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: 88 (37 women/ 51 men)
    Overall award rate: 22.7%
    Award rate women: 29.7%
    Award rate men: 17.6%

    Nine laureates are going to the United States, two to the United Kingdom, two to Germany, 2 to Switzerland, 1 to New-Zealand, 1 to Belgium, 1 to Singapore, 1 to Norway and 1 to Israël.

    Alphabetical list (sorted by laureate's surname)


    People and mosquitos vs the dengue virus

    Dr M.A (Mayra) Diosa-Toro (f), University of Groningen, Singapore, National University of Singapore, Duke-NUS Medical School, 24 months

    Millions of people are bitten by mosquitos, many of whom are taken ill with dengue fever. This happens because the cells in our body are unable to kill the dengue virus. This researcher is going to study how this virus manages to evade the antiviral arsenal of our cells.


    Phase separation in DNA organisation 

    Dr J.M. (Jorine) Eeftens (f), TU Delft, United States, Princeton University, Department of Biological and Chemical Engineering , 24 months

    The organisation of DNA is a challenge for every living cell. This researcher will study the role of phase separation during this process. Once we improve our understanding of this we will also be able to study deviations in phase separation in diseases such as ALS.


    Concepts from mesoscopic physics in particle physics. Unveiling a success story in contemporary science

    Dr R. (Rocco) Gaudenzi (m), TU Delft, Germany, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Structural changes in the system of knowledge, 24 months

    Why are concepts from condensed-matter physics so fruitful for the increasingly abstract high-energy physics? This researcher will study this crucial conceptual transfer between the two major branches of modern and contemporary physics and investigate its present implications.

    Why are abused children often bullied as well? 

    Dr A. (Anouk) Goemans (f), Leiden University, England, University College London, Developmental Risk and Resilience Unit, 12 months. 

    Abused children are bullied more often than children who are not abused. The brains of abused children work differently than those of non-abused children. This researcher is going to investigate whether deviating neurocognitive mechanisms can help explain why some people are at higher risk of becoming victims of bullying.

    Phosphorus catalysis to induce dexterity 

    Drs C. (Colet) te Grotenhuis (f), University of Amsterdam, United States, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Chemistry, 24 months 

    Spatial arrangement is immensely important for medicines. Often one version is a medicine, while the other version is toxic. This researcher is going to synthesise medicines in their pure form with the aid of an environmentally-friendly, inexpensive phosphorus catalyst.


    Finally got there but then ignored? Glass ceilings in science 

    Dr B (Bas) Hofstra (m), Utrecht University, United States, Stanford University, Graduate School of Education, 12 months

    How can women and minorities gain access to top positions in science? And when they gain access, will their scientific innovations be received in the same way as other people’s innovations? This research answers these questions using ‘big data’ about all PhD students in the US.


    Reason within Passions: Towards an Economic Theory of Emotions 

    S. D. (Stephan) Jagau (m), University of Amsterdam, Switzerland, Universität Zürich, Department of Economics, 24 months

    Emotions like guilt, anger, and anxiety are a key part of what holds together the fabric of human societies. This research develops a general mathematical theory of emotions in social interaction. Theoretical results are validated using behavioural and neurological experiments.

    You don’t have to do it alone: how vaccines and your microbiome support your immune system

    Dr S.E. (Sanne) de Jong (f), Leiden University Medical Center, United States, Stanford University, Institute for Immunity, Transplantation, and Infection, 24 months

    Why does a vaccine work better in one person than another? The aim of this research project is to determine the role of the separate immune cell subsets as well as gut bacteria in this.


    Design of the Best Chemistry Sandwich 

    M.E. (Machteld) Kamminga (f), Zernike Institute for Advanced Materials, University of Groningen, United Kingdom, University of Oxford, Department of Chemistry, Inorganic Chemistry Lab  

    Some layered compounds can become superconducting when the right elements are squeezed in between the layers. This researcher will investigate how this works and how the properties relate to the structure, to determine the best ‘sandwich structure’ for high-temperature superconductors.

    Does it matter which languages you grow up with? The influence of different languages on brain development

    Dr O. (Olga) Kepinska (f), Leiden University, United States, University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), Department of Psychiatry and Weill Institute for Neurosciences, 24 months

    Language acquisition influences brain development but it is yet to be seen whether experiences with different languages have unique impacts on children's brain. This project will follow children who are exposed to various languages. We will relate their linguistic experience to the development of their cognition and brain.


    Does Polly really want a cracker?

