Below you find a list per round of researchers awarded funding with a provisional title and a brief summary of the research project, the current employer or the last place where the researcher worked and the host Institute at which the Rubicon research will be carried out.
  • Round 1

    Facts and Figures

    Total (eligable) applicants: 80 (43 male, 37 female)
    Acceptance rate: 19%
    Acceptance rate male: 14%
    Acceptance rate female: 24%

    12 laureates are going to the United States
    1 laureate is going to the United Kingdom
    1 laureate is going to Belgium
    1 laureate is going to Sweden

    In alphabetical order


    Exchanging letters in patient DNA
    Dr M. (Manda) Arbab (f), Hubrecht Institute -> US, Harvard University, Broad Institute, 24 months
    SMA is a severe genetic disorder as a result of which babies become paralysed and die. It is caused by a single wrong letter in the DNA code of these patients. With the help of new technologies the researchers want to correct the DNA of these patients.


    Identifying intraoperative lymph gland metastases in patients with head-neck cancer
    Dr N.S. (Nynke) van den Berg (f), Leiden University -> US, Stanford University, School of Medicine, Department of ENT-Head-Neck Surgery, 24 months 
    The presence of lymph gland metastases has a large influence on the prognosis of patients with early stage head-neck cancer. In this project we will investigate whether a tumour-specific, fluorescent, tracer substance is able to detect lymph gland metastases during the operation.

    Unmasking microbial genomes with microfluidics
    Dr B.A. (Bojk) Berghuis (m) Delft University of Technology -> US, Stanford University, Department of Bioengineering, 24 months
    Current genomic methodologies are not good enough to describe complex microbial communities even though the species discovered within these contain a wealth of relevant medical and biotechnological information. The researcher will use microfluidic chips to map the genomes of extremophile microbes.

    Oncogene-induced DNA breaks: where, when and how?
    Dr B.A.M. (Britta) Bouwman (f) - Hubrecht Institute -> Sweden, Karolinska Institute, Science for Life Laboratory Stockholm - 24 months
    Activated oncogenes disrupt cellular processes and in doing this create DNA breaks that ultimately contribute to the development and progression of cancer. In this project, the researcher will investigate exactly how and where these breaks arise and why some pieces of DNA break more easily.   


    The magnetic charm of topological defects
    B. (Benedetta) Flebus MSc (f), Utrecht University, Institute for Theoretical Physics -> US, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Department of Physics and Astronomy, 24 months
    Defects are not always as bad as they sound. In this project it will be investigated how topological defects in magnetic materials can be used to efficiently transmit information in the classical and quantum mechanical regimes.


    The art of conception? Infertility identities in Britain before IVF (1945-1980)
    Dr Y. (Yuliya) Hilevych (f), Wageningen University & Research /Radboud University -> UK, University of Cambridge, Faculty of History, 24 months
    Even though infertility has been a taboo subject in public discussions, its diagnosis is a key moment  in the lives of people who are infertile. This research will study the identity forming that was associated with infertility before in vitro fertilisation (IVF) was discovered in the United Kingdom, (1945-1980).


    How do you know where your hand is? 
    Dr I.A. (Irene) Kuling (f), VU Amsterdam -> Belgium, l'Université Catholique de Louvain, ICTEAM and Institute of Neuroscience (IoNS), 24 months
    Without thinking about it our hands are at the right place at the right time to pick things up, catch them or use them. How does our brain do this? The researcher will examine the position perception of the hand before and during movements.


    Modelling the serrated polyp pathway to colorectal cancer
    Dr R.G.S. (Reinier) Meester (m), Department of Public Health, Erasmus University Medical Center -> US, Stanford University School of Medicine, 24 months
    The serrated polyp is a poorly understood pathway to colorectal cancer, which may account for one third of all cases. We aim to develop an evidence-based simulation model to inform decisions on colorectal cancer screening and surveillance of patients with serrated polyps.


    Designing network dynamical systems through algebra
    E.C. (Eddie) Nijholt, MSc (m) VU Amsterdam -> US, University of Illinois, Mathematics, 24 months
    We are surrounded by networks. They play a distinct role in the natural world and in technology due to their many special characteristics. The researchers will discover how small networks can be combined like Lego blocks into larger networks with the desired characteristics.


    Long-term impact of people and climate on tropical forests
    Dr M.T. (Masha) van der Sande (f), Wageningen University & Research -> US, Florida Institute of Technology, Department of Biological Sciences, 24 months
    Tropical forests are important for climate mitigation due to the uptake of carbon from the atmosphere. In this research I will combine data about historical vegetation composition with the characteristics of tree species. I will use this information to evaluate the long-term impact of climate change and human actions on tropical forests.

