Below you will find a list per round of laureates in alphabetical order as well as the titles of the research projects. The name of the laureate is followed by their gender, the promotional institution and the host institution where the Rubicon research will be conducted.
  • Round 1

    Modern social problems. Diversity, inequality, segregation and cohesion Dr O. (Ozan) Aksoy (m), Utrecht University -> University of Oxford, Department of Sociology and Nuffield College (GB), 24 months

    Ethnic diversity and inequality are expected to increase in modern societies. The influence of these on segregation and cohesion - collaboration and trust - leads to considerable socioeconomic challenges and the need to further investigate the relationship between diversity, inequality, segregation and cohesion.

    The making of occult minds 
    Dr E. (Egil) Asprem (m), University of Amsterdam –> University of California, Religious Studies (US), 24 months 
    Our minds are naturally inclined to produce and remember certain ideas rather than others. This accounts for the pervasiveness of some religious ideas, such as god concepts. But what can the cognitive science of religion tell us about beliefs and experiences related to ‘the occult’? This project aims to uncover the cognitive mechanisms and psychological factors involved.

    Chronic enteritis due to incorrectly folded proteins 
    Dr J. (Joep) Grootjans (m), Maastricht University -> Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston (US), 24 months 
    Incorrectly folded proteins in intestinal cells result in chronic inflammation of the intestine. The researchers will study the relationship between incorrect protein processing and the congenital immunity of the intestine, to discover new treatments for chronic enteritis.

    Antigen internalisation by B cells 
    R. (Robbert) Hoogeboom (m), University of Amsterdam -> National Institute for Medical Research (GB), 24 months 
    The internalisation of antigens by B cells is an important process in the specific immune response. The researchers will systematically study this process by knocking out the genes one by one and subsequently examining under the microscope how this influences the antigen internalisation by B cells.

    Chaotic movement in salt solutions 
    E. (Elif) Karatay (f), University of Twente -> Stanford University, Mechanical Engineering (US), 24 months 
    If a current passes through salt solutions, ion polarisation occurs. At very high current densities the polarisation behaves like a shock and that results in chaotic movements. It will be investigated why this polarisation influences movement in salt solutions and how this can be controlled.

    Is asymmetry in cell division lost during ageing? 
    Dr A.C. (Anne) Meinema (m), University of Groningen –> ETH Zurich, Institute of Biochemistry (CH), 24 months 
    If a certain cell (e.g. stem cell) divides an unknown barrier ensures asymmetry between both cells; one cell ages while other remains young. In this project it will be investigated how ageing in yeast cells affects the functioning of the barrier and what the molecular basis of this is.

    How plants assemble a cell wall 
    Dr J. (Joanna) Polko (f), Utrecht University –> University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, Biology, Kieber Lab (US), 24 months 
    Cell walls are rigid yet flexible structures that are important for the growth of plants. The researchers will investigate how cell walls are assembled.

    Stay tuned! 
    R.B. (Rogier) Poorthuis (m), VU University Amsterdam –> MPI Frankfurt, Neocortical circuits lab, (DE), 24 months 
    Attention enables us to focus on environmental stimuli that are important at that moment in time and that suppress irrelevant information. The researchers will examine how the brain is capable of focusing on relevant auditory information.

    Characterising the function and behaviour of dormant G0-like tumour cells 
    Dr L. (Laila) Ritsma (f), Utrecht University -> Harvard, Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center (US), 24 months 
    Breast cancer patients often have tumour cells that become dormant during chemotherapy as a result of which they survive the treatment and form new metastases. Researchers will investigate how the tumour cells become dormant and which proteins can counteract this.

    Vulnerable or imperturbable communities? Why some ecosystems are thrown off-balance by invasions and others not 
    Dr M.J.J. (Maarten) Schrama (m), University of Groningen -> University of Manchester, Faculty of Life Sciences, (GB), 24 months
    Human disruption of ecosystems is leading to an increase in invasive species, often with far-reaching negative consequences. In this research we will perform a smart field experiment to discover why some ecosystems are far more sensitive for invasions than others.

    Seeing the fast in the small 
    Dr R. (Ronald) Ulbricht (m), University of Amsterdam -> University of Colorado, JILA (US), 24 months 
    Materials are composed of very small constituents (nanometres) in which very fast processes (femtoseconds) occur that define the material’s property and functionality. This project sets out to develop new techniques that can see and control such fast dynamics in molecules and nanostructures using a nanometre-sized optical antenna.

