight energy recovery

    dr. ir. T. Sinnige (M), Delft University of Technology

    Sustainable and quiet aircraft are essential to reduce the impact of aviation on our environment. The combination of electric propulsion technology with efficient yet quiet propellers can enable the achievement of this goal. This project investigates a novel approach to maximize energy efficiency and minimize noise of future electric aircraft with propellers that are optimally integrated with the aircraft and regenerate electricity during parts of the flight.

    You won’t find what you don’t image: Exposing blind spots in endoscopic cancer screening

    dr. ir. F. van der Sommen (M), Eindhoven University of Technology

    Artificial Intelligence (AI) is nowadays used in numerous algorithms that strive to help medical doctors in finding early gastrointestinal cancers. These algorithms are typically developed in specialized academic hospitals and trained with data that meets the highest quality. However, in the community hospitals, where these algorithms will be applied, the quality and completeness of the endoscopic imaging procedure is generally much lower, thereby severely degrading the detection performance of any supportive AI algorithm. This project aims to develop methods for quantitively measuring endoscopic imaging quality and completeness during live endoscopy, thereby limiting the risk of malignant cancers being overlooked.

    V

    From signal-based modeling to sensation-based modeling

    dr. Y. Vardar (F), Delft University of Technology

    Imagine you could feel the brush strokes of Van Gogh in his Starry Night painting, the fur of your beloved pet on a Zoom call, or tissues in medical images. I will enable this breakthrough by formulating a generic parameterized model that can emulate any tactile texture across diverse human sensations like roughness, slipperiness.

  • Domain Science (ENW)

    A

    Targeting the viral sweet tooth: designing a new class of anti-virals

    dr. Z.W.B. Armstrong (M), Universiteit Leiden

    Our cells are coated with a thick layer of sugars that viruses bind to infect our cells. When released, viruses modify these sugars so they can proceed to a new target. This research will design and test molecules that stop viruses from modifying sugars, creating a new class of anti-virals.

    B

    Understanding emergent quantum states atom-by-atom

    dr. K.M. Bastiaans (M), Technische Universiteit Delft

    Coupling two quantum states creates new electronic properties that are not present when both are taken separately. This research remotely couples individual atoms on an exotic superconductor, allowing researchers to watch while the new properties emerge, providing a deeper look into the mysteries behind superconductivity.

    Strong correlations or structural changes?

    dr. A.B. Betken (V), Universiteit Twente

    Yearly averaged temperatures, daily values of stock market indices, your minutely recorded heartbeat. Time series appear everywhere. Do deviations in their progression result from structural changes or long-term correlations? This question corresponds to a relevant, but misunderstood problem. My research changes perspective on this issue and offers a mathematical solution.

    Peeking into the lairs of fast radio bursts using LOFAR

    dr. S. Bhandari (V), ASTRON (JIVE)

    Fast radio bursts are flashes of radio light originating from far-away galaxies. Astrophysicists have puzzled for over a decade about what extreme type of star produces them. Using the LOFAR telescope, astrophysicists can measure the distortions that are imprinted on such bursts by their environment, and thereby decipher their physical nature.

    Finding the force to fight brain tumors

    dr. E.J. van Bodegraven (V), Universitair Medisch Centrum Utrecht

    Brain tumor cells easily infiltrate surrounding healthy brain tissue. This is how they escape treatment. Physical forces generated by cells in surrounding brain tissue impact their infiltration and thereby tumor malignancy. This research investigates the mechanisms generating these physical forces, which can lead to the identification of new therapeutic targets.

    The imprint of deep-time paleoenvironmental change on biodiversity

    dr. L.M. Boschman (V), Universiteit Utrecht

    New Caledonia, an island in the Pacific Ocean, is a biodiversity hotspot with a unique species composition. It is unclear why. To better understand how biodiversity develops through geological time, I will study the origin of New Caledonian life, and how it adapted to changes in geography, soil, and climate.

    Geometry of the moduli of twisted K3 surfaces

    dr. E.L. Brakkee (V), Universiteit Leiden

    Twisted K3 surfaces are two-dimensional objects that are very important in geometry. Their moduli space describes how many twisted K3 surfaces there are and how they relate to each other. The researcher will use the properties of this moduli space to answer questions about twisted K3 surfaces.

    C

    Sulfur ice in space – a hot topic

    dr. K.J. Chuang (M), Universiteit Leiden

    The researcher investigates in the laboratory the evolution of interstellar ices aiming to provide a broader picture of how and when the building blocks of life form in space. A special focus is on sulfur-bearing molecules that play an important role in connecting interstellar organics to biologically relevant macromolecules on Earth.

    Fighting coronavirus outbreaks

    dr. Y. Cong (V), Rijksuniversiteit Groningen

    Coronaviruses are a recurring threat to human health and the farming industry, and new epidemics will inevitably emerge. This project aims at identifying and characterizing compounds that block the conserved mechanism of viral replication in coronaviruses. The ultimate goal of this project is to provide anti-coronaviral compounds to fight future coronavirus outbreaks.

    Disposing of neurodegenerative diseases: A bivalent molecular approach to degrading intrinsically disordered proteins.

    dr. P. Cossar (M), Technische Universiteit Eindhoven

    Intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs) cause neurodegenerative diseases, including Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. Currently, IDPs are considered to be 'undruggable', as drugs cannot stick to these highly flexible and disorganized proteins. This new approach captures the IDP within a protein cage and disposes of the IDP using the cells natural disposal system.

    Critical climate transitions

    dr. M.J. Cramwinckel (V), Universiteit Utrecht

    Gradual global warming might critically accelerate when carbon is released from soil and seafloor reservoirs. However, the threshold level of warming for these tipping points remains unknown. This research utilizes climate tipping points from the geological past to predict future climate change scenarios, crucial for achieving the Paris Agreement goals.

    D

    Unravelling and quantifying the impacts of viruses on greenhouse gas emissions from soils

    dr. P. Dalcin Martins (V), Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen

    Viruses in soils infect diverse forms of life. However, it is not known how this impacts soil health and greenhouse gas emissions. This research will reveal the identity and role of soil viruses. This knowledge will help to counteract climate change.

    Breathing metal and eating poison

    dr. ir. M. Diender (M), Wageningen University & Research

    The increasing use of electronics causes a soaring demand for metals like copper, nickel and cobalt. This results in generation of metal-rich waste streams that pose an environmental and health risk. This research aims to study carbon monoxide utilizing microorganisms that can reduce and precipitate valuable metals from these streams. This study aims to identify and characterize these microbes and study their interactions with these metals.

    Stratified Weil spaces

    dr. R. van Dobben de Bruyn (M), Universiteit Utrecht

    The complexity of a geometric object is captured by numerical invariants such as the number of holes. Arithmetic geometers study a spectrum of invariants (one for each prime number), and a long-standing open problem is whether these all agree. This project develops new techniques for answering this question.

    Cutting edge roots

    dr. M. van Dop (V), Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen

    It is important for plant development that some cells let go of the plant. The plant ensures that the correct connections between cells are broken, otherwise the plant would fall apart. I will investigate how a plant cell determines which connections should be broken, and how this cell release happens.

    E

    Go or grow? Moving mountain slopes meet migrating mountain plants

    dr. J. Eichel (V), Universiteit Utrecht

    Climate change forces plants to migrate upslope and mountain slopes to move downslope. Will migrating plants stabilize moving slopes, or will slope movement limit plant migration? This research will unravel feedbacks between slope movements and migrating plants to protect mountain communities, infrastructure and ecosystems from natural hazards and biodiversity loss.

    Shining light on green chemistry

    dr. F.R. Eisenreich (M), Universiteit van Amsterdam

    Sustainable technologies are key to reduce our future environmental footprint. In terms of green chemistry, the top priority is the development of efficient methods for performing chemical reactions in pure water. Here, researchers will use tailor-made nanoreactors to conduct valuable chemical transformations in aqueous solutions with the power of (sun)light.

    F

    Eat it right!

    dr. J.M.M. Fedry (V), Universiteit Utrecht

    The endoplasmic reticulum is a vital cell compartment. Upon stress, parts are degraded by « self-eating » ER-phagy mechanisms, of which we still lack a detailed understanding. This project uses microscopy and mass spectrometry techniques to study ER-phagy. The results can provide molecular basis for anticancer drug design.

