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Three UvA academics who all recently obtained their doctorates have received Rubicons grant from NWO/ZonMw to conduct research at foreign research institutions. They are: chemist Tessel Bouwens, legal scholar Laura Burgers, and physician Sanne van Neerven.

For many researchers, professional experience abroad is an important step in their career. The Rubicon grants makes it possible for young academics to work at a foreign institution that offers the best environment for their research. A total of 22 applications were awarded funding by NWO/ZonMw in this round. 

The recipients 

  • Tessel Bouwens (Chemistry): Accessing medicines worldwide using solar light  
    The pharmaceutical industry currently uses damaging fossil fuel resources. Bouwens’ research proposes harnessing solar energy to synthesise important chemicals, such as building blocks for medicines by combining artificial photosynthesis with biocatalysts in bio-hybrid devices. 
    Bouwens will go the University of Cambridge for 24 months.  
  • Laura Burgers (Law): Climate change litigation: the voice of the global south  
    Governments have failed miserably in solving the climate crisis. Environmental activists are therefore starting climate lawsuits on behalf of people from other countries, future generations and nature. What can judges learn from each other about adjudicating these cases? Climate litigation from the global south has barely been researched, whilst this region is most heavily affected by climate change. Burgers intends to change this with her project. 
    Burgers will go to the National University of Singapore for 24 months. 
  • Sanne van Neerven (Medicine): The role of tissue damage on the development of colorectal cancer 
    In the context of damage, specialised intestinal cells possess the remarkable ability to switch their identity to promote tissue repair and restore normal intestinal function. Van Neerven’s project studies whether and how cells harbouring cancer-promoting mutations misuse these repair programmes to drive the initiation of colorectal cancer. 
    Van Neerven will go the Gurdon Institute, University of Cambridge, for 24 months. 

About Rubicon 

Rubicon grants allow academics to work at a foreign research institution for up to 24 months. The amount of financing depends on the chosen destination and the duration of the stay. Each year, NWO/ZonMw can fund around 60 young researchers within Rubicon (for a total amount of 7 million euros, divided over 3 rounds). The grants in this article concern the combined 2nd and 3rd financing rounds from 2021.