    Stimulating language learning
    Dr W. L. (William) Schuerman (m), Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics -> USA, University of California, San Francisco, Department of Neurological Surgery, 24 months
    One branch of the vagus nerve leads from the ear to the brain. Stimulating this nerve releases neurochemicals involved in learning. This research aims to investigate how non-invasive vagus nerve stimulation can accelerate the learning of an unfamiliar language.

    Topology for Nuclear fusion
    C. B. (Chris) Smiet (m), Leiden University -> US, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, Theory department, 24 months
    Fusion is the clean, inexhaustible energy source the world needs. The researcher will use the mathematics of knots to describe new magnetic structures that will make the generation of this energy possible.

    A hole in the genes? 
    Dr A.N. (András) Spaan (m), University Medical Center Utrecht -> US, The Rockefeller University, Genetics, 24 months 
    Staphylococcus aureus, a pathogen that causes life-threatening infections, produces pore-forming toxins that kill the cells of the immune system. Spaan will investigate whether genetic abnormalities in the immune response of children to these toxins can explain their sensitivity for serious infections caused by this bacterium.

    The sweet talk of cells
    K. (Kathrin) Stavenhagen MSc (f), VU Amsterdam -> US, Harvard Medical School, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, 24 months
    The surfaces of immune cells are covered with sugar-binding molecules that interact and communicate with sugars of other cells and the environment. I will study an important cell surface molecule to gain a better understanding of the sugar-cross talk within the immune system.




    Video blogging as a modern learning strategy
    Dr S.I. (Stephanie) Wassenburg (f), Erasmus University Rotterdam -> US, Carnegie Mellon University, Human-Computer Interaction Institute, 24 months 
    The growth in technology requires new approaches to learning. This project will investigate the effectiveness of video blogging in education. In addition it will examine how innovative technologies, such as artificial intelligence and augmented reality, can support and facilitate the learning process.

  • Round 2

    Facts and figures

    A total of 79 researchers submitted a proposal for Rubicon, of which 43 women and 36 men. The overall award rate was 26,6%. The award rate was 25,6% for women and 27,8% for men. Nine laureates are going to the United States, three to Austria, one to the United Kingdom, one to Germany, one to New Zealand, one to Canada, one to Australia, one to Denmark and one to Finland. For many researchers, experience abroad is an important step in their career.

    Alphabetical list (sorted by laureate's surname)


    The more supervision the better?

    Valentina Carraro (f), Maastricht University -> Austria, Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Human Rights, 24 months

    There are currently two mechanisms within the United Nations for evaluating human rights obligations within states. This project will investigate to what extent these two mechanisms complement each other as well as the extent to which they encourage states to comply with human rights obligations.

    Dynamic memories

    Silvy Collin, MSc (f), Donders Institute, Radboud University, Nijmegen -> United States, Princeton University, Princeton Neuroscience Institute, Computational Memory Lab, 24 months

    Our brains structure events into schemes in order to remember the constant stream of events in a meaningful manner. The researcher will combine neuroimaging with computer models to investigate how these schemes are formed and how new information can be added to them.


    Kill while they sleep

    Dr Yanfang Feng (f), University of Amsterdam -> United States, Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital, Wellman Center for Photomedicine, 24 months

    Many deadly bacteria can evade antibiotic treatment by “sleeping” while under threat and then waking up at a later time. This proposal will study how light-activated therapies can target and destroy these hard-to-kill bacteria.


    How to do things with people: Coordinating joint and individual action in social activities

    Elliott Hoey, MA (m), Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen -> Switzerland, University of Basel, 20 months

    Many social activities are partially done through closely coordinated joint action and partially through relatively autonomous action. This project will use video recordings of construction site activities to describe the concrete behaviours involved in participants’ engagement and disengagement in joint action.

    The effect of the public on the effectiveness of teaching for learning

    Dr Vincent Hoogerheide (m), Utrecht University–> Germany, University of Freiburg, Institute for Psychology, 12 months

    Teaching the learning material to fellow students is an effective learning strategy. However, the underlying mechanism is still unknown. This project will test the hypothesis that increasing the perception of 'social presence' by manipulating characteristics of the public has a positive effect on learning through teaching.


    How an algorithm saves lives

    Dr Caroline Jagtenberg (f), CWI/VU Amsterdam -> New Zealand, University of Auckland, Engineering Science, 24 months

    In ambulance care, short response times are vitally important. The researcher will create mathematical models to analyse the interaction between different types of ambulance vehicles. Additionally, the researcher will be investigated how an ambulance system in which the driver and doctor depart from different locations can function optimally.