    Designer proteins on display

    dr. M.J.L.J. Fürst (M), Rijksuniversiteit Groningen

    “Protein display” is among the most powerful engineering strategies researchers have devised to equip proteins with useful functions, because it allows assessing millions of variants. The researcher here describes the first display method that labels proteins with a molecular “barcode” to rapidly identify characteristics of computer-designed proteins.

    G

    Understanding the molecular origin of collagen’s mechanical failure in osteogenesis imperfecta

    dr. G. Giubertoni (V), Universiteit van Amsterdam

    Osteogenesis imperfecta is a life-changing, occasionally lethal, disease caused by mutations in the genes encoding collagen, the main building block of all human connective tissues such as bones.  I will investigate the molecular origin of this disease and identify the molecular properties determining the success or failure of collagen biomaterials.

    Smoothing the Optical Bumps in the Road for Future Gravitational-Wave Detectors

    dr. A.C. Green (V), Nikhef

    Small optical defects in detectors can have a major impact on how clearly, how often and from how far we can observe gravitational wave signals. The researcher will improve and develop techniques that limit these defects, thus contributing to the success and accuracy of the Einstein Telescope.

    Engineered topological quantum networks

    dr. E. Greplova (V), Technische Universiteit Delft

    To scale up quantum technologies scientists need to discover new strategies to overcome quantum noise. This research uses insights from topology for a new way of engineering on-chip quantum networks. With these novel devices, quantum information can be distributed without detrimental effects from quantum noise.

    Helping computers say what they mean to say

    dr. J.D. Groschwitz (M), Universiteit van Amsterdam

    When a computer talks to us, for example when answering a question, it must translate that answer from its inner computer representation to fluent human language. This project combines linguistics and state-of-the-art machine learning to create a language generation system in which the output text expresses exactly what the computer meant to say.

    Back in fear: Neuronal footprint of fear relapse in the brain

    dr. K. Gulmez-Karaca (V), Radboud Universitair Medisch Centrum

    Memories are stored in the brain as changes in the connectivity between neurons. This project will develop a new technology to capture the neuronal connectivity footprints of specific memories in the brain and investigate the exact mechanisms by which fear memories are stored, erased and may relapse over time.

    H

    When fatty livers become personal

    dr. D.F.G. Hendriks (V), Hubrecht Institute

    Multiple genetic risk factors have been recently linked to fatty liver disease. However, how these contribute to the development and treatment of the disease is not well understood. Personalized minilivers engineered to carry these genetic risk factors will be generated to better understand their biological role in fatty liver disease.

    Shapes inside shapes in mathematics, physics, and biology

    dr. R.S. Hoekzema (V), Universiteit Utrecht

    Evolution of shapes inside shapes is attributed different meaning in different contexts. From embedding spaces in mathematics, particles in a system in physics, to co-evolution of microbiome and host in biology, this proposal studies topology of nestedness and its applications, made possible by the unique multi-disciplinary profile of the researcher.

    Novel catalyst design to speed up chemical conversions

    dr. J.E.S. van der Hoeven (V), Universiteit Utrecht

    Catalysts accelerate chemical reactions for clean and energy efficient manufacturing of materials like polymers and fuels. How well they work depends on the exact structure of the metal nanoparticles of which they are comprised. This proposal describes an innovative design of the metal nanoparticles to boost their catalytic performance.

    Mining the gap: How eukaryotic complexity emerged from prokaryotic fusions and pure inventions

    dr. J.J.E. van Hooff (V), Wageningen University & Research

    Most of the visually perceptible organisms, like plants, animals and fungi, could arise due to the emergence of the complex eukaryotic cell, about two billion years ago. This cell is the product of extensive evolution of much simpler, prokaryotic ancestors. The researcher will examine which genetic changes enabled this evolution.

    Second love: How plants respond to their different friends

    dr. R. Huisman (M), Wageningen University & Research

    Some plants can cooperate with bacteria that fix atmospheric nitrogen into compounds that can be used by the plant. The bacteria communicate with the plant precisely like beneficial fungi would do. Yet, the responds differently to each partner. How did this evolve?

    Structure and function of the enterovirus 2C protein, a promising target for antiviral drugs

    dr. D.L. Hurdiss (M), Universiteit Utrecht

    Enteroviruses infect millions of people yearly and can cause severe and occasionally life-threatening diseases. This project will determine the three-dimensional structure and function of the enterovirus protein 2C that is responsible for viral replication. A detailed understanding of this protein will allow development of urgently needed antiviral therapies.

    K

    Towards realistic models for spatiotemporal data

    dr. K. Kirchner (V), Technische Universiteit Delft

    Many environmental factors, such as temperature or air pollution, are recorded at several locations and dates. Because of limited computing power, a realistic analysis of the resulting large datasets is often unachievable. This project develops computational approaches which enable efficient accurate data analysis and reliable forecasts for phenomena with uncertainty.

    The evolution of rapid auxin signalling pathway

    dr. A. Kuhn (M), Wageningen University & Research

    In plants, the hormone auxin can trigger fast cellular responses. These responses are evolutionary conserved, yet little is known about how they are generated. This project will compare fast auxin responses in distinct plant species using genetics and biochemistry to identify the key components that generate these responses.

    L

    Smart microscopes to see the quantum world

    dr. K. Lahabi (M), Technische Universiteit Delft

    What if we could also see electricity, magnetism, and temperature, all at the same time? The researcher will develop a novel microscope to make this possible at the atomic scale, and unveil the hidden quantum phenomena that shape our world.

    Evolution of the biological methane filter in the Beaufort Sea

    dr. J. Lattaud (V), Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

    Methane is an extremely potent greenhouse gas. Yet, methane emission estimates contain large uncertainties, hindering accurate climate predictions. To better constrain Arctic methane release, I aim to identify Arctic Ocean methane-consuming microorganisms. Using environmental archives, I will reveal how the Arctic responded to past warming to better predict future changes.

    M

    “Macro”-managing genes

    dr. I.K. Mandemaker (V), Hubrecht Institute

    All cells in your body contain the same DNA but can specialize into different cell types by turning genes on or off. This is carefully organized by epigenetic processes to prevent disease. This research will show how a newly identified player controls gene activity by placing the biggest epigenetic mark.

    Science friction: how contact mechanics shape colloidal materials

    dr. B. van der Meer (M), Wageningen University & Research

    The role of friction in a wide variety of flowing and deformable materials remains surprising poorly understood at a microscopic level. Using microscopy and computer simulations, the researchers will investigate, at the level of individual building blocks, how friction between particles affects material properties.

    N

    Continual Learning under Human Guidance

    dr. E.T. Nalisnick (M), Universiteit van Amsterdam

    Artificial intelligence (AI) systems need to adapt to new scenarios.  Yet, we must ensure that the new behaviours and skills that they acquire are safe.  The researcher will develop AI techniques that allow autonomous systems to adapt but to do so cautiously, under the guidance of a human.

    Intelligent interactive natural language systems you can trust and control

    dr. V. Niculae (M), Universiteit van Amsterdam

    Artificial intelligence agents are seemingly approaching human performance in natural language tasks like automatic translation and dialogue. However, deployed in the wild, such systems are out of control, learning to produce harmful language even unprompted. Using recent machine learning breakthroughs, the researcher rethinks language generation for trustworthiness and controllability.

    O

    Asymmetry matters when comparing shapes

    dr. T.A.E. Ophelders (M), Universiteit Utrecht

    Shapes from point clouds arise in many application areas, such as chemistry, meshing or autonomous vehicles. Analysing such shapes requires efficient comparison methods which consider both geometry and topology. The researcher will show that such comparisons are easier for asymmetric shapes and develop efficient algorithms which exploit asymmetry.

    Towards illuminating and modulating chemokine receptor fate – A key to successful drug discovery

    dr. N.V. Ortiz Zacarias (V), Universiteit Leiden

    Chemokine receptors are relevant target proteins in cancer and many other diseases. A novel strategy to inhibit these receptors is to remove them rather than to block them. Thus, this research will shed light on the cellular fate of these receptors and will ultimately lead to a novel therapeutic strategy.

