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:: 99
    Award ratio women/ man: 44 woman / 55 man
    Overall award rate: 16,2%
    Award rate women: 18,2%
    Award rate men: 14,5%

    Seven laureates are going to the United States
    Four laureates are going to the United Kingdom
    Two laureates are going to Germany
    A laureate is going to France
    A laureate is going to Australia
    A laurate is going to Israel

    Public summaries (alphabetical according to surname)


    Born to be shy?

    PhD J.M. (Janna Marie) Bas-Hoogendam (f), Leiden University -> United States of America, National Institute of Mental Health, Section on Development and Affective Neuroscience 15 months (0.8 fte)

    Children with the innate tendency to avoid new situations are at risk for developing social anxiety later in life. The researcher explores, using a unique large collection of brain scans, which brain characteristics are associated with this risk.

    Symbiosis of liquid and solid to amplify the capabilities of biosensors

    Dr L.A. (Liubov) Belyaeva (f), Leiden University -> United Kingdom, Imperial College London, Department of Chemical Engineering, 24 months

    Graphene-based sensors can achieve record values of sensitivity, but existing designs have inherently poor reproducibility, limited scalability and high manufacturing costs. This project aims to create novel architectures that avoid these disadvantages while maximizing the sensitivity and adding more functionality.

    Revolutionary pills?

    Dr L (Lucía) Berro Pizzarossa (f), Rijksuniversiteit Groningen -> United States, Georgetown University, O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, 24 months

    Medication abortion is safer than many drugs, can be done at home and contributes to reduced deaths for unsafe abortion worldwide. This project uses human rights to explore how these pills can change the legal and policy landscape of abortion.

    No improvement without learning: optimizing therapy skill acquisition in depression

    S.J.E. (Sanne) Bruijniks MSc (f), VU Amsterdam -> Germany, University of Freiburg, Department of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, 24 months

    Learning during psychotherapy is important for reducing depression, but is often hindered by cognitive problems that are an inherent part of this depression. This project will investigate how and for whom the acquisition of cognitive behavioural skills in psychotherapy can be optimised.


    “To differentiate or die – cellular decisions in aging”.

    Dr J. (Sijia) Chen (f), Universiteit van Amsterdam -> USA, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Division of Rheumatology, Inflammation, and Immunity, 24 months

    DNA-sensing is a fundamental mechanism for detecting cellular stress. This project aims to clarify how a DNA-sensor makes important cellular decisions in mesenchymal stromal cells (MSC) and contributes with age to loss of MSC function in the bone.


    Finding cancer cells hiding from the immune system

    Dr. K.K. (Krijn) Dijkstra (m), Netherlands Cancer Institute -> United Kingdom, The Francis Crick Institute, Cancer Evolution and Genome Instability Laboratory, 24 months

    Even in one tumour, every cancer cell is different. The researcher will culture multiple different cancer cells from thesame tumour to determine the differences between cancer cells that are killed by the immune system, and those that can escape.


    The magnetism behind future ferrofluids

    Dr. H. (Hebatalla) Elnaggar (f), Utrecht University, Debye institute for nanomaterials science -> France, Sorbonne University, Institute of minerology, physics of materials and cosmochemistry, 24 months

    Imagine that we could engineer the properties of ferrofluids on demand: targeted drug delivery systems and responsive magneto-intelligent materials will become a reality. The researcher will study bimagnetic ferrofluids in-order to unravel the magnetic interactions required to realise such applications.


    Laying the plumbing of miniature kidneys

    Dr. R.C. (Ronald) van Gaal (m), Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) -> USA, Harvard, Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, 24 months

    Lab grown mini-kidneys will lead to advances in drug discovery, disease modeling, and ultimately replacement kidneys. The researcher will tackle a key limitation of kidney organoid platforms, namely their inability to generate and remove urine.

    Communication (and miscommunication) in ALS

    Dr (Elisa) Giacomelli (f), Leiden University Medical Center -> United States, Memorial Sloan Kettering Institute, 24 months

    ALS is a complex, non-autonomous disorder in which inflammation and aberrant activation of non-neuronal cell types play important roles. The researcher aims to understand how cells miscommunicate and which inflammatory pathways require modulation to ultimately prevent, or treat, ALS.