    Quantum entanglement in molecular collisions

    Tijs Karman (m), Radboud University -> United States, Harvard University, ITAMP, 24 months 

    Quantum entanglement was once the reason for Einstein doubting the quantum theory, but it has since been demonstrated in experiments and has potential technological applications. The researcher will work on the entanglement of molecules, which can be used to test physics theories.


    Hidden links in the DNA of cancer patients

    Dr Robin van der Lee (m), Radboud University -> Canada, University of British Columbia, Centre for Molecular Medicine and Therapeutics, 24 months

    How changes in the DNA give rise to cancer remains largely unclear. Data from new biomedical technologies contain new knowledge. The researcher will develop bioinformatics methods to simultaneously study the DNA of thousands of cancer patients and to discover which changes result in the disease.


    One-way traffic for heat radiation

    Dr Sander Mann (m), AMOLF (Amsterdam) -> United States, CUNY Advanced Science Research Center, Photonics Initiative, 24 months

    Everything that absorbs light must be able to emit light as well. This is often undesirable: in

    solar panels, for example, emission leads to a lower yield. We will develop special surface coatings which ensure that a material can absorb light without emitting it.

    Erosion of the rule of law in Europe: what is the Council of Europe's role?

    Dr Paulien de Morree (f), Utrecht University -> Denmark, University of Copenhagen, The Danish National Research Foundation’s Centre of Excellence for International Courts (iCourts), 12 months

    The democratic rule of law is under pressure in various European countries. The Council of Europe was established to facilitate democracy and the rule of law in Europe. What is the Council of Europe doing to ensure that countries respect the democratic rule of law?


    Disrupted communication in the autistic brain

    Dr Marianne Oldehinkel (f), RadboudUMC, Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour -> Australia, Monash University, Brain & Mental Health Laboratory, 24 months

    The abnormal processing of sensory information, such as hypersensitivity to noise, is a frequently occurring but neglected symptom of autism. Using brain scans, the researcher will investigate abnormalities in sensory brain networks to find the underlying cause of this problem.

    Creatures of habit and the changing environment

    Dr Thomas Oudman (m), NIOZ Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research -> UK, University of St Andrews, School of Biology, Laland group, 24 months

    Just like people, animals also learn from each other. They can acquire new behaviour or remain stuck in old habits. This project will investigate how social learning behaviour helps or hinders migratory birds in adapting to changing conditions.


    Radiolabeled peptides for image-guided cancer radiotherapy

    Dr Aleksandra Pekošak (f), VU University Medical Center -> Switzerland, ETH Zurich, The Center of Radiopharmaceutical Sciences, 24 months

    Precision diagnostics using more specific tumour-targeting radiopharmaceuticals will strongly contribute to a more effective treatment of cancer patients. Follicle-stimulating hormone receptor is an ideal target for cancer imaging and therapy, and could potentially overcome tremendous challenges in cancer health care.


    Pulsating research into stiff blood vessels in diabetes patients

    Dr Bart Spronck (m), Maastricht University -> United States, Yale University, Department of Biomedical Engineering, 24 months

    The stiffening of blood vessels due to diabetes ultimately leads to heart failure. Spronck will develop a setup to expose sick blood vessels to a pulsating blood pressure outside of the body. Using these measurement data, he will make computer models to study accelerated vessel stiffening in diabetes patients.


    Colouring outside of the lines

    Dr Els van der Ven (f), Maastricht University -> United States, Columbia University, Mailman School of Public Health, 24 months

    The role of ethnicity in various stages of psychosis in New York State.
    In Europe, ethnic minority groups have a higher risk of psychosis and a more negative course with more compulsory treatment. I will investigate ethnic differences in various stages of psychosis in the United States, a place where inequality and racism reign supreme.

    The sense of “nonsensical” transcription

    Dr Hanneke Vlaming (f), Netherlands Cancer Institute, Antoni van Leeuwenhoek Hospital -> United States, Harvard Medical School, Department of Molecular Pharmacology and Biological Chemistry, 24 months

    Well-regulated transcription (the copying of DNA to RNA) is important and prevents diseases. Many RNAs are never translated into proteins, but may play a role in transcription regulation. This project will investigate the production and functions of these RNAs.

    Measuring the influence of genes on tissue formation

    Dr Erik Vrij (m), Maastricht University -> Austria, Institute of Molecular Biotechnology of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (IMBA), Koo Lab, 24 months

    In the lab, stem cells can be incited to form mini organs, but it remains unclear exactly how these cells do this. In this research, a new genetic screening technique will be used to test each gene for its function in this process.


