Veni grants for 22 UvA and AMC-UvA researchers

15 July 2016

The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) has awarded a Veni grant to 22 researchers from the University of Amsterdam and Academic Medical Center. The grants – amounting to 250,000 euros for each research project – will give promising young researchers the opportunity to further develop their ideas over a period of three years.

A total of 1056 researchers submitted a proposal to the NWO, of which 158 were successful. Together with the Vidi and Vici grants, the Veni grants form part of the NWO's Innovational Research Incentives Scheme.


  • Dr Ot Bakermans (Radiology): The Heart’s Energy Supply in the Balance
    Inborn errors in fat metabolism are frequently associated with heart disease. Adequate treatment is currently lacking, because the exact cause is still unknown. Ot Bakermans will use new MRI techniques to measure heart energy metabolism in patients while they are exercising on a bicycle ergometer inside an MRI scanner.
  • Dr Paul Klarenbeek (Rheumatology): Preventing the Onset of Chronic Inflammatory Disease

    Dr Mirjam van Zuiden (Psychiatry): Why do Traumatic Memories Keep on Intruding?

    Individuals exposed to traumatic events, such as life-threatening accidents, often suffer from recurrent distressing intrusive memories. Mirjam van Zuiden investigates the role of the stress-hormone cortisol in the development of such intrusive memories. This will aid in future prevention of the development of intrusive memories after trauma.

  • Dr Yme van der Velden (Experimental Virology): Can We Cure HIV if We Know How to Attack Dormant Viruses?
    Anti-HIV therapy stops the virus from replicating, but doesn’t result in a cure because the virus can temporarily hide in a dormant state. To bring a cure for HIV one step closer, Yme van der Velden will use new techniques to track these dormant viruses and test new treatment strategies.

  • Dr Mirjam van Zuiden (Psychiatry): Why do Traumatic Memories Keep on Intruding?
    Individuals exposed to traumatic events, such as life-threatening accidents, often suffer from recurrent distressing intrusive memories. Mirjam van Zuiden investigates the role of the stress-hormone cortisol in the development of such intrusive memories. This will aid in future prevention of the development of intrusive memories after trauma.


  • Dr Martin Lipman (Philosophy): A Fragmented World: A New Philosophical Approach to Perspectival Facts
    We observe the world from different perspectives and under various conditions – both in our ordinary experience and in advanced sciences. This results in conflicting observations of the world, of which it seems that only one can be right. Martin Lipman investigates a new philosophical approach to this widespread phenomenon, based on the assumption that the world exhibits a fragmented structure and perspectival observations consist in the observations of different fragments of world.
  • Dr Manon Parry (History): Human Curiosities: Expanding the Social Relevance of Medical Museums
    Medical museums can play a greater role in society by contributing to health and wellbeing. Manon Parry will research how medical heritage across Europe can be used to address public health problems, from the stigma of illness or disability to the challenges of ageing societies and infectious diseases.
  • Dr Leonie Schmidt (Media Studies): Pop Preachers and Counter-terror Culture: Contesting Terrorism through Social Media and Popular Culture in Indonesia
    In Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim country and a key front in the global ‘war on terror’, an Islamic ‘counter-terror culture’ has emerged. Leonie Schmidt investigates how counter-terror culture – which includes social media and popular cultural products – can help to limit Islamic radicalisation and terrorism.