    Dr B. (Barbara) Mizumo Tomotani, (f), Netherlands Institute of Ecology, New Zealand, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Collections Research & Learning, 16 months

    How quickly can birds adapt to human impacts on their environment? These adaptations will become clear by looking at changes in isotopes and beak shapes in birds in museum collections. This research is extremely important for the worldwide protection of species.


    Crowding around the Cell Cycle

    PhD A (Alexandros) Papagiannakis (m), University of Groningen, United States of America, Yale University, Microbial Sciences Institute, 24 months

    It remains unknown how DNA replication, cellular growth and division are coordinated during the bacterial cell cycle. This researcher will investigate molecular crowding dynamics in bacteria, in search for a cell cycle orchestrator, a primordial time-keeper still ticking in humans.


    Better metabolism in old blood vessels

    Dr K. (Kosta) Theodorou (m), Maastricht University, Germany, Goethe University Frankfurt, Institute of Cardiovascular Regeneration, 24 months

    Ageing reduces the function of the blood vessels, thus increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease. This researcher will ascertain whether the metabolism of old blood vessel cells can be restored in order to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

    Virtual Reality for the Tactile Internet 

    Dr M. (Maria) Torres Vega (f), TU/e (Eindhoven), Belgium, Ghent University, IDLab, 24 months

    Current Virtual Reality (VR) video streaming solutions require high bandwidth and there is a high network delay. This is incompatible with the Tactile Internet. This project offers solutions for the network and application challenges related to tactile VR applications.


    Inflamed intestines and fresh blood

    MSc V. (Vincent) van Unen (M), Leiden University Medical Center, United States, Stanford University, School of Medicine, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, 24 months

    Our immune system protects us against infections, but it can also cause bowel diseases that are difficult to treat. In this research project, the researcher will study why the immune system derails and how this can be measured in the blood so that we can develop better diagnoses and therapies.


    Does reading slowly reduce comprehension? 

    Dr S. (Sietske) van Viersen (f), University of Amsterdam – Research Institute of Child Development and Education, Norway, University of Oslo, Department of Special Needs Education, 30 months (0.8 FTE)

    While reading sentences we need to recognise words quickly andbe able to understand the words in conjunction with one another. This research will investigate the reciprocal impact of reading words and comprehension and how these reciprocal processes can differ between children.

    From evolution to epidemic 

    Dr C.B.F. (Chantal) Vogels (f), Wageningen University and Research, United States, Yale University, Department of Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases, 24 months

    Virus evolution plays an important role in the outbreak of infectious diseases. This project will seek to find an explanation for the sudden and extremely severe Zika epidemic. Specific attention will be devoted to the effect of virus evolution on the efficiency of virus transmission by mosquitos.

    A new solution for the old problem of strong correlation

    Dr S. (Stefan) Vuckovic (m), VU University Amsterdam, United States, University of California Irvine, Department of Chemistry, 24 months 

    Challenging electronic correlations are the main source of error in quantum chemical methods when applied to technologically relevant systems. To solve this problem and improve the predictive power of quantum chemistry, Vuckovic will design a new mathematical model.


    Eliminating tumours with immunotherapy

    Dr S.-Y. (Shuang-Yin) Wang (m), Radboud University Nijmegen –> Israel, Weizmann Institute of Science, Department of Immunology, 24 months

    Existing cancer (immuno)therapies are only effective in a subset of patients. This project will analyse the different malignant, stromal and immune cell populations within the tumour microenvironment using advanced single-cell techniques, with the aim of moving toward personalised/precision cancer medicine.

    Soil microbes for soil remediation

    Dr E.R.J. (Jasper) Wubs (m), NIOO-KNAW/Wageningen University and Research, Switzerland, ETH Zürich, Sustainable Agroecosystems, 24 months

    Food security is a major challenge, especially in developing countries. Soil degradation is often the cause of declining productivity. In this research, we want to find out what role soil organisms can play in restoring degraded soil and increasing productivity.

  • Round 2

    Facts and figures

    Total (eligable) applicants: 81 (34 women/ 47 men)
    Overall award rate: 21.0%
    Award rate women: 14.7%
    Award rate men: 25.5%

    Eleven laureates are going to the United States, two to the United Kingdom, one to Switzerland and one to Australia. For many researchers, experience abroad is an important step in their career.

    Alphabetical list (sorted by laureate's surname)


    From gut feeling to gut memory

    Dr T. (Tomasz) Ahrends (m), Netherlands Cancer Institute -> USA, Rockefeller University, Department of Mucosal Immunology, 24 months

    The intestines host as many neurons as the spinal cord and more immune cells than all other organs taken together. The researcher will study whether intestinal infections can trigger neuro-immunological memory that will protect the host from subsequent microbial attacks.