    Energy-efficient autonomous driving trains

    Dr Pengling Wang (f), Delft University of Technology -> Switzerland, ETH Zurich, Institute for Transport Planning and Systems (IVT), 24 months

    Autonomous driving is beneficial for railway capacity utilisation and energy efficiency. We will lay the mathematical foundations of autonomous driving and incorporate these in train control (reducing energy) and traffic management systems (reducing delays) to shape the future railway system.

    Nutrition or poison for the brain?

    Dr Erik de Water (m), Radboud University -> United States, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Department of Environmental Medicine and Public Health, 24 months

    Manganese is a nutrient that is toxic for the brain upon excessive consumption. I will investigate whether exposure to manganese during the pregnancy and childhood are correlated with smoking, drinking and activity in areas of the brain regulating self-control in adolescents.

    Affect and legitimisation of Internet censorship in Russia

    Dr Mariëlle Wijermars (f), University of Groningen -> Finland, University of Helsinki, Aleksanteri Institute, 24 months

    The Russian government is rapidly expanding its control of the Internet, whereas this was previously still a refuge for dissidents. How is the government creating support for this? This research will analyse how politicians and state media have legitimised Internet censorship and have played upon people's emotions to realise this.

    From autocatalytic to evolving molecular networks

    Dr Albert Wong (m), Radboud University -> United States, Harvard University, Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, 24 months

    Autocatalysis proves to be a fundamental phenomenon in the evolution of life. This research will attempt to create a self-evolving system by linking different autocatalytic molecular networks.

  • Round 3

    Facts and figures

    Total (eligable) applicants: 93 (51 women/42 men)
    Overall award rate: 19.3%
    Award rate women: 25.5%
    Award rate men: 11.9%

    Nine laureates are going to the United States, Three to the United Kingdom, two to Denmark, one to Belgium and one to South-Africa.

    Alphabetical list (sorted by laureate's surname)


    Young and obese: does inflammation cause the earlier onset of cardiovascular disease?

    Dr. S (Siroon) Bekkering (f), Radboud University Medical Center, Department of Internal Medicine -> Australia, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne, Department of Internal Medicine, 18 months

    Obesity in young children is an important risk factor for cardiovascular disease later in life. In this study, the researcher is going to examine whether obesity during childhood leads to the reprogramming of the innate immune system and the development of cardiovascular disease.

    Cleaning up cancer with our own immune system

    Dr. K.F. (Kalijn) Bol (f), Radboud University Medical Center -> Denmark, University of Copenhagen, Center for Cancer Immune Therapy, Herlev Hospital, 24 months

    Immunotherapy activates the immune system to kill cancer cells. This breakthrough in the treatment is not effective for all forms of cancer, however, including uveal melanoma. The research will identify and eliminate the blocking mechanisms.

    The role of attention in chronic pain 

    Dr. A.F. (Teuni) ten Brink (f), Utrecht University -> United Kingdom, University of Bath, Psychology Department, 24 months 

    Patients with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome suffer from severe inexplicable pain in a limb. Attention deficit could potentially play an important role in this disorder. The researcher is going to map out attention deficit disorders. Knowledge about this will contribute to the development of new treatments.

    Cracking the sugar code 

    Dr. C. (Christian) Büll (m), Radboud University Medical Center -> Denmark, University of Copenhagen, Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, Copenhagen Center for Glycomics, 24 months 

    Every cell in our body surrounds itself with a layer of sugar molecules. This layer fulfils a multitude of largely unknown biological functions. In this research, a new technology is going to be developed that will make it possible to identify the functions of this layer of sugar molecules.


    A self-closing box for light 

    Dr. M. (Michele) Cotrufo (m), TU/e (Eindhoven) -> United States, CUNY Advanced Science Research Center, Photonics Initiative, 24 months 

    Light is difficult to trap: if we inject it into a box through a hole, light will necessarily escape through the same hole. We will use quantum phenomena to break this paradigm, enabling light to close the hole after it enters and trap itself.

    Political refugees in Paris and London, 1815-1848

    Dr. C.M.H.G. (Camille) Creyghton (f), University of Amsterdam -> United Kingdom, Queen Mary University of London, School of History, 24 months

    Many modern political ideologies, such as nationalism and socialism, emerged in the first half of the 19th century, often in environments with political refugees. This research will examine how refugees exchanged revolutionary ideas among themselves and laid the groundwork for the democratic revolutions of 1848.