Social and Behavioural Sciences

  • Dr Vanessa van Ast (Clinical Psychology): The Fate of Emotional Memories
    Our emotional memories seem indelible, and therefore a reliable record of our experiences. But nothing is further from the truth: over time both the content and emotional intensity of a memory can alter. Vanessa van Ast investigates when such alterations develop, as well as the underlying neurobiological mechanisms.
  • Dr Linda Geerligs (Psychology): Structure and Function in the Ageing Brain
    For the wellbeing of older adults, a high level of cognitive functioning is important. Linda Geerligs will investigate how individual differences in cognitive functioning across the lifespan can be explained by differences in the brain, by combining measurements of the structure and the function of the brain.
  • Dr Marcel Hanegraaff (Political Science): Lobbying in the European Union: Why the Political Agenda Favours Some Interests Over Others
    Many citizens are concerned that political systems are not responsive to citizens but merely serve the interests of business corporations. This seems especially applicable to politics in the EU. In response to these widespread concerns, Marcel Hanegraaff will seek to uncover the influence of business groups on the EU’s political agenda.
  • Dr Suzanne Jak (Child Development and Education): One Size fits all? New Ways for Meta-Analysis
    Meta-analytic structural equation modelling is an increasingly popular statistical technique to synthesize the results from several independent studies. Suzanne Jak will develop a new method that overcomes shortcomings of existing approaches, enabling more valid forms of systematic synthesis of research findings in a wide range of fields.
  • Dr Hülya Kosar-Altinyelken (Educational Sciences): Between the School and the Mosque: Young Muslims Negotiating Citizenship in the Netherlands
    Thousands of Muslim children and youth receive Qur’anic instruction at mosques in the Netherlands. By focusing on Turkish immigrants, Hülya Kosar-Altinyelken seeks to analyse the dynamic interplay between Qur’anic instruction and the citizenship education provided at secondary schools, and how young Muslims negotiate the differences between these two distinct worlds.
  • Dr Matthijs Rooduijn (Political Science): Building or Burning Bridges?
    Societal groups are drifting apart – especially regarding their attitudes toward immigration. Popular wisdom has ascribed this polarizing trend to increasing immigration and to successes of radical right-wing parties. Matthijs Rooduijn will put forward and test an alternative explanation: social polarization is fuelled by the increasing pervasiveness of both pro- and anti-immigration messages.


  • Dr Arianna Bisazza (Computing Science): Connecting the Dots: Minimal Structure Modelling for Machine Translation
    Machine translation is an unmissable technology for quick and large-scale access to multilingual information, but the quality of the latter differs greatly been languages. Arianne Bisazza will seek to improve the quality of machine translation across a wide spectrum of languages by improved modelling of the structural relations between words and abstract word presentations.
  • Dr Enej IIlievski (Theoretical Physics): When Statistical Mechanics Goes Wrong
    Although most materials follow the thermodynamic laws and allow heat transfer between objects, certain materials do not. Enej Ilievski will try to explain this unusual behaviour. Understanding deviations from thermal equilibrium of these materials may provide insight into the formation of our universe.
  • Dr Ties Korstanje (Chemistry): Chemical Industry Made Natural
    At the moment, the chemical industry primarily uses fossil resources. Because of the many associated environmental problems, a switch to renewable resources is required. Ties Korstanje will develop a method to convert the non-edible parts of plants into natural and sustainable feedstock for the chemical industry.
  • Dr Arno Kret (Mathematics): Hidden Symmetries in Prime Numbers
    The Langlands conjectures form a web of deep relations between symmetries in geometry on the one hand, and prime numbers and equations on the other. Arno Kret aims to solve a small part of the Langlands conjecture. The project also involves developing new applications, such as methods for solving equations.
  • Dr Juan Pedraza (Physics): Quantum Dynamics from Black Hole Physics
    Exotic materials produced in modern particle accelerators have great potential for technological applications but are poorly understood at the theoretical level. Juan Pedraza will develop novel methods to characterize them, by studying an analogue problem in gravitational physics.
  • Dr Thomas Russel (Astronomy): Discovering the Origin and Nature of Jets from Accreting Black Holes with Multiwavelength Observations
    Black holes don’t just consume matter, but also produce powerful jets of matter that change their environment and even influence the evolution of galaxies and the creation of stars. Thomas Russell will study how these jets are produced and how they influence their environment.
  • Dr Silvia Toonen (Astronomy): All Good Things Come in Three
    Although the sun lives a life of solitude, most stars have one or two celestial neighbours. Interactions between stars lead to the most extreme phenomena in the universe, but are at the same time still poorly understood. Silvia Toonen will use revolutionary computer simulations to test theories on the evolution of triplet stars.
  • Dr Ping Zhou (Astronomy): Studying Supernova Remnants to Understand the Origin of Neutron Star Diversity
    The lives of heavy stars end in immensely powerful supernova explosions, leaving two objects: supernova remnants and, mostly, a neutron star. There is much diversity among neutron stars. Ping Zhou will use supernova remnants to study whether this diversity is linked to the type of star that exploded.

Sita ter Haar from the UvA’s College of Science has been awarded a Veni grant for her project Causal Mechanisms of Birdsong Learning Performance as a Model of Human Speech and Language Acquisition, which she will carry out at Utrecht University.


  • Dr Martha Lewis (Linguistics /Logic): Metaphorical Meanings for Artificial Agents
    Martha Lewis will aim to explain and recreate human creative thinking. She will do this by building a theory of the way in which humans understand analogies, and then put the theory into practice within a realistic computational model of the brain, aiming to create an artificial agent that can think creatively.

Published by  University of Amsterdam