    Growing patterns: how a zebra fish acquires its stripes 
    Dr F.W.J. (Frits) Veerman (m), Leiden University –> University of Oxford, Centre for Mathematical Biology (GB), 24 months 
    Patterns occur everywhere in nature: such as pigment stripes on animal skin, but also in the development of embryonic limbs, or as areas of vegetation on the edge of deserts. The researchers will examine the development of patterns in a growing environment from a mathematical perspective.

    Language evolution and the role of our brain 
    T. (Tessa) Verhoef, MSc (f), University of Amsterdam –> University of California, Center for Research in Language (US), 24 months 
    Language is one the most important characteristics that distinguishes humans from other animals. How exactly did structure in language arise? The aim of this project is to simulate hundreds of years of language evolution in experiments with human participants and computer models.

    How hearing happens 
    C.P.C. (Corstiaen) Versteegh (m), Erasmus University Rotterdam –>The Rockefeller University, Laboratory of Sensory Neuroscience (US), 24 months 
    Our ears can sense very faint and very loud sounds. The combination of this with the ability to discriminate between high and low pitch is even more unique. The researchers will investigate how the cells of the inner ear accomplish this feat.

    Social behaviour under the spotlight 
    Dr R. (Romy) Wichmann (f), University of Groningen -> MIT, Picower Institute for Learning and Memory, Cambridge, (US), 24 months 
    Social interaction is often disrupted in psychiatric disorders such as autism, schizophrenia and depression. With the help of light-sensitive ion channels and a recently developed miniature microscope, the researchers will try to gain a better understanding of how the communication within the brain can influence the communication between individuals.

    From working space to theatre space: the user perspective 
    Dr M.L (Marlieke) Wilders (f), University of Groningen -> Politecnico di Torino, Interuniversity Department of Regional and Urban Studies and Planning (IT), 24 months 
    The researcher will analyse how redesignating industrial buildings as theatres changes how these buildings are experienced. And conversely how the industrial character of a building influences the theatre experience of the visitor. Using this knowledge design strategies for the redesignation of buildings can be optimised.

    Panoramas and territory in the landscape of Pergamon 
    Dr C.G. (Christina) Williamson (f), University of Groningen -> Brown University, Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World (US), 24 months 
    What is the role of panoramas in state formation? This research demonstrates that panoramas and state formation were closely linked in the landscape of the Hellenic royal city of Pergamon (Turkey) where many archaeological sites with spectacular views were linked in a visual network of power.

  • Round 2

    Enzyme inhibitor to prevent resistance to antibiotics Dr A.A. (Andreas-Alexander) Bastian (m), University of Groningen -> University of Notre Dame, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry (US), 24 months Since the use of the first antibiotics, bacteria have defended themselves by developing resistance against these medicines. The emergence of resistance, in particular multidrug resistance (MDR), is a growing problem with the result that the current generation of antibiotics is only partly effective. My research will focus on the development of new antibacterial compounds that can tackle the problems mentioned above. In particular, I will investigate substances that help to counteract resistance against carbapenems. This class of antibiotics is currently used as a last resort against resistant bacteria.

    Becoming slimmer with fat M.R. (Mariëtte) Boon (f), Leiden University -> Maastricht University (NL), 15 months  The Hindustani population has a far higher chance than average of developing type 2 diabetes. In Maastricht it will be investigated whether increasing the quantity of brown fat, which rapidly converts stored energy into heat, can improve the metabolic health of the Hindustani population.

    Paid work and slavery in the Dutch Atlantic Empire  Dr P. (Pepijn) Brandon (m), University of Amsterdam -> University of Pittsburgh Department of History (US), 24 months  In the Dutch Atlantic Empire hundreds of thousands of people worked on ships, plantations and other locations during the 17th and 18th centuries. Some of them were in paid employment and others were slaves or conscripts. This research will examine how this difference influenced forms of collaboration and solidarity.

    Delving into the diversity  Dr J.J.A. (Jorg) Calis (m), Utrecht University -> The Rockefeller University (US), 24 months  The immune system is extremely diverse so that it can respond adequately to a wide range of threats. Using a new technique, the researchers, will map this diversity and examine very precisely how it can be used in immune responses to infections.

    The immune system under the microscope  S. (Stijn) van Dorp (m), Erasmus University Rotterdam -> Stanford University, Department of Molecular and Cellular Physiology (US), 24 months  Cells from the immune system steer their development into disease controllers using an ingenious system of proteins and channels in the cell wall. To understand how the system works the researchers will simulate it step by step in an artificial environment.