    P

    Impact of sea-level rise on anoxic basins: Paratethys vs. Black Sea

    dr. ir. D.V. Palcu (M), Universiteit Utrecht

    An ancient anoxic and almost lifeless European sea spilt out huge amounts of sulphide waters and released methane from sediments to the atmosphere after being destabilised by a rising ocean. Can such cataclysm repeat in the modern Black Sea region if “gateways” open due to sea-level rise and/or man-made canals?

    Epigenetic control of inflammatory macrophage activation

    dr. K.H.M. Prange (M), Amsterdam UMC - Locatie AMC

    Macrophages are a diverse set of immune cells fighting against a wide variety of pathogens and clearing debris. Here, the researcher will investigate how macrophages control this diversity via epigenetic processes. These processes determine which genes will be turned on and off and thusly how the cell will react to external stimuli.

    R

    Embrace diversity: does variation within plant species increase coastal resilience?

    dr. V.C. Reijers (V), Universiteit Utrecht

    Dunes are formed through the interplay of sediment transport and plant growth. However, differences in plant traits can have large consequences for coastal dune dynamics. This project will investigate how local environmental conditions affect trait expression and how trait diversity will affect dune resilience under global change scenarios.

    The life and death of white dwarf binary stars

    dr. J.C.J. van Roestel (M), Universiteit van Amsterdam

    Double white dwarf stars are a rare but important type of binary star. They are potential supernova progenitors, some merge to form massive rotating white dwarfs, and they also emit gravitational wave radiation. I will combine data from the Dutch BlackGEM telescope with multiple other telescope surveys and use novel machine learning methods to uncover the population of short-period eclipsing white dwarf binary stars across the entire sky. By comparing the observed population and characteristics with binary population synthesis models, I will determine how these double white dwarfs end their life.

    Efficient AI with material-based neural networks

    dr. H.C. Ruiz Euler (M), Universiteit Twente

    The unprecedented success of artificial intelligence (AI) comes at the price of unsustainable computational costs. This project will research the potential of a novel technology for highly efficient AI hardware: “material-based neural networks”. This technology will enable the next generation of efficient AI systems for edge computing and autonomous systems.

    Sensing local properties for novel spin-qubit operations

    dr. M.F. Russ (M), Technische Universiteit Delft

    Spin qubits are a promising candidate for large-scale quantum computers owning to their small footprint, combined with long quantum coherence times. Still, their embedding in semiconductor structure with a locally varying environment gives each qubit a unique “character”. Researchers propose to sense and use this to achieve efficient spin manipulation.

    S

    Time-frequency structured measurements in phase retrieval: stability and reconstruction

    dr. P. Salanevich (V), Universiteit Utrecht

    Phase retrieval is the problem of signal reconstruction from the absolute values of its linear measurements. It arises naturally in many “real-world” applications, including ptychography, speech recognition and music analysis. The researcher will develop measurement designs and reconstruction methods that are stable to noise in the measurements and model parameters.

    How do we perceive sounds? A comparison between humans, monkeys and birds.

    dr. M.J. Spierings (V), Universiteit Leiden

    How we perceive sounds is strongly influenced by biases in our brain. For example, we all start hearing a beat in a continuous string of notes that never contained a beat. How did such biases evolve? To answer this question, I will study whether animals have similar biases. Biases that are shared amongst species, are most likely to have strong evolutionary roots.

    Dynamic changes in proteins during embryonic development

    dr. S. Stelloo (V), Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen

    During early embryogenesis, stem cells develop into various different cell types. The development of different cell types involves changes in both protein expression levels and protein-protein interactions. The researchers will investigate the dynamic changes in protein expression and interaction during the development of embryonic stem cells into more specialized cells.

    Metabolic activity of individual benthic fauna in deep-sea habitats (INBREATH)

    dr. T. Stratmann (V), NIOZ

    This research investigates the potential of heavy water as a new tool in aquatic ecology for tracing metabolic activity of benthic fauna to the level of individuals. Heavy water is incorporated into animal tissues irrespective of particular life processes, and may therefore be used to assess recovery after a disturbance.

    Aragonite at the Seafloor: a secret PlayEr in the ReGulation of Earth’s climate? (ASPERGE)

    dr. O.J.T. Sulpis (M), Universiteit Utrecht

    Aragonite is a mineral abundant in the oceans, found in the shells of little planktonic creatures. At the seafloor, aragonite grains’ dissolution act as antacid tablets, protecting the oceans against acidification caused by human carbon dioxide emissions. We explore the importance of this mechanism via laboratory experiments and model simulations.

    T

    New frontiers in numerical nonlinear algebra

    dr. ir. S. Telen (M), Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI)

    Mathematical equations are used to model many important phenomena. These equations are often complicated and challenging to solve. In this proposal, mathematicians will develop new strategies for solving such equations efficiently and accurately on a computer, and apply them to real-world problems.

    New catalysts for CO2-based circular polymers

    dr. A.A. Thevenon (M), Universiteit Utrecht

    Plastics pollution is one of the most serious threats to ecosystems for the next centuries. This project aims to create recyclable/biodegradable polymers with controlled end of life management. The researcher will develop new catalysts to use waste CO2 as a monomer feedstock to obtain a new generation of circular polymers.

    Neural networks for efficient storage and communication of information

    dr. J. Townsend (M), Universiteit van Amsterdam

    The brain is an extremely efficient system for storing and communicating information. This research will study the use of artificial neural networks, inspired by the mechanisms in the brain, for data compression, enabling faster internet communication and more efficient storage of computer files.

    Using plant-based materials to mimic insects for sustainable, reflective coatings

    dr. L. Tran (V), Universiteit Utrecht

    Jewelled beetle exoskeletons are characterized by nanometer-sized patterns that interact with light to produce robust, reflective colours. This research exploits similar patterning of plant-derived cellulose crystals to mimic jewelled beetles in the laboratory. I will investigate and manufacture bio-inspired, structurally-coloured films and capsules with sustainable applications in paints and sensors.

    U

    Noisy brains, noisy choices? Exploring age-related changes in neural circuits for decision-making

    dr. A.E. Urai (V), Universiteit Leiden

    Brain activity changes as people age, which can lead to cognitive decline. By measuring and comparing brain data from mice and humans, the researcher will investigate how the brain’s noise levels change with age and affect choice behavior.

    New approach to numerical methods for Maxwell’s equations

    dr. C.A. Urzua Torres (V), Technische Universiteit Delft

    Numerical simulations for electromagnetic wave propagation are an essential tool in designing  telecommunication systems and modern electronics. This research proposes a new mathematical framework to develop numerical methods that exploit the new computational capabilities and can solve more complex problems. The results will also shed new light on existing techniques.

    Search for spectacular signatures of light dark matter at LHCb

    dr. A. Usachov (M), Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

    The main goal of this study is to search for dark hadrons - a new type of subatomic particles that can explain the existence of Dark Matter in the Universe. Dark hadrons can be abundantly produced at the Large Hadron Collider, leaving unique spectacular signatures in the LHCb detector.

    V

    Unravelling the role of marine fungi in plastic degradation in the ocean

    dr. A. Vaksmaa (V), NIOZ

    Plastic pollution is a global environmental problem that needs mediation. Marine fungi may contribute to the break-down of plastic polymers, however, it is unclear how and to what extent. This project aims to identify and culture novel plastic-degrading marine fungi and characterize their role in plastic degradation in the ocean.

    Signs of the asymmetry between matter and antimatter

    dr. J.M. van de Vis (V), Universiteit Utrecht

    The matter-antimatter asymmetry was possibly generated in a phase transition in the early universe. The goal of this project is finding models that explain the asymmetry, and predicting how particle physics and gravitational wave experiments can test them. The phase transition temperature will be accurately determined with a new technique.

    The unbearable lightness of B-decaying

    dr. J.A. de Vries (M), Universiteit Maastricht

    The existence of our universe is begging for the presence of a new force of nature. Recent excitement at CERN gives us a first clue, but to find out exactly which force this could be I will study the rarest decays ever observed, employing modern graphics processing units.

    W

    Investigating unconventional superconductivity in layered, magnetic, quantum materials

    dr. Y. Wang (V), Technische Universiteit Delft

    Superconductivity with spin-triplet paring is of critical importance for fundamental physical and application of superconducting circuits, but the explicit investigation is challenging and under debate. This research uses new layered, magnetic topological materials that combine both topology and magnetism to investigate unconventional superconducting state based on distinct device geometry and tuning approaches.