    Molecular stress memory in plants

    Dr J.G.W. (Sjon) Hartman (m), Utrecht University -> United Kingdom, University of Birmingham, School of Biosciences, 24 months

    Plants can protect themselves against recurring stress by ‘remembering’ environmental cues. How do plants do this? The researcher aims to uncover how the memory protein VRN2 uses flooding signals to improve flooding stress tolerance.


    Protecting Kidneys on the ICU

    Drs. A.H. (Bram) Hulst (m) - University of Amsterdam -> Australia, Royal Melbourne Hospital, Department of Intensive Care, 12 months

    Kidney injury often complicates a patients’ disease on the Intensive Care and impairs their future health. The researcher will study whether a specific gut-hormone can prevent damage to the kidneys in sheep and human patients with a life-threatening infection.


    Clearing the air on aviation emission policies

    Dr. G. (Gerben) de Jong (m), Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam Amsterdam -> Israel, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Operations Research Department, 18 months

    Policies to control aviation emissions differ widely at the local, national and supra-national levels. The researcher develops empirical and game-theoretic models to analyse airline responses to this patchwork of policies so that decision-makers can better understand and evaluate their impact.


    Breastfeeding, gut microbes and health

    S. (Stefany) Moreno-Gámez (f), University of Groningen -> United States, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Broad Institute, 24 months

    The researcher will study how breastfeeding affects the formation of gut bacterial communities in infants. The results will help develop prebiotics from human milk to promote the establishment of beneficial bacteria in the infant gut, which has long-term health advantages.


    Emerging intonation: how to plan speech melodies?

    J (Joe) Rodd, MA (m), Radboud University, Centre for Language Studies -> Germany, University of Cologne, Institute for Linguistics, 24 months

    Established theories explaining how intonation works are not consistent with recent experimental evidence. This project uses online citizen science to identify intonation patterns that are distinct at the cognitive level. This will clarify how intonation is planned and comprehended.


    De rol van cholesterol bij de ziekte van Alzheimer

    Dr. J. (Joao) Silva (m), Universiteit Utrecht -> Verenigde Staten, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Chemistry, 24 maanden

    De ziekte van Alzheimer wordt veroorzaakt door amyloïde-plaquevorming in de hersenen. Plaquevorming is gecorreleerd met de aanwezigheid van cholesterol, maar de betrokken moleculaire mechanismen zijn nog onbekend. Dit onderzoek zal de interactie tussen cholesterol en amyloïde precursoren beschrijven in atomair detail.


    Quantum Computing using pictures

    J.M.M. (John) van de Wetering (m), Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen → United Kingdom, Oxford University, Computer Science Department, 24 months

    This work uncovers a new way to describe quantum computations: with pictures. This allows the researcher to find simplifications that allow otherwise too complicated quantum programs to be run on the limited quantum computers that currently exist.

  • Round 2

    Facts and figures

    Total (eligable) applicants: 59 (23 woman  / 36 man)
    Overall award rate: 27.1%
    Award rate women: 22.2%
    Award rate men: 34.8%

    Public summaries proposals awarded funding

    (alphabetical according to surname)

    Giving voices to living matter 

    Dr B. (Beatrice) Adelizzi (f), Eindhoven University of Technology -> France, École Normale Supérieure, Chemistry Department, 24 months. 

    Photoacoustic imaging investigates living systems by listening to their sound. This research proposes new technology based on protein labels that interact with responsive molecules and that allow us to listen to and distinguish between multiple components at the same time.

    The subject in the Amazon. Grammatical relations in indigenous Amazonian languages
    Dr B. (Bernat) Bardagil (m), University of Groningen -> Belgium, Ghent University, Linguistics, 24 months

    The traditional concept of “subject” is central to the study of all languages. However, indigenous languages spoken in the Amazon often challenge this notion. The linguist will investigate various approaches to the notion of “subject” with a sample of Amazonian languages in a research that will include linguistic fieldwork in the Amazon.

    Deltas as indicators for water and life on Mars
    Dr L. (Lisanne) Braat (f), Utrecht University -> United States, California Institute for Technology (Caltech), 24 months

    Clay depositions due to water movements in the past are very important in the search for life on Mars because they can retain biosignatures well. By reconstructing deltas we can determine where clay depositions occur and how water flowed over the planet in the past.