    Building Blocks of Life in Space  Dr E.C. (Edith) Fayolle (f), Leiden University -> Harvard - Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (US), 24 months  Molecules relevant for the origins of life are observed in space. The researchers will investigate the formation and survival of organic molecules under the extreme conditions of space through a combination of laboratory experiments and astronomical observations.

    Can friendship reduce the effects of child abuse in the brain?  A. (Anne-Laura) van Harmelen, MSc. (f), UL -> University of Cambridge Department of Psychiatry (GB), 24 maanden  Emotional abuse during childhood is related to changes in the brain (brain structure and brain functioning) and consequently these people have an elevated risk of developing psychopathology. This project will investigate whether friendships during adolescence can reduce the negative effects of emotional abuse in the brain.

    Domino effects of diseases in wild birds  Dr A. (Arne) Hegemann (m), University of Groningen -> Lund University, Physical Ecology (SE), 24 months  A bout of cold usually only lasts a few days. However it can still give rise to longer term effects, for example because you have missed an important event. Such effects also exist in animals. The researchers will attach tiny transmitters to birds to unravel the effects of a brief illness on migratory behaviour and breeding.

    Treating dissociative symptoms with sleep improvement  D. (Dalena) van Heugten – van der Kloet (f), Maastricht University -> University of Oxford, Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences, Sleep & Circadian Neuroscience Institute (GB), 24 months  Dissociative symptoms are fuelled by sleeping problems. Memory problems seem to play an important role in this. The researchers will elicit lack of sleep and then examine which symptoms and memory problems develop. They will then immediately try a treatment aimed at sleep improvement to reduce the dissociative symptoms.

    Treating cancer without harming the development  S. (Sascha) Hoogendoorn, MSc. (f), Leiden University -> Stanford University School of Medicine, Department of Chemical and Systems Biology (US), 24 months  Sometimes important processes necessary for growth in children get out of control and cause certain types of cancer. Researchers will try to unravel whether it is possible to stop the cancer while allowing normal development to continue.

    Symbiosis between aphids, ants and their intestinal flora  Dr A.B.F. (Aniek) Ivens (f), University of Groningen -> Laboratory of Insect Social Evolution – The Rockefeller University (US), 24 months  Meadow ants keep aphids underground as cattle. The honeydew made by the aphids serves as 'milk' for the ants and is brimming with nutrients. The biologists will investigate which role the intestinal flora of aphids and ants play in this transfer of nutrients.

    Protein phosphorylation during the immune response of plants  T.W.H. (Thomas) Liebrand, MSc. (m), Wageningen University and Research Centre -> University of California Davis, Dept. of Plant Pathology, Coaker Lab (US), 24 months  During the immune response of plants against harmful pathogens many proteins change function. Phosphorylation, the placing of a phosphate group on proteins, plays an important role in this. The researchers will investigate which proteins become phosphorylated during the immune response against a bacterial pathogen.

    Language use and our brain in context  V. (Vitória) Piai, MSc. (f), Radboud University Nijmegen/Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour -> University of California, Berkeley, Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute (US), 24 months  Information from the context simplifies the production and processing of language. The researcher will establish the cooperation between areas of the brain during the efficient use of the context but will also determine what happens in this process following brain injury.

    Swimming microorganisms  T.E.F. (Tessa) Quax, MSc. (f), Wageningen University and Research Centre -> Max Planck Institute of Terrestrial Microbiology (DE), 24 months  Besides bacteria there is another fundamentally different group of microorganisms: archaea. These organisms live at extreme locations, such as in hot geysers, but are also present in the human intestine. To gain an understanding of these microorganisms, researchers will study the mechanism with which they move. This appears to be fundamentally different from that in bacteria.

    Zooming in: nanoscale characteristics of 2D-organic nanostructures  Dr D. (Daniel) Schwarz (m), University of Twente -> Lawrence Berkeley (US), 24 months  2D-organic nanostructures (such as graphene and organo-metallic networks) are new materials with exciting characteristics. Possible applications can be found in electronics and high-performance catalysts. The researchers will study and manipulate the electronic and magnetic characteristics of these materials at the nanoscale.

    An evolutionary approach to the choice for children  Dr G. (Gert) Stulp (m), University of Groningen -> The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Evolutionary Demography (GB), 24 months  Our understanding of individual choices to have children in modern industrialised societies is limited. An evolutionary approach to the choice for children can provide new insights, and provide answers to the (mal)adaptivity of modern reproductive behaviour. Such an insight will also improve predictions of birth rates and consequently facilitate population policy.

