Dymph van den Boom, Rector Magnificus of the UvA: ‘We are extremely happy
that research proposals from such a large number of disciplines have been
accepted. It is fitting for a large-scale research university, and this record
number is proof that research at the UvA is of a very high standard.’
A total of 1086 researchers applied for a Veni grant from the NWO this year.
A total of 152 applications were accepted after having been assessed by a panel
of scientists from the Netherlands and abroad. Each researcher will receive an
amount of €250,000, which will allow them to conduct research for a period of
Research with an impact on society
The Veni grants represent a wide range of academic disciplines. A large
number of the studies are directly related to current social issues, with
researchers examining the causes of social isolation, rhythm in language
development and intellectual property law, among other things. Other projects
delve into gender differences in career choices, quantification in the form of
'Likes' on social media (among other forms) and the development of the universe.
Economics and Business
- Dr Thomas Buser (Economics of Markets and Organisations): Using
behavioural economics to understand gender differences in career choices
Men like to compete more than women, and Buser plans to investigate the causes
behind this difference between the genders as well as its consequences. Could
this account for the gender discrepancies in academic and vocational career
choices? Could gender differences in responding to feedback offer an
explanation? And do women experience more stress from competitive pressure than
- Dr Paul Bijl (Dutch Literature): Contested letters from the Dutch East
Indies: the transcultural appropriations of Kartini's writings since 1911
The Dutch letters written by Kartini (1879-1904), a Javanese woman, have been
translated into eight languages, and yet have remained excluded from the Dutch
literary canon. In his project, Bijl will research how Kartini's letters have
been used in Asia and in the west to describe visions on the role of women
during both the colonial and post-colonial periods.
- Dr Marjolijn Bol (Art History): Deceiving stuff: histories, functions,
techniques, and effects of material mimesis
In our day-to-day lives, we are surrounded by deceptive materials: laminate
floors pretending to be wood, and the plastic kitchen bench that looks like
marble. This project examines the function and impact of this practice of
material imitation within the history of art and science.
- Dr Carolin Gerlitz (Media Studies): Numbering life. Metrics and measures
in digital media
Gerlitz researches the increasing quantification of social and cultural life
within social media, and the effects thereof. Quantification occurs in the form
of counting friends or 'Likes', popularity lists and algorithms. Such figures
not only measure people's social lives, but also transform them, making it
possible for third parties to assign economic value to social-media activities.
- Dr Djoeke van Netten (History): Hide and leak. Secrecy and openness in
overseas companies in the Dutch Golden Age
Secrets generate power, fear and desire. How did the Dutch overseas trading
companies (the Dutch East and West India Companies (VOC and WIC)) deal with
confidentiality and openness? Van Netten examines the seventeenth-century
practice of covering up and revealing information by seamen, merchants,
scientists and administrators. And how were spies, traitors and snitches dealt
- Dr Geert Boink (Cardiology): Biological pacemakers based on gene
In the Netherlands, thousands of pacemakers are implanted each year. Despite the
success of this kind of treatment, it still has significant shortcomings. In his
project, Boink plans to search for solutions by developing biological pacemakers
based on a new type of gene therapy.
- Dr Nienke Bosschaart (Biomedical Technology and Physics):Readings
Ill or premature babies sometimes require multiple needles per day in order to
take blood tests. The aim of Bosschaart's research is to take the same readings
in a non-invasive manner (i.e. needle-free) using a new technology:
- Dr Jan van den Bossche (Medical Biochemistry): Stop the big eaters, stop
The word 'macrophage' means 'big eater'. Macrophages destroy germs, however
during ASVD (atherosclerosis, or calcification of arteries) they consume too
much fat. This results in local accumulations of fat and inflammation of the
walls of the blood vessels. As part of this research, the energy metabolism of
macrophages will be altered in order to reduce the degree of calcification.
- Dr Bianca Buurman (Geriatrics): Why do the elderly take so long to
recover after hospital?
Elderly people who are admitted to hospital for acute treatment often leave the
hospital in poor condition and take a long time to recover. In her research,
Buurman will examine why this is the case, as well as the psychological impact
of a hospital stay and the potential for rehabilitation.
- Dr Frank Coumans (Biomedical Technology and Physics): ExoFlow: learning
to listen to whispering cells
Cells in our body can communicate with each other via 'speech bubbles' in our
blood. As part of this project, Coumans will develop technology for
distinguishing the 'speech bubbles' from the 'background noise'. This will make
it possible to interpret the 'speech bubbles' and detect serious illnesses at an
- Dr Raphaël Duivenvoorden (Vascular Medicine): Nano 'postcode' therapies
Local inflammations in the walls of blood vessels play a key role in the
development of atherosclerosis (ASVD), but are currently untreatable.
Duivenvoorden plans to develop a kind of nanotherapy that will enable the
targeted administration of powerful anti-inflammatory medication to ASVD sites
in the body.
- Dr Marc Engelen (Paediatric Neurology): A crystal ball for
Some patients with adrenoleukodystrophy, a metabolic disease, suffer from
neurological anomalies. One major problem with treatment is that doctors cannot
predict which patients these will be. Engelen is searching for predictors
(through MRI and blood testing) to help improve treatment.
- Dr Raph Hamers (Global Health): New challenge for HIV in Africa:
exacerbated immune activation during antiretroviral treatment; biomarkers and
Thanks to HIV-inhibitors, HIV has now become a chronic disease, even in Africa.
Hamers is researching how the activity and functioning of the immune systems of
HIV-positive patients undergoing treatment is affected by tuberculosis,
hepatitis B and antiviral drugs; the associated health effects; and new ways of
measuring the immune response in the blood.