    Bacteria for a healthy plant
    Dr M. (Marjolein) Bruijning (f), Radboud University -> United States, Princeton University, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, 24 months

    Bacteria can protect crops against pathogens and therefore act as an alternative for pesticides. The researcher will develop theoretical models to predict which sort of bacteria will provide protection and when plants transmit these bacteria to their descendants. She will validate these models with experiments on tomato plants.

    Probing the dark universe with gravitational waves
    H.S. (Horng Sheng) Chia MSc (m), University of Amsterdam -> United States, Stanford University, Stanford Institute for Theoretical Physics, 24 months

    Gravitational waves offer a new window of opportunity to observe the dark side of our universe. In my research, I will explore new ways of probing dark matter with the gravitational waves emitted by binary black holes.

    Causes of reduced fertility due to ageing
    N.G.J. (Natasja) Costermans MSc (f), Wageningen University & Research -> United State, UCSF, Center for Reproductive Sciences, 12 months

    Women want to have children at an increasingly later age even though fertility decreases with rising age. In this project, possible causes of reduced egg cell quality due to ageing will be investigated. New insights from this research could eventually be used to improve the chances of a successful pregnancy.

    Network structure of resistant convictions
    J. (Jonas) Dalege MSc (m), University of Amsterdam -> United States, Santa Fe Institute, 24months

    Resistant convictions can be harmful for society. An example is people not letting themselves be vaccinated because they overestimate the risk of vaccinations. I will investigate how such convictions form a network. Based on this, I will develop interventions to make convictions less resistant.

    Good bacteria in healthy noses
    Dr R (Rob) van Dalen (m), Utrecht University ‐> Germany, Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen, Interfaculty Institute of Microbiology and Infection, 24 months

    When the wrong bacteria live in our nose, we might develop respiratory infections and allergies. This project will investigate how our immune system recognizes these nasal bacteria, so it can attack the harmful bacteria and support the beneficial ones.

    How do we distinguish reality from our fantasy?
    N. (Nadine) Dijkstra MSc (f), Radboud University -> United Kingdom, University College London, Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging, 24 months

    When we imagine something, the parts of the brain that are active are largely the same as if we actually see the same thing. This can cause confusion between fantasy and reality, such as hallucinations. This project will investigate how the brain distinguishes between reality and fantasy.

    Pushing next-generation solar cells to their limits 
    M.H. (Moritz) Futscher MSc (m), AMOLF (Amsterdam) -> United Kingdom, University of Oxford, Institute of Physics, 24 months 

    After only a few years of research, new perovskite solar cells are as efficient as commercially available solar cells. By understanding the electronic defect states, this research will ensure that they can be developed towards their efficiency limit.

    Advanced puzzling : the genetic complexity of psychiatric disorders
    Dr M. (Marieke) Klein (f), Donders Institute and Radboudumc, Radboud University -> United States, University of California San Diego, Department of Psychiatry, 24 months

    DNA mutations often have serious consequences and yet millions of changes take place without any apparent consequences. Together they form a key for the development of psychiatric disorders. The researcher will develop new analysis methods to investigate the interaction of these genetic variants.

    Passenger-oriented public transport control
    Dr X. (Xiaojie) Luan (f), TU Delft -> Switzerland, ETH Zurich, Institute for Transport Planning and Systems (IVT), 24 months

    Delays and cancellations are the largest annoyances experienced by passengers and cause huge societal costs. This project focuses on passenger-centric optimisation of traffic control, using information about passengers and their choices, to control traffic in a passenger-friendly way.

    Beta pods for the treatment of type 1 diabetes
    Dr S.G. (Sami) Mohammed (m), Maastricht University -> United States, Joslin Diabetes Center, Islet Cell and Regenerative Biology section, 18 months

    Beta pods are specially made implants to transplant insulin producing beta cells for type 1 diabetes. The aim of this project is to investigate the effectiveness of the beta pod in maintaining the balance of blood sugar values during a preclinical study.

    Releasing all brakes against cancer
    Dr J.G.C. (Janneke) Peeters (f), UMC Utrecht -> United States, University of California, Berkeley, Molecular and Cellular Biology Department, 24 months

    Neuroblastoma is a highly lethal form of childhood cancer because our immune system cannot attack the tumour. The researcher will investigate how cells that inhibit the immune system contribute to neuroblastoma and will try to find mechanisms that can eliminate these cells.