    Z

    Structure and Applications of Asymptotic Spectra

    dr. J. Zuiddam (M), Universiteit van Amsterdam

    Strassen’s theory of asymptotic spectra aims to understand problems of asymptotic nature in mathematics, computer science and physics, and in particular the problem of fast matrix multiplication. This research develops novels directions in the study of structural aspects and applications of this theory.

    A plant’s deepest secret: the impact of root biochemical profiles on soil processes

    dr. M.J. Zwetsloot (V), Wageningen University & Research

    Plant roots release an immense diversity of chemical compounds. What is the role of these compounds in soil functioning? This project investigates how root biochemical profiles of plant species steer soil nutrient and carbon cycling. By learning from nature, this research supports a transition towards nature-inclusive and sustainable agricultural systems.

  • Domain Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH)

    A

    Empowering meta-analysis by taking advantage of preregistered and replication studies

    dr. R.C.M. van Aert (M), Tilburg University

     An important threat to the validity of meta-analyses is publication bias. Replication and preregistered studies are deemed less susceptible to publication bias. I will develop a novel meta-analysis methodology that optimally synthesizes conventional with replication/preregistered studies and corrects for publication bias. This new methodology yields more accurate conclusions in meta-analyses.

    Beyond Binaries: Intersex in Islamic Legal Tradition

    dr. M.  Alipour (M), Utrecht University

    While since the sixteenth century Shiʿi jurists proposed a third gender to categorise intersex individuals, contemporary Islamic discourses employ a binary gender logic. Challenging the binary approach, this legal-hermeneutical study examines the little-understood non-binary conceptions of gender in Shiʿi Islamic law, which remain essential for intersex and transgender Muslims today.

    Fathers combining work and care

    S.C.H.  André (V), Radboud University Nijmegen

    Although fathers and mothers increasingly aspire to share working hours and care responsibilities equally, this often seems not to happen in practice. Many fathers work more hours and are less involved in childcare than they would like. This could change if they used care-related work arrangements like part-time work, parental leave, flexible working and homeworking. Adopting an interdisciplinary approach, this study aims to clarify the factors that influence the relationship between fathers’ work-care ambition and behaviour at four levels (the household, friends and family, work and country), so that we can learn how to make combining work and care easier.

    B

    How can computational models reflect multilingual language understanding?

    dr. L.M.  Beinborn (F), VU Amsterdam

    When we communicate in a foreign language, we often use cues from our mother tongue to facilitate comprehension. Computational models ignore the differences between languages but still perform well in cross-lingual understanding. This research examines if multilingual models can reflect transfer effects and aims at developing cognitively plausible models to support language learning.

    Language variation at home and abroad: the case of P’urhepecha in Mexico and its US diaspora

    dr. K.R.  Bellamy (F), Leiden University

    Heritage speakers display considerable intra-group linguistic variation. By documenting lexical and morpho-syntactic patterns among P’urhepecha speakers in Mexico and the US diaspora, this project will investigate the sources of this variation. The ensuing online dialect atlas will serve as an online resource for speakers, learners and researchers of the language.

    How to manage multiple team memberships

    dr. H.J. van de Brake (M), University of Groningen

    Many people work in multiple teams at the same time. Yet we know surprisingly little about the consequences of this work practice for employee wellbeing and performance. The proposed project examines why and when working in multiple teams has positive or negative effects. In doing so, I will not only look at the total number of teams in which a person is active, but also examine how these teams differ from each other.

    Combatting organisational amnesia after crises

    dr. W.G.  Broekema (M), Leiden University

    Society expects from public organisations to learn from crises, to respond more effectively to future contingencies. However, organisations often forget these hard-learned lessons soon again, resulting in repeating mistakes. This project explains why some organisations forget lessons and others retain them, analysing Covid-19 lessons in ‘real time’ over three years.

    C

    Free Speech and Censorship in the Digital Society: A computational study of the determinants and effects of political speech regulation by social media companies

    dr. A.  Casas Salleras (M), VU Amsterdam

    Private social media companies increasingly play a role in regulating (political) speech online, posing a clear threat to democratic accountability. Due to a lack of transparency and independent research, we do not clearly know the conditions under which platforms regulate speech, nor the effects (and effectiveness) of their policies. Challenges related to analysing big SM data have made it difficult for research on this pressing topic to flourish. I ramp-up this research by leveraging innovative computational methods to disentangle the nature of this new speech regulation paradigm, as well as its effects on the politically-relevant behavior of users.

    The Garden Complex

    dr. ir. B.  Cattoor (F), Delft University of Technology 

    Gardens are a major source of urban resilience: they are key in countering climate change effects and biodiversity loss, and are greatly beneficial to human health and well-being. Despite these powerful capacities, the garden complex –the sum of urban gardens– has been largely overlooked in research and planning. This is especially problematic because gardens occupy 30% of urban ground, but they risk disappearing or face critical change due to densification, environmental stress and changing lifestyles. This VENI addresses, analyses and activates the garden complex and thereby contributes to co-creating a more sustainable, liveable and resilient urban future. 

    D

    Citizens to the rescue or going rogue? Harnessing the potential of online self-organization against crime

    dr. R.  Dekker (F), Utrecht University

    In academic and societal debate, citizen self-organization is seen as a positive development. However, online self-organization against crime raises important normative questions. I will examine how social media logic changes citizen self-organization, how law enforcement evaluates this phenomenon and how we can harness the potential of online self-organization for policework.

    Resolving treatment resistance in youth with aggressive behavior problems – A virtual reality approach

    dr. A. van Dijk (F), University of Amsterdam 

    Over 45% of youth with aggressive behavior problems stop treatment against the advice of their therapist. What can therapists do to resolve treatment resistance in these youth? This project uses interactive virtual reality technology to investigate how therapist behaviors may cause resistance and provides a training environment for therapists to practice resolving resistance.

    The Missing Entrepreneurs? The Diversity of Female Entrepreneurship in Europe, 1900-2020

    dr. S.  Dilli (F), Utrecht University

    Female entrepreneurship is not a recent phenomenon. Nevertheless, we still know little about the historical development of female entrepreneurship, let alone about the explanations behind it. This project will collect new comparable time-series data on female business-owners and innovators in Europe since 1900. Based on this evidence, it will demonstrate the factors that explain the change in female entrepreneurship.

    E

    The missing link: How to make global supply chains more sustainable

    dr. K.H.  Eller (M), University of Amsterdam

    A wave of recent regulations at the national, European and international level requires companies to guarantee sustainability and human rights in global supply chains. Despite these efforts, illegality and rights violations persist. This project provides the missing link. It shows the roots of current loopholes and how to prevent them.

    From common ground to battleground? Public perceptions of bias in impartial institutions

    dr. E.J. van Elsas (F), Radboud University Nijmegen

    Supposedly impartial institutions – such as courts, the police, and universities – are often accused of bias. But to what extent do citizens perceive these institutions as biased, and where do such bias perceptions come from? This project answers these questions by combining content analysis, original survey data and experiments.

    Didactic Intention and Cultural Intervention: Contemporary Activist Authorship in Germany and Britain

    dr. L.  Essa (F), Utrecht University

    This project analyses how authors from marginalised communities aim to reach – and teach! – wide audiences with works of literature, film, and theatre that are designed to disrupt ethno-nationalist visions of Germany and Britain. It rethinks didactic art and the significance of authorial intention in literary and cultural studies.

    G

    I did it! Or did I? Towards diagnostic confession evidence in police interrogations

    dr. L.M.  Geven (F), Leiden University

    Image being convicted for a crime you never committed. It sounds counterintuitive, yet upon surfacing wrongful convictions worldwide, innocents have shown to be coerced to confess to police. However, to date, police officers, judges and juries are unable to tell innocence from guilt based on your confession statement, with a magnitude of consequences. Using new experimental methods to elicit confessions, this project aspires to identify coercive factors in the interrogation room. Then, innovative lie detection tools based on verbal and behavioural cues to deceit will be implemented to find the truth behind the confession.

    Mattering Minds: Understanding the Ethical Lives of Technologically Embedded Beings with 4E

    dr. J.B. van Grunsven (F), Delft University of Technology

    That technology plays an important role in how we live our ethical lives is increasingly recognized by philosophers and engineers alike. That said, little attention has been paid to how technology shapes our experience of the expressive bodily lives of others as beings who matter. Using insights from the fast-growing field of 4E cognitive science, this research shows that we are hereby ignoring an important dimension of ethical life that, when understood, can provide new normative insights for technology development.

