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Eight UvA researchers have had their proposals for out-of-the-box research ideas awarded funding from the Dutch Research Agenda’s Idea Generator programme. The researchers will each receive 50,000 euros to further develop their ideas.

The awards
Giovanni Colavizza (Media Studies): Improving the accessibility of textual historical collections via transfer learning
Digitised heritage collections are becoming abundant thanks to years of efforts from heritage institutions all over the world. We can now work on making these collections better accessible by the public. We will apply novel transfer learning techniques to help make searching heritage collections as smooth as searching the Web.

Dr Mirte Kuipers (Medicine): Achieving a smoke-free generation by 2040 among disadvantaged youth
At the current rate, the Smoke-free Generation goal for 2040 will not be achieved among disadvantaged youth. This study will map the complex adaptive system that drives smoking uptake in this group, and at which points interventions and policies will need to change the system to contribute to smoking prevention.

Dr Annemarie van Oosten (Communication Science): Understanding the dynamics of online sexual information sharing
Using machine learning, this project will investigate how (accurate and inaccurate) information and (positive and negative) attitudes on sexual behaviour are shared in online public spaces, such as comment sections of vlogs and Q&A forums. The findings will result in recommendations to optimize online and offline sexual education.

Dr Antonia Praetorius (Ecosystem Dynamics): Citizens find microfibres in Dutch waters
Millions of microfibers can be released during a single wash load of synthetic textiles. This project will work with citizen scientists to assess how real-world habits - which clothes we wash, which settings we use - affect the release of microfibers, a major source for microplastics in the environment.

Dr Eva van Reijmersdal (Communication Science): Developing and testing a sponsorship pictogram to foster a safer and more transparent online media environment for children
Advertising in online videos is hard to recognize for children because it is often embedded. Together with children and the Netherlands Institute for the Classification of Audio-visual Media (NICAM), this project will develop and test a unique pictogram that signals whether a video contains advertising and that enhances online transparency.

Joep Suskens (Medicine): Unravelling the mysteries of muscle injuries by delving into new dynamic measurements during high-speed running
Acute muscle injuries are the most prevalent sports injuries, and the number has not decreased over the last decade. Current management has a static, isolated approach, which is deficient. We aim for dynamic testing of the hamstring muscles during high-speed running in order to unravel the aetiology of muscle injuries.

Dr Meike Wortel (Life Sciences): The role of evolution in the infant microbiome
Our body consists of similar numbers of human and microbial cells, and while human cells cannot evolve within our life-time, fast-growing microorganisms do. Is their evolution important or are they replaced by strains from the environment? This study will reveal the prevalence of evolution in the infant gut microbiome.

Prof. Sander Woutersen (Chemistry): How Nature prevents protein aggregation in cells
Woutersen will investigate how nature uses molecules such as ATP to prevent the aggregation of proteins in cells. This research is important for understanding the origins of life, but also for understanding and preventing diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, which are caused by the aggregation of proteins.

About Idea Generator
The projects in the Idea Generator programme are characterised by their innovative nature and their potential impact on society. In total, €2 million was awarded to 40 researchers in this round.