    Modifying bacteria to remove hormones and medicines from wastewater
    Dr M.D. (Maarten) Verhoeven (m), TU Delft -> Denmark, Aalborg University, Department of Chemistry and Bioscience, 24 months

    Conventional water purification techniques are not capable of removing microcontaminants such as hormones and medicines from wastewater. The researcher will look for microorganisms that can be genetically modified to clean up these microcontaminants.

    Acute leukaemia treatment: double-edge sword
    Dr J. (Jurjen) Versluis (m), Erasmus Medical Center Cancer Institute -> United States, Harvard Medical School – Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Department of Hemato-Oncology, 12 months

    A tailored approach for the treatment of the individual older patient with acute myeloid leukaemia is desperately needed. The researcher will develop an innovative complex risk model to better inform doctors and patients about treatment choices.

  • Round 3

    Facts and figures

    74 researchers submitted a proposal for Rubicon, 41 of them women and 33 men. The overall award rate was 24.3%. The award rate was 24.4% for women and 24.2% for men. Ten laureates are going to the United States, two to the Italy, two to Germany and the rest of the individual candidates are going to Australia, Switzerland, Canada and Belgium

    Public summaries Rubicon 2019-3

    Proposals awarded funding in alphabetical order of surname


    Turbulent path to fusion power 

    Dr I. (Ivana) Abramovic (f), Eindhoven University of Technology -> United States, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Plasma Science and Fusion Center, 24 months

    MIT has designed a new reactor concept based on revolutionary superconducting magnets at a high temperature so that nuclear fusion can be used an energy source. This research will focus on the effect of fuel turbulence in this reactor.


    Sensing for justice

    Dr A. (Anna) Berti Suman (f), The Tilburg Institute for Law, Technology, and Society (TILT), Tilburg University -> Italy, The European Commission Joint Research Center (JRC), 24 months

    The project “Sensing for justice” will investigate the potential of grassroots-driven environmental monitoring, i.e. citizen sensing, as a source of evidence in environmental justice procedures and as an instrument for environmental mediation. The aim is to understand new possibilities of grassroots-driven environmental monitoring.


    The music of microwaves 

    Dr H.M. (Hugo) Doeleman (m), AMOLF -> Switzerland, ETH Zurich, 24 months

    Quantum computers can discover new medicines and break the most difficult codes. The researcher will make a device that converts microwaves into vibrations or light so that independent quantum computers, hidden deep in a refrigerator, can be linked together to form a type of “super-quantum computer”.


    Faster and more efficient drug research

    Dr R.P.A. (Ruben) van Eijk (m), University Medical Center Utrecht -> United States, Stanford University, Center for Innovative Study Design, 12 months

    It costs a lot of time and money to develop drugs. The researcher will produce innovative mathematical models to more rapidly determine whether an experimental drug works and is safe. That will enable researchers to use the resources they have more efficiently in the future.


    Detecting the first signs of Alzheimer’s disease with very frequent digital measurements 

    Dr R. J. (Roos) Jutten (f), Amsterdam UMC -> United States, Harvard University, Massachusetts General Hospital, Department of Neurology, 24 months

    Obtaining insights into early abnormalities caused by Alzheimer’s disease is vital for research into preventative treatments. My research aims to improve the detection of the very first memory problems caused by Alzheimer’s disease with the help of new computer tests that will be taken very frequently among people at home.


    Eating around the clock?

    Dr I.W.K. (Imre) Kouw (f), Maastricht University -> Australia, Royal Adelaide Hospital, ICU Research, 24 months

    Intensive care patients are usually fed continuously and deteriorate considerably during their admission. Eating around the clock has negative effects in healthy people. The researcher will examine how tube feeding at set times influences the blood sugar levels and gastrointestinal function of intensive care patients.


    Artificial morphogenesis of soft materials 

    Dr F. (Federico) Lancia (m), University of Twente -> United States, Northwestern University, Simpson Querrey Institute, 24 months 

    Living tissues grow, morph, and differentiate continuously until they reach their final shape and function. This project aims to encode these same adaptive properties in man-made autonomous materials that develop and adapt to their environment or the tasks they have to perform. This will pave the way towards autonomous soft microrobots.


    Sink or flourish? 