    H

    Languages as Lifelines: How Multilingualism Helped Netherlandish Refugees Rebuild their Lives (1540–1600)
    dr. A.D.M. van de Haar (F), Leiden University

    In the sixteenth century, thousands fled the war-torn Southern Low Countries for the British Isles, Germany and the Northern Low Countries. This project investigates how these refugees used their language proficiency as starting capital to rebuild their lives. They applied their multilingualism to expand their social networks in exile, and as a professional skill. In doing so, they consciously employed the status of particular languages in their country of arrival. French, for instance, was particularly appreciated by the English aristocracy. The linguistic strategies of these refugees show that language differences do not necessarily hamper integration: rather, multilingualism offers invaluable opportunities.

    A good crisis gone to waste? The 1930s Great Depression and primary export dependence in Africa

    dr. M.A. de Haas (M), Wageningen University & Research

    African economies are vulnerable to unpredictable global demand for agricultural and mineral commodities. This causes boom-bust cycles en complicates poverty reduction. Studying historical crises and their consequences can improve our understanding of this persistent pattern. The 1930s Great Depression signifies the deepest global economic crisis since the Industrial Revolution. Prices for Africa’s export commodities collapsed. Why did Africa’s dependency on such exports increase nonetheless? Using colonial archives, newspapers, and historical statistics, I study the reactions of colonial administrators, farmers and workers in Central and East Africa to explain the impact of the Depression and its consequences for development.

    Enabling vulnerable communities to build back safer

    dr. E.  Hendriks (F), University of Twente

    To fight disaster risks, resistant housing is crucial. Too often, essential construction techniques are not used by the most vulnerable, despite assistance. Choices made during reconstruction are still insufficiently understood. This study will explore these choices to create effective targeted assistance and to enhance resilience of houses reconstructed after disasters.

    Data exploits: Uncovering pathways to digital autonomy for science and society

    dr. S.  Hobbis (F), Wageningen University & Research

    Digital technologies collect and process data through a top-down process that allows for exploitation. By studying how residents of remote environments with long histories of anticolonial resistance navigate digitization, this project uncovers possibilities for autonomy from digital exploitation and generates practice-based responses for more inclusive uses and management of data.

    I

    How can female leaders effectively manage employee voice?

    dr. S.  Isaakyan (F), Erasmus University Rotterdam

    Despite increasing discussions about social equality and societal efforts to introduce it in organisations, female leaders still face gender-related biased evaluations. These evaluations may be triggered when female leaders endorse or reject their employees’ change-oriented ideas, consequently leading to negative implications for themselves. This project seeks to understand these implications and provides timely solutions enabling female leaders to effectively manage their employees’ change-oriented ideas and overcome biased evaluations.

    J

    Valuing the body: a moral history of human tissues in twentieth-century medicine

    dr. N.  Jacobs (F), Erasmus MC

    From organs, blood and bones to urine, milk and sperm—in today's medicine we can donate almost every part of our body. The possibilities seem limitless; but we do set moral limits. What are those limits exactly? Why do we put them where we put them? And how do these boundaries unfold in the daily practice of medicine? In this project, I investigate moralization processes surrounding the use of human tissues in twentieth-century Dutch medical practice. With this historical perspective, I examine how modern medicine has affected how we morally value (parts of) our body.

    How oil made a connected world

    dr. P.  Jafari (M), Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, International Institute of Social History

    Oil has shaped our world profoundly. It has created wealth and mobility, but also socio-ecological degradation and colonial inequalities. This research shows how both trends occurred simultaneously due to the ways oil companies and imperial states transformed land ownership, labour relations and the natural environment in oil producing regions. To overcome the obstacles and resistance that they faced in that process, oil corporations introduced legal, managerial and technological solutions that connected the oil producing regions with the rest of the world, but also institutionalized socio-ecological degradation and colonial inequalities.

    Places to not Forget: De-Silencing the Narratives and Heritage of the World’s First Black Republic, Haiti

    dr. J.S.  Jean (M), KITLV

    This project investigates archaeological sites and contemporary practices and interactions with heritage in postcolonial societies. Innovatively combining insights from archaeology, ethnography, and heritage studies, I use Haiti (World’s First Black Republic) to illuminate the importance of involving historically marginalized communities to arrive at inclusive narratives of the past and heritage.

    I spy with my little eye… How the brain generates visual experiences

    dr. M.C. de Jong (F), Spinoza Centre for Neuroimaging - Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences

    Your eyes capture light like a camera, but to see you need your brain. How does your brain integrate visual with subjective information? Neural signals travelling in the opposite, ‘feedback’, direction through a hierarchy of brain regions may play a key role. This project will determine how feedback signals contribute to visual experiences of objects. While human participants view images of real and illusory objects, I will measure feedback signals using advanced neuroimaging techniques and manipulate them with pharmacology. This project will help solve the enigma around feedback signals and, thereby, will help us understand how brain regions work together.

    K

    The Real Effects of Non-Conventional Monetary Policy: A New Portfolio Channel

    dr. D.M. te Kaat (M), University of Groningen

    Following the global financial crisis, various central banks expanded their set of non-conventional monetary policy instruments. The academic literature studying the impact of these instruments on the real economy mainly focuses on the transmission via increased credit supply. However, to what extent and through which channels do these instruments affect economies with declining credit volumes, as in the case of the euro area post-2008? To answer this question, the proposed research studies unconventional monetary policy transmission outside the credit market through a household portfolio rebalancing channel.

    Foreign Books in China, Cultural Control, and Technology

    dr. S.  Kharchenkova (F), Leiden University 

    In China the government regulates what readers can access, but editors and translators in their everyday practice play a key role in selecting foreign books for publication and preserving or adapting their content. Focusing on state control and technology, this project investigates the fate of foreign books in contemporary China.

    Risk-pooling and institutional innovation for sustainable water service transitions (RISKPOOL)

    dr. J.K.L.  Koehler (F), Institute for Environmental Studies, VU Amsterdam

    In the face of global challenges such as climate change, innovation in water services is urgently needed. Institutional innovation is happening on a large scale, in which hybrid institutions emerge, which share risks between private, public and community actors. Advancing institutional theory of risk, the range of choices these risk-pooling actors make are exposed. The global set-up of this project, the attention for the urgent transition to a more sustainable society and the focus on joint learning will make sure the project results in new insights in the design of the water utilities of the future.

    Travelling Sex Education

    dr. W.  Krebbekx (F), University of Amsterdam

    Sex education programs originating in the Netherlands travel to various countries in the Global South. How do these sex-ed interventions interfere with other knowledges and educational practices? And what new constellations of sexuality emerge along the way? Travelling Sex Education traces the itineraries of these programs in Uganda and Bangladesh.

    L

    When language is not a given

    dr. I.L.  Lammertink (F), Radboud University Nijmegen

    Language acquisition is not a given for every child. Children with Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) have severe difficulties acquiring language without a clear cause. This project investigates how the nature of children’s language input affects the ease with which children learn language. This project is unique because it focuses on the role that peer language input rather than parental or teacher input plays during language development. This question is particularly relevant in the educational context of Dutch children with DLD where peer languages may differ between children with DLD enrolled in special education versus regular education.

    Toward personalized bereavement care: Examining individual differences in response to grief treatment

    dr. L.I.M.  Lenferink (F), University of Twente

    Prolonged grief disorder is a debilitating condition, affecting 10% of bereaved people. To date, studies evaluating treatments for prolonged grief have focused on symptom change on a group-level, ignoring individual variability in grief-responses. Personalized prolonged grief treatment may enhance treatment outcomes. This project contributes in three ways to personalized treatment for prolonged grief, by:

    (i)     improving the understanding of differences in grief-trajectories in response to treatment for prolonged grief using a novel FAIR data-archive;
    (ii)    examining grief in daily life;
    (iii)   offering dynamic support in daily life to treat prolonged grief.