    Learning to see without a teacher

    Dr R.S. (Ruben) van Bergen (m), Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition & Behavior -> USA, Columbia University, Zuckerman Institute, 24 months 

    To perceive the world, the brain must learn to interpret the images it receives from the eyes. But how can such a thing be learned, without guidance from a teacher? I will investigate this question using cutting-edge computer models.


    Using nanoparticles to print 3D constructs that repair our bodies

    Dr M. (Mani) Diba (m), Radboudumc -> USA, Rice University, Department of Bioengineering, 24 months

    Three-dimensional (3D) printing is a powerful tool for regenerative medicine, but the choice of printable materials that can regenerate body tissues is as yet very limited. The researcher will use nanoparticles as building blocks for a novel type of bio-ink to print constructs that facilitate effective tissue regeneration.

    Medical images as a guide for improved cancer treatment

    L.V.S. (Sanne) van Dijk, MSc (f), University of Groningen -> USA, MD Anderson Cancer Center, Radiation Oncology Department, 24 months 

    With the growing quantity of medical images it is easier to predict which patients will respond less well to cancer treatment. The researcher will develop innovative predictive models and subsequently use these to select high-risk patients for a new intensive tumour radiation treatment.


    Folding DNA into nanoscale motors

    W. (Wouter) Engelen (m), Eindhoven University of Technology -> Germany, Technical

    University Munich, Dept. of Physics, 24 months

    Cells are dependent on motor proteins for energy production and transport. The researcher will try to use the principles underlying how these proteins function to develop nanometre-scale synthetic motors. These nanomotors will be produced from DNA by coding it to spontaneously fold into the designed shapes.


    Multimodal interaction informs learning 

    Dr (Yan) Gu (m), Tilburg University -> UK, University College London, Psychology and Language Science, 24 months

    Face-to-face communication is multimodal. The aim of the project is to characterise the cues present in multimodal interaction (speech, gesture, intonation, and eye gaze) between caregivers and children in order to establish how these cues impact vocabulary growth.


    Improve research into premature birth 

    Dr J. (Janneke) van ’t Hooft (f), Amsterdam UMC -> USA, Stanford University, Meta-Research Innovation Center at Stanford, 14 months

    Patients and doctors must be able to trust scientific research to make sound decisions about medical interventions. There are strong indications of shortcomings in the quality of research. I will investigate the quality of research into premature birth so that future research can be improved.


    Manipulation of electron spins in topological graphene nanowires

    Peter H. Jacobse (m), Utrecht University -> USA, University of California, Berkeley, 24 months

    Graphene nanowires are small strips of carbon in which electrons can be properly controlled. Specific wires can be produced to hold electrons at certain locations so that their interaction becomes magnetic in nature. This opens up the way to memory cells and qubits for quantum computing.


    Who responds to psychotherapy and who does not? An artificial intelligence approach

    Dr E.K. (Eirini) Karyotaki (f), VU Amsterdam -> USA, Harvard Medical School -> 12 months

    People with depression and anxiety disorders differ in how well they respond to psychotherapy. I will use powerful new statistical methods to map these differences. This will help people to choose the best treatment for their problem.


    Materials with a layered structure 

    Dr R.P.M. (René) Lafleur (m), Institute for Complex Molecular Systems, Eindhoven University of Technology -> Australia, University of Melbourne, Department of Chemical Engineering, 24 months

    Many plastic materials are harmful to people and/or our environment. Inspired by nature, the researcher will produce layered materials with natural building blocks and study how adjustments in these layers can make the materials stronger or weaker.

    Smart materials advance 

    Dr M.M. (Michael) Lerch (m), University of Groningen -> USA, Harvard University, Biomineralization and Biomimetics Lab, 24 months 

    Nature inspires researchers to create new smart materials that respond to their environment. This research aims to create brushes on a nanoscale surface, the movements of which can be controlled by different colours of light.

    Mechanistic studies into bacterial immune systems

    Dr L. (Luuk) Loeff (m), Delft University of Technology ->Switzerland, University of Zurich, Department of Biochemistry, 24 months

    Bacterial immune systems contain useful functions, such as the cutting of DNA, which can be used for clinical and biotechnological applications. The researcher will characterise the molecular mechanisms of new immune systems and uncover possible commercial applications of these proteins.


    Non-invasive sarcomere imaging using advanced MRI methods

    Dr V. (Valentina) Mazzoli (f), Eindhoven University of Technology -> USA, Stanford University, Department of Radiology, 24 months

    Sarcomere length determines the ability of muscles to contract and generate force. Pathologies lead to changes in sarcomere length, but measuring this in-vivo remains difficult. The researcher will develop a new way to measure sarcomere length in vivo using MRI.