    Dr P.S.J. (Philip) Minderhoud (m), Utrecht University-> Italy, University of Padua, Department of Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering, 18 months

    Worldwide, 500 million people live in river deltas. Many deltas are sinking faster than the sea level is rising. The researcher will study the processes of sinking deltas, create accurate future predictions, and develop effective mitigation and adaption strategies for sustainable delta management.

    Turning DNA parasites into powerful DNA editors 

    Dr I. (Ioannis) Mougiakos (m), Wageningen University & Research -> Germany, Helmholtz Institute for RNA-based Infection Research, Würzburg, 24 months

    Transposons are DNA parasites that “jump” from one position in a genome to another. The researcher will turn a recently discovered type of transposon into a revolutionary DNA-editing tool, and use this to convert bacteria into sustainable chemical factories.


    The professional profile of the eosinophil

    Dr S.T.T. (Sjoerd) Schetters (m), Amsterdam UMC -> Belgium, VIB, Inflammation Research Center, Ghent, 24 months

    Asthma is often caused by eosinophils, immune cells that cause damage to the lungs. New drugs knock out these cells, but it is also clear that some eosinophils also play a beneficial role in our body. The researcher will investigate whether different types of eosinophils are present during diseases such as asthma and whether it is safe to eliminate all of these.

    Pain &stress: From the past to the present 

    Dr A. (Aleksandrina) Skvortsova (f), Leiden University -> Canada, McGill University, Pain Genetics Lab, 24 months

    Previous experiences influence our pain sensitivity. This project will investigate the role of stress in the relationship between past and present pain, and whether the pain experience can be reduced by reducing stress.

    Quantum properties on demand

    Dr M.R. (Marlou) Slot (f), Utrecht University -> United States, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Physical Measurement Laboratory, 24 months

    Strong interactions between electrons in quantum materials lead to remarkable properties. This research project aims to create an experimental model platform to realise and control these properties at will so that the underlying mechanisms can be systematically unravelled.

    Speechless: how plants produce stomas

    Dr M.E. (Margot) Smit (f), Wageningen University & Research -> United States, Stanford University, Department of Biology, 24 months

    Plants make stomas to breathe. Producing a stoma is a complex process that involves a considerable genetic network. The researcher will examine how a single protein in that network is necessary for several steps in the development.

    Thyroid hormone and sugar metabolism in the liver

    Dr A.H. (Anne) van der Spek (f), Amsterdam UMC, Location AMC -> United States, Cornell University, Weill Cornell Medicine, 15 months

    Thyroid gland patients have a higher chance of developing diabetes. However, the relationship between thyroid hormone and sugar metabolism in humans is not yet clear. The researcher will study the influence of thyroid hormone on the processing of sugar in human liver cells.


    Protection against sudden cardiac death for those who really need it 

    Dr F.V.Y. (Fleur) Tjong (f), University of Amsterdam -> United States, Stanford University, Stanford Medical School Cardiovascular Medicine, 12 months

    An ICD is implanted to “reset” the heart if there is a risk of the heartbeat suddenly becoming so irregular that the patient would otherwise die. However, it is not always clear who is at genuine risk. Artificial intelligence can help to determine this and form a guideline for treatment.


    A prosthesis with feeling: what does that feel like? 

    C.S. (Ceci) Verbaarschot, MSc (f), Radboud University -> United States, University of Pittsburgh, Rehab Neural Engineering Labs, 24 months 

    Prostheses now exist that allow people to move and have sensory experiences. This artificial sense is achieved by electrical stimulation of the brain. This project will investigate how this feels and which properties of feeling can be achieved by brain stimulation.

    How do intestinal bacteria influence our response to medication?

    Dr C.G.P. (Carlos) Voogdt (m), Utrecht University -> Germany, EMBL, Heidelberg, 24 months

    Intestinal bacteria can change medicines taken before these reach their target. The researcher will determine which bacteria are responsible for this, how they do this exactly, and the consequences of this bacterial activity for our intestinal cells.


    Towards precision psychiatry

    Dr T. (Thomas) Wolfers (m), Radboud University -> United States, Harvard University Medical School & Boston Children’s Hospital, Boston, 24 months

    Treatments for psychological problems can only be improved if we understand the mechanisms underlying the problems. Thanks to my new method, we will be able to describe mechanisms for each individual patient.