    A Lost Pearl: Feminist Theories in Buddhist Philosophy of Consciousness-only

    dr. J.  Li (F), Leiden University

    Drawing upon the Buddhist philosophy of consciousness-only that has been largely overlooked by feminists, the project suggests a novel framework for Buddhist feminism to resolve the canonical tension in the Buddhist stances towards the feminine and empower Buddhists to fight against sexism. As this project will argue, researchers can expand the horizon of both Buddhist philosophy and feminist thinking when they re-read Buddhist texts from a feminist perspective. The proposed version of Buddhist feminism further advances the current discussions in intercultural feminism on the reciprocity of cultural diversity and gender equality.

    Faster ground-breaking scientific insights enabled by flexible and efficient statistical methods

    dr. A. Ly (M), Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI)

    Every year millions of euros are spent on innovative ground-breaking research, but to assess the veracity of the empirical effects, outdated statistical methods are used that are inflexible at best and misleading at worst. This project aims to develop reliable flexible and efficient methods with which data patterns can be identified as quickly as possible to maximally save time, effort and, in clinical settings, lives, enabling the saved resources to be allocated to other research efforts. Hence, the methods developed here will lead to scientific insights being gained faster and in greater number, which in turn increases societal benefits.

    M

    Bad influence through social media: How online behavioral contagion propagates problematic behaviors and what we can do against it

    dr. P.K.  Masur (M), VU Amsterdam

    Social media facilitate the adoption of problematic behaviors (e.g., incivility) or risky practices (e.g., disclosing too much). But the exact psychological mechanisms and ways to protect against negative consequences of such behavioral contagion effects are unknown. This project combines experimental, tracking, and simulation methods to study online behavioral contagion and its boundary conditions. The project further analyzes whether media literacy protects against irrational adoption of problematic behaviors and tests whether subtle nudges embedded into the social media design can buffer against negative influence on social media.

    N

    Beyond black boxes and biases: Using simple and transparent algorithms to accomplish fair and valid assessment in organizations

    dr. A.S.M.  Niessen (F), University of Groningen

    Information derived from psychological assessments is often interpreted intuitively, which results in suboptimal and biased decisions. I investigate if the use of simple, transparent algorithms results in more valid and fairer assessment. This project advances insights into test use by investigating how such algorithms can best be designed and used.

    O

    Cat – there. Soap – where? Abstract use of space in Sign Language of the Netherlands

    dr. M.  Oomen (F), University of Amsterdam

    In sign language conversations, people, animals, and things often get associated with seemingly random locations in space: sign ‘cat’ and point to the right, then point again to refer to that same cat. This research identifies the unwritten rules signers apply when picking out spatial locations to represent such referents.

    Caring for Resilience: A Multi-Sited Ethnography of Knowing, Valuing, and Managing Nature

    dr. I. van Oorschot (F), Erasmus University Rotterdam

    ‘Resilience’ is the new buzzword in environmental policy, the thought being that our ecosystems have to become ‘resilient’ against the challenges accompanying rapid and unpredictable climate change. But what does that entail in practice? What value judgments come into play when environmental management professionals try to ‘foster resilience’, and what knowledges does it require? Drawing on in-depth ethnographic fieldwork in three ecosystem types – heath, forest, and tidal areas – I study how ‘resilience’ takes shape in the actual, everyday practices of environmental management professionals, and analyze how ‘resilience’ generates novel forms of knowing, valuing, and managing nature.

    Budgeting Decision Accuracy: Analysing and Advancing Decision-Making in Public Budgeting

    dr. J.F.A.  Overmans (M), Utrecht University

    I study how lack of cognitive accuracy amongst politicians and bureaucrats affects the allocation of tax money. This harms effective and legitimate responses to societal challenges. I map effects of bias and noise on individual budget allocation, and study how training, choice architecture and budget guidelines reduce lack of accuracy.

    P

    Policy evaluations evaluated. When do they prompt an overhaul of policies?

    dr. V.E.  Pattyn (F), Leiden University

    With policy evaluation becoming more institutionalised in public organisations, concerns about the limited use of much evaluation research have increased. This study investigates the conditions under which and how evaluations foster or impede fundamental policy changes. It compares evaluation use in countries and policy fields with different evaluation governance designs.

    Global Access to Medicines through EU Law & Policy

    dr. K.  Perehudoff (F), University of Amsterdam

    The European Union (EU) plays a central role in regulating Europe’s medicines supply. New evidence suggests these internal actions also impact on medicines access outside of Europe, which can have important consequences for political and economic stability, and human health and wellbeing. This project investigates the EU’s legal and ethical responsibilities towards medicines access in low- and middle-income countries, and studies how the EU’s actions can and do impact on access to medicines in these countries. This project proposes a legal impact model that can guide the EU’s future action towards pharmaceuticals in line with its principles and values.

    Anthropocene Legalities: Reconfiguring Legal Relations With/in More-than-Human Worlds

    dr. M.  Petersmann (F), Tilburg University

    The Anthropocene demands a recognition of how nonhumans (from CO2 to coronaviruses) actively participate in social life. How can legal rules and concepts capture this shared human-nonhuman agency and co-existence? To displace the anthropocentrism of modern law, this project develops ‘Anthropocene legalities’ to enact response-abilities to care in more-than-human worlds.

    R

    Portable Islam: Swahili literary networks in the Indian Ocean

    dr. A.R.  Raia (F), Leiden University

    From the 1930s onwards in East Africa, a massive print production of Swahili religious pocket literature started : this vernacular literature was more accessible than Arabic and became the prime medium to spread new knowledge in the Indian Ocean.  The study on how the network of booklets together with their authors, publishers and readers reshaped traditions of learning will rectify simplistic notions of inert Islamic learning traditions. Research, open access databases and outreach reading clubs in the Netherlands will contribute to a fruitful dialogue with African Muslim cosmopolitan communities.

    Jihadi-brides and neo-Nazi wives? Women’s pathways into and out of extremism

    dr. E.  Rodermond (F), VU Amsterdam 

    Women play a key, but understudied role in (violent) extremist groups, and their involvement generates significant societal risks, for example through the intergenerational transmission of violent extremist ideologies. Yet, they are still often depicted as ‘naïve brides’, ‘the partner of’ or ‘victims’, hampering in-depth investigation of their extremist engagement and disengagement processes. This study combines insights from life-course criminological research on male extremists and general female offenders with the use of unique primary data to study why and when women engage in and disengage from terrorism and violent extremism. Results will contribute to tailored programs to prevent women’s extremist involvement.

    Emergency Ethics: Crisis, Nature, and Wealth in Venezuela

    dr. E van Roekel (F), VU Amsterdam 

    Due to the protracted humanitarian crisis, many Venezuelans currently sustain their livelihoods at the expense of others and nature through resource extraction, smuggling, money transfers, and trading cryptocurrencies. These emergency practices are linked to global supply chains and international organised crime, wherein individuals and companies make astronomical profits from sustaining the crisis. I will ethnographically investigate how Venezuelans in rural and urban areas justify these actions. Herewith I will provide new insights about ethical behaviour during crisis and determine how prolonged crisis affects the moral relations between social and environmental justice.

    S

    The developmental dynamics of intelligence: Cognitive networks of facts and skills

    dr. A.O.  Savi (M), University of Amsterdam

    Intelligence predicts success in many areas, but how do you influence it? This research constructs a new theory that describes intelligence as a growing network of facts and skills, revealing the role of development and education. The theory explains and predicts developmental patterns at the individual and population levels. These patterns are tested against large-scale longitudinal educational data.

    No music, no life? How music shapes subjective wellbeing across social groups

    dr. J.C.F.  Schaap (M), Erasmus University Rotterdam

    While listening to music has proven benefits for subjective wellbeing, one person’s deeply soothing tune can fuel another person’s profound loathing. As tastes in music are shaped by people’s social backgrounds, this mixed-methods project investigates why music shapes subjective wellbeing differently across social groups based on class, gender and race/ethnicity.

    Major Life Transitions and Personality Development in Young Adulthood

    dr. M.A. van Scheppingen (F), Tilburg University

    What drives personality development in young adulthood? A large body of research has shown that people become more agreeable, conscientious, and emotionally stable from young through middle adulthood. At the same time, young adults go through important changes in social roles: they start careers, relationships, and families. This project focuses on how multiple life transitions contribute to personality development young adulthood, and if personal experiences during the transition (e.g., stress, impact) explain why some people change more than others.