    A female face for learning

    Dr. L. (Lieke) van Deinsen (f), Rijksmuseum Amsterdam/VU Amsterdam -> Belgium, KU Leuven, Art History research group, 24 months

    Would the real scholar now please stand up? People often automatically imagine academics to be male. This research describes how Dutch female scholars were already fighting this persistent perception in the early modern period.


    Layer by layer topological matter

    Dr Ö. (Önder) Gül (m), TU Delft, QuTech and Kavli Institute of Nanoscience Delft -> USA, Harvard University, Department of Physics, 24 months

    The discovery of topological phases revolutionized our understanding of condensed matter and gave birth to fascinating applications such as topological quantum computation. The researcher will develop a new topological matter using superconductors and atomically thin layers of carbon.


    Influence of comedication on risk of bleeding with new anticoagulants

    Dr. R.E. (Ralf) Harskamp (m), University of Amsterdam -> USA, Duke University, Duke Clinical Research Institute, 12 months

    General practitioners play a key role in locating and providing anticoagulation treatment for atrial fibrillation. It often affects elderly people who use other medications. These other medications have an influence on anticoagulants and increase the risk of bleeding. This proposal aims to improve how we map the risks of new anticoagulants and comedication.

    Tuberculosis: visualising the invisible

    Dr. MAM (Mischa) Huson (f), AMC -> South Africa, Institute of Infectious Diseases and Molecular Medicine, University of Cape Town, 18 months

    Controlling tuberculosis is impeded by the fact that it is difficult to diagnose and diagnostic tests are not available everywhere. Ultrasound is affordable and universally applicable. This researcher is going to examine whether lung ultrasound can make it easier to diagnose tuberculosis.


    Predicting movement problems with the elderly

    Dr. E. (Eline) van der Kruk (f), Delft University of Technology -> United Kingdom, Imperial College London, BioEngineering, 24 months

    The older we get, the more limited we are in our movements. This is the result of neurological and physiological changes in our bodies. Using predictive computer simulations, this researcher is going to analyse the interaction of these changes and its consequences for movement.


    How do I get to know you? 

    Dr. I. (Ili) Ma (f), Radboud University Nijmegen -> United States, New York University, Department of Psychology, 24 months

    People often choose the information they need when they want to learn something themselves. This is also true during social interaction. This researcher is going to use the techniques of artificial intelligence to study how people learn about each other.

    M-White LED – future of lighting

    MSc M. L. (Maryna) Meretska (f), University of Twente – Optics -> United StatesHarvard University (SEAS), 24 months

    Light is an essential condition for life on earth. The researcher in this project wants to develop the most affordable and efficient white light source possible, which can be used for a variety of applications, such as street lighting, home use and mobile telephones.


    The protection of freedom in times of terrorism

    Dr. H.A. (Hadassa) Noorda (f), University of Amsterdam, Faculty of Law -> United States, Rutgers University, Institute for Law and Philosophy, 24 months

    Anti-terrorism measures, such as freezing assets and travel bans, require a new theory of the restrictions on individual freedoms. This project is going to develop a philosophical foundation for current practices of restricting freedoms and provide prospects for the development of legal rules for the protection of individuals subjected to these restrictions.


    In search of the causes of illness

    Dr. W.J. (Wouter) Peyrot (m), VU University Medical Center -> United States, Harvard University, Biostatistics, 18 months

    Currently, the causes of illnesses are being studied with innovative statistical methods that use genetic data. It is unclear, however, whether these methods are always reliable. This project is going to examine ways of increasing the reliability of these methods.


    Grasping the dynamics of DNA loops

    Dr. M.W. (Marit) Vermunt (f), Hubrecht Institute -> United States – Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, 24 months

    DNA is used differently in every cell type, the use of which is mediated by enhancers. Because these elements are often far away from the genes that they activate, a loop is created to make contact. This researcher would like to study how (dynamically) this happens.

    Overpowering lymphocytes in autoimmune conditions

    Drs. G.M.P.J. (Gwenny) Verstappen (f), UMC Groningen -> Australia, University of Melbourne, WEHI, 12 months

    When lymphocytes, cells in the immune system, turn against one’s own body we refer to it as autoimmunity. This researcher is going to examine why lymphocytes malfunction in the Sjögren syndrome and which molecules have to be inhibited in order to treat these patients.


    Energy for molecular dance

    Dr. JM (Josine) de Winter (f), VU University Medical Center->United States, Harvard Medical School, Department of Genetics, 12 months

    The muscles of people afflicted with the skeletal and heart muscle disease NEM6 do not receive sufficient energy to contract. This researcher has developed a new microscope to test medicines that can restore this supply of energy and muscle strength.