    Immunological treatment of pancreatic cancer

    R E. (Riccardo) Mezzadra MSc (m), Netherlands Cancer Institute, Amsterdam -> USA, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, 24 months

    The immune system can recognise and attack tumours. Here we will explore strategies to increase the antitumoral potential of the immune system in pancreatic cancer by studying the mechanism and biological impact of inducing tumour cells’ senescence by cancer-targeting drugs.


    Does the first world language still exist?

    P. (Paul) Noorlander (m), Leiden University -> UK, University of Cambridge, Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, 24 months

    Turkish Chaldeans belong to the last transmitters of a centuries-old tradition. Together with their Aramaic language, which was once the world language of West Asia, this is at risk of disappearing for good. By documenting their language and story, part of this heritage can be saved.


    Greedy genes but no obesity 

    R.A.J. (Roelof) Smit, MD (m), LUMC -> USA, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Department of Environmental Medicine and Public Health, 24 months

    People with an extremely strong genetic predisposition for overweight are not always obese. Lifestyle factors such as eating behaviour and exercise fail to explain this sufficiently. The researcher will study how often this paradox occurs and which alternative mechanisms could underlie this.

    Gold fever in the deep sea 

    T. (Tanja) Stratman MSc (f), NIOZ/Ghent University -> Germany, Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, HGF MPG United Research Group for Deep Sea Ecology and Technology, 24 months 

    The extraction of manganese nodules in the deep sea will lead to the resuspension of sediment. Focusing on sponges, the researcher will analyse how the sediment plumes affect the physiology and nutrition of these benthic filter feeding organisms.

  • Round 3

    Facts and figures

    Total (eligable) applicants: 77 (32 women/ 45 men)
    Overall award rate: 22.1%
    Award rate women: 21.9%
    Award rate men: 22.2%

    Six laureates are going to the United Kingdom, four to the United States, three to Switzerland, one to Japan, one to Austria, one to Denmark and one to Israel.

    Public summaries of proposals awarded funding

    (in alphabetical order of surname)


    (In)equality in juvenile criminal law
    Dr Y.N. (Yannick) van den Brink (m), Leiden University, Department of Juvenile Law -> United Kingdom, University of Cambridge, Institute of Criminology, 18 months

    Juveniles from ethnic minority groups are strongly overrepresented in Dutch juvenile prisons. This project will investigate the significance of the equality principle in juvenile criminal law and explore to what extent British and American strategies to reduce inequalities are applicable in Dutch juvenile law.

    Phytoplankton in the melting Arctic
    Dr A. (Amanda) Burson (f), University of Amsterdam -> United Kingdom, University of Nottingham, School of Geography, 18 months

    The speed of Greenland ice-sheet melt is increasing due to climate change. Meltwater enters the fjords and thus changes the environment of the phytoplankton that are present. This research aims to understand the impact of the increased meltwater on the composition of the phytoplankton at the base of the food chain.


    Can polar bears survive global warming?
    Dr A.A. (Andrea) Cabrera Arreola (f), University of Groningen -> Denmark, University of Copenhagen, Natural History Museum of Denmark, 24 months

    Global warming is influencing animal species and ecosystems worldwide. We shall investigate what in the past the impact of climate changes has been on the most iconic and vulnerable Arctic animal species, the polar bear, and what that means for the future.


    A healthy pregnancy for a healthy child's heart
    Dr A.W. (Arend) van Deutekom (m), VU Amsterdam -> United Kingdom, University of Oxford, Department of Cardiovascular Clinical Research, 12 months

    Birth-related factors influence the disposition for later cardiovascular diseases. Using new imaging techniques we will investigate how these factors influence the development of the child's heart, and whether a healthy pregnancy results in a healthier heart for posterity.


    Imaging muscle function in ALS patients
    L. (Linda) Heskamp MSc (f) Radboudumc -> United Kingdom, University of Newcastle, Campus for Ageing and Vitality, Newcastle Magnetic Resonance Centre, 24 months

    In ALS patients, some muscles are frequently affected and others rarely. The researcher wants to understand this by using a new imaging technique to investigate the muscle composition and function of several muscles in ALS patients to gather knowledge for the development of treatments.

    When the brain takes no risks
    Dr G. (Gilles) de Hollander (m), University of Amsterdam -> Switzerland, University of Zurich, Social and Neural Systems Research Lab, 24 months

    The aim of this research to gain a better understanding as to why people are not good at estimating risks. An existing computer model of how people represent risks will be assessed using functional MRI data. That could make it possible to observe individual differences in risk behaviour in images of the brain.