    Atomic-scale control of surface charge transfer  Dr P. (Peyman) Taheri (m), Delft University of Technology -> University of California Berkeley, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences (US), 21 months  Semiconductors are advanced functional materials that are used on a wide scale in modern electronics. The researcher will develop and optimise the atomic process control of innovative semiconductor production so that faster, cheaper and more robust electronics will be possible in the future.

    Electrons with immunity  Dr J. (Jörn) Venderbos (m), Leiden University -> Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Physics (US), 24 months  Electrons in materials are often hindered by impurities and contaminants. That impedes their transport and gives rise to energy loss, for example. In topological materials the electrons are protected in a special manner – they are immune to these effects - and these materials are therefore highly attractive for technological applications. Researchers will investigate topological materials in which electrons strongly interact with each other as well.

    New light on the mechanics of brain waves  Dr M. (Martin) Vinck (m), University of Amsterdam -> Yale University Kavli Institute for Neuroscience – Neurobiology (US), 24 months  Interactions between inhibiting and exciting cells generate a complex pattern of brain waves. The researchers will study the precise contributions of different cell types and signalling molecules to the development of brain waves, by implanting light-sensitive proteins in specific cells and then optically stimulating these.

  • Round 3

    A total of 93 researchers submitted an application for Rubicon and nineteen of them received funding.

    Postpartum psychosis due to disrupted immunity  Dr V. (Veerle) Bergink (f), Erasmus University Rotterdam -> Aarhus University, National Center for Register Based Research (DK), 24 months  A link possibly exists between serious postpartum psychiatric illness and a disrupted immune system. The researchers will investigate the occurrence of pre-eclampsia, auto-immune disease during postpartum psychosis and the effectiveness of preventative medication.

    Sugary proteins in breast-cancer Dr M.F. (Marjoke) Debets (f), Radboud University Nijmegen -> UC Berkeley, Bertozzi Lab (US), 24 months After they have been made, proteins are equipped with sugar groups (carbohydration). Researchers have discovered that in breast cancer, for example, proteins are equipped with a different number of sugar groups. It will be investigated how this carbohydration proceeds and how this changes into breast cancer.

    Revolution in chemical synthesis via programmable C-H activation  Dr P.F. (Paweł) Dydio (m), University of Amsterdam -> University of California, Berkeley, Department of Chemistry (US), 24 months  Fine chemical synthesis currently involves multi-step procedures that waste material and are not energy efficient. C-H bond functionalisation is a more efficient and eco-friendly yet challenging alternative to current methodologies. The researchers will study an innovative approach to enable general methods for powerful selective C-H bond functionalisation.

    Communication in the brain  L. (Linda) Geerligs MSc (f), University of Groningen -> Medical Research Council, Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit (GB), 24 months  Communication between different areas of the brain is vital for good functioning. This project  will investigate changes in this communication that occur during the course of life, what causes these changes, and what the consequences of these are for cognitive functioning, especially for the elderly.

    Autism visible in the brain  Dr A. (Akhgar) Ghassabian (f), Erasmus University Rotterdam -> Johns Hopkins University, Kennedy Krieger Institute (US), 24 months  Children with autism differ in their brain development compared to children without autism. But how the ‘autistic brain’ relates to behaviour in autism is unclear. This research is aimed at unravelling the relationship between brain structure/function and behaviour in autistic children.

    New electronics layer by layer  M.H.D. (Marcos) Guimarães MSc (m), University of Groningen -> Physics of Nanodevices – Kavli Institute for Nanoscience at Cornell University (US), 24 months  Electronic devices are getting smaller each year and the limit of this miniaturisation is rapidly coming into view. Therefore with the help of various layered nanomaterials researchers want to develop and study new types of devices that can be used for future electronics, based on magnetism.

    Green fuels from CO2  Dr A.L. (Annelie) Jongerius (f), Utrecht University -> Stanford University, Department of Chemical Engineering (US), 24 months  The greenhouse gas CO2 can be converted into fuels and chemicals by two different chemical processes. The researchers will investigate the similarities between these two reactions in order to develop improved processes for the production of green fuels.

    Making moving materials  P.A. (Peter) Korevaar (m), Eindhoven University of Technology -> Harvard University, Biomineralization and Biomimetics Lab (US), 24 months  Materials that continuously move, like intestinal muscles for example, are very interesting for range of applications. This research will try to design materials that convert a fuel in a continuous movement by cleverly combining chemical reactions and plastics that respond to this.