- Dr Jarom Heijmans (Liver and intestinal research): Intestinal stem cells
averse to stress
Intestinal stem cells and intestinal tumours disappear under protein stress.
Heijmans plans to research healthy intestines and intestinal tumours to find out
why, in the hope of discovering a way to treat intestinal tumours.
- Dr Eva Velthorst (Psychiatry): No man is an island
Social isolation is a serious problem for sufferers of psychotic disorders, and
social reclusion can have particularly disastrous consequences during
adolescence, when the first psychotic symptoms start to emerge. Using innovative
techniques, Velthorst is researching the various causes of social reclusion
among these young people.
Social and Behavioural Sciences
- Dr Orhan Agirdag (Educational Sciences): Educational inequality and
Pupils whose native language is not Dutch do worse at school than their native
Dutch-speaking counterparts. Agirdag is researching why this is the case. Do all
non-Dutch speaking pupils do worse? And is language inequality exacerbated by
aspects of the schools and education systems? These questions are not only
relevant from an academic perspective, but also offer practical solutions for
parents, teachers and policymakers.
- Dr Angélique Cramer (Psychometrics): Network psychometrics: methods for
exposing the architecture and dynamics of mood disorders
According to the network approach, a psychological disorder is the result of
interactions between symptoms (e.g. feeling gloomy and worrisome). In this
study, Cramer is researching methods for the construction and further analysis
of these networks. Next, the networks of patients with mood disorders are
investigated, e.g. to determine whether it is possible to predict when a patient
- Dr Caroline Junge (Developmental Psychology): Listen to your mother!
Elucidating the role of speaker familiarity in initial word learning
In her research, Junge examines whether a familiar voice helps babies to learn
words. If this is the case, is it because babies listen more attentively, or
because they find the voice more pleasant to listen to, or both? She is also
studying whether a familiar voice influences word-learning in babies who are at
greater risk of developing autism.
- Dr Mariska Kret (Professional and Organisational Psychology): Role of
pupil-synchronization in trust
When deciding whether or not to trust a stranger, we use our intuition. The size
of someone's pupils is an important signal, and is picked up by observers whose
pupils synchronise automatically. Kret's research is aimed at the relationship
between pupil synchronisation and trust, and the neurohormonal processes that
modulate this relationship.
- Dr Sofie Marien (Political Science): The quality of political debate and
Both Dutch scientists and the general population are concerned about the
deterioration of manners in society. In this project, Marien will investigate
whether the quality of political debate in the media is declining (as is often
claimed), and what the consequences are for trust in the political sphere.
- Dr Emily Yates-Doerr (Anthropology): When global health meets local
development: a case study of the 'First 1000 Days of Life'-intervention in
The United Nations intends to link healthcare to a focus on development and
sustainability, starting with projects for children during the first 1000 days
after their conception by improving nutrition for mothers. Yates-Doerr will
travel to the Guatemalan highlands to study how this global policy is reflected
in local situations.
- Dr Luara Leite Ferracioli (Political Science): Asylum theory for a
In this project, Ferracioli will research questions such as: Who are refugees?
Why do states have obligations towards them, and how can the costs of protection
be divided fairly among nation states? The aim of the study is to develop a
theory that can pave the way towards more desirable and effective regulations
for the protection of refugees.
- Dr Silke Allmann (Plant Physiology): Z/E-conversion of hexenal as
modulator of insect physiology and plant-herbivore interactions
When under stress, plants emit a green aroma compound into the air called
Z-3-hexenal. Caterpillars that eat plants convert this substance into
E-2-hexenal. Allman studies why caterpillars make this conversion, and what the
precise physiological and ecological consequences are for both plant and
- Dr Adam Ingram (Astronomy): Einstein's Frame Dragging effect around
galactic black holes
According to the theory of General Relativity, black holes distort the space
that surrounds them. A similar effect can be observed in water flowing down a
drain. Astronomer Adam Ingram will study this effect by observing gases being
drawn into black holes that are located within our own Milky Way galaxy.
- Dr Ran Ni (Chemistry): Glass transition and crystallization of active
Unlike passive matter, active matter is able to convert organic/chemical energy
into motion, giving rise to a range of striking new phenomena. Ni studies
dynamic phase transition in systems of active matter using computer simulations,
in particular those of glass transition and crystallisation.
- Dr Benjamin Pasquiou (Physics): The infinite atomic laser
Atoms exist not only as particles, but also as waves. Just as with light, it is
therefore also possible to build atomic lasers. Recent discoveries by
researchers have removed the biggest obstacles to building this infinite atomic
laser. Pasquiou will construct the laser, and use it to make extremely accurate
- Dr Fabio Zandanel (Astronomy): Monsters unveiled: cosmic rays and dark
matter in clusters of galaxies
How did the universe develop? And what exactly is dark matter? Zandanel looks
into these questions using the largest structures in the universe: galactic
clusters. Consisting of hundreds of galaxies and with a mass of a million
billion times that of the sun, they may well be the key to finding answers.
- Dr Stef van Gompel (Information Law): The challenge of
evidence-based intellectual property law reform: legal pragmatism meets
doctrinal legal reasoning
Legislation policy surrounding intellectual property law traditionally takes a
very dogmatic approach. In his research, Van Gompel identifies ways of improving
the foundations for intellectual property law using an empirically substantiated
approach. He makes concrete suggestions for the development of empirically
substantiated policy that unify the traditional legal doctrinal approach with a
more legal pragmatic one.