    Understanding the workplace: The role of non-routine analytical team tasks

    dr. D.  Schindler (M), Tilburg University

    As the labour market transforms to contain more teamwork that is non-routine in nature and requires cognitive effort, it is imperative to deepen our understanding of these tasks’ functioning. This research project uses surveys, laboratory, and field experiments to provide a comprehensive assessment of the determinants of workers’ success, investigates how bonus incentives can increase team performance, and demonstrates the effects of staff turnover.

    Learning the future of complex decisions: A new mathematical approach

    dr. A.H.  Schrotenboer (M), Eindhoven University of Technology

    Organizations make complex decisions while the future is uncertain. For example, inner-city stores are replenished by trucks before sales are known, and ICU beds are reserved each day before COVID-19 patient inflow is known. To make good decisions, organizations account for a decision's impact on the future. My research develops a fundamentally new mathematical approach to quantify such a decision’s future impact by combining Mathematical Programming and Machine Learning methods. This helps organizations to make better decisions resulting in, for example, less nuisance and pollution in inner-cities and better ICU and regular hospital care.

    Muslim Women on the Front Lines of Social and Political Change: A Case Study of the Gulf Cooperation Council Countries

    dr. L.S.  Sirri (F), University of Amsterdam

    Are Muslim women in the Gulf just interested in the right to drive cars? Or do they also want to sit in the driving seat politically and steer their societies towards gender equality and democratization? By looking beyond the clichés, this research examines women’s life experiences in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries to reveal the practical tools employed in the day-to-day struggles of people. By identifying ‘home-grown’ strategies used to combat patriarchy and religious extremism, this research has the potential to empower Muslim women everywhere and may help to improve counter-radicalization policies in Europe.

    The power of inaction and ambivalence in transnational refugee governance: EU-actors and the contested return of Syrian refugees from Lebanon and Turkey

    N.M.  Stel (F), Radboud University Nijmegen

    Lebanon and Turkey increasingly pressure the Syrian refugees they host to return to their country of origin. But human rights organizations indicate that returnees risk torture and death in Syria. Current returns therefore often defy international refugee law. This project investigates how such contested return dynamics are influenced by EU-actors’ positioning. Specifically, by studying what EU-actors do not say or do in the face of contested refugee returns in Lebanon and Turkey, it develops a fundamentally new perspective on transnational refugee governance that foregrounds inaction and ambivalence as exercises of power.

    T

    Making the Dutch economic “Golden Age”

    dr. J.J.S. van den Tol (M), Leiden University

    This project looks beyond the usual suspects of merchants, and studies the role of industry in the early modern Dutch economy. This is not all about economic production; industry’s role in deciding regulations and determining import duties was at least as crucial for their contribution.

    V

    Bridging the earnings gap. What LGBT-couples tell us about gender inequality

    dr. M. van der Vleuten (F), Utrecht University

    Major life events, such as marriage, children and separation, generate and amplify gender differences in earnings trajectories. Explanations for these inequalities are often based on differences between men and women, but how do these events affect (in)equalities in same-sex couples? By comparing earnings trajectories of male and female same-sex couples to different-sex couples, this research identifies the true impact of gender on earnings inequalities across major life transitions. This project uses the largest source of information on same-sex couples to date, which increases our understanding how they organize their work and family life in different countries.

    Optimizing Health Service Delivery Channels in Low- and Middle-Income Countries

    dr. H. de Vries (M), Erasmus University Rotterdam

    To enhance access to health services, stakeholders are investing in four service delivery channels: static clinics, mobile outreach, door-to-door outreach, and virtual outreach. Which channels to select for a given service and context remains an open question. This project develops models, algorithms, insights, and simple decision rules for decision makers.

    The bright side of life: understanding the origins of optimism

    dr. C.  Vrijen (F), University of Groningen

    Optimists are physically and mentally healthier and happier than pessimists. Where do individual differences in optimism come from? I investigate to what extent and how parents transmit their optimism to offspring. My studies increase understanding on the origins of optimism and may inform research on how to raise optimistic children.

    W

    Pattern recognition in extreme events

    dr. P  Wan (F), Erasmus University Rotterdam

    Extreme events, such as the 2008 financial crisis and the 2021 European flooding, entail high risks for the society. Quantifying the risks of extreme scenarios is the first step towards preventing catastrophic outcomes. As extreme observations are scarce by nature, this task is mathematically challenging and rely on the efficient detection of patterns in data. This research proposes new perspectives for pattern recognition in extreme observations by adapting machine learning techniques.

    The Prediction Machine

    dr. J.W.A.P.  Ward (M), Maastricht University

     Government policies rely on predictions about their effect on society. Using a case study of British government between the 1960s and 2000s, this project uses historical research to investigate how prediction became so important to government and explores the consequences of these predictions on government. This project will particularly focus on how prediction influenced the rise of “neoliberal” government.

    Speaking Human Rights. Translating Migration Control Measures into Human Rights Language

    dr. J.M.  Wessels (V), VU Amsterdam

    Imagine the situation in refugee camps at the borders of Europe, the de facto detention of asylum seekers, or push backs at the Mediterranean Sea. From the outset it seems that human rights norms forbid such practices. However, States often successfully litigate before the European Court of Human Rights to ensure that their migration control practices are not unlawful under human rights law. How do States do this? This research is the first to provide a comprehensive analysis of the legal techniques that governments strategically deploy to use human rights litigation in their favour.

    Y

    Poetry in the age of global English

    dr. M.M.  You (V), Utrecht University

    This project investigates how Anglophone poetry responds to the shifting political, economic, and aesthetic dynamics currently re-contextualizing the English language on a global scale. It focuses on how translingual poetic practices can help produce strategies for English to co-exist with and even reinforce the vitality of local languages and cultures.

  • Health Research and Development (ZonMw)

    A

    Nanotrivax: three-component nanobody-vaccines targeting human dendritic cells for immunotherapy

    Alsya Affandi PhD, VU Medical Center

    Dendritic cells (DCs) are master regulators of immune system that have tremendous immunotherapy potential; however, current strategies have been unsatisfactory. Here, I aim to develop nanobody-based vaccines, consisting DC-targeting and DC-modulating nanobodies, conjugated to disease-antigen, to improve anti-tumor immune responses in cancer, or to dampen inflammation in autoimmune diseases.

    B

    Lesion patterns: the smoking gun for pinpointing the cause of vascular brain injury

    Dr. Matthijs Biesbroek, UMC Utrecht

    Vascular injury to the brain white matter is very common and can have multiple causes. In many cases, targeted treatment is hampered by our inability to identify the cause. My concept is that the cause in individual patients can be pinpointed using vascular lesion location.

    C

    Intercepting Cancer’s Mail; how extracellular vesicles micro-manage the secretome

    Caitrin Crudden Ph.D, Amsterdam UMC

    Cell biology relies on so-called ‘lock and key’ receptor-ligand interactions. But ‘keys’ (ligands) are not freefloating on their quest to find their ‘lock’ (receptor). Instead ’key-chains’ (decoys) hold them and dictate their freedom. I will investigate how these molecular key-chains control cell-migration in cancer, a process fundamental to disease progression.

    D

    Slow SPEED: Slowing Parkinson’s disease Early through Exercise Dosage

    Dr. Sirwan Darweesh, Radboudumc

    Disease-slowing interventions have been ineffective in clinically manifest Parkinson’s disease (PD), when pathology is already advanced, but could succeed in prodromal PD, when pathology is limited. I will investigate the feasibility and search for efficacy of a gamified-enhanced, remotely delivered exercise intervention in prodromal PD by leveraging digital biomarkers.

    Personalizing radiotherapy with Artificial Intelligence: reducing the toxicity burden for cancer survivors

    Lisanne van Dijk PhD, University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG)

    Many head and neck cancer patients suffer from persistent severe toxicities following radiotherapy. As survival rates increase, toxicity reduction has become more pivotal. This project uses Artificial Intelligence techniques to predict toxicity trajectories, which can facilitate personalized decision-support to guide physicians in finding optimal strategies to reduce these severe toxicities.

    ACCELERATE: ZebrAfish CanCer modEl Leading thE way towaRds treAtmenT dEvelopment for phaeochromocytomas and paragangliomas.

    Dr. M.A. Dona, Radboudumc Nijmegen

    Mutations in the SDHB-gene are the most important risk factor for malignant phaeochromocytomas and paragangliomas, endocrine tumours, for which no curative treatment is available. This project entails the development of a mutant zebrafish tumour model, in which treatment modalities will be tested leading to novel treatment possibilities.