    Memories of religious conflict  Dr D.C. (David) van der Linden (m), Utrecht University -> University of Cambridge (GB), 24 months  After a religious conflict people often still remember the offences of their former enemy and that makes reconciliation difficult. This research will determine how memories of religious violence continued to divide Protestants and Catholics and undermined religious tolerance in 17th-century France.

    Nanolayers for future solar energy examined in greater detail  Dr A.J.M. (Adrie) Mackus (m), Eindhoven University of Technology -> Stanford University, Department of Chemical Engineering (US), 24 months  The application of thin layers on nanostructured surfaces plays an increasingly important role in the manufacture of solar cells. The researcher will study the growth of nanolayers using infrared light and synchrotron radiation with the aim of improving the solar cells of the future.

    How does the collective motivation to collaborate arise?  H. (Hans) Marien Msc, (m), Utrecht University -> Harvard University, Department of Psychology (US), 12 months  The motivation to collaborate is often driven by an individual interest. The disadvantage of this is that the partnership can easily dissolve. The researcher will investigate how people can be motivated from the perspective of the collective interest so that a long term collaboration can be facilitated.

    Strongly fluctuating phases and frustrated oxidic materials  L. (Louk) Rademaker (m), Leiden University -> Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics, University of California, Santa Barbara, California (US), 24 months  Frustration occurs when there is a discrepancy between the reality and the desired state. This effect also exists in complex oxidic materials such as the nickelates and 'spin-ice' materials. In this research fluctuations that emerge from this frustration will be investigated.

    Space to decide  Dr I.K. (Iris) Schneider (f), University of Amsterdam -> University of Southern California, Dornsife Center of Mind and Society, Psychology (US), 12 months  People often need to take difficult decisions. To deal with this decisions are often represented spatially, for example in pros and cons lists or by means of a decision tree. This research will examine whether the use of spatial information makes it easier to take decisions and how this works.

    Identification of epi-driver genes in colorectal cancer development  Dr J. (Jurian) Schuijers (m), Utrecht Univeristy -> Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Whitehead Institute (US), 24 months Colorectal cancer develops step-by-step and only the last steps give rise to medical complications. To understand this process better this research will develop a unique culturing model derived from human intestinal cells. With this model the researcher will search for new genes that cause colorectal cancer.

    Network meta-analysis: individuals or groups?  Dr E. (Ewoud) Schuit (m), Eindhoven University of Technology -> Stanford University, Department of Health Research and Policy (US), 24 months  Network meta-analysis indirectly compares the effectiveness of different treatments for the same medical disorder. This research will determine whether this should be done with information about individual patients or whether information about groups of patients (which is simpler to obtain and for which methods have been developed) is sufficient.

     Alcohol and a stressed brain: dangerous stuff!  Dr Z. (Zsuzsika) Sjoerds (f), VU Univeristy Amsterdam-> Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences (DE), 24 months  Stress is harmful to the brain and is highly prevalent in the case of alcohol addiction. The researchers will examine what stress does to the addicted brain and how this contributes to uncontrolled excessive drinking and to the chance of resuming drinking after sober periods.

    Black hole through the magnifying glass  Chiara Toldo, MSc (f), 19-04-1986, UU -> Columbia University, Mathematics and Physics department (US), 24 months  Understanding black holes gives fundamental insights into the behavior of gravity at very high energies. The researchers will investigate the liquid-glass structure of the black hole event horizon  and will shed light on the microscopic components of black holes. 

    Climate change: up to our chins in water?  Dr W.H.J. (Willem) Toonen (m), Utrecht University -> Aberystwyth University, Dept. Geography and Earth Sciences (GB), 24 months  To determine the effects of climate change on extreme river flooding we will examine the occurrence and spread of pre-historical and historical extreme floods in Europe. The analysis of temporal and spatial patterns will provide insights into the responsible mechanisms (people and climate) and natural variability.

    Look at food and lose your fear  J. (Jessica) Werthmann MSc (f), Maastricht University-> King’s College London, Institute of Psychiatry (GB), 24 months  Anorexia nervosa patients are extremely fearful of food and avoid looking at food. Theoretically, this attentional avoidance maintains restrictive eating, yet this has not been tested experimentally. This research proposes that modifying attention towards food will improve anorexia nervosa symptoms.

    How brains network  Dr R.J.F. (Rolf) Ypma (m), Utrecht Univeristy -> University of Cambridge, Department of Psychiatry (GB), 14 months  Our brain is divided into different regions with different functions. By drawing lines between brain regions that work together we can find the network of the brain. Mathematicians will examine how different this network is in the case of people with autism.