    Climate scenarios and the ethics of known unknowns
    J .K.G. (Jeroen) Hopster MA (m), Utrecht University-> Austria, University of Graz, Institute for Philosophy, 14 months

    Scientists and policymakers often present future scenarios about climate change as real possibilities, even if their likelihood is difficult to establish. This research will clarify the notion of "real possibilities" in the context of climate uncertainty, and analyse its implications for the precautionary principle.


    Listening to Einstein's invisible waves from the Milky Way
    Exploring the Milky Way and the Local Group in gravitational waves V. (Valeriya) Korol MSc (f), Leiden University-> United Kingdom, University of Cambridge, Institute of Astronomy, 24 months

    Remote binary star systems that are not observable with visible light will soon be observable using gravitational waves. The researcher will use numerical simulations to show how these can be used to study the Milky Way and it surroundings.

    Printing living tissue through protective cell coating
    Dr T. (Tom) Kamperman (m), University of Twente -> United States, Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Department of Medicine, Division of Engineering in Medicine, Shin Laboratory, 12 months

    The 3D printing of organs offers new solutions for treating diseases. Unfortunately, many cells die during the 3D printing process. In this project, I will develop a protective cell coating as a result of which cell death during the printing process will be prevented.


    Changes in the carbon cycle and the Arctic air
    J. (Julie) Lattaud MSc (f), Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ) and Utrecht University ->Switzerland - ETH Zurich, Department of Earth Sciences, 24 months

    In the Arctic area, the strongest global warming has been predicted for 2100. The researcher shall measure the age of specific lipids to detect the mobilisation of old carbon and to understand how global warming influences the aquatic ecosystem.


    Electric current is the new material 
    Dr G. (Giordano) Mattoni (m), Delft University of Technology -> Japan, Kyoto University, Department of Physics, 24 months

    Electric currents form the basis of conventional electronic devices. But what happens when currents are made to flow through unconventional quantum materials? The researcher will demonstrate that this can create new magnetic and superconducting materials.


    Understanding new blood vessel formation 
    Dr T. (Tommaso) Ristori (m), Eindhoven University of Technology -> United States, Boston University, Biomedical Engineering, 24 months

    By combining sophisticated computational models and experiments, I will unravel the interaction between different cellular signals regulating the formation of new healthy and pathological blood vessels. This research contributes to the development of new medical treatments for diseases such as cancer and ischaemia.


    Stressed out? Forget it! 
    Dr K. (Kevin) van Schie (m), Utrecht University -> United Kingdom, University of Cambridge, MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, 24 months

    Unwanted memories and thoughts can be forgotten by the intentional suppression of thoughts. It is likely that individuals specifically want to achieve this after experiencing stressful situations. The researcher will therefore investigate how experiencing stress affects the intentional suppression of intrusive memories.

    Artificial intelligence for improved ultrasonography
    Dr R.J.G. (Ruud) van Sloun (m), Eindhoven University of Technology ->Israel, Technion, Israel Institute of Technology, 12 months

    The most important medical imaging techniques today, such as MRI and CT, are not sustainable. The machines are very large, use dangerous radiation or are very expensive. An exception is ultrasonography, but this does not provide the same image quality as MRI/CT. The researcher will deploy artificial intelligence to change this.

    A closer look at the inflammatory response
    Dr L. (Lotte) Spel (f), University Medical Center Utrecht -> Switzerland, University of Lausanne, Biochemistry, 24 months

    Constant inflammation without a cause; often associated with fever, skin rash and joint pain. The researcher will investigate the so-called inflammatory diseases at the molecular level. She will zoom in on the working mechanism by unravelling which proteins switch on and switch off the inflammation.

    Culture Influences Who Reaches the Top
    Dr E. (Eftychia) Stamkou (f), University of Amsterdam –> United States, University of California Berkeley, Haas School of Business, 18 months

    People gain status by controlling and intimidating others (“dominant” types) or by sharing expertise and helping others (“prestigious” types). The researcher will investigate whether culture influences the preference for certain types of leaders by looking into the behaviours people associate with status.


    Lobbyists from all countries unite
    Dr J.J.S. (Joris) van den Tol (m), Leiden University -> United States, Harvard University, Department of History, 24 months

    The researcher will place a 17th-century initiative for a Dutch trading company, which he discovered, in the context of an international lobbying campaign. He will investigate how Dutch traders and English plantation owners collaborated to force through economic legislation in international politics.