    E

    RabiBoost: Restoring suppressed immune pathways as a novel post-exposure treatment for rabies virus (RABV).

    Dr. Carmen Embregts, Department of Viroscience, Erasmus Medical Centre

    RABV suppresses the immune system and reaches the brain unnoticed. At this stage no treatment options are available, and all rabies patients (59,000/year worldwide), die. I aim to understand how RABV suppresses the immune system, and use this knowledge to test novel treatments that restore and enhance the immune response.

    G

    Through the looking-glass: an in depth-look at the role of inflammation in early cellular reprogramming in bone marrow fibrosis

    Dr. Hélène Gleitz, Erasmus MC

    Bone marrow fibrosis is a disorder where normal marrow tissue is gradually replaced by scar-like tissue, leading to bone marrow failure and death. Recent data suggests that inflammation plays a role in driving this process, yet the mechanisms remain unknown. This research focuses on targeting inflammation as a treatment strategy.

    H

    Restoring T-cell immunity in aggressive breast cancer: Serpins as actionable targets

    Dr. Dora Hammerl, Laboratory of Tumor Immunology, dept Medical Oncology, Erasmus MC Cancer Institute

    Patients with aggressive breast cancer (BC) do not benefit from current therapies. My preliminary data demonstrate that an under-recognized family of proteins, termed Serpins, limit immune cells from reaching and/or eradicating BC. I will interrogate Serpins for anti-immune mechanisms and explore enzymeneutralizing strategies to restore therapeutic responses of aggressive BC.

    J

    Identifying targetable mechanisms of insomnia in brain aging and dementia.

    Philip Jansen PhD, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

    Insomnia (sleep problems) is associated with aging of the brain and dementia. Whether insomnia is a cause or consequence of normal and accelerated brain aging, and through which mechanisms, is currently unexplored. I use large-scale brain imaging and genetic data to elucidate causal pathways between insomnia,brain aging and dementia.

    K

    Cancer-associated fibroblasts in oncolytic virus therapy: innocent bystanders or key players?

    Dr. Vera Kemp, Leiden University Medical Center

    Oncolytic virus therapy represents a promising anti-cancer approach, specifically targeting cancer cells while leaving normal cells unharmed. Importantly, tumors are shaped by up to 90% of tumor-associated stroma, mainly consisting of cancer-associated fibroblasts. This project uniquely assesses how cancer-associated fibroblasts affect the efficacy of oncolytic virus therapy.

    Still puzzling: The genetic complexity of psychiatric conditions

    Dr. M. Klein, Radboudumc, Human Genetics

    Both our genetic predisposition and environmental factors determine whether we are healthy or sick. Combined, they are key to the development of psychiatric disorders. This research studies the interplay of all these factors to personalize diagnosis and treatment of psychiatric conditions.

    L

    Making better decisions with imperfect data: integrating causal bias analysis into cost-effectiveness research

    Dr. Jeremy Labrecque, Erasmus MC

    I will incorporate causal bias analysis into cost-effectiveness analysis thereby helping better identify when plausible biases (confounding, selection bias) can easily change decisions and when decisions are robust to bias. These methods will be applied to the cost-effectiveness of total knee replacement, perfusion MRI and interventions on BMI.

    M

    Reducing health inequalities by opening up E-Health access for digitally non-skilled people

    Dr. Esther Metting, University Medical Center Groningen

    The healthcare sector increasingly uses E-Health to improve treatment. As a result, the treatment and resulting health of non-digitally skilled persons is lagging behind. Together with COPD patients and care providers, I will develop a method that will enable non-digitally skilled people to benefit from the health advantages of E-Health.

    P

    The Complotype, a new criterion for donor-recipient compatibility in renal transplantation.

    Felix Poppelaars PhD, University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG)

    The inherited set of complement genes is called the Complotype and determines the individual’s ability to activate and regulate their complement system. I will investigate whether the Complotype combination of  donor-recipient pairs predicts long-term prognosis and can therefore be used for donor-recipient pairing in renal transplantation to improve long-term outcomes.

    Danger signals released from damaged lung cells trigger extra-pulmonary co-morbidities in COPD patients

    Dr. Simon Pouwels, University Medical Center Groningen

    I will study the impact of danger signals released from damaged lung cells on other organs, contributing to the development of extra-pulmonary manifestations of COPD. The goal is to identify novel biomarkers and therapeutic targets for COPD co-morbidities using a translational approach with large clinical cohorts and advanced 3D models.

    R

    Explainable Artificial Intelligence to unravel genetic architecture of complex traits

    Gennady Roshchupkin PhD, Erasmus MC Medical Center

    While we have learned that most diseases have a genetic component, we are still far away from understanding the underlying processes. Using Artificial Intelligence, I will investigate the complex relationship between DNA mutations and human health. This will be the basis for development of novel diagnostic, prognostic and therapeutic tools.

    Dementia: yes or no?

    Dr. Julie Rutten, Leiden University Medical Center

    Approximately 25 million individuals worldwide (1:300) have a specific genetic predisposition for stroke and dementia. However, only a minority of these individuals becomes demented. This study will analyze why some individuals get dementia at a young age, whereas others with the same genetic predisposition remain healthy up to high age.

    S

    Rules of engagement: How do CD4 T-cells decide to help CD8 T-cells or B-cells?

    Dr. Fiamma Salerno, LUMC

    The immune system protects us against infections and cancer. We can boost the function of our immune cells by administering vaccines. I aim to identify key molecular cues in CD4 T-cells that may help optimize vaccination strategies by simultaneously improving formation of cytotoxic CD8 T-cells and antibody-producing B-cells.

    V

    Respiratory mucosal immunity: gateway to advance the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of childhood respiratory infections

    Dr. Lilly Verhagen, Radboudumc, Nijmegen

    Blood immune markers are used to diagnose children with respiratory tract infections. However, every respiratory infection starts with a local immune response in the airways. We will study innate immune cells that are crucial for the respiratory mucosal immune response to enable future mucosal treatment strategies without antibiotic overuse.

    How B-cells break bad; unravelling B-cell hyperactivity in systemic autoimmunity

    Dr. Gwenny Verstappen, University Medical Center Groningen

    Overactive B-cells drive systemic autoimmunity, yet underlying reasons for B-cell hyperactivity remain elusive. This researcher will elucidate mechanisms of B-cell hyperactivity by uniquely combined functional and molecular characterization of B-cell responses in Sjögren’s syndrome, a prototypic B-cell mediated autoimmune disease, to map heterogeneity among patients and identify patient-tailored therapies.

    W

    The Works in Healthcare Networks!?

    Dr. ing. Daan Westra, Maastricht University

    Healthcare organizations cooperate in various goal-directed networks to keep the sector sustainable. Yet, many of these fail, at the expense of valuable resources. I conduct the first large-scale empirical network study, in which I identify effective configurations of structure, functioning, and contextual characteristics and develop a network-(self)assessment tool for practice.

    Release the beast: Boosting CAR‐T cell immunotherapy for neuroblastoma.

    Dr. Judith Wienke, Princess Máxima Center for Pediatric Oncology, Utrecht

    Almost half of patients with the childhood cancer neuroblastoma do not survive. A novel immunotherapy with CAR‐T cells is considered highly promising, yet shows limited clinical efficacy because neuroblastoma cells inhibit CAR‐T cells. In this study, CAR‐T cells will be made insensitive to inhibition, as innovative, improved treatment for neuroblastoma.

    Securing brain Health by personalised treatment of INdividuals with cOvert Brain Infarcts (SHINOBI)

    Frank Wolters, PhD, Erasmus MC Rotterdam

    One in four elderly individuals are at high risk of stroke and dementia due to prior brain infarction that occurred unnoticed. In this project, I advance personalised preventive strategies for patients with covert infarcts through improved recognition by patients and refined risk stratification by clinicians.

    Predicting individualized clinically relevant outcomes: a new method for decision support using routine outcome measurements

    Dr. Robbert Wouters, Erasmus MC Rotterdam

    Decisions in daily clinic are usually not based on individual patient data but on clinician experience and guidelines. Consequently, decisions are not individualized and at risk of being suboptimal. I propose a method for real-time prediction of individualized outcomes and costs, facilitating shared decision-making and increasing patient value.